Guitar Composers of the Classical and Early Romantic Period
Circa 1780-1900

"Guitar compositions of the 19th century, with the exception of those of a didactic nature, haven't received the attention they deserve from either scholars or performers. The superficial accusation made of such literature that it is of little artistic value, is the result of a series of misconceptions which have been passed on due to the absence of an adequate historical and aesthetic analysis, and due also to the unfamiliarity of the performers with music which demands a brilliant technique too often superior to their ability. Oppressed by the works of the great Romantics and intimidated by such technical difficulty, guitarists have preferred to ignore a period which often presents music of excellent substance.. However, today increasing attempts are being made to revalue the music of those who kept the instrumental tradition alive even in the countries that saw an almost total predominance of opera. A careful selection of these compositions reveals works which compare well with the best pages of other more successful composers and which deserve to be in cluded in today's concert programmes."
- In memory of Ruggero Chiesa (1933 - 1993)

Recommended 6-string Early Classical-Romantic Guitar Composers (by birth date):

1 Major non-guitar composers included for time frame point of reference
2 Composers which were major orchestral composers but minor guitar composers

Guitar Composers :
Bach ( 1685 - 1750 ) 1
Haydn ( 1732 - 1809 ) 1

Luigi Boccherini 21749 - 1805
Christian Scheidler1752 - 1815
Mozart ( 1756 - 1791 ) 1
Federico Morettic.1760 - 1838
Simon Molitor1766 - 1848
Leonard von Call1767 - 1815
Antoine de LHoyer1768 - 1852
Filippo Gragnani1768 - 1820
Francesco Molino1768 - 1847
Beethoven ( 1770 - 1827 ) 1
Ferdinando Carulli1770 - 1841
Fernando Ferandiere1771 - 1816
Wenzeslaus Matiegka1773 - 1830
Andrei Sychra1773 - 1850
Antonio Nava1775 - 1821
François De Fossa1775 - 1869
Joseph Kuffner1776 - 1856
Fernando Sor1778 - 1839
Mauro Giuliani1781 - 1829
Anton Diabelli1781 - 1858
Niccolò Paganini1782 - 1840
Frederik Carl Lemming1782 - 1846
Dionisio Aguado1784 - 1849
Luigi Picchianti1786 - 1864
Luigi Legnani1790 - 1877
Matteo Carcassi1792 - 1853
Francesco Calegari179? - 18??
Jos. Charles Lom179? - 18??
Rossini ( 1792 - 1868 ) 1
Pietro Pettoletti1795 - 1870
Felix Horetzky1796 - 1870
Franz Schubert 21797 - 1828
Luigi Castellacci1797 - 1845
Ivan Padovetz1800 - 1873
Marco Zani de Ferranti1802 - 1878
Hector Berlioz 21803 - 1869
Trinidad Huerta1804 - 1875
Jose Broca1805 - 1882
Jan Bobrowicz1805 - 1881
Napoleon Coste1805 - 1883
Johann Kaspar Mertz1806 - 1856
Henrik Rung1807 - 1871
Chopin ( 1810 - 1849 ) 1
Nicholas Makaroff1810 - 1890
Antonio Cano1811 - 1897
Adam Darr1811 - 1866
Stanislaw Szczepanowski1811 - 1877
Verdi ( 1813 - 1901 ) 1
Søffren Degen1816 - 1885
Marek Konrad Sokolowski 1818 - 1883
Fernando Cordero 1822 - 1861
Giulio Regondi1822 - 1872
Jaime Bosch1826 - 1895
Johann Decker-Schenk1826 - 1899
Jose Vinas1823 - 1888
Johann Dubez1828 - 1891
Julián Arcas1832 - 1882
Ivan Klinger? - 1897
Francisco Tarrega1852 - 1909

I find it is helpful to place each composer in a timeline next to their peers, to better understand the stylistic aspects of interpretation. The more you play 19th century music, you will find there is a major difference in each decade. The music of 1800-1810 sounds very different from the music of the 1830's for example. The guitar music before about 1825 really falls more into what is commonly described as the "Classical Period" - while guitar music after about 1825 becomes more "Romantic Period." There is not a specific date that this occurred; rather, it was a gradual process of evolution which continues to this day.

The Classical Guitar Composers List (CGCL) Homepage provides a succinct reference to composers for solo classical guitar. Each entry of the list consists of the composer's full name, year of birth, year of death (if applicable), and nationality. Alphabetizing is simply done by dropping all accents and diacritics. This is an excellent place to find many obscure composers.

Philip Bone: "Guitar and Mandolin" - an extensive 1914 biographical source that is often quoted, but also known for having some errors. Well worth studying as a good primary source, and sometimes the only source of information. This book has been digitized for free download at The Internet Archive: "a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format."

"The "Golden Era" of the guitar began with the eminent Italian guitarist and composer, Ferdinand Carulli (1770-1841), whose "Guitar Method" became popular throughout Europe. He was followed by Matteo Carcassi, author of a "Method," etudes and technical works, known to every guitar student. Next came Mauro Giuliani, Luigi Legnani, and Zani di Ferranti, all Italians. In Spain we find Dionisio Aguado and Ferdinand Sor, the latter acknowledged as the greatest composer, and called the Beethoven of the guitar. Somewhat later appeared Napoleon Coste in France and J. K. Mertz in Austria. These men not only were great artists, giving recitals in all the music centers of Europe, but composers as well, leaving behind them hundreds of beautiful compositions for their instrument. To students of to-day the classic works of these masters are indispensable." - George C. Krick

Choosing the Edition Type

Where possible, I prefer the Facsimile Edition as the most authoritative source, and is often the best edition in terms of page turns, fingering, completeness of dynamics, etc.. This is a photo-copy of the original 19th century edition, re-printed. The drawback is some editions can be worn and hard to read, and do not offer many fingerings to assist the beginning player.

The Article by Robert Spencer: "The Type of Edition We Should Play From" is an excellent summary of the benefits of facsimile editions. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the late Robert Spencer for his selfless efforts to make original editions available to performers and publishers. Without Spencer's efforts, we would probably not have available today the fine editions of Chanterelle and Tecla and others which made the original music available to the public.

Other edition types include "Urtext" - which is supposed to be a re-engravement of the original to enhance readability, but without changing anything in the original, like fingerings or notes, except for correcting obvious errors. However, only a few publishers adhere to this standard.

Most modern editions are revisions - meaning that a modern editor has imposed their opinion of fingerings and interpretation on the score.

Another type of edition is an Anthology - which contains a large number of pieces from many composers in a collection.


Principal Composers

This page discusses the guitar composers of the so-called early romantic guitar era of the late 1700's and 1800's whose music is known to me, and in my opinion made a contribution to the repertoire. It is by no means an exhaustive list, since there were probably hundreds of minor composers, many of whom have fallen into obscurity due to lack of available primary source material, or amateurs who did not write good material in my opinion.

I emphasize the most well-known composers of early 19th century guitar music, who have withstood the test of time, and whose music is still readily available in print. I also discuss several composers whose music is not as well known, but in my opinion is of high quality and worthy of performance. I also discuss a few composers whose music I have played in order to give a qualitative assessment. Although some scholars may disagree with my editorial choices, I feel that my non-commercial review and rating of this music is a useful service to provide to the public who may have limited time and resources to spend on music.

Although there were thousands of pieces published in this time period (indeed my library is over 10,000 scores, all of which I have at least skimmed once), there is a vast difference in quality of the music. Much of the very obscure music is not missed. However, there are many fine composers, and many gems to be found, if you are willing to sift through a lot of material to find them. Hopefully the recommendations on this web page will be useful. Fred Noad's assessment in his anthology "The Classical Guitar" is that Sor and Giuliani were miles above their competitors; and while I agree that they were among the best, I feel this point is greatly exaggerated:

"Although the total surviving body of guitar music from the early nineteenth century is vast, there are few compositions that can be classified as "major works".... Nevertheless the two most able composers, Sor and Giuliani, were able to approach the larger canvas.... both use the guitar in a grand manner with orchestral suggestions in the texture.... I realize that the collection heavily favors the work of Sor and Giuliani; but after examining literally hundreds of compositions of other composers of the period in the hope of finding a neglected masterpiece, I have come to the conclusion that there is a considerable qualitative gap between these two leading figures and all their competitors..." - Fred Noad.

I might add that later composers, such as Coste and Mertz were also exceptional composers, whose guitar music equalled or surpassed at times Sor and Giuliani. Noad did not mention them compared to Sor and Giuliani because he grouped them into his next book and into a later era. However, Coste and Mertz were rather limited to the guitar, whereas Sor and especially Giuliani were full chamber orchestra composers with the capacity to write large scale compositions. The other composers listed here wrote many fine pieces, but often their top pieces did not reach the height of excellence of the others, and their pieces varied considerably in quality. There are many fine arrangements of opera tunes, themes and variations, etc., by lesser-known composers - if you are willing to sift through a lot of music to find them.

Each composer listed is divided into links to biographical information, difficulty level, and my "editor's choice" of the best sheet music available in print. Although it may be interesting as an academic pursuit to list the complete works of a composer, the average person does not have access to obscure libraries scattered across the globe. This is a practical list of what is readily available. I have wasted hundreds of dollars buying bad editions, which have lots of errors, as well as poor revisionist fingerings, or which offer only a few "selected" pieces. In my 20+ years of experience playing this music, I strongly recommend to players that you get the complete works editions, facsimile copies where available, or modern urtext editions which are faithful to the original score, and stay away from anthologies or heavily-edited pieces. There are really not very many sources which meet this criteria, and I have saved you the pain by identifying them below.


Dionisio Aguado, 1784 - 1849

Aguado-Bone Biographical Information:

Aguado wrote several excellent concert pieces, such as the "Fandango" and the "Rondos Brillantes op. 2" as well as a comprehensive Method. The most well-known pieces by Aguado are the exercises from the Method because they are accessible for amateurs. Even Segovia played only these simple etudes, and ignored the concert works that Aguado published. Aguado's works include numerous short waltzes and menuets in the classical style; some charming, but not representative of Aguado's best works.

Aguado deserves credit for laying the foundation of today's modern classical guitar school of technique, and a direct lineage can be traced from Aguado to students of his students, notably to Julian Arcas and then Francisco Tarrega.

Aguado and Sor lived in the same apartment building in Paris, and played in duets together. Aguado is known for his use of the fingernails, while Sor advocated no nails. It is said that Sor claims that Aguado preferred Sor's tone, but Sor acknowledged that Aguado was able to achieve greater speed with the use of nails.

The Dionisio Aguado Home Page has more information about the composer.

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Aguado composed only pieces for the guitar; to my knowledge he did not write any pieces with other instruments, except for a revision of Sor's guitar duets. Like most guitarists of this era, Aguado's music can be classified into 2 categories: virtuoso concert works, and amateur pieces. Aguado's virtuoso works are limited to a few opus' - which are fine concert pieces, and very demanding on technique. The Rondos op. 2 (including the famous Rondo in A minor) and the Fandango stand out in my mind as his finest works.

Available Repertoire:

14 Works by Aguado are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije.

Aguado Complete Works There is a published source of Aguado's complete facsimile works, Chanterelle Editions, resold by Mel Bay Music Publishers Publications. This is a 4-volume set. If I had to pick one, I would pick Volume 3, which is the works with opus number. Volume 4 is works without opus, also a good choice. Volumes 1 and 2 are reprints of the studies and method, and there is some redundancy between volumes 1 & 2, as different editions are presented of the same work. The method is the facsimile written in Spanish, which is nearly useless if you do not read Spanish. For a good English translation of the method, Tecla provides the Dionisio Aguado: New Guitar Method, translated into English by Louise Bigwood.

Editor's Suggested Picks:

Aguado's works fall into 3 general categories: 1. Studies 2. Miniatures 3. Virtuoso concert works.

Many of Aguado's studies are nice, short pieces which remain popular. The miniatures consist of numerous waltzes and contradances. Some of them can be tedious, however.

Of the virtuoso concert works, Opus 2 "Rondos" stands out as a masterpiece which deserves a full recording, of all movements and pieces contained therein - a challenge met with Lorenzo Micheli's brilliant recording. The Rondo in A minor (marked as #3) is perhaps Aguado's most famous piece, with current recordings by David Russel and others. It is a real show piece, fun to play, dazzling and interesting (as an aside, the original publication incorrectly numbered the titles - there are actually 3 works, each with a slow and fast movement, thus "Rondo #3" is actually Rondo #2, second movement, etc.).

From opus 3 come a few short, pleasant works, including a Minuet recorded by Norbert Kraft. The opus 16 Fandango is a worthy concert masterpiece, with an excellent recording by Carle Trepat on a gut strung Torres. Also opus 15, the Menuet Affandango is exceptional. Both fandangos allude to the energetic, fiery Spanish popular style.

Lorenzo Micheli Aguado CD Lorenzo Micheli has recorded an exceptional CD entirely of Aguado's music, including his best works - the entire opus 2 Rondos, opus 15 Menuet affandango, opus 16 Fandango variations, and selections from the studies. Long overdue, this CD is a standout effort, with impeccable musicianship and style of the period, and recorded on an 1850's French romantic guitar. This is on the "Stradivarius" label, and I was able to find copies on most major online CD retailer sites.

Aguado is well-known for advocating a tripod device to hold the guitar and thereby free the player from holding the guitar, and allow more of the instrument to vibrate freely. James Westbrook's book shows photos of 2 Aguado-owned guitars by Lacote and Laprévotte, which are unusual in appearance and undoubtedly custom made for Aguado. First, their dimensions are larger than most guitars of the day, more like a modern guitar in proportion. Second, Aguado advocated the modern-style bridge. Aguado is known to have used guitars by both these makers, and the famous lithograph showing a guitar with oval-shaped soundhole is certainly by Laprévotte. It is also speculated that Aguado may have played early guitars by Guadagnini at one point, based on other sketches. The CD which goes with the Westbrook book (see accessories and recordings pages of this web site) features performances of Aguado on a Lacote which was outfitted for the Aguado tripod, and thus it may have been associated with Aguado or his circle directly.

Aguado - tripod


Heinrich Albert (1870-1950) and the Munich Guitar Quartet

Albert 1988 Wappenform
Heinrich Albert, circa 1900, with his Raab Wappenform guitar (courtesy of Andreas Stevens).
Although beyond the time period scope of this web site, Albert deserves mentioning. Stylistically, Albert's music is of the German-Viennese tradition and could easily pass for compositions written decades earlier, and sounds great on period guitars. Also interesting is the fact that terz guitar, Staufer-style instruments, and multi-bass / harp guitars, as well as music by Mertz and other mid to late 19th century composers, were all very active in Germany until easily the 1920's. Albert is also known for his method, arrangements, teaching, and guitar quartet.

Andreas Stevens now owns 2 of Albert's former guitars and has recorded Albert's works. Andreas informs that "In his public appearances he first played a Raab Wappengitarre because he found that the sound of his Hauser unfortunately did not carry enough, from 1910 - 1914 he played a Modelo Guadagnini from Mozzani and from 1914 to his death he played different guitars from Gelas, Paris."

Works by Albert can be found in REX and Boije.

Two informative articles on the net are: Harp Guitars - Featured Player of the Month, 7-04 and Orphee: Heinrich Albert and the First Guitar Quartet, by Allan Morris.


Julián Arcas, 1832 - 1882

Julián Arcas PortraitJulián Arcas with Mandolin

Biographical Information:

The Spanish guitar concert virtuoso, professor, and composer Julian Arcas is famous today for being Tarrega's teacher, as well as being the guitarist who worked with Torres to slightly modify the guitar's design to its current standard.

Arcas was active at a very early period, indeed the same time period as when Mertz, Coste, Regondi, and Legnani were publishing many of their finest compositions - the 1860's.

Stylistically Arcas reminds me of a cross between Aguado and Tarrega, not surprising since Arcas was taught by his father, who studied directly with Aguado or one of Aguado's followers. Arcas and Tarrega sound very much alike on some pieces, as indeed both players were part of a Spanish tradition and style which included many others. No doubt Arcas was ahead of his time, another hallmark of a good composer.

Arcas wrote many extended operatic pot-pourris, just like Mertz and Coste - for example, opera arrangements of Verdi, Bellini, Rossini, etc., are among Arcas' works. In addition, Arcas wrote many classical arrangements of popular Spanish songs and dances, such as the Bolero. This popular style is very traditional and "Spanish" sounding, and it later became the flamenco style. Other compositions are in a more classical form, such as Minuets and other original compositions.

Much of this repertoire has been long-neglected and out of print. However, with the recent publication of Arcas' complete works, once again this material is starting to become recognized as among the best gems of the entire repertoire. There are 52 published original compositions and arrangements of considerable variety and depth. The writing is at a high level, musically and technically. I have had to re-think Arcas' place in history based on this edition.

Biographical information is listed at these web site:

Arcas Bio
Arcas Bio

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Arcas was limited to pieces for the guitar and guitar duets; to my knowledge he did not write any pieces with other instruments. As was common practice, Arcas composed mostly arrangements or fantasies of operas or folk songs, in addition to a few original themes. Arcas did not write simple music for beginners, and the technical demands are high. At least an intermediate level of technique is required to play any of Arcas' music, and many pieces require a very advanced technique.

Available Repertoire:

Arcas Complete Works There is only one published source of Arcas' complete facsimile works, available from FFSI, GSP and others:

"Julian Arcas Complete Works for Guitar (Obras Completas para Guitarra)" - Edited by Melchor Rodriguez
52 pieces for guitar (1 unpublished) in original 19th century facsimile edition.
Historical notes and analytical commentary of each piece in English and Spanish.

This is a very thick book, around 270 pages. It is expensive but worth it.

Editor's Suggested Picks:

The works of Arcas in my opinion are of high quality, and stylistically fall inbetween Aguado and Tarrega. They deserve much greater exposure and are beginning to be discovered. My personal favorites:


Hector Berlioz ( 1803 - 1869 )
Berlioz is famous as a classical orchestral composer with a unique style, but not as a guitarist. In actuality, guitar and flute were the only instruments he could play. Berlioz initially made his living as a guitarist, and he published a few pieces for guitar during the first quarter of the 19th century. As no solo guitar works have been located, most likely Berlioz only published for guitar as accompaniment. As a friend of Paganini, Berlioz owned a guitar by Grobert of Mirecourt, which he and Paganini signed, and is now in a Paris museum.


Jan Nepomucen Bobrowicz (1805-1881) was a Polish virtuoso guitarist and composer. He was a student of Giuliani, who was known for ensemble work including performances with Paganini.

Available Repertoire:

The Digital Guitar Archive has published an authoritative edition of Bobrowicz titled "Selected Works". Volume 1 contains Variations, and Volume 2 is nearing completion. This edition contains detailed biographical information and serious compositions, of varying difficulty levels. The printing is clear, bold, and urtext - highly recommended.

11 opus' are also available from REX.


Luigi Boccherini (1749-1805)
Mostly known as a chamber composer of superb quintets. In 1769 he settled in Madrid. In the 1790's Boccherini had a patron, the Marquis de Benevente, who was a guitarist. The Marquis commissioned pieces with guitar, and thus Boccherini arranged a few of his prior works to derive the now famous Boccherini Guitar Quintets, which have been recorded by Richard Savino, Pepe Romero, and others - and are regarded as among the very finest chamber works in the guitar repertoire. The Pepe Romero double CD of Boccherini is a must-have recording, as is Richard Savino's. The 6 double-course guitar was popular in Spain at the time of composition, but the Marquis was a subscriber to Aguado's 6-single string method, thus there is still debate as to whether the 6-string or 12-string guitar is best for Boccherini's music.


The title-page of Plainte moresque, op. 85 Jaime Bosch "Bosch was a well-known guitarist in late nineteenth century Paris, a contemporary of Coste and a friend of the painter Edouard Manet. A Catalan born in Barcelona, his works show strong Spanish influence" (Brian Jeffery). The Tecla - Jaime Bosch Edition (see link) is a collection of eighteen works for solo guitar, in reprints of their original editions, with 76 pages.

"There are several little gems in this facsimile collection that are well worth playing. In particular I liked Brimborion, Duettino, Meditation, Etoiles et fleurs ... several of the shorter and easier items towards the end of the volume are also very effective ... there is much to simply enjoy in this volume, and it’s a must for anyone purporting to be interested in the music of its century. A centenary well worth marking." (Classical Guitar, December 1996).

6 works by Bosch are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije, including 1 work (opus 86 "Pasa Calle") which is not available in the Tecla edition. The other 5 works are also in Tecla, so you can download to see if you like the composer before buying the edition with 18 works (13 of which are not in REX).

Broca Jose Broca was a Spanish composer, 1805 - 1882. According to Fred Noad, Broca was a student of Aguado but mostly self-taught. He was established in Barcelona and renown for his playing of works by Sor and Aguado. He was a friend of Julian Arcas and the teacher of Jose Ferrer. Broca's works are elegant pieces in a similar style to Tarrega, but written much earlier.

Franz / Francesco Calegari (179?-18??) - Very little is known of Calegari. According to Angelo Gilardino, "According to the sources I have at hand, his dates are unknown. Terzi-Vio-Raspelli reference his birth at the end of the XVIIIth century, but do not provide any references beyond their statement. The different sources give Florence as his birthplace and refer to his journey to Germany, where he published music."

According to Marco V. Bazzotti, "Francesco Calegari was a guitarist and composer who flourished in the first half of the 19th century; little information is known about his life. He was probably a native of Florence; he was from a family of prominent musicians, of which the best known is Antonio Calegari. He started his activity as a concert performer in Florence, becoming subsequently much admired in the music circles in central Europe, mainly in Germany. He lived for a long time in Leipzig and Braunschweig, and for a brief period in Paris as well. His compositions were published by important firms such as Pleyel in Paris, Hofmeister and Schwarz in Leipzig, Ricordi and Canti in Milan, and Cipriani in Bologna and Florence. In about 1830 he entered in the publishing industry, becoming a competitor of Cipriani in Bologna. Of his production for guitar--about twenty works in all--we should mention the Variations Op.18 and the Rondò Op.3 for guitar; the Polonese Op.16 for violin and guitar; and several instrumental reductions on themes of operas."

Six works by Calegari are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije. I had never heard of this composer-guitarist, but I found upon sight reading the music, that it stood out as being of very high quality and fun to play. In particular, op. 4 (Tyroliens Variations) and op. 10 (Schweizer Variations) are my favorites.


Leonard von Call ( 1767 - 1815 ) - Austrian guitarist and composer, and a contemporary of Giuliani in Vienna. Author of mostly chamber works, including a popular easy guitar trio in C. Very classical in style, not very demanding in technique, with an appeal to the amateur audience of the day. Several works, mostly ensemble pieces, are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije.


Antonio Cano ( 1811 - 1897 ).
Cano "Guitarist, teacher and composer. This pupil of Dionisio Aguado originally practised medicine before devoting himself to the guitar and teaching at the Madrid Conservatoire. He was also official archivist to Queen Isabella the Second. We are indebted to Cano for his guitar method published in 1852 and reprinted in 1868 with an additional treatise on harmony adapted to the guitar. Antonio Cano composed about a hundred pieces and exercises for the guitar. It is probable that he gave lessons to Francisco Tarrega and contributed to the development of the technique of the tremolo. His main contribution to the world of music is his guitar tutorial: "Método de Guitarra" (1852)." - Text provided by Norbert Fischer.

Matteo Carcassi, 1792 - 1853

Carcassi Biographical Information:

Carcassi was a virtuoso player who wrote many fine extended works. Carcassi's pieces show originality in their development, and a thorough knowledge of the fingerboard and all its positions - and in many cases innovative technique. Sadly, most publishers continue to publish only Carcassi's pieces for beginners, and the concert-level works are now mostly out of print, despite their high quality. This leaves many people with the mistaken impression that Carcassi is only for beginners.

Carcassi wrote playable and rewarding music for the typical guitarist: there are pieces for a variety of playing abilities, from very easy pieces for absolute beginners, through extended virtuosic operatic fantasies which require an advanced technique. Some of Carcassi's works are comparable to Legnani in terms of musical level and technique. The etudes and simple pieces Carcassi wrote for the purposes of teaching beginners are charming and effective, and they are still popular today with countless amateurs. The Carcassi concert pieces are mostly written at an intermediate to advanced level of playing, and are much more representative of Carcassi's skill. Like most guitarist-composers of this era, Carcassi wrote variations and fantasy forms of popular songs and operas, but Carcassi's skill at this genre far exceeded most of his contemporaries.

Carcassi is most well-known today as an author of studies for amateurs which remain popular and effective. Nearly every classical guitarist has played a Carcassi etude at some point. The Carcassi method book is possibly the most widely used classical guitar method in history; it continues to be a top seller, and it has been continuously in print since its publication in the early 19th century. It remains a relevant treatise, and easily as good as Sor's studies.

Gabriel Schebor's work: To see a true demonstration of playing according to Carcassi's technique, there is an excellent series by Gabriel Schebor on Youtube (search for "gschebor carcassi") performing Carcassi's Etudes on romantic guitar utilizing his method, as documented in the "Méthode... op.59" of 1836. As Gabriel explains: "Carcassi indicates clearly that the ring finger should be used only for 4-note arpeggios (where unavoidable) and 4-note chords. No nail playing, thumb always in "rest stroke" and the little finger resting on the soundboard. This approach shows similarity with Fernando Sor's technique and strongly resembles late Renaissance and Baroque lute technique."

I am surprised to find that absolutely nobody, to my knowledge, has recorded any of Carcassi's serious concert works for guitar. They are excellent pieces, comparable to Giuliani or Legnani and surely deserve a decent recording. The only recordings I can find are the etudes and the 6 Caprices - all of which are beginner works.

However, Carcassi is not considered to be an elite composer like Sor, Giuliani, or Carulli due to the lack of large-scale works for other instruments. I am only aware of one piece for piano and guitar by Carcassi; nowhere to be found are works for 2 or more instruments. One could make a similar criticism of Barrios today: an excellent guitar composer, but not a composer of large-scale pieces or orchestral works.

The Carcassi Guitar Method By George C. Krick (1941) - an interesting article from 1941 regarding the continued popularity of the Carcassi Method. Other quotes from Krick:

"Not a great deal is known concerning the early career of Carcassi beyond the fact that he studied the guitar in his youth and, by his concentrated efforts and natural musical endowments, acquired most extraordinary skill upon his chosen instrument. After establishing an enviable reputation as a performer in his native land, he toured Germany, where he was received with unbounded enthusiasm. In 1820 he arrived in Paris and, two years later, made his first appearance in London. These cities had been visited previously by Ferdinand Sor; and the English and French musical public, recognizing the genius of Carcassi, received him with open arms.

Ferdinando Carulli, sometimes called the father of the Italian school of guitar playing, had been a resident of Paris for some years and by his concert performances and guitar compositions had drawn to himself the favor and patronage of the wealthy Parisians. Up to this time he had written and published more than three hundred compositions, among them a method which was a universal favorite. But, with the arrival of Carcassi, the fickle Parisians were ready to transfer their allegiance to the new star on the guitar firmament. Carcassi was in the prime of life, and he introduced a new style of music, more modern, melodious, brilliant, abounding in artistic and pleasing effects and also of but medium difficulty. Publishers importuned him for his compositions, and salons of Parisian artists and of the nobility were thrown open to him. After a few years in Paris, Carcassi again journeyed through England and the various countries of continental Europe, later returning to his adopted city where he died in 1853.

Carcassi must be counted among the greatest masters of the instrument. In his compositions, of which about eighty were published, he shows much originality and individuality. He perfected the method of fingering, introduced many novel effects and carried the resources of the instrument to greater lengths than any guitarist before him.
" - George C. Krick

See also The Italian Guitar in the 19th-Century: Sixty biographies - Sixty biographies of Italian guitarist composers of Nineteenth century in alphabetic order (edited by Marco Bazzotti).

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Carcassi was limited to pieces for the guitar; to my knowledge he did not write any pieces with other instruments, except for one piece I found for piano and guitar. There are no Carcassi duets known to exist. As was common practice, Carcassi composed mostly arrangements or fantasies of operas or folk songs, in addition to a few original themes, and many theme & variation pieces. Like most guitarists of this era, Carcassi's music can be classified into 2 categories: virtuoso concert works, and amateur pieces. Many of Carcassi's virtuoso works are nice concert pieces that audiences typically enjoy. The difficulty level of most Carcassi pieces, including the concert works, is usually Medium difficulty, which makes this music appealing to accomplished amateur players. A few pieces require advanced technique, but not so advanced as to make them out of reach. I like to think of Carcassi's music as being "accessible" - since it was written idiomatically to the guitar and conceived for a realistic level of ability. Many of his works "sound" harder than they really are, and are designed so that performers with modest technique can dazzle audiencies. Carcassi published many pieces for beginners, including pieces for first year students. Countless guitarists over several generations have thanked Carcassi for providing playable music at all levels of ability.

Available Repertoire:

Over 25 Works by Carcassi, including many extended fantasy works, are available for free PDF download from REX. Another 9 pieces not in REX are available for free PDF download from Boije.

Carcassi Without a doubt, the Carcassi Method and the pieces contained within is the most famous work. It is readily available from several publishers, including Mel Bay Music Publishers. The GFA Archives has a few Carcassi pieces, including Sonata: opus 1; Deux airs de ballets de l'opera de Moise de Rossini: op. 28, no. 1. The Caprices opus 26 still circulates as well. A large collection of extended operatic fantasies is available from Donald Sauter in the Guitar music in the Library of Congress. Tuscany Guitar Publications released a Carcassi concert work, Adieux a la Suisse - this is one of Carcassi's best pieces, one that I personally enjoy playing.

Editor's Suggested Picks:


Ferdinando Carulli, 1770 - 1841

Carulli - Bone Biographical Information:

Carulli was a prolific composer, an early pioneer who pre-dated Sor and Giuliani, and was considered by many to be the father of the modern 6-string guitar. Some of his best pieces are exceptional, and are among the finest works of this era. In many ways, Carulli is under-rated as a composer and should be re-examined. Carulli's compositional abilities are demonstrated in the many large-scale works for guitar with violin, flute, piano, and many fine guitar duets. Despite this, very little Carulli material is in print: and unfortunately, like Carcassi, only the beginner pieces for amateurs by Carulli can be found in print today, which leaves the mistaken impression that this was the extent of Carulli's capabilities. Today, this situation is starting to be corrected by available free facsimiles from REX, and a few fine recordings of these serious, extended works by Saracino and Savino, among others.

It is often stated, and I agree, that Carulli's output varies in quality considerably, varying from masterpiece gems to tired formulas. However, I believe a composer should be judged by the quality of the concert pieces, not of the pieces published expressly for beginners. I have found upon examining dozens of original facsimile manuscripts and listening to recordings of Carulli's works for guitar with violin/flute/piano, that in general, Carulli made a clear distinction in his publications between beginner pieces and concert pieces. The beginner pieces were clearly indicated as such, and thus they are more limited to the first positions on the guitar, lesser difficulty, and simpler musical ideas, to allow development of the amateur player. The concert pieces are more developed, more difficult, and musically more complex. I also share the firm belief of Richard Savino and others, that Carulli was a top-tier 19th century guitar composer, and vastly under-rated. With a little patience and access to many scores, the gems in Carulli's repertoire are worth the search.

Stylistically, Carulli follows the classical period mold in the style of Mozart and Haydn - it sounds like the late 18th-century style, fast and light with appropriate "affect" and interpretation. In that style, emotions and moods were called "affects" and were confined to a section of a piece. The "affect" did not change until a new section: thus, in accordance with most "classical" period music, individual variations would be major or minor, and consistent in their "affect" - resolute, sad, joyful, etc.. In the later romantic period, "affects" changed frequently and flowed capriciously. In the year 1810, Carulli was already 40 years old - and clearly in 1810, published music followed the classical style. Carulli was very active as a composer from 1800-1820: a true "classical" guitarist. The "romantic" period did not start until at least 1820-30, and we do find evolution in Carulli's later opus numbers to change with the times somewhat. While modern guitarists sometimes think of this music as "cliché" - it must be noted how early this music was published, and as Richard Long points out, Carulli invented many effects and portions of the guitar's language that were new and innovative at the time, and widely copied to the point that today they seem clichés. Another point of interpreting Carulli, is that the pieces will surely sound dull if you play it dull. In other words, add dynamics, phrasing, color, intensity, and emotion to bring out the music.

Carulli's writing was not confined to solo guitar. In fact, solo guitar was the smallest percentage of Carulli's output. Carulli's serious works for guitar duet are among the finest in the entire repertoire (one such duo was recorded by John Williams and Julian Bream), and there are many suites to choose from. Carulli's works for piano and guitar were recently recorded by Leopoldo Saracino (guitar) and Massimo Palumbo (piano): these works comprise fully 8 CD ROM's! Carulli also recorded numerous duos for guitar and flute, guitar and violin, and Guitar Trio (e.g. for Guitar, Flute, and Violin - not for 3 guitars), in addition to various other combinations, including chamber works. In those days, Carulli's vision was to treat the guitar just like any other orchestral instrument, and ensemble playing was a huge part of its purpose.

Biographical notes by George C. Krick.

See also The Italian Guitar in the 19th-Century: Sixty biographies - Sixty biographies of Italian guitarist composers of Nineteenth century in alphabetic order (edited by Marco Bazzotti).

Mario Torta's book about Carulli is a catalog which lists the complete Carulli works and their location: http://www.lim.it/cataloghi/musicalia003torta.htm

Wikipedia Article listing Carulli's opus numbers and their year: Carulli Compositions List

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Carulli was a capable composer who was able to write many large scale works for other instruments in addition to solo guitar pieces. As was common practice, Carulli composed mostly arrangements or fantasies of operas or folk songs, in addition to a few original themes, and many theme & variation pieces. Like most guitarists of this era, Carulli's music can be classified into 2 categories: virtuoso concert works, and amateur pieces. Carulli also gave us a third category, that of "intermediate" pieces for good amateur players - as no doubt there was a sizeable number of classical guitarists in Paris looking for good and playable music. Many of Carulli's virtuoso works are superb concert pieces and real gems of the repertoire. The difficulty level varies considerably; the concert works are usually Medium difficulty, but several works require very advanced technique to play at full speed with the intended interpretation. The music was written idiomatically to the guitar. Carulli also published many short and easy pieces for beginners, including pieces for first year students. Given the variety of output (concert solos, concert duets, beginner duets, beginner solos, concert chamber works, beginner chamber works), Carulli wrote compositions to appeal a wide audience. I firmly believe that Carulli should be elevated in status as one of the finest principal composers for the guitar.

Available Repertoire:

Around 45 Works by Carulli are available for free PDF download from REX.

Tuscany Guitar Publications has a few pieces of Carulli. The GFA Archives also has a few Carulli pieces, including a number of flute, violin, viola, and guitar duets. A large collection of extended operatic fantasies is available from Donald Sauter in the Guitar music in the Library of Congress.

Orphee Editions has 2 Carulli editions not available elsewhere (Solo and Variations on Nel cor più, Op. 107), and (Raccolta di Sonate Diverse) - both newly engraved: Orphee Editions (Carulli Page link).

Carulli's Guitar - Bone
"Carulli, bequeathed his guitar to the museum of the National Conservatoire of Music, while he was a professor in that institution. This beautiful Italian instrument, with the dedication of his guitar method, was presented by Ferdinand Carulli to his son (Gustave) in 1810. It was constructed from his designs in elegant rosewood with marquetry of ivory and ebony, the head and neck are most cleverly executed, terminating in the form of a bow of ribbon, while on the table - which is chastely inlaid with ivory and ebony — are the initials of Gustave Carulli carved in ivory, and forming the terminations of the scrolls of the bridge. The sound hole is unusual, being partially closed by a delicate ivory cameo of a muse playing a lyre." - Philip Bone
Editor's Suggested Picks:

  • Chamber works - guitar with flute, viola, piano, violin: our best ensemble repertoire.
  • Duets - Forget the dippy, short beginner duos. Carulli's intermediate to virtuoso duos are fantastic.
  • L'Orage, op. 2 - This is a very early work, dating from 1800-1810. It is a story for guitar and recited voice, but works well as a solo piece. In this early work, we find many of Carulli's "favorite licks" as well as passages of great beauty and liveliness, and clever use of the guitar. The story is of a thunder storm, a love story, and a battle with a monster. The story is corny, but it helps in the interpretation: for example, "The sky darkens" should definitely trigger the guitarist to play the music to match the story. Clever effects for imitating wind, rain, thunder, and hail are used. The "wailing of the shepherdess" melody is simply haunting. The final section has a wonderful Baroque-style sequence.
  • Sonata op 5
  • Ouverture, Op. 6 #1 - This can be found in various anthologies. It is a very classical-period overture; fast, lively, and cooks when played at full tempo.
  • 3 Sonatines op 7 - A straight-forward classical suite.
  • Grande Sonate, op. 16. This is an early work in a pure Classical style. The first movement is a lively overture. The Adagio middle movement is one of the most beautiful passages I have encountered. The Rondo is straight-forward writing and meant to be played very fast.
  • Solo, op. 20 - A nice early work, again very much in the classical style.
  • Trois Sonates op 21 - possibly Carulli's best solo work; recorded by Richard Savino on Naxos. 3 complete Sonatas, each with 3 movements.
  • Cendrillon, op. 44. A three-part work based on the "Cinderella" story; the section of the story is mentioned as the music occurs, as the music is evocative of the story line. Carulli's opus 44 was published in Paris, a potpourri. It may refer to Nicholas Isouard's opera Cendrillon staged in Paris (1810) or a different opera or ballet, or perhaps it was a new work. It seems to be orchestral writing, reduced to guitar, and it seems to be ballet-based, as various dance rhythms are employed. The music is dramatic and varied - in places it sounds Renaissance or Baroque, in other areas operatic. The melodies are infectious, as I find my self whistling the tunes from this work. It is not difficult.
  • Variations on "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" op 60 #3 - Tuscany Publications (very good edition IMO). OK, everyone knows this melody, which was originally a French tune from 1761, which Mozart, Beethoven, and others used as a variation subject. Carulli's piece is imaginative in its use of the guitar and worth the effort, as it is a challenge.
  • National Airs of Peoples of Europe op 73 - Lots of fun! 6 pieces with variations: French Vive Henri Quatre (ancient air), Spanish Fandango (fiery!), English Air (God Save the King / My Country Tis of Thee), Italian Tarantella, Russian Chanson (the famous Shone Minka), and a dazzling Austrian Tirolienne (it was popular to copy horn music then).
  • Folias of Spain, Variations, op. 75 #2 - Richard Long provided this in the GFA Soundboard magazine; it is a nice set of variations on the familiar Folias tune. There are several "guitar licks" such as pull-off's - as we must remember, first there was Carulli, and THEN there was Van Halen much later...
  • Solo and Variations on Nel cor più, Op. 107
  • Theme with Variations and Rondo op 162 - lots of 9th position passages which sounds sweet on period guitars.
  • 3 Divertiments al Espagnole op 209 - especially #3 - this is intended to be imbellished with fiery strumming, etc.
  • La Girafe.. op 306 - Tuscany Publications has a nice edition with excellent page turns and fold-outs. This is an interesting work which evokes the awkward gaping walk of the Giraffe at the Paris zoo, the exposition, and so forth.
  • 6 Divertissements Brillants op 317 (Chanterelle) - While most of this music is good but not great, the #5 Bolero is saucy and very "Spanish".
  • 6 (Sei) Andanti, op. 320 - A Ruggero Chiesa modern edition exists but may be out of print. Of the 6 "Andante" pieces, several of them are appealing: my fave's are #1 and especially #2. Carulli uses many difficult notation figures and some of the pieces seem like written-out improvisations, but #2 is a very nice piece which brings out the midrange on the Lacote.
  • Louis-Marie Duvillard (France) recommends these works as well: Solo op. 113, 3 Solos op. 76, Solo op. 229 (Les Adieux), Polonaise op. 141, Sonate op.16 - they are all (except op. 229), in reprint by "Minkoff reprint editions" (but not on REX).


Luigi Castellacci (1797-1845)

According to Richard Long, Luigi Castellacci was an Italian virtuoso of the mandolin and the guitar who later moved to Paris in the 1820's and was a contemporary of Sor, Coste, Carulli, and Carcassi in Paris. Notably, a 19th century source indicates Castellacci played in concert with Sor on at least one occasion. Most of his music is theme and variations of operas, which are rewarding to play because they require intermediate ability to play, but achieve great musical effect.


Fernando Cruz Cordero (1822-1861)

Fernando Cruz Cordero was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1822, died 21 Aug 1863. His father was Fernando María Cordero, born 03 Jun 1789, in Cádiz, España, d. 18 Oct 1859, Montevideo, Uruguay (from http://genealogiafamiliar.net).

Cordero was a lawyer and freemason, as well as a gifted guitarist. Cordero lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and later travelled to Europe.

The Orphee Editions Cordero Page contains additional biographical information and describes their edition of Fernando Cruz Cordero music composed in circa 1851, "Six Divertissements for Guitar", introduced by Melanie Plesch.

Fernando Cordero is not to be confused with the modern composer and guitarist Ernesto Cordero (born in 1946 in New York).


Napoleon Coste, 1805 - 1883

CosteCoste
(click thumbnail to see larger image)

Biographical Information:

Napoleon Coste studied with Fernando Sor, who dedicated 2 pieces to Coste. Coste's music is similar to Sor's, but with a more Romantic French style. Coste's music is excellent quality overall, truly fantastic gems, and pieces range in difficulty. Some of Coste's concert works deserve an eminent place in the repertoire. Segovia only recorded a few etudes by Coste; these are nice pieces, but not representative of the high quality of Coste's extended works. Naxos is issuing the Naxos Complete Works of Coste on CD, for only about $5 per CD. These CD's are of good quality and highly recommended, though it is regrettable that Naxos chose to record these pieces on 6-string guitar, thus missing the extended sonority of the 7 and 8 string guitars for which the pieces were composed.

Players who have only a 6-string guitar should not be intimidated by the occasional 7th string. Coste's publications indicate that the player can raise the octave of these notes, but he prefers the 7-string. The quality of the music is worthwhile to do so. Coste played and wrote for 6-string, 7-string, and perhaps 8-string guitar depending on the piece. In the complete works series, you will find a mixture of 6-7 string pieces, though mostly 7-string. The 7th string was usually the low D, but was sometimes tuned to C. Simon Wynberg claims in the Chanterelle text that C and D are found in the same work, and thus there might have been an 8-string guitar on occasion. If so, the 8th string always low C. However, I found that the C and D occur in different movements and thus the 7th string was probably re-tuned. This 7 string music is perfectly playable on a 6-string guitar, by raising the octave of the low D, or playing in Drop-D tuning, depending on the piece. The low D is used sparingly, so there is not a big sacrifice to raise its octave. However, if you have a 7-string or 8-string classical guitar, you can of course realize the full sonority of the music. It is a subtle effect, but very nice when used. See the 7-string, 8-string & 10-string Guitars Page for more detail about the floating 7-string Coste-style guitar. I enjoy playing Coste on my 8-string Stauffer copy by Kresse.

One biographical detail is worth noting: 1806 was commonly believed to be Coste's birth date until Brian Jeffery later found the birth certificate which confirmed 1805 as the correct date (thanks to Brigitte Zaczek for this info).

Biographical notes by George C. Krick.

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Coste was limited to pieces for one guitar, or at most 2 instruments. Most of his output is guitar solos, with some fine duets and music for violin/flute/oboe and guitar, and a few short pieces for piano and oboe or piano and voice. As was common practice, Coste composed mostly arrangements or fantasies of operas or folk songs, in addition to a few original themes, and many theme & variation pieces.

The difficulty level of most Coste pieces, including the concert works, is usually Medium to Advanced difficulty, which makes this music appealing to accomplished amateur players. A few pieces require advanced technique, but not so advanced as to make them out of reach. Though, the more advanced works do require an accomplished professional to make them sound fluid and flawless. I like to think of Coste's music as being "accessible" - since it was written idiomatically to the guitar and conceived for a realistic level of ability. Coste was particularly skilled at writing for the guitar so that the fingerings are natural, with no awkwardness. Coste did not publish easy music for first year students; his Etudes are dedicated to "Amateurs of Talent" and require at least medium ability.

Coste had a long life span, and was publishing music from the 1830's through the 1870's. During this 40 year period, music changed considerably, and Coste's music changed with the times. I find a lot of variety and originality in his music, and Coste ranks as perhaps my personal favorite 19th century composer. Not surprisingly, much of his music sounds like Sor, but Coste has his own unique style as well, and tended to borrow from other time periods and styles with certain character pieces. Later works became more romantic in character, with extended candenzas, and some early chromaticism.

Available Repertoire:

Around 50 Works by Coste are available for free PDF download from REX, most of the solo, duo, and oboe works, including a couple of rarities not published by Chanterelle: short pieces for voice & guitar, and one for oboe and piano. Also check Boije.

Coste There is only one published source of Coste's complete facsimile works, Chanterelle Editions, resold by Mel Bay Music Publishers Publications. Volumes 1-6 and 9 are solo material; volume 7 is guitar duets, and volume 8 is flute/oboe/violin and guitar duets. Some volumes are becoming scarce, indicating perhaps this is fast going out of print.

Editor's Suggested Picks:


Adam Darr (1811-1866)
Darr-Bone Motivically-based high quality compositions for solo, duo, and quart guitar. I spoke with Joe Costello of Phoenix, Arizona, who discovered the works of Adam Darr in a German library while travelling to Europe. Joe is working to publish these fine works (see JosephCostello Site). REX contains a few short pieces in an anthology as well as a large number of excellent duets for 2 guitars in an Eggers (editor) volume (music from A.Darr in the Number RiBS1075-1 and RiBS1075-2). The Boije collection also has some of the duets missing from REX and a few solo works, mostly short.

"Darr's talents in composing and performing on the guitar are well documented, but his abilities in singing and on the zither are little known to present day music fans of the guitar. Darr was born at Schweinfurt, Germany, 1811 and died at Augsburg, in 1866. At the age of eighteen he began his musical activities in performance and travelled throughout Europe performing before royal courts. At the end of his tour in Russia, he remained in St. Petersburg to teach and perform and after three years returned to a position in Wurzburg. At this time he teamed up with Frederick Brand and began a relationship as a guitar duet performing throughout Germany until his death October 22, 1866." - from Norbert Fischer

Johann Decker-Schenk (1826-1899)

Decker-Schenk was born in Vienna, but moved to St. Petersburg in 1861, where he established himself as the premier virtuoso and teacher of guitar. He was the son of Friedrich Schenk, who created the spectacular single and dual arm harp guitars, copied by many luthiers, including Mozzani. As he learned the guitar from his father, it is likely that Decker-Schenk utilized these instruments during his career. Other clues include a Russian guitar catalog which lists the wappen-shaped harp guitar as the "Decker-Schenck model." - Gregg Miner, HarpGuitars.Net

REX and Boije contain a few scores. These are all written for 10-string guitar, but most pieces utilize only 2 low notes in the piece which makes it suited to 8-string guitar as well. The low notes are indicated "8" but notated within the normal 6-string octave range, thus 6-string players can also play this music. Some of this music is schmaltzy (think of Tarrega's "Rosita Polka" as the general style) with waltzes, polkas and such - which was popular in that region and time period - but other works deserve merit, including:


Søffren Degen (1816-1885)
Jens Bang Rasmussen has worked with Tecla Editions to provide downloadable music scores and biographies from two important Danish composers - Degen and Rung.

Degen had very close ties to Napoléon Coste, and the music also employs the optional 7th string (tuned to C or D, depending on the piece). For players with 7, 8, or 10-string guitars, this is a welcome addition to the repertoire. The 7th string can be raised an octave for 6-string guitars as it is used sparingly.

The instrument Degen used was made by Stauffer. Stylistically, the music is close to Coste's style. The music is good, but not quite at the compositional level of Coste. Degen has his own style to some degree, and at moments he can write fine and interesting music with depth. At other times, the music can be too formula-based, especially the shorter waltz-based pieces. The longer pieces are more challenging and interesting.

Most importantly, Degen was a master cellist and wrote many pieces for cello and guitar available from Jens Rasmussen and Tecla Editions. These are pehaps the most important works for cello and guitar in the 19th century repertoire, and they are Degen's finest works as well.


Anton Diabelli ( 1781 - 1858 )
Guitarist, Composer, Pianist, Publisher. Diabelli is most famous for the theme upon which Beethoven based an extensive set of variations, and for being Beethoven's publisher. Diabelli composed works for guitar solo, duo, and guitar with other instruments, including many pieces for guitar and forte-piano. These pieces are charming, but not of the quality of Giuliani. As a publisher, Diabelli published thousands of works for many instruments, and became wealthy as the owner of Vienna's leading publishing firm. Many guitar compositions were published by Diabelli, including many Giuliani first editions. Interestingly, as documented in Dr. Heck's biography, Giuliani once wrote in a private letter to a friend that Diabelli earned his "eternal contempt" for publishing practices which enriched Diabelli at the performer's expense.

Several works are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije.
Johann Dubez (1828-1891)

Dubez Bio (In German)

Johann Dubez Dubez was a Viennese guitarist who studied with Mertz and became a virtuoso concert guitarist. Only a few works were published, which can be found for free PDF download from REX (including the Mertz-style Hungarian Fantasy), and also several hand-written manuscripts can be found in Boije.
Hungarian Fantasy Title Page His compositions make extensive use of the 10-string guitar, and it is nearly fruitless to attempt these pieces with less than an 8-string instrument. It also requires 22-24 frets on some pieces, clearly for the Staufer-style guitar. Most of the works are extremely difficult, with fast note flourishes, and clearly written for virtuoso players. In the later 19th century, as the romantic period flourished, instrumental virtuosity and sentiment were prevalent and sometimes overdone.

The Fantaisie Hongrois stands out as probably the best work, and Robert Trent has included this in concert programs. It borrows from the Mertz piece of the same title but is a new composition. While challenging, it is not impossible to play.

Michael Sieberichs-Nau has researched Dubez, and points out that these works are elaborate, only for professionals (like Liszt). Apparently, only 2 works by Dubez were published, and probably due to the technical requirements, other pieces were probably sold as hand-copied manuscripts individually by the composer, a practice which is well-documented during this time period and done by Mertz.
Dubez Guitar - Front and Back Dubez Guitar Label
The actual guitar used by Dubez has surfaced: a Staufer/Scherzer design with cutaway for easy upper fret access, and 10 strings. Brigitte Zaczek kindly provided photos of a guitar she "recently aquired at an auction in Vienna: a very peculiar specimen of a 10 string guitar, unlabeled but with the signature of Johann Dubez inside. It does not seem to have been built in Vienna but according to Alex Timmerman it shows some similarities with instruments built by Henryk Rudert (Warsaw)."


Adolph Julius Eggers (1859-1919)

Another later guitarist worth mentioning concerning romantic guitar is A. Eggers.

According to Daniel Fryklund on the Orphee web site, "Eggers was amongst other things a guitar teacher in Copenhagen and produced a great number of song collections with guitar accompaniment, duets for 2 guitars and “12 Spanske Danse og Melodier” [12 Spanish Dances and Melodies] for mandolin and guitar. Eggers also published “Udvalgte Kompositioner” [Selected Works] for guitar solo by J. K. Mertz."

According to by Erling Møldrup, professor of guitar at the Royal Academy of Music in Århus Denmark:
"Adolph Julius Eggers. Cantor and guitarist. Eggers was another of the Danish music personalities who were hopelessly in love with the guitar. Unfortunately, even he was a properly educated composer, he did not write any compositions for the guitar, but however created an enormous amount of wonderful guitar accompaniments of songs by the greatest composers, Danish and foreign. These are arrangements which are still in use today. A real treasure for every guitarist and singer to explore, believe me!"

Several works by Eggers are available for free PDF download from REX. These are a Method for guitar, as well as duet collections from around 1900-1920 which use terz guitar extensively. Many of the famous romantic guitar composers such as Mertz can be found in the Eggers editions. The arrangements are of high editorial quality.


Fernando Ferandiere (1771-1816) Fernando Ferandiere enjoyed a high rank as a guitarist in the eighteenth century and was spoken of in glowing terms by Dioniso Aguado. This remarkable prolific composer wrote two hundred and thirty five works. Ferandiere's most inportant contribution to the classical guitar was his "Arte de Tocar la Guitarra Espagnola por Musica", a method in modern notation for the six-string guitar. The James Westbrook sponsored CD (see Recordings page) has a few nice pieces by Ferandiere on a 6-course Pages guitar.


François De Fossa ( 1775 - 1869 )


François De Fossa is beginning to gain notice as a major composer of substantial merit. The solo pieces are advanced and musically rich, and the chamber pieces show Fossa's true capabilities at larger-scale works. Very little guitar music survives, but what remains is superb, including an excellent set of chamber pieces with guitar, and the exceptional Haydn arrangements. Fossa was a friend of Aguado. The outstanding article of M. Ophee provides biographical details: FRANÇOIS DE FOSSA, A French Guitarist in Mexico by Matanya Ophee, and Ophee publishes several works by Fossa. The Ophee edition is superb: it has a good biography, plus the music conforms as a true urtext edition to the originals and I prefer these editions to the facsimile. Orphee has also released a newly discovered work, Troisième Fantaisie Op. 10 sur un Thême de Beethoven.

The music is challenging but well worth the effort. Fossa was not obliged to make a living at music, and thus held to the highest artistic standards of composition. There is one fine guitar duet in the REX collection. The Boije collection contains 2 works not in REX or Orphee.


Enea Gardana - I have been unable to locate any biographical information on Gardana. There are 19 opus works available from REX and many from Boije as well. All are advanced level, and several were written for guitar with 9 strings. Two of these works I enjoy very much, including the Bolero op. 22 which is an arragement of Verdi's Vespri Siciliani for 6-string guitar; a fiery Spanish-sounding piece, the theme of which also forms the basis of a bolero by Julian Arcas.


Mauro Giuliani, 1781 - 1829

Giuliani-Bone Biographical Information:

Giuliani left his native Italy in his early 20's for Vienna, where he was among the elite composers in Vienna during the early 19th century. His friends included Beethoven, Schubert, Hummel, Rossini, and Paganini, and he performed for the top venues and people of his age. Giuliani played the guitar, Lyra guitar, was an accomplished vocalist, and cellist - who played cello in the world premier of Beethoven's 7th symphony. Giuliani wrote a few complete concertos, with assistance from Hummel to orchestrate them, as well as a great deal of chamber music and duets for 2 guitars, flute, piano, and violin. Late night jam sessions with Schubert and friends were weekly, as well as concert appearances and collaboration with other elite musicians which were a frequent occurence. Giuliani's 200+ vocal works have been compared to Schubert's in their quality, and possibly surpass them. As a close friend of Rossini, Giuliani was given original manuscripts to arrange as he liked, and access to Rossini for input on his Rossini arrangements. Giuliani's solo works number over 18 volumes through Tecla.

Across the board, contemporary reviews of his playing rank him as one of the greatest performers of the guitar to have ever lived.

Giuliani's music is lively, interesting, dynamic and convincing. The guitar writing is idiomatic and clever; always using the guitar to its fullest capacity, so that seemingly difficult pieces are logical and attainable. As with Sor, the parts are "correct" as they said back then - in other words, proper voice leading, harmony, and full parts written out. This music was popular upon its release, and has withstood the test of time.

Giuliani is without a doubt among the top 3 composers for the guitar in the 19th century, and probably for all time.

Dr. Heck has published a complete biography of this diverse, prolific, and amazing composer of the 19th century guitar; it is available through Editions Orphee. I have read Dr. Heck's book, and I would highly recommend it. For an overview, read Dr. Brian Jeffery's article: Notes on Giuliani's music.

See also The Italian Guitar in the 19th-Century: Sixty biographies - Sixty biographies of Italian guitarist composers of Nineteenth century in alphabetic order (edited by Marco Bazzotti).

Biographical notes by George C. Krick (1940).

Emilia Giuliani, Mauro's daughter, also published a few works, as did Michel Giuliani, Mauro's son.

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Giuliani was a capable composer who was able to write many large scale works for other instruments in addition to solo guitar pieces. Giuliani wrote 3 full guitar concertos, and many works for 2 guitars, violin, flute, and piano with guitar. As was common practice, Giuliani composed many arrangements or fantasies of operas or folk songs, in addition to original themes, and many theme & variation pieces. Like most guitarists of this era, Giuliani's music can be classified into 2 categories: virtuoso concert works, and amateur pieces. Many of Giuliani's virtuoso works are superb concert pieces and the very best gems of the entire guitar repertoire. The difficulty level varies considerably. The concert works are usually Medium to Advanced difficulty, with several works that require virtuoso technique, but many fine concert pieces are accessible to intermediate players. The music was written idiomatically to the guitar. Giuliani also published many short and easy pieces for beginners, including pieces for first year students. Given the variety of output (concert solos, concert duets, beginner duets, beginner solos, concert chamber works, beginner chamber works), Giuliani wrote compositions to appeal a wide audience.

Available Repertoire:

Many works by Giuliani are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije. This includes solo, duo, flute & guitar, and a few rarities. Many different versions of each score are available.

Tecla Editions, Dr. Brian Jeffery ed., published the entire Complete Works of Giuliani: vol. 1-18 Solo works, vol. 19-24 Duets, vol. 25-32 Concertos, vol. 33-39 Other works (guitar and other instruments, and vocal works). The original editions vary in readability, but most of them are very easy to read. You are assured of reading uncorrupted original editions. I would not go with any other source of Giuliani; although REX and other sources may have Giuliani works available, Dr. Jeffery provies the authoritative, earliest surviving first editions of each piece. One exception is a newly discovered work through Tuscany Publications: Tre Tarantelle e Balletti nazionali napoletani.

According to Dr. Jeffery:
"I am writing this piece as the editor of all of Giuliani's music - and I mean all, without exception. Back in 1981-83 I did extensive bibliographical work starting from Thomas Heck's invaluable Yale thesis The Birth of the Classic Guitar (1970). I obtained copies of all the early editions (and that means many, many thousands of pages of them). Librarians all over the world were tremendously helpful. Some copies came even from the then Yugoslavia. Some arrived soaked in the rain (unprotected alas by the British Post Office). I sorted out which editions were the primary sources. There were a good many additions to Heck. I then published all Giuliani's music, every piece with new bibliographical notes establishing the original text and often giving lists of suggestions for performance - while making absolutely clear that any such lists were only a starting point for performers. All the 39 volumes are still easily available to performers and scholars today from my firm Tecla and many pieces are available individually."

Editor's Suggested Picks:


Filippo Gragnani (1767-1812)

- Under-served yet delightful music, especially the duets. Similar to Carulli in style. Gragnani came from Livorno, Italy, from a family of instrument builders and musicians, trained as a violinist, thus the many violinistic effects in his music. He later devoted himself to guitar, visited Germany, and settled in Paris where he became good friends with Carulli. Gragnani dedicated 3 duets to Carulli. Gragnani was particularly talented with chamber music, thus the duets, trios, and works for violin and guitar are among the finest.

It is often said that the exact date of Gragnani's death is not known; only that no references to his activities can be found after 1812. According to Duo Ghiribizzo, as to the living dates of Gragnani, we refer to a biography of an Italian guitarist, Massimo Agostinelli, which documents the dates 1768-1820, even though the death register of Leghorn he quotes says that Filippo died 59 years old, where his lifedates would say 52. In any event, this is later than the 1812 date often cited due to the lack of activities after 1812. Perhaps the lack of press notifications could be due to ill health or retirement, or settling into a quiet teaching career.

In the words of Angelo Gilardino: "It is the case of an eminent guitarist-composer whose work - a typical expression of the Italian style of the 2nd half of XVIIIth century - is still little known, because it has been shadowed by the works of the Italian masters who wrote in more an updated style (Carulli and Giuliani above all). Really, Gragnani's comparatively small output stands very well in front of any modern audience and all what he wrote can be successfully performed in concert nowadays, I would dare to say more successfully than Carulli's average works and at least as successfully as Giuliani's pieces.

Filippo Gragnani was born at Livorno (Leghorn) on 1767 and the date of his death is tentatively fixed on 1812 in Paris. He was one of the sons of a musical family, mainly devoted to violin and guitar making. He received very early a first class training as a violin player under the guidance of Giulio Maria Luchesi - then he can be considered a descendant of the famous violin school of Nardini (Luchesi's teacher). He shifted to guitar later. He composed 15 published works.

Besides the Trio Op. 12... I strongly recommend you get acquainted with the Three Sonatas for solo guitar published by Zimmermann, Frankfurt, under the cares of Guido Margaria. They are excellent examples of that peculiar Sonata form in two movements created by Italian masters with a special concern for...melody: despite the skills showed in the formal design, these Sonatas are mainly very beautiful songs." - Angelo Gilardino

2 works are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije. Zimmermann also has a modern edition of 3 nice Sonates.

Felix Horetzky / Feliks Horecki (1796-1870)

- Felix Horetzky went from Poland to Vienna where he performed with Giuliani and Diabelli and studied with Giuliani. The preface to opus 15 by Horetzky published in London says "I feel therefore that as I was so fortunate as to receive my musical education from so able a Teacher...". He had a successful concertizing and publishing career and spent most of his life in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Jakub Niedoborek from Lublin in Poland writes that Feliks Horecki was born 01.01.1796 in Horyszów Ruski (village near Lublin) in Poland. See - Józef Powrozniak - Gitara od A do Z PWM 1989 (page 85) ISBN 83-224-0358-5. In this book you can find more interesting information about Polish early romantic guitarists.

From P.J.Bone's 'Guitar and Mandolin', courtesy of Rob MacKillop (note corrections above):

"Horetzky, Felix, a Polish guitarist, born in Prague in 1800 and died in Edinburgh in 1871. He is considered one of the best guitarists of Bohemia, and has been erroneously claimed as that nationality. When he was a child he played the guitar, but with no other intent than amusement. His family returned to their native land when he was in his teens, and made their abode in Warsaw. It was here that he took regular instruction in guitar playing and the theory of music, and from the time he was under a teacher, receiving systematic instruction, his interest in the instrument which had only amused him previously, developed into a passion. When fifteen he commenced a career as clerk in the Chamber of Accounts in Warsaw, but his disposition was was too active to be reconciled to this monotonous life. Having become so absorbed in music and the guitar, and his employment proving irksome, he resigned and commenced to teach the guitar. He also continued his musical studies with increased vigour and a few years later visited Vienna. Here he studied the methods and compositions of the foremost Viennese masters, received higher instruction on his instrument from Giuliani, eventually performing in public with him and also with Diabelli. Such was his success and reputation, that he obtained the patronage of the Royal Court, and was appointed guitar instructor to the Archduchess, and several other members of the royal household, before he had been resident in Vienna a year. His restless nature still predominated and not content with his honourable position, undertook a protracted and roving tour of Europe, travelling through Germany, performing in Frankfurt and other important cities, and then Paris. Just previous to 1820, Horetzky visited London and met with his usual success, for his advent occured at a very opportune time - when England had become familiar with the names of the guitar virtuosi who had created such sensations in Vienna, and Horetzki advertised the fact of his arrival from this famed city by announcing himself on his first compositions published in England as 'F. Horetzky, from Vienna'. He toured Great Britain and eventually made his abode in Edinburgh. In this city he met with a favourable reception, was recognised by the musical puplic and patronised by society as the foremost teacher of the guitar in Scotland; his numerous pupils came from afar, and included the most influential and fashionable members of Edinburgh society... His publications for guitar number considerably more than one hundred and fifty, and they wre exceedingly popular with amateur guitarists of Great Britain, for they appealed to average performers by their simplicity and effectiveness: his celebrated Maestoso and Adagio are pearls of classic beauty... Horetzky was the author of various studies and exercises for the guitar and original songs with guitar and he wrote guitar accompaniments to numerous popular vocal compositions. Many of the later were issued in Scotland and dedicated to his pupils and friends there."

Several works are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije.

Trinidad Francisco Huerta y Caturla ( 1804 - 1875 )

.

Pictures of Huerta with a Panormo, and Huerta's 1828 Panormo with label - "This guitar of Brazilian Rosewood and Spruce once belonged to Panormo's son in law, HUERTA. It was his playing instrument. It has a hand written label stating that this guitar was made for AF Huerta. This actual guitar is published in James Westbrook's book, 'The Century that Shaped the Guitar' " (courtesy of Ray Attard).

Huerta was a Spaniard who traveled to New York, and based on the dedications and write-ups surviving, must have been a truly exceptional performer. There are around 25 or so surviving compositions, mostly operatic style and charming miniatures. He was known to play Panormo guitars; Huerta was married to Panormo's daughter, thus G.L. Panormo was the father-in-law to Huerta y Katurla (1804 - 1875). There is a CD out with Huerta music by Stuart Green on a Panormo replica.

Available Repertoire:

The Digital Guitar Archive has published an authoritative edition of Huerta titled "A. T. Huerta Life and Works". This edition is over 180 pages, including biographical information, photos, and around 25 compositions - the entire surviving guitar works extant at time of publication. As more works may yet surface, future volumes may be forthcoming. The printing is clear, bold, and urtext - highly recommended.

Bibliography: James Radomski, "Trinidad Huerta y Caturla: First Spanish Virtuoso Guitarist to Concertize in the United States," Inter-American Music Review, vol. 15 (Summer-Fall 1996), no. 2, pp. 103-121.

Bio from Harmonicorde.com:

"Trinidad Huerta was acclaimed during his lifetime as "the Paganini of the guitar." He was highly praised by Hector Berlioz and Victor Hugo. A music critic for La revue musicale declared that Huerta was the best guitarist he had ever heard—even while Fernando Sor and Dionisio Aguado were performing in Paris. The Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung went further and claimed Huerta to be the greatest living guitarist. Yet Huerta is completely unknown to classical guitar audiences today. This probably resulted from a decline in his later years that brought him to die in poverty in Paris, forgotten there as well as in his native Spain.

Nonetheless, Huerta's achievements were considerable. Paris music critic Arthur Pougin (1834-1921) claimed that he wrote the "Himno de Riego," formerly the Spanish national anthem. Huerta was the first classical guitarist to concertize in the United States (1825) and he toured Spain, Portugal, England and France, and even traveled to the Middle East with Louisa de Rothschild. Contemporary critics were astounded by his technique and simultaneously applauded and criticized his trying to make the guitar a symphonic instrument. A century before Segovia, Huerta did much to overcome the stereotype of the guitar as an inferior instrument, only useful for strumming accompaniments to parlor songs. Berlioz, in his Grand Traité d'Instrumentation, advised "If one wants to get an idea of what virtuosos are able to achieve..., the compositions of such famous guitar players as Zanni de Ferranti, Huerta, Sor, etc. should be studied."

Judging from existing opus numbers, Huerta composed at least 64 works. Most of these, unfortunately, have been lost.
"

Note: GFA Soundboard carried a recent article about Huerta - including evidence of Huerta's birth date of 1800, not 1804. More details coming soon.


Ivan Klinger ( ? - 1897 )

- Klinger was a Russian general in the Czar's army, and a talented composer-arranger. Most of Klinger's pieces are written for an 8-string guitar, with 7th=D, 8th=A, and otherwise conventional 6-string tuning. All of his works from opus 1-12 are for normal 6-string guitar, with 8-string notes appearing in opus 13 when presumably the composer began using an 8-string guitar. All of the works are playable on a 6-string instrument by raising the octaves of these notes, often written as 8va. There are arrangements of Western European pieces like Schubert, as well as distinctly Russian-sounding works, somewhat in the style of Tchaikovsky or "Pictures at an Exhibition". These are late romantic, most similar to Regondi and Coste. Klinger's pieces are mostly intermediate to advanced, but not awkward. The fingerings are clever; they are innovative and different from the typical "Carulli patterns" found in so many pieces, and they demonstrate a thorough use and knowledge of the fingerboard. A write-up of Klinger can be found in the preface to the Regondi Ten Etudes published by Editions Orphee. It was Klinger who hand-copied the Regondi etudes, which became the sole known surviving copy of these pieces. Klinger also produced hand manuscripts of pieces by Mertz, and the famous Mertz Elegy was possibly arranged in its present form by Klinger, and indeed it shows the characteristic Drop D and Drop A notes but no other extended notes. In addition to arrangements, Klinger was a superb composer in his own right. Klinger was associated with Makaroff and the guitar society in St. Petersburg, a hub of guitar where Sor and Pettoletti among others stayed for years. Free music in printed and hand-written manuscript is available from REX, and a significant number of works in Boije.


Joseph Kuffner ( 1776 - 1856 )

Kuffner was a prolific composer and arranger for guitar, and large amounts of chamber music. Kuffner's music is targeted toward amateur players. Having read through stacks of his material, my assessment is that the music is of mediocre, but not bad, quality.


Luigi Legnani, 1790 - 1877

Legnani 36 CapricesLegnani Gran Studio

Biographical Information:

Legnani was a virtuoso composer, arranger, violinist, guitarist, and opera singer. Legnani ranks as one of the best and foremost virtuoso guitarist composers of the 19th century. While most of his peices had gone out of print and were almost forgotten in the mid to late 20th century, these works are beginning to be re-discovered by a new generation of guitarists and are appearing more frequently in concert programs. Thanks to the internet and the generous policies of the libraries who are stewards of these compositions, on-line free PDF access to much of the material can be found in REX and Boije. Publishers are also starting to release modern critical editions of these works (including works not found online), such as the excellent UT Orpheus editions from Italy and others.

Guitarists often tell stories about Legnani and Paganini playing together in concert. I have heard this story handed down nearly every time a guitarist plays something by Legnani in concert or in master classes, and it is part of the guitar's folklore. Professor Gazzelloni in the introduction to Chanterelle's opus 60 publication cites a contract whereby Paganini and Legnani were to play 3 concerts together in 1836, but the contract was cancelled, and no evidence exists of a joint concert actually being performed. However, we cannot discount word of mouth handed down, and such stories often have a basis in fact. Given the evidence of the contract to perform together, obviously they must have played together at some point, as it is very likely that other contracts existed but were lost, or perhaps private performances were given. Lack of documentation is not proof that something did not occur.

Legnani was very involved with luthiers, as evidenced by the "Luigi Legnani" models by Staufer and Ries, and an instrument claimed to be his own guitar (see the Builders page). Professor Gazzelloni also states that Legnani retired to Ravenna around 1850 and made stringed instruments including guitars and violins.

There appears to be two phases of Legnani's publishing career. The first phase produced opus works 1-87, and the second phase started anew with opus 201.

A portion of Legnani's compositions are lost based on gaps in opus numbers. Perhaps they are among the works without opus numbers but remain to be identified, or perhaps they are buried in private collections or a library, or perhaps they have completely disappeared. It is possible that some of the missing opus numbers include vocal works. The missing works in the first phase are opus numbers: 9, 13-15, 17, 33, 35-39, 41-59, 65-86. Thus 38 works have been found, and 49 works are missing; overall this is 44% found and 56% missing.

During phase 2, the opus number gaps are: 205-221, 225-236, 239-249. Only 9 works survive in phase 2 (op. 201-250) - an 18% survival rate.

There are claims that the opus numbers between 100 - 200 are lost. It is my strong belief that Legnani did not publish any works with opus numbers from 100-200. No opus number between 100-200 has surfaced in any collection, publication, catalog reference, or library to my knowledge. It is statistically improbable that over 100 works in a row could be lost, based on 44% found between 1-87, and 18% found between 201-250. I do not know the reason for this gap. We can only speculate at the reasons: perhaps there were publishing issues and a clean break was needed to distinguish the numberings, or perhaps Legnani took a long break from publishing and wanted to cleanly distinguish the old from the new. It appears there is a gap in time; for example op. 60 dates to ~ 1829, op. 64 to ~ 1832, while opus 222 is estimated at 1846.

The 36 Caprices (op. 20) are the most widely available and well-known. Although musically superb, these pieces were technical etudes along the lines of Pagani's caprices. Most of Legnani's other music is superb, and should be given a closer look. Some publishers, such as UT Orpheus, Ricordi, and Araniti Editions have published a few pieces. I am always trying to get my hands on as much as possible, and a new modern complete works edition is long overdue.

There are no known portraits of Legnani known to have survived. If anyone has one, please email me.

See also The Italian Guitar in the 19th-Century: Sixty biographies - Sixty biographies of Italian guitarist composers of Nineteenth century in alphabetic order (edited by Marco Bazzotti).

Biographical notes by George C. Krick.

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Legnani wrote mostly for solo guitar, with some output for other instruments such as flute and guitar. As was common practice, Legnani composed mostly arrangements or fantasies of operas or folk songs, in addition to a few original themes, and many theme & variation pieces. Operatic music, particularly Italian opera such as Rossini, comprises much of his output.

In addition to the solo guitar, and guitar & flute works, Professor Gazzelloni cites the existence of vocal works and "a concerto for guitar and orchestra of which only the guitar part has survived" (Chanterelle op. 60 introduction).

The compositional quality of Legnani's output varies. The best of his works are gems of the repertoire. Difficulty levels vary considerably. Other works can be a bit tedious, and emphasize flash over substance, being obtusely difficult. I have read through nearly all of Legnani's surviving solo guitar works several times, and selected my recommendations below. This is purely editorial.

Certain trademark techniques are found in several pieces. One of them is holding the barre at the 9th fret and 10th fret, playing fast notes in patterns from the 9th to 12th frets (for example as in op. 19, 32.) - here you pull down the elbow a bit. Arpeggios were a common feature. It is often said that Giuliani is known for the octave passages - I would say Legnani uses them even more so. Patterns: as with many guitar composers, Legnani used clever patterns to get the most sound from the guitar and to impressive effect, making it sound harder than it is. Recitivo / ad lib: these are borrowed from operas, where in dramatic sections of the opera, the singer is solo and gives more of a recital than a melody, which Legnani mimics on the guitar. Where marked ad lib, it means literally at liberty: the tempo can be varied, stopping and starting, varying the tone and punctuation, and generally improvising the delivery. It is possible that the performer of the era would give an extended improvised cadenza here.

Legnani did not write much easy music for beginners. The Etudes are challenging pieces, very advanced, and comparable to the Paganini violin etudes, which are commonly performed in concert programs by virtuoso concert artists today. Given the difficulty level of many of Legnani's concert pieces, he must have been an amazing performer of remarkable ability. Written accounts of Legnani from Vienna indicate that even in a city accustomed to such virtuosos as Giuliani, Legnani dazzled his audiences. Today, selected pieces by Legnani are often chosen by performing concert artists to showcase their ability and dazzle audiences. That being said, not all his music is impossible to play, though much of it requires the technique of Eliot Fisk and is certainly beyond my ability or that of most amateurs. Several pieces are accessible, with effort and practice, to advanced amateur players. Other pieces are beyond the ability of most intermediate players. A nice set of 3 pieces with intermediate technique requirements is the "Tre Balli Nazionali" or "3 National Dances" available from REX. Even though many pieces may be difficult, they are high quality compositions and well worth the effort to study. They are not difficult just for the sake of being difficult, but rather, because the composer held high standards for the guitar and demanded the execution and skill of a classically trained violinist or pianist.

Editor's Suggested Picks:

Available Repertoire:

23 works by Legnani are available for free PDF download from REX as well as more in Boije. This includes solo, flute & guitar, and a few rarities including a few for 8-string guitar.

The famous William Tell Overture, from Rossini's opera Guillaume Tell, as arranged by Legnani, is a fantastic concert work that will never fail to impress and delight audiences, since everyone is already familiar with the melody. This piece would make a fine ending piece to a concert for a top artist with the chops to play it well, ending in roaring applause. The opera was Rossini's last opera, and it was first performed at the Paris Opera on August 3, 1829. Luigi Legnani's arrangement was published in Vienna by Artaria in 1840. It is available in facsimile of the original edition from REX and the GFA Archives. There is a much easier to read, re-engraved modern edition available from Orphee Editions (Legnani Page link).

Several works by Legnani can be purchased at Fondazione Araniti Editions with PDF files sent by email.

The Spanish Guitar Centre in Nottingham UK has a lot of Legnani pieces, modern editions all sold individually. Spanish Guitar Centre Legnani. Seems to be the same material published by UT Orheus (it was cheaper for me to buy direct from Orpheus).

UT Orpheus and (UT Orpheus English Page) has many Legnani editions, some of which are re-sold by Spanish Guitar Centre in Nottingham UK.

The GFA Archives has many of Legnani's surviving published works, including an arrangement of the William Tell Overture that everyone recognizes.

FFSI Collection of Classical Guitar Solos Contains a lengthy Caprice which is not part of the famous 36 Caprices.

Mazurka in A - published in a prior issue of Soundboard Magazine, and also released as part of the "Mazurka Collection" by Matthew Ardizzone, sold through Mel Bay Music Publishers.

The most famous set of pieces is the 36 Caprices, in all major and minor keys. This was probably a response to the Paganini 24 Caprices for violin. They are designed to be challenging etudes for the guitar, as a study of technique. Chanterelle through Mel Bay Music Publishers has a facsimile set, as does Ricordi. These are Legnani's most famous pieces.

There is a Grand Study available through Mel Bay Music Publishers, more or less a pot-pourri.

UT Orpheus - Italy Opus 1,3,4, and "Variazioni facili sopra un tema della Cenerentola". Another Italian site with a few pieces is GuitarOnline.IT. I'm not sure how to order from these sites though. If you know, please email me.

"Legnani/Rossini/Op. 2 Ouverture de l'Italien a alger" is available in the Guitar music in the Library of Congress.

Marco Bazzotti published a list of the printed works of Luigi Legnani. I have taken his list, cross referenced it against my own collection and Brian Jeffery's collection, plus a thorough search of Internet sources, to compile the following list which is more complete. If anyone has additions, corrections, or clarifications, please email me.

Professor Giuseppe Gazzelloni in Italy is a Legnani scholar who provided many details also. The professor also edited the Chanterelle Paganini complete guitar works.
* = Information from Prof. Giuseppe Gazzelloni, Italy
Dubious / possibly duplicate titles *:

0	RIDUZIONE D'OPERA
0	VARIAZIONI (guitar)
0	VARIAZIONI (guitar)
0	VARIAZIONI (guitar)
0	VARIAZIONI FACILI (guitar)
0	VARIAZIONI FACILI (guitar)
0	Duette für Flöte und Gitarre [G: "In my opinion, this title can be removed: only the  “Cavatina d’Ernani”, the “Cavatina d’Elvira”, and the works 23 and 87 are found for flute and guitar so far".*]
0	Gran studio per la chitarra (same as op 60*)
0	Theme avec variations pour guitare, 6 pages Missing part of p. 4. [G: "In my opinion, this title can be removed: maybe one of the other works which appear in the list, for example, opus nos. 4, or 29 or 237".*]
0	Oh! quante lagrime (probably same as op 18/24).
43	Duo Concertante (flute & guitar) [G: "In my opinion, this title can be removed. I have no information about a “Duetto concertante” (flute & guitar) op. 43; perhaps it is op. 23"*]

Luigi Legnani Surviving Known Works:

Opus	Title

0   Cavatina d’Elvira per chitarra sola *
0   Gran Sonata per chitarra *
0   Introduzione dell’Atto 2° nell’Opera Ernani per chitarra sola *
0   Sinfonia nella Gazza Ladra... per chitarra sola *
0   Cavatina d’Elvira ridotta per flauto e chitarra *
0   Fantasy on "Ernani" for flute & guitar [Cavatina d’Ernani...ridotta per flauto e chitarra*]
0	Tre balli nazionali [La Mazzurca, La Gitana, e La Cachucha*]
0	Variazioni dalla "Armida" [Variazioni su tema del Duetto...*]
0	Introduzione e Rondò
0	Variazioni facili sopra un tema della Cenerentola
0	Grand Caprice in D [This work is different from op. 6 and op. 34. The exact title (without opus number) is the following: “Gran Capriccio per chitarra sola”. It is the same work (WoOp) of “Grande Sonata quasi Fantasia” per chitarra) *]
0	36 Walzer / Thirty-six Short Valses [36 Valses di difficoltà progressiva*]

1	Terremoto con variazioni
2	Legnani/Rossini/Op. 2 Ouverture de l'Italien a Alger [Gran Sinfonia...*]
3	Gran ricercario o studio                                                                
4	Tema con variazioni sul terzetto "Pria che l'impegno" op. 4
5	Duetto Nell Opera L'Italiana in Algeri di Rossini [Duetto Ai Capricci della sorte...*]
6	Gran Capriccio
7	Cavatina "Languir per una bella"
8	Coro e rondo "Pensa alla patria" nell'opera "L'Italiana in Algeri" de Rossini        
   
10	Scherzo con Variazioni   [Scherzo / ossia / quattro Variazioni*]
11  Rondeau
12	Gran Variazioni sopra un Motivo Tirolese



16	Gran variazioni sul duetto, "Nel cor piu non mi sento," nell'opera "La Molinara"

18 & 24     2 themes de l'opera "La dame du lac": 1. Cavatine; 2. Marche favorite de Rossini
[Please note that the 2 themes are the op. nos. 18 & 24: Deux themes....1. Cavatine (Oh quante Lagrime), 2. Marche favorite. Also published separately with opus nos. 18 and 24 respectively*]
18  Cavatine (Oh quante Lagrime) de l'opera "La dame du lac" [also published together with op. 24*]
19	Fantasia
20	36 Caprices
21	Introduzione e variazioni per la chitarra sopra la cavatina favorita, "Sorte secondami," nell'opera "Zelmira," di Rossini 
22  Variazioni sopra la Marcia nell'Opera Freyschutz di Weber
23	Duo Concertante Op. 23 (flute & guitar)
24	Variazioni sopra un tema della Donna del lago di Rossini [also published together with op. 18*]
25	Variazioni sopra un Tema di Schuster (later revised and simplified as opus 237)
26	Melange favori sur Zelmira et Corradino de Rossini et autres motifs originaux composes.
27	Grand Variations on an original theme  [Introduzione / Gran Variazioni e Coda / sopra un tema originale...*]
28	Variazioni Concertanti Op. 28 (guitar & pianoforte)
[Please note that the exact title of this work  - composed by Leidesdorf and Legnani -  is the following: Variations Concertantes / sur / un Thême de Rossini / pour / Piano et Guitare / avec Accompagnement / de deux Violons, Alto et Basse / Par / Leidesdorf et Legnani / Œuv. 28 (de Legnani)*]
29	Theme avec variations brillantes et non difficiles                                     
30	Variations Agreables sur la Romance favorite du Cendrillon "Non Piu Mesta Accanto al Foco"
31	Potpourri brillant                                                                     
32	Potpourri en caprice         
                                                           
34	Gran Capriccio

40  Introduction, Theme, and Variations Dedicated to Pacini...

60	Gran Caprice Studio [“Gran Caprice ou Etude...” Please note that Prof. Gazzelloni edited a modern Urtext Edition (published by Chanterelle Verlag) of this work*]
61	Grande fantasia per chitarra sola                                                       
62	Introduzione e Rondò
63  36 Waltzes
64	Introduzione, tema, variazioni e finale: composit l'anno 1832 [The exact title is the following: Introduzione, /Tema, Variazioni / e Finale / per la / Chitarra Sola / composti da / Luigi Legnani / Opera 64*]

87	Gran Duetto Op. 87 (flute & guitar)

- I would speculate that Legnani did not publish any opus numbers in the 100's - perhaps he took a break, or for whatever reason decided to re-start with 201.

201	Fantasy on "Norma" (6 or 8 string)                                               
202	Fantasy on William Tell  (6 or 8 string)                                                                    
203	Melodies National Hongroises (6 or 8 string) 
204	Rondoletto scherzoso 
                           
222	Recueil des Mélodies modernes [Recueil des Melodies...*]
224	Introduction theme et variations

237	Introduction et theme (this is a re-write of opus 25, easier to play than op. 25, based on the theme by Schuster)                                                                 
238	Gran pot-pourri: sopra alcuni motivi d'opere favorite      
                             
250	Method for the guitar & 6 Caprices from the Method [Metodo e 6 Capricetti per chitarra che servono di compimento dell’op. 250*]

Frederik Carl Lemming (1782-1846)

Royal Chamber Musician of King Christian VI of Denmark. One piece survives, in Hebe on-line, which requires an advanced technique. Biography of Lemming, by Jens Bang-Rasmussen.


Antoine de LHoyer (1768 - 1852)


Interest in LHoyer has risen lately, with an in-depth article and biographical information from Erik Stenstadvold and Mr. Ophee.

In LHoyer's day, various publications which list the top guitarists consistently rated LHoyer among the top 10, a well-deserved reputation, based on the quality of his published music. The chamber music in particular is outstanding, with duets and trios which are among the very best for the instrument. LHoyer's solo material is fairly difficult, but it exhibits a sparkle and "kick" which is characteristic of late 18th-century music, but with a distinctive flair and unique style. Early LHoyer pieces were written for the 5-string (or 5-course) instrument, with no notes lower than "A". Other pieces, the majority, are 6-string works. The revival of LHoyer's music is long overdue.

The edition depicted is offered by Editions Orphee.

Minkoff offers an edition of facsimile works of Lhoyer. REX has 1 work for violin and guitar. There is a set of Nocturne guitar duets in Boije. Louis-Marie Duvillard (France) also adds that the "Grande sonate pour la guitare op. 12" and "Six exercices pour la guitare op. 27" from Antoine de Lhoyer are published by "Les éditions Buissonnières" in France (www.editions-buissonnieres.fr). Philippe Spinosi recorded the concerto from Lhoyer op. 16 in CD.


Jos. Charles Lom (circa 179? - 18?? ). No biographical information about J.C. Lom has come to light to my knowledge. The extant works are published by Diabelli & Co. in Vienna, which based on known information about the publisher (See the Wikipedia article on Diabelli), would date the publication of these works to circa 1825-1850. Guessing that to be an established performer and published my a major firm the artist would be around 20-30 years old, Lom may have been born around the turn of the century (circa 1790-1805). Gerhard Penn adds that his compositions (around 18 known pieces) were published mostly in the years 1828-30, as op.21 is from 1834 (according to respective advertisements in the "Wiener Zeitung").

14 pieces by Lom are available for free PDF download from Boije. Additional works are in the Nakano collection, which is not available to the public.

Of Lom's extant works, my favorites are op. 2 (Variations on a motif of Paganini), op. 5 (Variations on a Hungarian Theme), and op. 21 (Fantaisie Melancolique). Lom is a virtual unknown today. I found his pieces to be idiomatically written with clever and original use of the fingerboard, and at a high level of writing comparable to Carcassi's concert variations. I suspect Lom was affiliated with Giuliani and / or Legnani based on style, time period, and level of compositional skill.


Nicholas Makaroff ( 1810 - 1890 ) - Russian noble and virtuoso guitarist. Makaroff left behind his fascinating Memoirs of Makaroff which are essential reading for anyone studying 19th century guitar. His music was extraordinarily demanding, nearly unplayable. Makaroff preferred the 8-string and later 10-string instrument. He is most famous for having a composer's contest, at which Mertz was awarded first prize post-humously, and Coste second prize. Several pieces are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije.


Wenzeslaus Matiegka (1773-1830)

"Most of the sonatas of Matiegka have a substance and compositional technique surpassing other guitar sonatas of that century, with the exception of the Paganini Grand Sonata. As these sonatas and much of the chamber music will attest to, Matiegka was a master of the large form. I do believe that recognition of his work will rank him in the future as far more important to the 19th century guitar literature than Sor or Giuliani. I think he and Mertz are the 2 great guitar composers of that century." - David Leisner, commenting on Matiegka and future plans to record the composer.


Agustín Maruri CD of Matiegka
Matiegka was born in Bohemia, moving to Moravia, and in 1791 enrolled in the University of Prague as a law student. Matiegka's musical background and training was mostly violin, clave, voice, violoncello, and piano, in addition to the guitar. For this reason, much of his music is chamber music with guitar, in addition to solo guitar, which he learned later. In 1800, Matiegka became a professional musician, moving to Vienna, but was obliged to work in law. By 1817, Matiegka was established as a musician and guitar composer. After 1817, Matiegka worked in church appointments and sacred music. He died in 1830 and the age of 57 from a lung condition. Agustín Maruri provided the above biographical details and has recorded many of Matiegka's works on CD.

Matiegka's solo guitar works were published mostly between 1805-1812, and the Grande Sonate 1 (see below) appearing in 1808. Matiegka wrote a great deal of chamber music, much of it now recorded by Agustín Maruri. Matiegka wrote full-scale works for guitar with various combinations of violin, viola, horns, clarinet, flute, cello, etc..

In addition to several Matiegka CD's by Matiegka's cd Agustín Maruri, other artists who have recorded Matiegka include a fine recording by Massimo Agostinelli, unfortunately out of print (Grande Sonate n°1, Fantaisie op 4, Sonate progressive op 17, Sonate op 23), and also the sonate op 16 by Reinbert Evers, a German guitarist.

Opus 22 was dedicated to Mauro Giuliani, which indicates a connection between these composers, both living in Vienna during this time. Mário Carreira has written an article comparing Matiegka's Sonata op. 23 for guitar solo with Haydn's piano sonata Hoboken XVI:32 on the Hebe Website: Article link. Carreira goes on to suggest a link between Haydn and Matiegka: "As can be seen by comparing the two sonatas, the pianoforte Urtext edition (Henle Verlag) does not have any performance indications, but the published edition of Matiegka's Sonata Op.23 has many clear dynamic markings and performance instructions. This detail could possibly be regarded as evidence of what the author himself may have seen and heard in Vienna in his time. Matiegka lived in Vienna from 1800 to 1830, so it is quite possible that he knew, perhaps in person, the composer Joseph Haydn, who died in the same city in 1809."

Carreira goes on to point out that Schubert arranged Matiegka's works: "The (Schubert) quartet D. 96 had for a long time been considered as Schubert's original, until the discovery of the 1807 edition of Matiegka's Notturno in Zell am See, Austria in 1932 by the guitarist Teodor Rischel."

Editor's note: I find the extended works of Matiegka to be fine master compositions that deserve recognition. The music is in a late 18th century style, following the models of Haydn and others, and very much of a 'classical period' genre. The modulations and development are particularly rich, and at times the music sounds to me almost Baroque in its melodic sequencing. Matiegka wrote many works for chamber orchestra including guitar, for example flute, viola, and guitar, as well as arrangements of Beethoven with guitar and other instruments. The solo guitar compositions seem orchestral in nature. They are as good as the works of Sor. The 'Grand Sonata #1' and 'Sonate, opus 23' stand out as my favorites. This Grand Sonata in particular stands out as one of the best guitar pieces ever written during the classical period.

Opus 23 can be found in the Hebe site for a small download fee. I was delighted to discover that both superb Grand Sonates, and the entire opus 20 of 24 pieces, and the opus 4 Fantasy are all available for free PDF download from REX and Boije.

Johann Kaspar Mertz, 1806 - 1856

Johann Kaspar Mertz

Biographical Information:

From The Memoirs of Makaroff:

"...Mertz, whose manuscripts, not in my possession, represent the precious pearls of guitar repertoire! ...

Mertz was a tall man, about 50, neither fat nor thin, very modest and with no hint of a pretense to greatness about him. As soon as it was feasible, I offered him my guitar and asked him to play something. He took it readily and immediately began to play. It was a fascinating large work.

"By whom is this piece written?" I asked.

"By me," was the answer. "It has not been published yet." Then he played another piece, and still another. Each one better than the last -- all magnificent. I was dumbfounded with surprise and admiration. I felt like a Columbus discovering a new America, for here was the great guitar composer I had long given up hope of finding. I had been searching for him everywhere, among the countless pieces of music I bought throughout Russia and Europe. Afterwards, I had thrown them away in despair, finding them worthless rubbish, cooked up by talentless modern composers such as Padovetz, Carcassi, Bobrovich, Bayer, Soussman, Kuffner, etc..

In contrast, the music played by Mertz, to which I listened with ever-growing rapture, contained everything -- rich composition, great musical knowledge, excellent development of an idea, unity, novelty, grandeur of style, absence of trivial expression and multiplicity of harmonic effects.

At the same time, there was the clear basic melody, which kept surging above the surface of arpeggios and chords. The effects were brilliant and daring. Basic to all this, he had a deep understanding of the instrument with all its possibilities and hidden secrets. In his full-hearted compositions, I liked the finales and introductions especially well, because they were unusual and were wonderfully developed. They could be removed from the rest and played separately without losing their power and musical significance. Thus, they could give full satisfaction to any listener.
"

Biographical notes by George C. Krick:

"As a performer and writer for guitar, Mertz is ranked amongst the most illustrious; his original compositions, transcriptions and operatic arrangements are gems of beauty. He was a musician of exceptional attainments, and a poetic and sublime writer for his instrument. He was a great inventor, not only as regards the technical treatment of the guitar but also as regards his compositions for the instrument, and whatever Mertz wrote showed his exquisite refinement. A vulgar melody or a commonplace harmony seems to have been impossible to his very nature.

In his concerts Mertz used a ten stringed guitar, that is, with four free swinging bass strings added to the regular six stringed instrument. Frequently his wife appeared with him on concert programs, playing piano accompaniments to his guitar.

Mertz was a prolific composer, although the majority of his works consist of transcriptions and arrangements of classical compositions for guitar solo, guitar duo, or guitar and piano.

His early compositions, Op. 1 to 7, are of a light character—Hungarian dances, nocturnes, polonaises. Under the title of "Opera Revue, Op. 8", Mertz wrote thirty-three classic transcriptions for guitar solo of favorite operas, these arrangements being vastly superior to anything of the kind published previously or at a later date. In these numbers, each one of them consisting of ten or more pages, Mertz has employed all the resources of the instrument; and their performance requires technic of the highest order. They should be in the library of every serious minded guitarist.

"Barden Klaenge, Op. 13" is a group of thirteen tone pictures, purest gems of melody, of medium difficulty, but well worth while. Altogether there were more than one hundred published opus numbers, and many more remained in manuscript. These manuscripts stayed in the possession of Mertz's widow, who survived her husband many years; but some time before her death on August 5th, 1903, the International Guitar Society raised by subscription a sufficient sum to purchase them, and they are preserved in the society's library in Munich.

For unaccountable reasons the present day guitar virtuosos have neglected the music of Mertz; which is a pity, as there are many of his compositions and arrangements that would delight an appreciative audience. Here are the titles of a few, in addition to those already mentioned, that would grace any concert program: from Op. 8, "Ernani", "La Favorita", "Rigoletto", "The Barber of Seville", and "The Merry Wives of Windsor"; from Op. 13, Capriccio, "Fingal's Cave", and Tarantelle."
" - George C. Krick

The music of Mertz is among the best of the 19th century. Mertz and Coste best represent the generation after Sor and Giuliani, but before the later Spanish romantic composers. This music is highly dramatic and emotional, with many dynamic markings indicated. Much of the music is opera arrangements, or operatic in style.

Mertz is known to have played Scherzer guitars, who was a builder for Stauffer. Thus, Stauffer style guitars sound best for Mertz given their quick attack, enormous dynamic range, and sensitive tone capacity. As I often play Mertz on a Stauffer copy by Kresse, it is obvious to me through the compositional style that the music was written with this guitar school's sonority in mind.

Several later works by Mertz, especially the concert works, utilize guitars with multiple bass strings - probably a 10-string. The first 6 strings are normal, followed by open strings D - C - B - A below the 6th string. Most players today raise the octaves of these extended notes; since they are used sparingly this is not a great compromise. However, if you have an 8-10 string guitar, you can realize the full sonority of the music. Many works, such as the Bardenklange and Opern Revue pieces, however, do not utilize more than 6 strings.

A great deal of Mertz is in print, though this is a fraction of his output given the opus number gaps. Mertz wrote many pieces with piano as his wife was an accomplished keyboardist, most of which are not in print. Many pieces are only found in European libraries and private collections.

In addition to extended bass range guitars, Mertz also wrote ensemble pieces for Terz guitar, which is tuned three half steps higher than a normal guitar thus giving it an extended upper range and superior projection for ensemble situations. All the known guitar duos for example are for Terz and Normal guitar.

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Mertz wrote mainly for solo guitar, as well as several duets and pieces for piano and guitar. The piano portions may have been composed to a great degree by Mertz's wife, who was a virtuoso pianist. Indeed, Mertz may have had a great deal of input and collaboration with his wife on a number of his pieces, given their pianistic nature. The ensemble music by Mertz requires Terz guitar. As was common practice, Mertz composed mostly arrangements or fantasies of operas or folk songs, in addition to a few original themes, and many theme & variation pieces. Mertz wrote well over 100 pieces for guitarists of Medium ability, most of which are operatic fantasies. Although most guitarist composers wrote for the operatic fantasy medium, Mertz excelled in this regard and far surpassed most of his contemporaries. Other concert pieces, such as the Elegy and Hungarian Fantasy, require very advanced technique. The music was written idiomatically to the guitar.

Available Repertoire:

Around 100 works by Mertz are available for free PDF download from REX. There are also a few Manuscripts in Boije. REX includes the entire Opern Revue opus 8, all 33 opera fantasies. Also several works for terz guitar with second guitar or piano are found. Solo works include most of the major solo pieces including the famous "Bardenklange" series which I recommend most people should start with. On a humorous note, even the great composers had bills to pay: Mertz published the 136 "Cuckoo" or "136 Little Entertainings" series - 136 very short parlour pieces for beginners which are arrangements of popular tunes and operas, starting with "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and covering most operas and popular folk songs of various countries. Many of the works her are not available anywhere else and they are all 19th century facsimiles.

Norbert Fisher points out that the manuscript section of REX contains four other duos of Mertz: Ms 159: "Die Hugonotten", Ms 160: "Mazurka op40", Ms160: "Einsiedlers Waldglöcken", and Ms 161: "Es lebe der Fasching". This would be 21 known Mertz duos, 11 from Chanterelle, plus Flotow-Stradella, Der Ball, Wasserfahrt am Traunsee, Erinnerungen an Ungarn I and II, Fantasia "La Rage" and the four above. "Erinnerungen an Ungarn" and the Fantasia are in the "österreichische Nationalbiliothek".

Mertz Chanterelle The most complete collection is probably by Chanterelle, the "Collected Works" - reseller is Mel Bay Music Publishers. The "Bardenklange" - or "Songs of the Bards" are the most popular pieces, very nice musically, and accessible to players of intermediate ability.

A new release is by Mel Bay Music Publishers, "Original Compositions for Guitar" - which is a welcome addition to the published repertoire of Mertz. None of the Opus #'s in this edition are in print elsewhere to my knowledge, and they are not in the Chanterelle editions. It contains op. 1, 2, 5, 9, 12, and 33. The edition is crisp, easy to read, and scholarly, with the original edition faithfully engraved anew, old errors corrected and duly notated, with new fingerings in italic to differentiate them from the originals. Most of these works are shorter, easier pieces well suited to most intermediate players. In their day, these pieces were intended for the mass market of amateur guitarists.

The only other pieces in print by Mertz to my knowledge are a couple of pieces at FFSI in an anthology FFSI Collection of Classical Guitar Solos , and 2 short freebies by Tuscany.

Mertz' Opern Revue is a set of 33 opera arrangements for solo guitar, some of which are well-known. Each arrangement is a major work of at least 6-15 pages. The REX library has all 33 pieces for free download. The Chanterelle edition only presents 4 of the Opern Revue pieces. Gendai in Japan is slowly publishing the Opern Revue editions, and Soundboard announced the eventual publication of the entire set, but presently the entire set is out of print. The GFA Archives has all 33, but this can get expensive since the entire set is several hundred pages. The GFA Archives appears to have several pieces that are not in print elsewhere, but since the titles vary slightly, it is hard to tell.

The Digital Guitar Archive is publishing a newly engraved edition of the entire 33-piece Opern Revue in several volumes. This edition contains extensive notes. The music is facsimile reprints of original editions, but somehow they were able to obtain pristine originals that look as clear, bold, and clean as any modern print - highly recommended.

A large collection of extended operatic fantasies is available from Donald Sauter in the Guitar music in the Library of Congress. The Mertz material is about an inch thick, and none of this material is available from Chanterelle. The collection includes Opern Revue #15, an extended Fantasy, and "PORTEFEUILLE fur Guitarre-Spieler" the extended title to which translates as "A small collection for guitar-players. Easy and effective entertainment pieces in the figure of little fantasies after famous opera and "Lied"(Song)-melodies arranged by J.K.Mertz" - it consists of 18 pieces around 8 pages or so each, which are based on opera themes similar to the Opern Revue series. This also includes "Agathe Op22" which has been recorded by Dennis Cinelli and others.

Meantone Guitar Studio has a late 19th c. anthology by Shaeffer for free download (donations requested) with 2 pieces by Mertz not found elsewhere - namely, arrangements by Mertz of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and "Ernani" (a totally different piece than the Opern Revue version).


Francesco Molino ( 1768 - 1847 )

Marco Bazzotti has compiled many details of Molino's life. Molino was trained and served in orchestral posts playing oboe and viola, but at some time pursued guitar and became well known. In 1818 Molino went to Paris as "violinist of the Royal Chapel" but ran into resistance to established ideas of playing guitar, as contemporary chronicles depict a "battle" between the Molino and the Carulli factions, as Molino had his own convictions about technique. Molino later switched again to violin compositions. Thus, his chamber works with guitar deserve the highest mention. Molino composed over 60 works for guitar, including a method.

Molino, like many guitar composers, published easy works for beginners (presumably these were a source of income), as well as more substantial concert works. These concert works in particular are superb and well worth exploring.

A summary of Molino is on the Tecla Editions Site.

Several works are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije.

OMI Old Manuscripts & Incunabula has an excellent facsimile book with the Grande Ouverture, Grande Sonate, Robin Adair, and God Save the King - among Molino's best concert works - highly recommended.

Orphee Editions has a Molino edition newly engraved: Orphee Editions (Molino Page link) from the end of the "Grande Méthode Complette", Op. 46. It is an arrangement of "Vive Henri IV" - which Carulli also arranged separately in his National Airs of Peoples of Europe op 73.


Simon Molitor ( 1766 - 1848 )


"One of Vienna's most esteemed musicians, Molitor was born at Neckarsulum, Wurtemburg, November 3, 1766, and died in Vienna February 21, 1848. His musical education began with his father and eventually was passed on to Abbe Vogler. From 1796-97 he was orchestral conductor and the year following was employed in the war office of Vienna. He retired on pension and devoted the rest of his life to music."
- Dr. Ron Purcell, Music Department, Guitar Area California State University, Northridge

Molitor's music, especially the Sonatas, is of high caliber. It is rich and inventive, tasteful and interesting, exciting and characteristic of the time period. As an orchestral conductor and multi-instrumentalist, Molitor wrote convincing ensemble music as well as solo music which captures full voicing.

Although obscure today, Molitor's importance to the guitar's history, especially as a pioneer of the guitar in Vienna before Giuliani, cannot be understated.

Many works by Molitor can be purchased at Fondazione Araniti Editions with PDF files sent by email. This is by far the best source of Molitor's music I have found.


Federico Moretti ( c.1760 - 1838 )

Italian guitarist and cellist
Moretti was an important figure in the development of the 6-string guitar. Sor praises Moretti's compositions for their completeness of harmony and voices and credits Moretti for his influence. Sor mentions that Moretti proved the guitar was capable of music with full melody and accompaniment parts, fully voiced. In 1792 Moretti published a 5-course guitar method, and in 1799 in Madrid published the famous 6-string method. He lived in Madrid until 1838. It is regrettable so few pieces survive; they are high quality pieces.

Federico Moretti played a guitar with 7 single strings (!), and formulated principles for 6-string guitar playing in 1786-7. Due to the lack of popularity of the 6-string guitar, it was initially published for the more popular 5-course instrument, but Moretti later re-published the original 6-string version in 1792, according to his memoirs. This method book and compositional style with independent voicing was deeply influential to Fernando Sor, according to his Method.

UT Orpheus and (UT Orpheus English Page) carries 2 pieces by Moretti. Fondazione Araniti Editions carries the 3 pieces suite, the same available in facsimile from Donald Sauter Facsimiles of Guitar music in the Library of Congress. I also have another loose copy facsimile of variations not available elsewhere.


Antonio Nava (1775-182?)

- "Italian guitarist, singer and composer. He was one of best guitarists working in Italy in the first decades of the nineteenth century. In 1808, Ricordi published four of Antonio Nava's sonatas for guitar solo with the title "the seasons of the year". It was the first opus published by the important Milanais editor. Antonio Nava also published sonatas and duets as well as a method. He composed in Italy, Germany as well as in Paris and London." - Delcamp.net Sheet Music

Nava's suite of 4 short Sonatas titled "Le stagioni dell'anno" or "Seasons of the Year" - it is a lively, inventive suite that is a fine composition from about 1808, one of my favorite all-time 19th century pieces - highly recommended. UT Orpheus and (UT Orpheus English Page) carries a couple of Nava titles, including the Four Seasons.

REX has 2 duos available for terz guitar. Also, opus 34 "Variazioni Sopra Flauto Maico di Mozart" available from UT Orpheus, is written for solo terz guitar - one of only 2 such pieces known. In general, Nava's music is orchestral and delightful - highly recommended, and it is a shame that more of his material is not available in modern or facsimile edition, as it is high quality. Nava was truly an excellent composer.

Ivan Padovetz / Padovec / Padowetz (1800-1873)



Various spellings exist, but I will use the spelling on the original 19th c. editions available from REX. You will often see the pronounced spelling "Ivan Padovec". Padovetz was Croatian, first learning the violin, but upon hearing Giuliani in 1818 in Vienna, he decided to play guitar, and studied composition with Morgenstern, gaining a reputation as a virtuoso. In 1829, Padovetz settled in Vienna, publishing a number of works and teaching. In 1836, he began to have eyesight problems, becoming blind by 1849, living in poverty, but continuing to give some concerts until his death in 1873.

According to published photos in the Padovec Complete Concert Works, Padovetz played a 10-string guitar made by Friedrich Schenck in Vienna in 1841 (who came from the Staufer workshop). This instrument had 4 floating bass strings (A,B,C,D below the 6th E string), and was built to his specifications or "invention" - probably due to the device which could raise the bass strings a half-step (such floating bass string guitars were around much earlier in Vienna). Prior to 1841 we have no information about what instrument Padovetz played, other than being made in Vienna, and very likely being by Staufer. Despite using a 10-string guitar, all of Padovetz' published works are written for conventional 6-string guitar. Padovetz also did not indicate any use of the left hand thumb.

10 Padovetz scores are available from REX, including 3 duets for Terz guitar, and 7 guitar scores for 6-string guitar. The REX editions are good to see if you like the music and if it is within your playing ability, and if so, I highly recommend the following modern edition. There are also pieces available for free PDF download from Boije.

The publisher Syukhtun Editions recently released a superb edition called "Ivan Padovec: The Complete Solo Concert Works" in facsimile reprints of the original 19th century editions. The Syukhtun Editions publication is superbly done and is everything that a good edition of 19th century works should be. The covers are laminated and durable, and the edition is spiral-bound to allow easy page turns and to keep the pages open on a music stand. The music is very readable with good type setting. It is a meaty edition with 175 pages of music, plus 30 pages of detailed biography, edition notes, and interesting historical photos. There are gaps in the opus numbers from 1-61; some pieces have been forever lost, and 2 solo pieces were omitted because they were didactic beginner works. This is the solo works only, so many of the opus number gaps are duets. This is probably the only time in history that the complete works of Padovec have been made available, and as such editions tend to go out of print quickly, so you may want to grab a copy while they are still available. Given the amount of music and biographical information, this edition is a good bargain.

The Padovec pieces are excellent, especially opus 9, the Variations on a Hungarian Air. The music sounds virtuosic, but is quite playable by intermediate guitarists willing to study the pieces. It makes full use of the fingerboard. Nearly all of the works are Theme and Variation or Opera Fantasy format. Padovetz composed masterful variations, full of clever ideas and good use of the instrument. All of the solo works are for conventional 6-string guitar. Despite playing a 10-string guitar, regrettably for those of us who play 8-10 string guitar, Padovetz did not write any extended range notes in his compositions or indicate any octave transpositions. Many of the duets, however (see REX) require the use of a terz guitar for the prime guitar. The music was published between 1829 to 1837.

A good article is IVAN PADOVEC: The greatest l9th century Croatian guitarist and guitar composer by Professor Uros Dojcinovic, who supplied the biographical notes for the above modern edition.

Niccolò Paganini, 1782 - 1840

Paganini-Bone Biographical Information:

Paganini is the most famous composer to have ever lived who wrote for the guitar. Known mostly for violin, Paganini was also a prolific guitarist who wrote over 100 solo guitar pieces! These works were tied up in ownership dispute and legal issues for over 150 years, and released only in the last 20 years to the public. They were also in very sloppy notation, nearly impossible to read, and only through the efforts of Chanterelle to completely digitize the entire set, have they come into the repertoire. The 37 Sonatas in particular are excellent pieces which are beginning to get recorded. The music is accessible to intermediate guitarists. Paganini also wrote many violin pieces with guitar accompaniment.

See also The Italian Guitar in the 19th-Century: Sixty biographies - Sixty biographies of Italian guitarist composers of Nineteenth century in alphabetic order (edited by Marco Bazzotti).

Biographical notes by George C. Krick - some interesting thoughts from this article:

"The year 1801, however, saw a remarkable change in his mode of life. Notwithstanding his remarkably successful career as violinist, he put aside the violin, which had been the means of bringing him such fame, and for more than three years devoted himself entirely to the study of the guitar. During this period he was living at the chateau of a lady of rank, and the guitar was her favorite instrument. Paganini gave himself up to the practice of the guitar as eagerly and with the same amount of concentration as he had previously done on the violin, and his mastery of the instrument was so thorough and rapid that his performances became as celebrated as those of the guitar virtuoso Regondi.

Schilling says of him: "Niccolò Paganini is such a great master of the guitar that it is hard to decide whether he is greater on the violin or guitar." Douburg in his notice of Paganini says, respecting this period of his life: "To those early days belong also the fact of Paganini's passion for the guitar, nor did he resume in earnest that peculiar symbol of his greatness, the violin, till after the lapse of three years." Riemann in his account of the artist says: "He played the guitar as an amateur, but with the skill of a virtuoso." Ferdinand Carulli, the guitar virtuoso, says in his famous method: 'The fact may not be generally known that Paganini was a fine performer on the guitar and that he composed most of his airs on this instrument, arranging and amplifying them afterwards for the violin according to his fancy.'

Paganini was intimate and performed in public with the leading guitar virtuosi of that time, and the guitar exercised a great influence and fascination over his musical nature. During his whole career he employed it as his accompanying instrument with his pupils and musical friends; and the majority of his compositions published during his lifetime include a part for the guitar. This was the instrument he fondled and caressed during those long periods of illness, when his strength was not sufficient for him to resort to the more exacting position required by the violin. To an intimate friend inquiring of Paganini his reason for devoting so much attention to the guitar, he replied: 'I love it for its harmonies, it is my constant companion on all my travels.'

In the year 1805 Paganini with his violin again started out on a concert tour and the following years were a series of brilliant triumphs, which it is not necessary to enumerate.

While in Paris, Paganini frequently visited J. B. Vuillaume the violin maker, and on one occasion took a fancy to a guitar made by Grobert of Mirecourt. Vuillaume graciously placed this guitar at his disposal during his visit. When ready to leave Paris, Paganini returned the instrument after writing his autograph in ink on its unvarnished top near the left side of the bridge. Later this instrument was presented to Hector Berlioz, who also was a guitar enthusiast and who placed his autograph on the top opposite to that of the other immortal name, and today this historical instrument is preserved in the Museum of the National Conservatory of Music, Paris.

Paganini was a very intimate friend of the guitar virtuoso Luigi Legnani and they often toured together giving joint concerts. In the summer of 1834 Legnani spent several months at the Villa Gajona, Paganini's country residence, where they occupied their time rehearsing new compositions, and in October, 1836, they appeared together at concerts in Parma and other cities in northern Italy. Several trips to Paris and London followed, but in the fall of 1839 ill health compelled Paganini to return to his native land, and his trip to Nice to avoid the winter of northern Italy proved his last journey.

It is a significant fact that all of the compositions of Paganini, with but one exception, contained parts for the guitar, this only exception being the "Twenty-four Caprices for Violin, Op. 1."
" - George C. Krick

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Paganini is known as one of the greatest violinists of all time, and one of the violin's most cherished composers. Paganini also wrote over 100 pieces for solo guitar, and used guitar to accompany most of his violin pieces. Paganini's solo guitar works do not require the level of technique required by his violin works; in fact, they are of intermediate level. The Grand Sonata is perhaps the most challenging, which requires advanced technique - but this was conceived as a violin guitar duet, and the commonly performed version is an arrangement of this piece for solo guitar. The Ghiribizzi are easy works which many beginners can play. The 37 Sonatas are medium difficulty and very accessible to intermediate players. The music is written in the fast, dazzling Italian style, but is not as difficult to play as it sounds. Paganini's style is unique and many pieces sound violinistic on the guitar. With only a couple of exceptions, Paganini did not write operatic fantasies, but instead composed his own original themes.

Available Repertoire:

4 works by Paganini for violin and guitar are available for free PDF download from REX.

Nicolo Paganini Chanterelle through Mel Bay Music Publishers has released the 3-volume set of Paganini's solo guitar works. The edition is well done; apparently free of errors (I have not found any), nice clear typeset, good binding, etc.. This is an "urtext" work, according to Mel Bay, "True to the maestro's original scores, no fingering, dynamic signs, or phrasing indications are given, forcing the modern player to resort to his/her own knowledge of period practice, taste, and musical instincts." Vol. 1 = 43 Ghiribizzi ("whims" or "fancies") easier pieces for amateurs; Vol. 2 = 37 Sonatas, accessible yet serious works deserving attention; Vol. 3 = Various compositions, mostly intermediate level.

I have yet to find a good Paganini edition of violin and guitar music. It is frustrating that publishers choose to issue only 1 or 2 pieces rather than a complete set, and furthermore edit the music. E-mail me if you know of a good edition.


Pietro Pettoletti (ca. 1795-1870)

As Richard Long states, "Pettoletti was an Italian virtuoso of the mid-19th century who spent much of his career in Scandinavia and Russia". Marco Bazzotti points out that Pettoletti was probably Italian, later moved to Germany, Sweden, and later St. Petersburg, Russia, which was then a vibrant center of 19th century guitar which Sor visited for several years. While in Russia, Pettoletti met the renown Russian 7-string guitarist Andrey Sychra, who encouraged Pettoletti to compose for the 7-string Russian guitar. Thus, several of Pettoletti's pieces are Russian editions in Russian 7-string tuning, although most are normal 6-string pieces.

29 Pettoletti scores are available from REX, including several duets with Terz guitar, 6-string guitar scores, and Russian 7-string scores in Russian tuning. This music for me was a significant discovery, a composer worthy of serious study and revival. Many pieces are virtuosic-sounding, but are not as hard to play as they look, and thus serve to dazzle audiences. Two of these works are Russian Fantasies in normal 6-string tuning, and are thus an insight in to the haunting, minor-key beauty of the Russian 19th century style of playing. On my 8-string guitar, the 7-string Russian pieces are playable without retuning.


Luigi Picchianti, 1786-1864

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Although obscure today, Luigi Picchianti was an important educator, author, composer, and performer of the guitar based in Florence, Italy. Biographical information and known works are listed in the "Just Classical Guitar" Bio link (photo from same source).

Richard Long has published three works by Luigi Picchianti in GFA Soundboard. The works are well-crafted and show clever use of the fingerboard, falling naturally. The Variations on a theme of Weigl is especially nice. Richard Long points out that Florence produced other important guitarists, including Gragnani, Castellacci, and Carcassi.

The Picchianti method from 1834, "Annotated and general principles of music theory and practice" (Principj generali e ragionati della musica teorico-pratica) is available on-line at "Italian Music Essays" link courtesy of Andreas Giger, College of Music and Dramatic Arts at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.


Giulio Regondi, 1822 - 1872

Regondi-Bone Biographical Information:

Regondi was an early child prodigy who enjoyed a successful career mostly in London. Regondi is the dedicatee of a Sor piece, with some possible connection to Sor, some speculate perhaps even early musical training. Regondi wrote for guitar and also an instrument called the Concertina. David Starobin's "The Great Regondi" CD recordings capture the fuller output.

IGRA Article

See also The Italian Guitar in the 19th-Century: Sixty biographies - Sixty biographies of Italian guitarist composers of Nineteenth century in alphabetic order (edited by Marco Bazzotti).

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Regondi wrote for solo guitar only, and did not write any pieces to my knowledge for guitar with other instruments. His works require considerably advanced technique and are viewed as concert showcases, and frustrating to most intermediate or amateur players. Very few pieces by Regondi are known to exist. The etudes are the least challenging, but even they are quite difficult.

Available Repertoire:

5 works by Regondi for solo guitar are available for free PDF download from REX.

Regondi Regondi's music is graceful and romantic in style, with rapid, almost frenzied virtuosic displays and sentimental melody. Regondi's music seems ahead of its time; it reminds me a great deal of later works by Barrios and the original pieces by Llobet. The influence Regondi had upon these later composers is immediately evident. Regondi played a Stauffer guitar, and David Starobin breathes new life into the music on a Stauffer replica by Southwell (I have also had the privilege to hear Starobin play Regondi in concert). Because it is later romantic, pushing the edge of "early romantic" - it sounds excellent to my ears on a modern classical guitar - e.g. the brilliant John Holmquist recording of the etudes. It is somewhat difficult to play, or at least requires a great deal of persistence to master the concert works. The "Introduction et Caprice" and "Fete Villageoise" are becoming standards of the early 19th century romantic repertoire. The Etudes are excellent pieces as well: very challenging but rewarding.

The only known works of Regondi solo guitar music are the facsimile concert works by Chanterelle through Mel Bay Music Publishers, and the recently discovered 10 Etudes by Editions Orphee. The Orphee edition of the etudes is exceptional in its scholarship and quality. A newly discovered work is the "Air varié de l’opera de Bellini I Capuleti e i Montecchi" also by Editions Orphee (Regondi-Bellini link).


Henrik Rung (1807-1871)
Jens Bang Rasmussen has worked with Tecla Editions to provide downloadable music scores and biographies from two important Danish composers - Degen and Rung.
Rung's music is stylistically similar to Sor's, but with a Scandinavian component. The music is good, but the writing is not on the level of the master composers like Coste or Mertz. I would rate Rung a step below his teacher, Degen. The duo and trio material is much better than the solo material, in my view.

I purchased newly engraved urtext scores of Degen and Rung's complete works directly from Jens Bang Rasmussen before they go to print eventually. Jens was very easy to deal with. These scores are crisp, accurate, and nicely done. These included:

Degen - Complete Solo Works - About half shorter, easy pieces that I found too stereotypical of the genre. The other half is longer pieces which contained some real gems, more challenging and interesting, two in particular made my "A List".

Degen - Complete Duets - Actually second parts written to existing pieces by other composers. Jens provides the second part only since the first parts are published solo pieces. Two pieces include the first and second parts; an original March by Degen, and a rare piano / guitar piece by Mertz arranged by Degen for two guitars.

Degen - Complete Cello and Guitar Duos - A very extensive collection of cello and guitar works. Jens says "The collection for cello and guitar is the only major collection for these intruments from the nineteenth century. This is also the collection that is most interesting in his writing and use of the 7-string guitar."

Rung - Complete Solo Works - Mostly shorter pieces and studies, with some longer performance pieces.

Rung - Complete Duets - A good collection of original intermediate duets.

Rung - Complete Trios - A very good collection of trio material; a welcome addition to the available repertoire.


Christian Gottlieb Scheidler ( 1752 - 1815 )

- Simon Wynberg's Introduction to Chanterelle's publication of Scheidler's two guitar sonatas in C and G point out that Scheidler composed tablature pieces for lute, and later the 6-string guitar. He served in an orchestral post as a cellist and was also a composer and guitarist; around 1806 he was described in a publication as "probably Germany's foremost lutenist and guitarist" and elsewhere as "auch Lautenist" - an indication that perhaps he still played the near-extinct Baroque Lute at the time. The Chanterelle sonatas were published around 1793 and follow the classical mode. In Germany at the turn of the 18th to 19th century, the 6th string was commonly tuned up to G, as is the case in this publication. Due to tension concerns, I tune the entire instrument down a half-step and then the 6th to G. These 2 sonatas are fantastic, well worth it.

"Scheidler's value as a composer is well demonstrated in these two pithy classical Sonatas. His modulations are strong, his melodic invention original and although not virtuoso works... it is thought that they will appeal to both advanced guitarists and to players of more modest ability." - Simon Wynberg, 1981.

The pieces in the Chanterelle edition are also available for free PDF download from Boije.

Franz Schubert ( 1797 - 1828 )

Schubert is one of the top classical composers of all time, famous for his many vocal works, including the "Ave Maria" and other Lieds (songs).

Schubert played violin, piano, and guitar, and is depicted in portraits playing the guitar while singing. Also, Schubert composed the "Arpeggione" Concerto now played on 6-string guitar by John Williams; the arpeggione was an instrument built by Stauffer - tuned like a guitar but bowed.

Schubert played Stauffer guitars, and by various accounts was an accomplished guitarist, and a close friend of Giuliani. Unfortunately, Schubert did not leave substantial guitar compositions behind, only simple accompaniment parts. During Schubert's life, he was not recognized and lived nearly in poverty. He died in 1828, at only 31 years of age, probably of syphilis.

Schubert's music was harmonically bold and proved to be hugely influential in the decades following.

"Diabelli published the first compositions of Franz Schubert, when he was unknown as a musical composer, and these first publications were his songs with guitar accompaniment. Schubert was a guitarist, and wrote all his vocal works with guitar in the first instance. Some few years later, when the pianoforte became more in vogue, Schubert, at the request of his publisher, Diabelli, set pianoforte accompaniments to these same songs." - Philip Bone

Schubert Guitar 1Schubert Guitar 2

Marek Konrad Sokolowski (1818-1883), Polish guitarist and composer.


Fernando Sor, 1778 - 1839

Fernando Sor - Fernando Sor

Click the Fernando Sor portrait for the full-sized image, courtesy of Kenneth Sparr. "Goubeau pinxit. Lith: de Engelmann. Litho.é par Bordes". Lithography by Gottfried Engelmann (1788-1839) and Joseph Bordes (1773-1835) after a lost painting by Innocent-Louis Goubaud. Ca. 1825. This print was bought from EOS Buchantiquariat, Zürich in 2002.

Biographical Information:

Fernando Sor Bio Fernando Sor's works have remained popular since they were written, and are still among the most widely-recorded and widely-played pieces in the repertoire. A Sor biography was written by Dr. Brian Jeffery; I have read this book and highly recommend it. Many guitarists are surprised to learn that Fernando Sor was not only a guitar composer, but also a composer of large scale orchestral works, and music for piano and voice. Sor's opera "Telemachus on the Island of Calypso" was successful. Sor taught and performed as a vocalist, and was an accomplished pianist. Sor wrote serious music with a high level of compositional integrity; and considered himself a "harmonist". Sor's music has a vocal, lyrical quality with proper voicing and harmonic structure.

Andrew Daly Essay
Fernando Sor, His Life and His Music
Fernando Sor's Page by Jesús de las Heras Jiménez
The History of the Classical Guitar - Sor

Rob MacKillop's Sor & 19th-Century Guitar Performance Site dedicated in the main to playing the music of Sor – videos, mp3 files, essays, etc.

Biographical notes by George C. Krick:

"Ferdinand Sor was a composer of distinctive genius. Aside from those already mentioned he wrote numerous works for the theater-operas, ballets and pantomimes, amongst them "The Fair of Smyrna," ''Le Seigneur Genereux," "Le Sicilien," "Gil Blas," and "Cendrillon." Of these "Gil Blas" and "Cendrillon" were quite popular for many years and were produced at the Royal Opera, London, and also in Paris.

As a composer for guitar, Sor stands above all others. One critic of that time wrote: "What Mendelssohn is to the piano, Sor is to the guitar." Others have spoken of him as "The Beethoven of the guitar."

Up to the time when Sor came upon the scene, most so-called sonatas and other works for guitar contained long passages in single notes with occasional basses on open strings, although Carulli, Aguado and Giuliani had already cut loose from this system and had greatly improved the method of writing for guitar.

Sor, with his thorough training in harmony and counterpoint and experience in instrumentation, soon found that the guitar was capable of producing three and four part harmony; and his original compositions for guitar show the hand of the master. Upon his method are built the modern school of Tarrega and others. Without the study of Sor's "Etudes" and other guitar compositions, the present day guitarists cannot expect to reach the top.
" - by George C. Krick (July 1939)

Difficulty Level and Scope:

Sor was a capable composer of operas, symphonies, ballets, chamber works, piano music, voice music, and works for solo and duo guitar. Sor's duets are among the best written. As was common practice, Sor composed around operas or folk song themes, in addition to original themes, with many theme & variation pieces, but Sor elevated this craft to a higher level than most of his contemporaries by writing original compositions around only a skeletal snippet from the original source, while other composers borrowed heavily upon the original material. The famous Mozart Variations, opus 9, is based on a motif which lasts only a few seconds in the Magic Flute opera by Mozart, with the entire composition built around it. Like most guitarists of this era, Sor's music can be classified into 2 categories: virtuoso concert works, and amateur pieces. Many of Sor's virtuoso works are superb concert pieces and real gems of the repertoire. The difficulty level varies considerably; the concert works are usually Medium difficulty, but several works require very advanced technique to play at full speed with the intended interpretation. The music was written with the composition of foremost consideration, with the result that not all of his music falls idiomatically to the guitar - it seems to have been adapted from an original piano conception in many cases. Sor published many short and easy pieces for beginners, including pieces for first year students, which remain the most popular works ever written. Sor is credited for writing brilliant compositions for beginner studies, which is a difficult feat given the limited resources available in that medium.

According to a Wikipedia article titled "List of compositions by Fernando Sor", Sor's works also included 2 complete operas, 7 complete ballets, 3 complete symphonies, and other chamber works:

Operas by Sor:
  • Telemaco nell'isola di Calipso (25 August 1797, Barcelona, Teatre de la Santa Creu)
  • Don Trastullo [lost]
  • Ballets by Sor:
  • La foire d'Esmirne (1821, Paris)
  • El señor generoso (1821)
  • Cendrillon (1822, Paris)
  • L'aimant peintre (1823)
  • Hercule et Omphale (1826, Saint Petersburg)
  • Le sicilien (1827)
  • Hassan et le calife (1828)
  • Orchestral music by Sor:
  • Symphony No. 1 in C
  • Symphony No. 2 in E flat
  • Symphony No. 3 in F
  • Violin Concerto in G major
  • 3 string quartets
  • String trios with guitar
  • Tritó has published many of the orchestral and piano works, and many groundbreaking recordings of Sor's non-guitar music. These include a CD of Sor's solo piano works ("Fernando Sor, The pianoforte works"), and a CD of Sor's works for four-handed fortepiano ("F.Sor in London").

    Instrumentation: Sor's published compositions for the guitar were entirely composed for the 6-string guitar. It is often speculated that Sor began playing the 6-course, or 12-string guitar (e.g. each string was doubled), as was typical for guitars in Spain in the late 1700's and early 1800's, and then switched to 6 single strings later. There are no known Sor compositions using guitars with 7 or more courses. There is speculation that the Grand Sonata op. 14 used a 7-string guitar because the E is a stretch in places in drop-D tuning, but in my opinion this is not the case: there are no other Sor works beyond 6 strings, Sor provides comments in the Sor Method about guitars with extended range, such stretches are easily manageable on a romantic guitar with shorter scale of Sor's time, and given that having an open E plus open D string on this piece interferes with the strummed indications for strings 4-6; thus I believe opus 14 this was clearly written for a 6-string instrument. The awkwardness is resolved with a shorter scale instrument like the guitars of Sor's time, and many excellent recordings and performances have been done to prove this is perfectly playable on a 6-string, modern guitar. Sor did use scordatura, or re-tuning certain strings on occasion, and perhaps innovated certain tunings that we view as standard today (such as 5=G). Several drop-D works exist (6th string tuned to D), along with the 5th A string tuned down to G on a few pieces. Notably, Sor calls for tuning the 6th string up a half-step to F in 14 published compositions, a tuning which is seldom, if ever seen elsewhere, and was possibly Sor's innovation. Although many guitarists avoid the 6=F tuning, the tuning is very simple to use and it works ideally in certain keys. Most of the F's are open string, and the very few notes that are fretted on the 6th string are simply 1 fret lower. (The works tuned to F are: op. 1 #6 March, op. 10 Variations, op. 11 #11 Minuet, op. 11 (second) Theme Varie, Minuet # 3 from 4 Minuets without Opus, op. 23 #6, opus 24 #2-7, op. 35 ex. 12, and op. 36 #3 and Chasse.)

    Available Repertoire:

    All 63 of Sor's published opus numbers for solo or duo guitar are available for free PDF download from REX, and many are also in Boije. However, many of these editions are later 19th century editions and I prefer the Tecla series with the selected first editions for that reason. Tecla's edition is also enhanced for readability: darker printing, and some tedious hand-editing of stems to make them more readable than the faded originals.

    It should be noted that the Naxos Complete Works of Sor is available. These are excellent recordings by top guitarists today such as Adam Holzman, Marc Teicholz, and others. The complete duets in 2 volumes is highly recommended also. Another guitarist, Lawrence Johnson, has recorded the complete works of Sor: http://www.crgrecordings.com/index.htm.

    The 1836 English translation of Sor's Method for the Spanish Guitar is an essential treatise to understanding Sor's music, philosophy, and 19th century interpretation.

    Tecla is the publisher of the Sor Complete Works in a set of facsimile editions. I often refer to the original primary sources for reference, even when using a newly engraved edition. Tecla also released the "New Complete Works" which are urtext new engravements. These are nice because they are easier to read. The first edition had errors, so I recommend getting the second edition with fixes included (errata for the first edition is available on Tecla's web site). Any serious guitarist should have Sor's complete works in their library. Because of legal issues, most of Sor's best works, e.g. his later editions, were only recently printed with the Tecla set. There are many gems well worth uncovering that have had scant recordings made, despite their caliber. The duet material is some of the finest ever written for the guitar. The Tecla set includes all the published solo and duo works known to exist (with one exception, below), and thus I do not recommend any other editions of Sor, as with other editions you are buying single pieces "a la carte" and many other editions are heavily fingered, where the editor's fingerings might not be what Sor intended, or may be bad fingerings in general (though some editors do a good job).

    A new discovery of Sor has recently been released which is not in the Jeffery / Tecla edition; Fantasy Dedicated to his student Mlle. Houzé. This is a fine, major work by Sor, at about 12 minutes on Adam Holzman's recording. The original was hand-written and hard to read, thus this edition is newly typeset, and I found it to be free of errors. The edition is not urtext; it is fully fingered by Pepe Romero. Some people have objected to withholding the original version and imposing Pepe's own interpretation of the fingering. In my opinion Pepe's fingerings were very good, and generally the most logical choices - in fact, quite a few clever ideas, which overall will save a lot of time learning the piece (although I did change a few of his fingerings in my copy). Overall recommended, in fact it ranks as one of my personal favorite works by Sor of them all.


    Andrei Sychra (1773-1850)

    - The leading Russian 7-string guitarist, and a friend of Pettoletti. It is very likely that Sor came into contact with Sychra during his travels to St. Petersburg.

    Mr. Timofeyev has compiled much of what we know today. "Mr. Timofeyev decided to structure a project around an 1833 manuscript compiled by Andrei Sychra (1773-1850), the founder of the Russian seven-string guitar tradition. In this newly-found source, Sychra collected some 42 most popular songs and romansy of his time and arranged them with guitar accompaniment. Several of these vocal masterpieces are known to any Russian (“Solovei,” “Sredi doliny rovnyia”), but some others were unjustly forgotten for more than a century. Many are settings of poems by Pushkin and Zhukovsky, both of whom are bright literary stars from Russia’s golden age of poetry and literature. Every piece is expertly adapted for voice and guitar by the most prolific guitarist of the time, creating a pleasant listening for any audience. In addition to the vocal items on the program, Timofeyev supplies some of the most delightful guitar solos by Sychra himself and his students. Timofeyev uses the unique early-19th-century Russian guitar from his collection." - www.talismanmusic.org

    Another good article is The Guitar of the Czars - by Marco Bazzotti.
    Stanislaw (Stanislaus) Szczepanowski (1811-1877).

    Mr. Ophee has a good summary and an edition available at Orphee Editions - 2 pieces

    From P.J.Bone's 'Guitar and Mandolin', courtesy of Rob MacKillop:

    "Szczepanowski, Stanislaus, born in the Palatine of Cracow, Poland, and living in 1852, was a Polish guitarist of rare ability. During childhood his parents taught him to play the violin and at the age of six he performed in public. In 1820 his family migrated to Scotland, made their abode in Edinburgh and became acquainted with the Polish guitarist Horetzky, who was exceedingly popular as teacher and soloist. He suggested the lad should play the guitar and taught him until he was nineteen. He made such remarkable progress that Horetzky recommended further study under Sor, the most famous of guitar virtuosi and teacher. Towards the close of 1833 he arrived in Paris, studied some time with Sor and also gained knowledge of harmony and composition. In 1839, after the death of Sor, Sczepanowski returned to Edinburgh and proved himself a worthy successor of his first teacher. For a few years he lived in Scotland making concert tours in the provinces and London."


    Francisco Tarrega, 1852 - 1909

    Tarrega

    Tarrega-Bone Biographical Information:

    There is a great deal of biographical information readily found on the web site and musical editions about Tarrega, so I won't repeat those details here, but I will instead offer my perspective. Tarrega is one of the most popular composer-arrangers for the guitar even to this day. Nearly every classical guitarist was drawn to the guitar through his music and plays some of his works, some of which are the most famous pieces in the entire repertoire. Tarrega was also an avid transcriber, including works by Beethoven, Albeniz, and Bach, which have formed the template for today's transcriptions.

    While Tarrega is sometimes credited with inventing various techniques, it would be more accurate to say that Tarrega mastered existing techniques and passed them to a new generation of guitarists. Tarrega was taught by Julian Arcas and others, with an instructional lineage tracing directly to Dionisio Aguado. Tarrega used fingernails in the same manner as Arcas and Aguado - shorter than most modern guitarists, and late in his life converted to a no-nails technique, driven in large part for medical reasons. Tarrega was a noted teacher, and his students became the foundation of the "modern" Segovia school: notably Llobet, Fortea and others. Although it is commonly reported that Segovia was self-taught, Segovia spent a lot of time with Tarrega's students and undoubtedly learned their techniques. Tarrega wrote music in the same style as his contemporaries in Spain: Broca, Vinas, Arcas and others who preceded him produced the same style, although Tarrega's compositions have withstood the test of time and continue to draw new listeners and players. Although Tarrega's compositions do not include large-scale works, they are fun, charming, and remain popular to this day. Tarrega played guitars by Torres, the same kind that were played by his instructor Julian Arcas.

    Difficulty Level and Scope:

    Tarrega was limited to solo guitar with no output for guitar with other instruments, or even duets. His works vary from beginner to those which require advanced technique. There are original pieces as well as many transcriptions of principal composers like Beethoven, as was common practice.

    Available Repertoire:

    Several Tarrega pieces are available for free PDF download from REX. Chanterelle has a two-volume series of first edition facsimiles, and many, many publications are available with Tarrega's music.


    Jose Vinas (1823 - 1888).

    "The musical diversity of Jose Vinas is impressive.

    Although Jose Broca dedicated himself completely to the guitar, Vinas, thanks to his extraordinary musical talent, was also a singer and composer- and, above all, a conductor at a great variety of theaters in Spain- in addition to his career as a guitarist.

    Together with Julian Arcas, Vinas is esteemed as one of his age’s most significant guitar virtuosos. His interpretation of the works of Aguado and Broca were considered to be exemplary, and he appeared as a guest performer in a number of European countries with much success in 1844. The home residence in Barcelona increasingly became the meeting place for both local guitarists and those giving guest performances. Here they met, talked, played for and listened to each other. This is where the young Fracisco Tarrega presumably also introduced his first works.

    Vinas' altogether ambitious compositions demonstrate that they are completely rooted in the dance forms typical of those times: polka and mazurka, waltz and tango are his favorite forms. In addition to these, the fantasias are of equal importance."

    - From the booklet of: Joachim Gassmann: La Leona, Spanische Gitarrenmusik des 19. Jahrhunderts, Amb 97964, contributed by Norbert Fischer of Germany.


    Marco Aurelio Zani de Ferranti, 1802 - 1878

    Ferranti-Bone Biographical Information:

    The complete biography is published by Simon Wynberg, available from Mel Bay Music Publishers.

    See also The Italian Guitar in the 19th-Century: Sixty biographies - Sixty biographies of Italian guitarist composers of Nineteenth century in alphabetic order (edited by Marco Bazzotti).

    IGRA Notes

    Biographical notes by George C. Krick.

    Difficulty Level and Scope:

    Ferranti was limited to solo guitar with little output for guitar with other instruments. His works mostly require advanced technique and are frustrating to many intermediate or amateur players. They are largely operatic fantasy form.

    Available Repertoire:

    Opus numbers 1 through 10 by Zani de Ferranti for solo guitar are available for free PDF download from REX. Several of these opus works are not in the Chanterelle series.

    Ferranti
    Chanterelle through Mel Bay Music Publishers has published the collected works. The music is typical of the 19th century guitar, and a little bit more advanced.


    Minor Composers

    Many obscure composers, over 1000 manuscripts, for solo guitar or guitar with other instruments, are available for free PDF download from REX and Boije.

    There were many minor composers for the guitar, of varying quality in the 19th century. Unfortunately, much of this music, biographical information, and other details, have been lost over time and scattered. I will not attempt to provide a comprehensive list on this web page. This is merely a list of the composers whose music is known to me, whom I feel wrote good music which in my editorial opinion is worthy of study today.

    Other American Composers

    Guitar music in the Library of Congress Donald Sauter has done ground-breaking work to catalog and describe the early guitar material in the USA Library of Congress. The amount of early American music is vast and yet widely overlooked. The peak ERG time period of 1776-1850 is the time period when the young American nation flourished and received European immigrants. Perhaps someone will soon begin recording these pieces. Music publications were included in TLC in order to receive copyright. See the sheet music section below.

    Meantone Guitar Studio has several late 19th century collections of American guitar editions for free download, with donations requested. In addition to the American music, one of the anthologies (Shaeffer) contained pieces by Pettoletti, Legnani, and Mertz - including one unfamiliar to me, "The Merry Wives of Windsor".

    The 19th Century American Sheet Music Digitization Project links to several on-line collections of 19th century American guitar music. This is popular music, nearly all of it folk songs and easy parlor music, but it is a good idea of household American guitar music of this era. Start by searching for "guitar" - the material is vast, but I did not find any serious compositions here.

    Other Italian Composers

    The Marco Bazzotti Italian site is an excellent resource, with extensive biographies and information about Italian 19th century composers:

    The Italian Guitar in the 19th-Century: Sixty biographies - Sixty biographies of Italian guitarist composers of Nineteenth century in alphabetic order (edited by Marco Bazzotti).

    Other Scottish Composers

    Rob MacKillop's website, www.robmackillop.com contains an essay on the ERG in Scotland. He has uploaded a manuscript from Edinburgh in the 1840s from a pupil of Horetzki who was the main teacher in Scotland at that time. Click on the sidebar for 'The 19th-century guitar in Scotland'. Rob's site is mainly concerned with early Scottish music for lutes, and he has currently the only CD devoted to the 18th-century wire-strung 'guittar', the mis-named English Guitar. Rob's arrangements of Sor's ariettas for voice and keyboard are being placed on Brian Jeffrey's Hebe site. Rob has recorded many of the pieces from the Edinburgh manuscript on an original Panormo in the collection of Edinburgh University. (Unfortunately their instruments are in poor condition and they have a policy of not tampering with them.)

    Other Swedish Composers

    "Music for the Guitar Printed in Sweden 1800-1860" and "The Guitar in Sweden Until the Middle of the 19th Century" compiled by Kenneth Sparr. Also many resources such as paintings, links, information etc.:

    Kenneth Sparr Home Page


    Engraving by Stephen Alonzo Schoff (1818-1904) after a painting by Charles Sprague Pearce (1851-1914).
    Early 19th century French guitar.
    Courtesy of Kenneth Sparr


    Early Romantic Guitar Home Page

    The editor especially welcomes comments and ideas for this web site.
    Please send an email to Len if you would like to contribute text, links, photos or information.

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