Andres Segovia, 94, the Spanish virtuoso whose career as a classical guitarist spanned almost eight decades and touched millions of music lovers in all parts of the globe, died Tuesday while watching television at his home in Madrid. His physician said he died after a heart attack brought on by a lung edema.
Mr. Segovia was an extraordinarily gifted and seemingly ageless performer who began his career as a concert guitarist in Granada in 1909 at the age of 15 and was filling concert halls all over the world when he was well past his 90th birthday.
He was widely recognized as one of the great musicians of the 20th century, and is generally credited with having made the guitar -- once considered plebian and fit only for flamenco music in Spanish taverns -- into a respectable musical instrument highly appreciated by the musically serious-minded.
"There is no guitar but the Spanish guitar, and Andres Segovia is its prophet," Virgil Thompson, the music critic for the New York Herald Tribune, once wrote.
Even in the final years of his career, Mr. Segovia observed a vigorous schedule of concerts and daily practices, and he cut a stately figure, dressed in a dark suit and ribbon tie, as he made his way gingerly onto the stage with the help of a cane. If his memory or his fingers slipped occasionally as he grew old, none of his fans seemed to mind.
He was a teacher as well as a performer. He encouraged other guitarists, and his love and enthusiasm for the guitar also helped make it one of the most popular of instruments among amateur musicians during the second half of this century. Through the media of radio, phonograph and television his music became available to millions who would never see the inside of a concert hall.
The son of a prosperous lawyer, Mr. Segovia shocked his parents with his decision to become a concert guitarist, and he began his career during the early years of this century when there was a paucity of serious musical composition available for a guitarist.
So he arranged guitar music for himself, drawing from the works of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Chopin and Schumann. As his artistry and reputation grew, other composers began to write selections for him.
To Mr. Segovia, the guitar was "a small orchestra . . . each string has its peculiar quality of sound." All through his career he refused to use any electronic sound amplification, contending this would distort the purity of his music.
He often spoke of his guitar in human terms, calling it "Miss Segovia." He would purchase a ticket for it and place it on the seat next to him when he traveled on an airplane.
"You know that the guitar has feminine curves, and this influences her behavior," he once said. "Sometimes it is impossible to deal with her, but most of the time she is very sweet; and if you caress her properly, she will sing very beautifully."
Born in the Andalusian city of Linares, Mr. Segovia was reared in Granada where his father had hoped he would follow him into the legal profession. As a child he received lessons in the violin and piano, but neither instrument stirred his interest. Then one day he discovered a guitar at the home of a friend, and he was at once charmed and fascinated by the rich quality of its tones.
Over the objections of his parents and teachers, he decided to become a guitarist, but it was not long before he became so skilled that he was unable to find a teacher good enough to teach him more.
Most of what he learned, he had to teach himself, and in the process he developed his own technique that involved a unique manner of using fingertips and fingernails on the strings to produce a wide range of tone and volume.
His first concert in Granada in 1909 drew an enthusiastic response, reinforcing his decision to become a concert guitarist. Within a few years he was performing in Madrid and Barcelona, and in 1916 he made a successful tour of South America.
At the insistence of his countryman, cellist Pablo Casals, Mr. Segovia made his Paris debut in April 1924. Many of Europe's musical celebrities were in the audience, and they were impressed by what they heard. That concert proved to be a major development in the advancement of Mr. Segovia's career. A successful debut in Berlin later in 1924 further established his international reputation.
At the urging of violinist Fritz Kreisler, Mr. Segovia made his first concert tour of the United States in 1928. "He draws the tone colors of a half a dozen instruments from the one he plays. He has extraordinary command of nuances and seems to discover whole planes of sonority," wrote a music critic of The New York Times after Mr. Segovia's first concert in New York.
That concert was followed by five others in New York, all of them sold out, and then by concerts in 25 other American cities. By the end of the tour critics were comparing Mr. Segovia favorably with Casals and Kreisler.
For the next 10 years, Mr. Segovia toured the United States annually, acquiring a devoted following in the process. He moved to Italy at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and later to Montevideo, Uruguay. From there he toured extensively in Central and South America during the early years of World War II.
He returned to the United States in 1943 to find that after a five-year absence he had lost some of his fans. But the postwar years brought a resurgence of his popularity, which was advanced even further with the widespread availability of television beginning in the 1950s.
In subsequent decades Mr. Segovia followed a 100-concert a year schedule, and he appeared in all parts of the world outside the communist bloc. He also taught in the United States and in Europe. In 1981 King Juan Carlos made him marquis of Salobrena in recognition of his music.
He married a former student, Emilia Corral, in 1961, and nine years later, at the age of 77, he became the father of a son, Carlos Andres. He had another son, Andres, now 65, from a previous marriage.
WILL SAMPSON JR.,
53, the 6-foot-7 American Indian actor who began his screen career in the film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," died June 3 at Methodist Hospital in Houston, 41 days after undergoing a heart-lung transplant.
A hospital spokesman said Mr. Sampson died as a result of severe pre-operative malnutrition and post-operative kidney failure and fungal infection. Mr. Sampson had scleroderma, a chronic degenerative disease characterized by swelling of the skin. In Mr. Sampson's case, the disease affected his heart and lungs.
Mr. Sampson began his screen career playing a silent Indian mental patient in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." The film won five Oscars in 1976, including best picture. Its coproducer, actor Michael Douglas, had said he was looking for someone to play the silent Indian role when he met Mr. Sampson, seated next to him on a plane. At that time, Mr. Sampson had spent several seasons on the rodeo circuit and worked part time as a ranch hand.
After "Cuckoo's Nest," he went on to roles in several movies, including "Buffalo Bill and the Indians," "The White Buffalo" and "Orca." On television, he played Chief Harlon Two Leaf in the "Vega$" series. He also appeared in the 1979 NBC version of "From Here to Eternity" and starred in a short 1982 NBC series, "Born to the Wind."
He was born in Okmulgee, Okla., a full-blooded Muscogee-Creek Indian with the name Kvs-Kvna, meaning left-handed. Much of his family remained in the Okmulgee area, where the actor was known as Sonny Sampson.
He began painting as a child, boasting that he sold his first picture at age 3, and was an established artist before he turned to acting. He continued to paint and his work -- mainly of cowboys, western landscapes and Indian scenes -- has been shown nationwide.
His marriage to Jill Sampson ended in divorce.
Survivors include a son, Tim.