Barrios, Agustín (1885–1944)

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Barrios, Agustín (1885–1944)

Agustín Barrios (b. 23 May 1885; d. 7 August 1944), Paraguayan musician and composer. Born in San Juan Bautista in the Paraguayan Misiones, Barrios came from an impoverished background. He nonetheless attained fame early on as a local prodigy with the guitar. At the end of the century, he was discovered by Gustavo Sosa Escalada, the country's most famous guitarist, who helped Barrios to develop his skill with the instrument. After studying at the Colegio Nacional in Asunción, Barrios began a concert tour of South America in 1910. The tour lasted fourteen years, and included extended stays in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.

In his presentations, Barrios often appeared in Indian costume, replete with feathers, and went under the stage name of Cacique Mangoré. Throughout this time Barrios also composed pieces for the guitar, a good many of which he attributed to obscure European composers in the belief that they would then be taken more seriously.

After a brief return to Paraguay in the mid-1920s, Barrios again left the country, this time in the company of a diplomat, Tomás Salomini, who served as his patron and who arranged recitals for him in Cuba, Mexico, and, in 1934, in several European capitals. Barrios was the first major Latin American musician to play before European audiences. He has frequently been compared to Andrés Segovia as an interpreter, and to Niccolò Paganini as a virtuoso. He evidently wrote over a hundred works, though many of these are now lost. His extant corpus includes Danza paraguaya, El catedrál, and Rapsodia andaluza. Starting in 1939, Barrios taught at the National Music Conservatory in San Salvador, El Salvador, where he died.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance .


Peter Sensier, "Augustín Barrios," Guitar 2: 12 (1974), p. 22.

Bacón Duarte Prado, Agustín Barrios: Un genio insular (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Stover, Richard D. Six Silver Moonbeams: The Life and Times of Agustín Barrios Mangore. Clovis, CA: Querico, 1992. [Translated into Spanish by Rafael Menjivar Ochoa. Seis rayos de plata: Vida y tiempo de Agustín Barrios Mangore. San Salvador, El Salvador: CONCULTURA, Dirección de Publicaciones e Impresos, 2002.]

                                         Marta FernÁndez Whigham

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Barrios, Agustín (1885–1944)

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