Phillip de Fremery was born into a pioneer California family and was raised in Ross, just to the north of San Francisco. As a toddler, still barely able to reach the keyboard of the family piano, he surprised his parents by describing distinctions in color between the black and the white notes, an ability in hearing which was later to be identified as perfect pitch. In his early years of grammar school he began to play by ear, on the piano, Christmas carols and even movements of symphonies, for his classmates in public school. Formal lessons began at age six and lasted until he was twelve, at which time his parents finally agreed that the boy would rather play baseball than the piano. He did however spend the next five years playing the piano, still by ear, arranging popular music for his family and friends. All the while a number of his older cousins (one of whom was already nationally known) were playing the guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle at the large family holiday gatherings at Coastways, his grandparents’ ranch just north of Santa Cruz. Then, according to Phillip, one of those cousins agreed to show the very eager teenager some chords on the guitar.

Things moved rapidly from there. The guitar was seldom out of his hands, which was ironically aided by a finger injury which had, one year earlier, put an end to his endless hours on the baseball diamond. He began a constant exchange of arrangements with the cousin who had begun to teach him. He learned to play folk music and began appearing as backup guitarist and vocalist for a brilliant young player and singer who had transferred into his high school for junior and senior year. And around the midpoint of that period, in 1963, a Decca Gold Label recording of Andrés Segovia somehow (no one seems to remember) found its way into his parents’ home.

The effect of Segovia’s playing was instantaneous and the boy knew it had set his future course of action in stone. The family searched for a classical guitar instructor, however in those days they were few and far between. When one was finally located, he looked at the boy’s finger injury and told him immediately that he "would never be able to play like Segovia" but that he would be willing to give him lessons nevertheless. At this the sixteen-year-old stood, left the room without a word, and never went back. A few months later another teacher was located. This one had actually studied with Segovia and after a few lessons she indicated that she took the boy very seriously indeed. He progressed rapidly under her guidance until finally he auditioned for, and was accepted by, the internationally famous Oscar Ghiglia (who one year earlier had been named as Segovia’s teaching assistant) for his Los Angeles master class of 1965. He then gave his first full public concert (1966) and in that same year was accepted as a student by Segovia himself, in the Maestro’s master classes which served to dedicate and establish the newly founded department of the guitar under Jesus Silva at the North Carolina School of the Arts. By this time de Fremery had enrolled, on full scholarship, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under Michael Lorimer. Yet still, whenever Oscar Ghiglia toured in the U.S. he was always there, performing for the young Italian Maestro as much as possible. Finally in 1971 Ghiglia, recently appointed to create the guitar master classes at the Aspen Music Festival, chose Phillip as his own personal assistant and placed the young performer solely in charge of his own classes there.

The Aspen exposure, plus letters of recommendation from Maestros Segovia and Ghiglia, led to the immediate expansion of de Fremery’s career. In the next five years he gave several hundred concerts throughout the United States, Canada and Central Europe not only as soloist but also in concerto appearances with orchestra, radio and television, and in scores of master classes under his own name. Acclaimed by the public, professionals and critics alike, he experienced a very high rate of return engagement as well as a spiraling increase in the quantity of appearances offered to him.

Then in 1975 the young guitarist, in a move which surprised and even baffled his contemporaries, resigned the Aspen position with the announcement that he was undertaking a radical overhaul of his technique of sound production. He knew, and so did all concerned, that this effort was going to be extremely complex, and more than fifteen years did pass before his control was re-established to the point where he was once again able to "think out loud" through the guitar while on stage. This long absence effectively destroyed the momentum of his earlier career and mostly limited his activity to teaching and performing in his general area of residence in New England.

For a detailed description of Phillip de Fremery's technical conversion of 1975, please follow this link.

In the latter stages of de Fremery’s long struggle to regain his command of the guitar, the world noted the passing of its beloved Maestro, Andrés Segovia. In the multi-faceted process of commemorating his life and career his wife Mme. Emilia Segovia, the Marquesa de Salobreña, in an extremely unusual move and at the suggestion of Eliot Fisk, contacted Phillip de Fremery in 1995 and commissioned him to create new handwritten manuscripts, complete with articulation and string indications, directly from the commercial recordings and entirely by ear, of the fifty-six performance editions which during his lifetime Segovia had not had time to publish and for which no manuscripts survived. The process was immediately begun. It was to take five full years and the result, in book form, was released by Bèrben in 2001.

At this point Mme. Segovia scheduled the dedication of the Casa Museo de Andrés Segovia for June of 2002 in his birthplace of Linares, Spain. On her personal invitation de Fremery attended the full four days of concerts (Oscar Ghiglia and the Orquestra de Cámara de Andrés Segovia) and lectures. (Carlos Andrés Segovia, the son of Andrés and Emilia, a Doctoral candidate in Philosophy and Director of the Cultural Program of the Andrés Segovia Foundation; and Angelo Gilardino, the Artistic Director of the Andrés Segovia Foundation as well as de Fremery’s editor for the abovementioned Bèrben publication, "Transcripciones" by Andrés Segovia.

Critical response to the arrival of "Transcripciones" has been decisive. Writing in April 2003 for the distinguished English monthly, Classical Guitar Magazine, Stephen Kenyon noted: “It’s rather difficult to know how to begin. We shall make do with the bare statement that this is the most important (and largest) document I have ever reviewed, and that it took by far the greatest amount of effort to create…it is also perhaps the easiest book ever to review: literally every guitarist of competence, curiosity and interest in the instrument's history should purchase this book if it is the last book they buy...an outstanding opportunity to look over his shoulder at the decisions he made regarding the textural and technical realization of these works…as close as we will ever get to what can only be viewed as by far the most important, influential and historically persuasive transcription process ever to be conducted on the guitar’s behalf…for once the term ‘historic’ is an understatement.”

A second review of Transcripciones appeared, this one from the other side of the Atlantic, in the 2004-2005 quarterly publication of the Guitar Foundation of America, SOUNDBOARD Vol. XXX, No. 4. Dr. Christopher Leible wrote: “The transcriptions contained in this volume are the result of years of detailed and attentive effort by Phillip de Fremery, a guitarist whose remarkable hearing and musical sensitivity are unequivocally established in this edition. The prefatory remarks reveal his acute artistic vision, as well as his reverence for Segovia and his contributions to the guitar...each piece is meticulously and thoroughly notated; incredibly, de Fremery has painstakingly notated Segovia's original fingerings, as well as indicated which strings to play on. Moreover, the compositions presented in this volume are of exceptionally high caliber, thus requiring superior technical facility and musical adeptness for their successful performance.

For the discriminating guitarist, this volume will prove to be a vital musical lexicon for understanding the vast repertoire, musical sensitivity, stylistic respect and performance capacity of Andrés Segovia. Furthermore, the delicate musical lessons that can be derived from within these works provide a myriad of details for self-development of the individual musician.
Berbèn has acutely prepared this edition with the performer in mind. The publication is perfect bound, allowing the score to lie flat for the facility of reading; ample note and staff spacing provide for clarity of the music and personal markings; additionally, both covers have page extensions to hold the music in place.

This publication is a superlative paradigm of an attentive collaborative effort by all involved in its realization. Its importance as a window into the cognizant ideologies of Segovia and as an addition to the classic guitar repertoire cannot be overestimated. This publication will undoubtedly become an indispensable resource for the classical guitar community.”

Upon completion of this undertaking, Phillip de Fremery has again returned to his sequence of personal appearances in the five-state New England area, to the long-term preparation and release of recordings and concert videos, and to resuming his annual appearances on the recital series at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which was the site of his New York debut, at the Cathedral’s invitation, in 1987.

Phillip de Fremery