The Italian guitarist, Oscar Ghiglia (pronounced "GHEE-lyah" with the hard G), was born of an artistic family - his father and grandfather were both famed painters and his mother an accomplished pianist. Oscar Ghiglia had to choose between a path strewn with brushes and colours and a world cut into harmony and melody. Though his early choice produced a few hundred water colours and a number of oil paintings, he soon realised music was his way. For this decision he thanks his father, who one day made him pose for a painting showing a guitarist. For this he had to hold his father’s guitar, a companion to his artistic musings in front of his forming works. This painting was the start to a lifetime of disciplined dedication to music.
At the age of fourteen young Oscar Ghiglia decided to study classical guitar at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome, where he won certificates of honour not only in guitar but also in theoretical subjects as well. In 1957 he began study with the Spanish guitar master Andrés Segovia at the Academia Chigiana in Siena and at Santiago de Compostela in Spain (1958-1963). Segovia was his major influence and inspiration during his formative years. The young guitarist has also studied with Venezuelan virtuoso Alirio Díaz.
Oscar Ghiglia's graduation from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in 1962 was followed by several important awards: 1st Prize at the Orense Guitar Competition, 1st Prize at the Santiago de Compostela Guitar Competition (1963) and 1st Prize at the International Guitar Competition of Radio France (ORTF) (1963, Unanimous Winner). After the latter winning, he received scholarship to the Schola Cantorum in Paris, where he studied music history with Jacques Chailley in 1963-1964. Andrés Segovia chose Oscar Ghiglia as his assistant for classes at the University of California in Berkeley in the summer of 1964.
Since then, Oscar Ghiglia has given numerous concerts and master-classes throughout the world. He made his first tours to the USA and Japan in 1964-1965, and his British debut in 1966. In addition to appearing extensively in all parts of North and South America and Europe (Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands), he is a frequent performer in the Far East, Turkey, Israel, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Besides touring as a solo performer, Oscar Ghiglia has played and recorded with such names as singers Victoria de Los Angeles, Jan DeGaetani, Gerald English, John McCollum; flutists as Jean-Pierre Rampal and Julius Baker; ensembles 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 as Giuliano Carmignola, Franco Gulli, Salvatore Accardo and Regis Pasquier; violists such as B. Giuranna, and P. Zuckerman; cellists as K. Adam, A. Roman and L. Varga; guitarists such as Eliot Fisk, S. Fukuda, Loretta Guerra, Antigoni Goni, and Elena Papandreou. Oscar Ghiglia was a founding member of the International Classic Guitar Quartet (with, in different turns: Benjamin Bunch, O. Koga, Anders Miolin, S. Schmidt, and Andreas von Wangenheim).
While being active as a concert artist, Oscar Ghiglia has always favoured teaching as a sister profession, and spreading his own teaching around the five continents. Very few well-known guitarists today have not at one time or another been in his classes and profited from his lessons. In 1969 he founded the Guitar Department at the Aspen Music Festival (Aspen, Colorado USA) and taught there for twenty years. He also founded the Festival de Musique des Arcs and the “Incontri Chitarristici di Gargnano”, and have been artist in residence, or visiting professor in such centres as the Cincinnati and San Francisco conservatories, the Juilliard School, the Hartt School, University of Hartford, the Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, and the Banff Centre of the Arts in Canada (from 1978). In all these centres and elsewhere Ghiglia has been nurturing talents and forming or perfecting young artists' musical outlook and interpretation. In 1976 he “inherited” Segovia’s class in Siena's Accademia Chigiana. From 1983 to 2004 he was professor of guitar at the Basel Music-Akademie where he taught post-graduate students. He now regularly gives summer classes in Europe (at the Festival d'Arc in southern France, at the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy, and at the Festival Garnanno, Italy), America and the Middle East. Founder of the International Guitar Competition of Gargnano (Italy), Ghiglia boasts a very high number of first prize winners among his students, in competitions around the world.
Oscar Ghiglia has recorded for Angel and Nonesuch Records. His recordings include "Paganini Sonata", "The Guitar in Spain", "The Spanish Guitar of Oscar Ghiglia", and numerous others. Presently, after his newest CD “Manuel Ponce’ Guitar music”, a new set of recording projects is under way (note a J.S. Bach lute works CD, in the final editing process)