Contemporary Brazilian guitarist and composer Sérgio Assad (b. December 26, 1952) comes from a musical family. Sérgio often performs with his brother, Odair Assad. Fittingly, their guitar duo is aptly named Sérgio and Odair Assad, also referred to as the Assad Brothers.
His sister, Badi Assad, is also a popular guitarist and singer songwriter. Sérgio and Badi’s artistic styles also influenced his daughter, pianist and songwriter Clarice Assad!
Sérgio learned Brazillian folk melodies from his father at a young age, and began arranging music in his early teens. At age 17, he began taking lessons with Monina Tavora, a former disciple of Andrés Segovia who was considered to be the best classical guitar teacher in Brazil at that time. These lessons, along with his conducting and composition studies with Esther Scliar had a profound impact on the young Sérgio.
Apart the more than 50 guitar compositions, Assad has arranged more than 300 works for various chamber ensembles by Brazilian, Baroque, and modern composers alike.
His arrangements of Astor Piazzolla’s music for guitar, such as Las Estaciones Portenas, are some of the most highly revered editions ever created.
In addition to composing and teaching master classes, Assad is currently on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For a taste of Assad’s approach and demeanor, check out this video by Tonebase:
Popular Guitar Pieces by Sérgio Assad
Aquarelle is the French word for “watercolor”. When listening to Assad’s composition “Aquarelle”, one definitely feels as though they’re experiencing big splashes of color. With strong dynamics and rich harmonies, you can almost imagine colorful water running down a canvas.
Assad’s “Aquarelle” suite selected as a required contemporary work for the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) Competition in 2002 hosted in Miami. Check out this awesome interpretation by guitarist Thu Le (and notice the compliment by Assad himself in the comment section!):
Assad’s intensely emotional piece Farewell is very chordal, and in some ways reminiscent of Villa-Lobos compositions. Short melodic phrases tie the bold chords together. This mix of melodic vulnerability and dark descending chords creates a sense of vast longing.