Publication's Style: Soft Cover Pages: 2 Level of Difficulty: Intermediate Catalog Number: 74520
Barrios was famed for his phenomenal performances, both live and on gramophone recordings — although Barrios is usually credited as the first classical guitarist to make recordings in 1909/10, a myth perpetuated by the guitarist John Williams, the first guitarist to record was the Mexican guitarist Octaviano Yanes performing his "Mexican Dance" (Habanera). The record, Victor 05662, is dated August 25, 1908. Another version of this piece exists on Edison Foreign Series cylinder (catalogue number 20204). For some years, it was Barrios's habit to perform in concert in traditional Paraguayan dress (he was partly of Guarani origin), assuming the persona of Nitsuga Mangoré ('Nitsuga' being Agustín spelled backwards, and 'Mangoré' being the name of a cacique of the South American indigenous group Timbú).
His works were largely late-Romantic in character, despite his having lived well into the twentieth century. Many of them are also adaptations of, or are influenced by, South American and Central American folk music. Very many of them are of a virtuosic nature.
The Bach-inspired La Catedral (1921) is often considered to be his most impressive work, even winning the approval of Andrés Segovia, who said "In 1921 in Buenos Aires, I played at the hall La Argentina noted for its good acoustics for guitar, where Barrios had concertized just weeks before me. He was presented to me by his secretary Elbio Trapani. At my invitation Barrios visited me at the hotel and played for me upon my very own guitar several of his compositions among which the one that really impressed me was a magnificent concert piece The Cathedral whose first movement is an andante, like an introduction and prelude, and a second very virtuosic piece which is ideal for the repertory of any concert guitarist. Barrios had promised to send me immediately a copy of the work (I had ten days remaining before continuing my journey) but I never received a copy."