Born of an artistic family—his father and grandfather both famed painters, his mother a accomplished pianist—Oscar Ghiglia had to choose between a path strewn with brushes and colors and a world cut into harmony and melody. Though his early choice produced a few hundred watercolors and a number of oil paintings, he soon realized music was his way. For this decision he thanks his dad, who one day made him pose for a painting showing a guitarist. For this painting he had to hold his father’s guitar, a companion to his artistic musings while forming works. This painting was the start to a lifetime of disciplined dedication to music.
After graduating from Santa Cecilia’s Conservatory of Rome, O.G. began an apprenticeship beside the great Master Andres Segovia, who was his major influence and inspiration during his formative years. Later O.G. “inherited” Segovia’s glorious Class in Siena’s Accademia Chigiana and spread his own teaching around five continents in a sister vocation to his concertizing.
O.G. is proud of having founded such strongholds of guitar teaching as the Guitar Department at the Aspen Music Festival (Colorado, USA) as well as in the Festival de Musique des Arcs and the Incontri Chitarristici di Gargnano, of which he was artist in residence. He has been visiting professor in such centers as the Cincinnati and San Francisco Conservatories, Juilliard, the Hartt School, and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In all these centers and elsewhere, Ghiglia has been nurturing talents and forming or perfecting young artists’ musical outlook and interpretation. Composers such as Giampaolo Bracali and Franco Donatoni, among others, have written and dedicated important works for Oscar Ghiglia. Besides touring as a solo performer, O.G. has played and recorded with singers Victoria de Los Angeles, Jan de Gaetani, Gerald English, and John McCollum; flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal and Julius Baker; ensembles such as the Juilliard String Quartet, the Emerson String Quartet, the Cleveland String Quartet, the Quartetto d’archi di Venezia, and the Tokyo String Quartet; violinists Giuliano Carmignola, Franco Gulli, Salvatore Accardo, Regis Pasquier; violists Bruno Giuranna and Pinchas Zuckerman; cellists K. Adam, Albert Roman, Lászlo Varga; guitarists Eliot Fisk, Shin-ichi Fukuda, L. Guerra, Antigoni Goni, and Elena Papandreou.
O.G. was a founding member of the the International Classic Guitar Quartet (with, in different turns, Benjamin Bunch, O. Koga, Anders Miolin, S. Schmidt, Andreas v. Wangenheim), Presently, after his last CD, Manuel Ponce’s Guitar Music, the Stradivarius label has issued a new CD including some of the most important lute works of J. S. Bach.
Retired from the Basel Music Academy (Switzerland), where he held the professorship in guitar from 1983 until 2005, his teaching continues in the summer at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, in Gargnano, and during the year in Athens, to a select group of pupils flocking in periodically from the four corners of Europe.
In March 2008 a selected group of his former students celebrated Oscar Ghiglia’s 70th birthday in a festival held in the Mannes School of music of New York—including concerts, lectures, and master-classes—called “The Ghiglia Legacy.” An analogous celebration took place in 2009 in Ithaca, New York. Besides having started the guitar program at the Aspen Music Festival, Ghiglia was founder (1976) of the International Guitar Competition of Gargnano, Italy. O.G. boasts a very high number of first-prize winners among his students in competitions around the world.