In memory of D. José María López Gómez (1934-2020). R.I.P.

José María López Martínez (1904-1990) acquired all rights to Biblioteca Fortea in 1955.

José María decides from that moment on, to appear with his full name José María López “De la Osa” as director of Biblioteca Fortea. Part of his full surname had been left for generations (left incomplete at some registry office) and José María decided that would be a good moment to start using his complete family name again: José María López De la Osa.

Biblioteca Fortea, then and now

To understand the history of the Fortea Library to this day better, it is necessary to write a few lines about José María López Martínez, Daniel Fortea’s student in Madrid. Three of his four children, José María, Fernando and Pilar, would also be disciples of Fortea. The bond between him and José María’s family was very deeply knitted in different ways: they used to have long talks about music during their  walks, the Master took the opportunity to instruct them in the management of his beloved Library. Thus, José María and his family could attend the orders that were made when Daniel Fortea was absent from Madrid to visit his family … and because he expressed his wish that they be the children of José María, successors and  of his Work.

In 1955, José María López Martínez acquired ownership of the Biblioteca Fortea which was moved to his family home at 10 Calle Fúcar de Madrid and dedicated the rest of his life to promoting the Work of Daniel Fortea in all corners of the world with great care and respect. He instills the same values ​​in his children and upon his death in 1990, they continue to give continuity to the project, thus seeing the will of their beloved Master fulfilled.

Pilar López Gómez, the youngest of the four siblings, also studied bandore with Fortea. At present, she is in charge of all administrative matters of the Library (reception of orders, preparation and postage). On the other hand, Francisco López Gómez, the second  brother, was the  accountant (he also played the guitar, bandore and lute but only at family gatherings) and José María and Fernando López Gómez, became professional guitarists of great prestige. They have spent years organizing, modernizing and updating the work of Maestro Fortea.

Memories and experiences

by José María López Gómez

José María López Gómez (1934-2020)
performs “Serenata” (Daniel Fortea)

The classes with Fortea were very enjoyable. When we got to his house, he passed us into a large room where we could study six or eight comfortably. The Master would enter the room where we were practicing and would talk to each one of us to see what we were doing and how we were doing it. He would then ask one by one who was in a hurry to give them individual attention and asked them to go into his study where he would attend them individually.

Fortea played without fingernails, but he didn’t force it on us. He advised us to use half the nail. When any of us found a passage especially uncomfortable or difficult, he would try to solve it with another “doigté”. He was concerned that we had enough finger strength to endure one or several pieces until the end without getting tired. For this, he would give us appropriate studies, he would gather all of us around him and we would practice ligatures, capos and scales. I remember how he used to play with words to make things sound lighter, especially when things got more complicated. He always had a great sense of humour.

Fortea had a great memory to remember his extensive repertoire of studies and works. He played without fanfare, because he played without fingernails and thus showing his romantic touch in all his work. At that time, we played with gut strings, although we gradually started to use Nylon strings.

I remember José Luis Auger, the most advanced student, studying Ponce and M. Torroba; Marcelino López, famous researcher-builder of guitars and old instruments, very skilled and demanding with himself; Mr. Rodrigo, who sometimes took his son José Luis, José Luis Rodrigo Bravo, a professor at the Madrid Conservatory of Music; Paulino Bernabé, later luthier; Trinidad García, from the UME; Second Pastor, student and great friend of Fortea (he published some work for him); Antonio Ortega, Serafín Rivera … It was a time of great  gatherings, anecdote sharing, music (we all played together) … a cup of coffee for the “older students”, made by him in an electric coffee maker that he had in his  homely bar and, of course, a sweet “La Pajarita” for the “little ones” -“y esto para los peques”- as he used to say.

“When Fortea ended the classes, he invited those of us who were in less of hurry to stay on together with our father, who was also a student of Fortea’s, our mother, from whom we inherited a good part our musical intuition, and my brother Fernando, for whom the Maestro felt great admiration”

“Many years have passed since Fortea left us. During this time we have continued to work for his Guitar School and to improve and complete the edition of all his work, which has continued to be distributed internationally. For reasons that are beyond my understanding, the Maestro’s music has been fading out… and therefore a good part of the technique and charm that his inspired work contains.”

Daniel Fortea (in the center of the image) poses with his students in Madrid. We can see José María López Gómez (5th from top left to right) and, sitting (2nd from left), Fernando López Gómez.

I remember his students and friends at those meetings: Mr. Castillo, a doctor famous for his famous dental perborate; Mr. Corral, father of Emilia Corral, Andrés Segovia’s widow; Mr. Romea, a film actor; to Mr. Samper, “the commander”, who had a guitar brought from Mexico identical to mine, (a González, from Madrid), including the mosaic of the rosette adorned with mother-of-pearl triangles, he called it  “la Macharnuda” because, he said, it had been made by a luthier named Macharno. I also remember Mr. Regidor, closely related to Narciso Yepes in his early days and who, when Fortea died, recommended Quintín Esquembre to us to continue studying. Esquembre wanted to remake his famous “Esquembre Trio” with his students: Antonio Albanés and the brothers José Mª and Fernando D. López.

Fernando David López Gómez

One day we met María Luisa Anido, who went to visit Fortea, like many other renowned artists who wanted to meet the great guitar figure of the moment. I remember her playing a simple exercise she did before starting to play.

Fortea’s house, on Calle de la Cruz, 27 was very big. There were two rooms assigned: one as a study, in which we waited our turn, and the other, where he had the “good guitars”, he had reserved for the “concerts” that he organized on Sundays. These involved all of us students playing for our family and friends whom Fortea invited to get us used to playing in public and keeping our nerves under control. There would be a gathering of about twenty of us sitting and, “when the evening was successful”, some more people standing. From time to time “the lamp” (a type of pint sack “el porrón”) was passed by above our heads as a jug with some soda that he called this way because, when passing it from one to another over our heads, it was always near the ceiling.

Alirio Díaz and Rodrigo Riera, newcomers from Venezuela, also participated in these auditions, delighting us with the music and rhythms they brought with them. At the end Fortea played as a way of appreciation and in gratitude to our long-suffering audience.

We also gave the Maestro some public recitals and, for Radio Nacional, we did some programmes that were broadcasted in America.

Fortea was an extremely hardworking musician and also a heavy smoker, which are the reasons why he left two valuable exercises for the left hand alone that he called “El Pitillo”, (while holding the cigarette in his right hand).

In his later years, Fortea, our friendship intensified. Sometimes, when the weather was good, he invited me to share a chat with his friends on the terrace of the Malena cafeteria, in the Plaza de Santa Ana. On other occasions we would go out for a walk with my parents and brothers. He would always wear his dark suit, white shirt, scarf and clad in his Spanish cape. He talked to us about music, musicians and their works… he talked about anything and everything. The conversation would also be focused on instructing us about the needs and requirements to look after the Library: how to attend to music orders, dealing with customers, the steps to follow to edit the music, etc., since their intention was for us to be the successors of his work.

I helped him teach his lessons, especially the private ones outside the home. Sometimes we ate together, well, we spent a lot of time with the Master and in a very familiar day to day atmosphere. On one occasion he invited me to spend a few days at his home in Castellón.

When Fortea went to see his family, he used to write to find out about us, how the Library was doing and, sometimes to tell us off for not writing often enough.

One day he gave me some works to study over Christmas holidays, promising me one of his guitars, if I had learned them. Did he forget the promise? I did not dare to remind him and, much less, to claim it, but I had the opportunity to recover the guitar which the Master left me so many times to play with, because of the knowledge that his nephew Daniel and his wife had of this story.

Fortea’s last days in Madrid were spent bedridden due to hemiplegia, acute circulatory failure, leaving him almost totally paralyzed. I say almost, because in the long periods that I spent with him, the Master, who could not speak any more, would touch the tips of my fingers of my left hand, nodding with a weak gesture as if to say “ continue studying/practising”… or simply that he recognized me… Until one day, an ambulance took him to his home in Castellón.

With this short recollection of memories, I wanted to record the humanity and kindness of Fortea, the way he treated his students, with that particular pedagogical sense, closeness knowledge and love.

Two complementary sides of a great man and artist: elegant, bohemian and austere in his daily life and modest, and uneasy/unconfortable in large crowds.

The real Fortea was found at short distances: talkative, witty, prudent and very polite.

This was Daniel Fortea i Guimerà (1878-1953), one of the greatest Spanish classical guitar composers.

You may find here his work and legacy, in Biblioteca Fortea, founded by himself in 1911.

Fúcar, 10 - 4º Dcha. • 28014 Madrid
(+34) 914 293 815 •

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