Platero y Yo (Platero and I) exemplifies a late phase of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's style, during which he became more interested in the relationship between music and other arts. It is inspired by a book written in 1914 by Juan Ramon Jiménez (1881-1958), the Spanish poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956. The poet and the composer had intriguingly parallel lives: They were both sons of bankers and overcame parental opposition to focus their lives on their creative endeavors; they were both exiled from their Fascist home countries in 1939; both found refuge in America.
"Platero y yo" is the story of a poet and his silvery gray donkey who was both traveling companion and confidant. In 1960 Castelnuovo-Tedesco conceived for Andrés Segovia a work of 28 pieces for guitar and narrator (the poem contains more than 100 chapters). A performance of the entire work would take around 50 minutes. A selection of ten numbers for guitar only, was also sanctioned by the composer as a more concise portrait of the charming animal and his master. Castelnuovo-Tedesco cautioned that in such cases the audience should know the story of Platero and his poet. Castelnuovo-Tedesco divided the series into four groups of seven pieces, each section ending with a reflection on Platero's death. The pieces, which do not follow any order of the original chapters, range from descriptions of events in the lives of the poet and the donkey to the poet's reflections on the people and places they visit around their Spanish village. In much of the suite the music primarily supports the spoken words; there are no recurring themes or motives to represent the characters. The guitar paints musical pictures of birds, village festivals and dancing, the colors of the sky at twilight, at times using such techniques as staccato to represent trotting, harmonics in an address to the moon, habanera rhythms, and a toccata to welcome Spring. The nature of the music is as gentle as Platero himself.