LISBON -- Carlos Paredes, a virtuoso of the Portuguese guitar, died yesterday following a prolonged bone illness and diabetes, the Fundacao-Lar Nossa Senhora da Saude retirement home said. He was 79.
Mr. Paredes, who was born in Coimbra, started playing the 12-string Portuguese guitar when he was 4 years old. He recorded his first album in 1957 and released several works and soundtracks through 1987. "He was a perfectionist. He played until his fingers bled," said movie director Paulo Rocha, for whom Mr. Paredes wrote the soundtrack for the 1963 film "Os Verdes Anos," or "The Green Years."
His music -- based on the roots of mournful, pensive Fado, but with his own particular twist -- was considered a hallmark of Portuguese culture. "He was a genius, a great artist who gave a universal dimension to the Portuguese guitar, and through his music expressed the Portuguese soul," politician and poet Manuel Alegre said.
The Portuguese guitar, in the same instrument family as the mandolin and bandurria, emerged in the 18th century and is commonly used for playing Fado.
Mr. Paredes's work will be in the running for the UNESCO Master Work of the Oral and Imaterial Humanity Patrimony award. President Jorge Sampaio remembered Mr. Paredes as "a genius musician, a model citizen, and a good man."