'New Hero' Of Classical Guitar Shares His Passion

June 30, 2011

NPR Staff

As soon as Milos Karadaglich touched his father's old and rusty guitar, he says he immediately knew it was the instrument he wanted to play.
Milos Karadaglich's debut album "Mediterraneo" was released in America this June.

Classical guitar is getting renewed interest thanks to Milos Karadaglich and his debut album "Mediterraneo."

A newcomer at age 28, he knew early on that he had a good ear for music. He was eight years old when his father brought him to the music school in his home country of Montenegro and told to choose which instrument he wanted to play. His teachers suggested the violin or piano.

"Piano was too expensive and violin was too hard for my parents to listen to because when a child is learning to play the violin it is quite painful on the ears, you know," Karadaglich says with laughter in an interview with Tell Me More host Michel Martin.

Karadaglich remembered his father kept an old rusty guitar with missing strings atop a cupboard in the bedroom. He asked his dad to bring it down.

"As soon as I held it, to me it was beautiful and I felt that, yes, this is what I want to play," Karadaglich explains. "This is cool. I want to be a rock star, I want to have lots of girlfriends, I want to have fun, you know, it is what a little boy thinks of the guitar."

It also meant countless hours of practice that paid off for him. Karadaglich was a teenager when he first heard of London's Royal Academy of Music, one of the most prominent music schools in the world. Determined to get accepted, he chose five of his best pieces, videotaped himself performing them, and sent the tape to the school. After two month of not receiving a response, he could not wait any longer and he called the admissions office.

He got accepted.

Today, Karadaglich is the winner of the Ivor Mairants Award (2001) and the Juliam Bream Prize (2005). Despite those achievements though he says the real world of classical music was hard to break into.

"At one point, classical guitar went out of fashion because people wanted louder and bigger and be rock stars. But I also believe that there is a space for the intimate and delicate instrument that is classical guitar," he says.

His debut album "Mediterraneo" was released in the United States on June 21.

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