Roland Dyens (1955-2016) ws recognized both as one of the most prominent classical guitarists of his generation and as an important composer and arranger of music for the guitar. He was distinguished from most of his rivals by his deft improvisatory skills. His music is quite accessible, often employing folk sources and jazz styles woven into a colorful fabric always suited to the unique sounds of the guitar. Dyens‘ 1985 piece Tango en Skaï is probably his most popular, though Valse en skaï and Libra Sonatine have also enjoyed currency. Virtually all of Dyens‘ works involve the guitar: some are solo pieces, while others use several guitars or a combination of instruments (guitar and piano; guitar and string quartet, etc.), while others still use orchestral accompaniment. As a performer, Dyens‘ repertory was broad, taking in standards by Rodrigo, Sor, Moreno Torroba, Mangoré, and Brouwer.
He also performed a number of his own transcriptions of works by Chopin, Villa-Lobos, Satie, and Weiss, as well as compositions he fashioned after themes by Mozart, Rossini, Brouwer, and others. Dyens recorded for Gha Records, Atma Classique, Naïve-Auvidis, and L’empreinte Digitale.
Roland Dyens was born in Tunisia on October 19, 1955. He began studying guitar at nine and at 13 became a student of guitar virtuoso Alberto Ponce. At the Paris-based Concert de l’Ecole Normale de Musique, Dyens studied both guitar and composition, the latter with Désiré Dondeyne.
Dyens won prizes at several guitar competitions, including at the 1979 International Competition Città di Alessandria in Italy. The aforementioned Tango en Skaï helped establish his reputation as a composer in the 1980s, but at the same time his performance skills were broadly celebrated: in 1988 the French music magazine Guitarist included him on the list of the world’s top 100 living guitarists.
Dyens received a Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles-Cros for one of his earliest recordings, the Villa-Lobos Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra, issued on the Naïve-Auvidis. Throughout the 1990s and first decade of the 2000s Dyens garnered wide acclaim for his concert tours across the globe and for his recordings. In 2007 he composed on commission a performance piece for the prestigious competition of the Guitar Foundation of America, and the following year he was honored at the Città di Fiuggi Guitar Festival in Rome. Among Dyens‘ recordings is the 2008 release on Gha of pieces by Rodrigo, Brouwer, Buxtehude, and others.