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Classical Guitar In The California Breeze

"My first memories are listening to music and feeling my body tingle," says Philip Rosheger, a classical guitarist who performs outdoors in Berkeley, Calif.
"My first memories are listening to music and feeling my body tingle," says Philip Rosheger, a classical guitarist who performs outdoors in Berkeley, Calif.

Weekend Edition's series on the sounds of street music winds down with a classical guitarist: Philip Rosheger, who performs on the corner of Vine and Walnut in Berkeley, Calif. Rosheger says he was keen on music from an extremely young age — which didn't sit well with his father, a bandleader in the U.S. Air Force.

"I started asking my father for piano lessons, and he said no," Rosheger says. "And I went on for two years, asking and begging for piano lessons, and he kept saying, 'No, you don't want to become a musician. It's a difficult life. You can't make money. It's not socially respectable.' And I kind of figured, 'Well, he's probably right' — but I still wanted to do it."

Rosheger says his father eventually relented. He studied piano through his early adolescence, until, in 1962, he heard a guitar record that made a big impression.

"It was mostly flamenco, but the guy, Fernando Sirvent, played two classical pieces," Rosheger says. "I just thought, before the record was over, 'Man, I want to spend the rest of my life doing this.' We took a vacation to Japan in August of that year and I got my first guitar there. And then I couldn't stop."

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