The American guitarist, Eliot Fisk, was the last direct pupil of Andrés Segovia and is the holder of all reproduction rights to A. Segovia's music, given to him by A. Segovia's wife, Emilia. After attending Jamesville-Dewitt High School in Dewitt, New York, Fisk also studied interpretation under harpsichordists Ralph Kirkpatrick and Albert Fuller at Yale University, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1976. After graduation, he was asked to form the Guitar Department at the Yale School of Music. He was the winner of the International Guitar Competition in 1980.
Eliot Fisk has performed to dazzling critical and public acclaim in recital, as soloist with major orchestras and in a wide variety of chamber music combinations in most of the great concert halls of the world and in 1996 in a command performance in the Palacio de los Cordova in Granada, Spain, for then U.S. President Bill Clinton and King Juan Carlos of Spain and their families.
A creative innovator linked to the great romantic tradition of the past, Eliot Fisk is one of the most exciting and unique artists before the public today. Known world wide for his adventurous repertoire and willingness to take art music into unusual venues (including schools, senior centers and even prisons!) he belongs, as his great mentor Andrés Segovia once wrote, “at the top line of our artistic world.” He has expanded the repertoire for the guitar enormously through countless ground breaking transcriptions of works by J.S. Bach, Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Paganini, and others as well as through commissions from leading composers as varied as Luciano Berio, Leonardo Balada, Robert Beaser, Wiliam Bolcom, Xavier Montsalvatge, Nicholas Maw, George Rochberg and Kurt Schwertsik. His numerous transcriptions and editions are published by Universal, Presser, Ricordi and Guitar Solo Publications.
Eliot Fisk's forays into unconventional territory have included collaborations with chanteuse, Ute Lemper; Turkish music master, Burhan Öçal; jazz guitar legend, Joe Pass; flamenco great, Paco Pena; and master of castanets, Lucero Tena.
Eliot Fisk’s numerous recordings for the Musical Heritage Society, DGG, Arabesque, and EMI have elicited unqualified praise and even entered the Billboard charts as bestsellers. Most of these recordings include repertoire never before performed on the guitar such as his legendary reading of the 24 solo violin Capricci, Op. 1 of Paganini (“Has to be heard to be believed!” - Ruggiero Ricci), his recordings of contemporary works by Luciano Berio and George Rochberg or his recording with Paula Robison of Robert Beaser’s Mountain Songs, which was nominated for a Grammy. Guitar Review wrote that his versions of the complete J.S. Bach unaccompanied violin Sonatas and Partitas, BWV 1001-1006 “place him alongside Casals and Gould as one of this century's greatest interpreters of Bach.” On a lighter note, Gramophon Magazine described his transcriptions for violin, cello and guitar of Bach's Violin Sonatas BWV 1014-1019: “If exploring the instrumental potential of the continuo is Baroque music's equivalent of exploring Star Trek’s final frontier, then guitarist Eliot Fisk may be its Captain Kirk and his transcription of Bach’s Six Violin Sonatas its Starship Enterprise”.
Eliot's 2006-2007 season included four major premieres: Leonardo Balada's Caprichos (seven movements after songs of Federico Garcia Lorca for guitar and string quartet), Kurt Schwertsik's 25 minute Ein Kleines Requiem for solo guitar; Daniel Bernard Romain's concerto for guitar and chamber orchestra (We March); and Eliot Fisk's transcription of Mark O' Connor's violin concerto movement entitled, Winter for guitar and orchestra. A highlight of this transcription was Eliot’s cadenza which, in addition to modulating through an astonishing variety of remote keys, managed to quote Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the Beegees’ Stayin' Alive before concluding in a series of left hand trills accompanied by right hand artificial harmonics.
In the 2008-2009 season Eliot Fisk premieres Robert Beaser’s long awaited concerto for guitar and orchestra, commissioned by a consortium including the Albany Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Bruckner Haus of Linz, Austria. Following the premiere in Albany, further performances are scheduled at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York and Bruckner Haus in Linz both under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. In 2008 he began a highly anticipated collaboration with guitar legend Angel Romero. Only in its first season, this extraordinary collaboration is already booked in major venues from coast to coast and will headline Boston Guitar Fest 2008 in Jordan Hall on June 14.
In addition to his performing career Eliot Fisk is founder and director of Boston Guitar Fest, an annual cross disciplinary musical extravaganza co-sponsored by the New England Conservatory and Northeastern University and featuring a wide variety of performances, classes, seminars and even a guitar competition. The Festival has enjoyed phenomenal growth since its inception in 2006 receiving warm encouragement from Massachusetts Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry as well as from reknowned Massachusetts congressional representative, Barney Frank.
Called by one New York Times headline ''Fiery Missionary to the Unconverted," Eliot Fisk devotes considerable energy to teaching. He is a professor at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg in Austria, where he teaches in five different languages, and in Boston at the New England Conservatory. His students have come from many countries, and several have gone on to become important performers and teachers in their own right.
Eliot Fisk lives in Boston, Salzburg, and Granada, Spain with his wife, Zaira, and their 6-year-old daughter, Raquel. He uses a handmade Thomas Humphrey Millennium guitar and another by upcoming luthier Stephan Connor. He received the Grand Cross of Isabel la Cátolica on June 10, 2006, from King Juan Carlos of Spain, for his service to the cause of Spanish music.. Earlier recipients have included Andrés Segovia and Yehudi Menuhin. Fisk earned the award for contributions to Spanish music as an interpreter and teacher.