Carlos Paredes (1925–2004) was a virtuoso of the Portuguese Guitar — a twelve-string member of the lute family not unlike a mandolin, traditionally used as accompaniment in Fado music.
He was also a composer whose formal invention effortlessly grafted classical influences with, and extended the range of, traditional Fado styles.
Paredes was born on 16th February 1925 in Coimbra. His father was the equally famous guitarist Artur Paredes. He is credited with popularising his chosen instrument internationally and was known as the "Man with a Thousand Fingers", in a reference to his natural virtuosity.
He began playing at the age of four and started his musical career at the age of eleven. He performed with many other artists, including Charlie Haden, and also wrote compositions for the celebrated Fado singer Amalia Rodrigues. He wrote a number of film scores, and received particular recognition for the 1971 film Verdes Anos ("Tender Years"). In 2000, the Kronos Quartet recorded two versions of "Verdes Anos" and "Romance no 1", from the first Carlos Paredes album, Guitarra Portuguesa, recorded in 1969 -1970.
During the 1950s and 1960s, being a member of the Portuguese Communist Party, he was imprisoned for opposing the Portuguese dictatorship; some of this time was spent in solitary confinement. He would walk around his cell pretending to play music, which led some prison inmates to believe he was insane. In fact he was writing compositions in his head.
When the dictatorship was overthrown, and all political prisoners were released in the aftermath of the 1974 revolution, they were widely thought of as heroes by the Portuguese — but the ever-humble Paredes always refused any such heroic status. He never said much about his time in prison except: "Many people suffered more than me".
He suffered from myelopathy, a nerve disorder which prevented him from playing for the last eleven years of his life. He died from kidney failure on 23rd July 2004, in a nursing home.
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