During the years 1966-67 I kept up an intense correspondence with the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, who lived in California. He was very kind to me, and our epistolary exchange was often avuncular in tone, to the extent that he used to sign off “Nonno Mario”, or Grandpa Mario. When he heard about my studies of composition he wanted to see what I had written, and I sent him a few manuscripts. These were academic exercises, but the envelope also contained a “free” composition for solo guitar written in 1965 entitled “Canzone notturna”.
The great composer sent back my efforts with his corrections, suggesting that I should focus on composition rather than concert performance. He believed that my foremost gifts were in creating music for the guitar, and indeed other instruments. However, it took me a further fourteen years to follow his advice, and anyway he died the following year, in 1968. So I abandoned my career as a performer in 1981 and decided to devote all my efforts to composition, at first alongside regular engagements as a teacher and specialist in the history of the guitar. There were various reasons for this decision, though the foremost was my pressing desire to give voice to the musical images that kept coming to mind, sometimes right in the middle of a recital. Like other performers before me, I felt that interpreting other people’s music was no longer what I really wanted to do. This involved a major change in direction, as well as lifestyle, which I happily embraced.