The Guitar in the Classic and Romantic Periods, c.1750-1850

Classical 19th-century six-string guitar / Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

By Dr. Júlio Ribeiro Alves / 12.2015
Professor of Music Theory and Guitar
Marshall University

Towards the Six-String Guitar

The transition between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries revealed a new context for the guitar. The socio-political context of Spain under the leadership of Philip V (the first member of the House of Bourbon to rule as king of Spain) brought significant
changes to the status of the guitar in the Spanish society. After arriving in Madrid in 1701, Philip V embraced foreign influences, notably French and Italian, and repressed any national forms of expression, gradually affecting the guitar and its practices. The publication of new guitar music was largely suppressed and Spanish guitar music from the period could be found only in manuscript form. The guitar became an instrument of low-class people, associated with drinking, dancing, and singing in the streets or in bars, a lifestyle which was considered inappropriate for the fashionable layer of society. [77]

Substantial developments for the guitar took place during the second half of the eighteenth century. The preference for the style galant led the guitar to embrace the role of accompanying melodies, which was mainly done through arpeggiating chords. This new context required the downbeats of the measures to depict bass notes, marking the harmonies more efficiently. As a result, the fourth and fifth strings received bourdons and the guitar became a favored instrument to accompany the voice.

The change was a major mark in the development of the instrument because it changes the guitar from a treble instrument to one with basses. However, it was not the only important change that took place during that period. Another one was the abandonment of the tablature system and the adoption of the staff notation for the guitar.


[LEFT]: Bust of Giachomo Merchie, 1798 / Louvre Museum, Paris
[RIGHT]: Etching of Michel Corrette /  Dictionnaire des écrits sur la musique, by Jean-Marc Warszawski

Italian guitarists were most likely the first ones to use staff notation for the guitar. Two important names in the transition from tablature to staff notation in France were those of Giachomo Merchi and Michel Corrette. The latter published Les Dons d’Apollon, méthode pour apprendre facilement à jouer de la guitarre (Paris 1762). The method displayed both tablature and staff notation, confirming the gradual change from one system to the other.[78]

The most important developments were the addition of the six-course and the subsequent abandonment of the courses in favor of six strings. The addition of the sixcourse was present not only in the mainstream type of guitar, but also in other peculiar types. One of them was the English guittar (or simply guittar). This instrument had metal strings arranged in six courses (the sixth and fifth courses were replaced by single strings) and was tuned to a C major-chord (c-e-gg-c’c’-e’e’-g’g’). The other example, a guitar tuned to a D-major chord: D-A-D-F#-A-D, is documented in a German publication by Joseph Bernhardt Kaspar Majer titled Neu eroffneter theőretischer und praktischer Music – Saal (1741).[79]

Francisco Sanguino me fecit. En Sevilla año de 1759 / Gemeentenmuseum, The Hague

Six-course guitars became more common in Italy and Spain during the two last decades of the eighteenth century. The earliest known example of a six-course guitar dates from 1759 and it is in the Gemeentenmuseum in The Hague. The instrument, also the first guitar to display a fan-strutting system to strengthen the table, is labeled ‘Francisco Sanguino me fecit. En Sevilla año de 1759.’[80]

Abandoning the use of courses resulted from the congruence of two important factors. The first one was that a new type of bass strings, made of metal, and started to be manufactured. They had more volume and clarity of sound than the traditional gut
strings, and allowed the instrument to fulfill more efficiently the role of accompanying the voice. The second factor was that with one single string, the problem of keeping both strings of a course in tune was solved.[81]

The acceptance of metal strings did not occur so promptly by guitarists. Many players were resistant to the change. Eventually, the advantages of the metal strings spoke louder than the bias against their use, and it was just a matter of time until the courses turned obsolete and single strings became standard.[82] Merchi, for example, had already indicated the use of single strings in 1777 in his Traité des Agrèments de la Musique execute sur la Guitarre.[83]

Evidence confirming the trend towards the use of single strings in the guitar is also present in other important publications of the late decades of the eighteenth century. Among them were Antonio Ballestero’s Obra para guitarra de seis órdenes (1780), the
earliest source of published music for the six-course guitar, and Principios para tocar la guitarra de seis órdenes (1799), by Federico Moretti (b. unkown-d.1838). According to the latter, single strings were already favored by players in Italy and France.

A little digression is necessary in order to illustrate the importance of Moretti. He was one of the earliest Italian guitarists who left his home country to promote the guitar in another. He served in the Royal Walloon Guards of the Queen of Spain, and at the time of his death, he was a general.[84]


Fernando Ferandiere and his Arte de Tocar Guitarra Española

Moretti’s main contribution to the history of the guitar relates to his particular treatment of the guitar notation. He made a clear distinction between melody and accompaniment through using stems in different directions. Merchi also had used stems in a similar manner, but his use was sporadic while Moretti’s was consistent. Returning to the transition to six single strings, the use of courses was still in vogue in Spain. This fact is documented by Fernando Ferandiere (ca.1740-ca. 1816) in his Arte de Tocar Guitarra Española, published in Madrid in the same year of Moretti’s book. Ferandiere was a composer, teacher, guitarist, and violinist. In fact, he published a violin treatise twenty years earlier than issuing his guitar publication.[85] He was also the editor of an anthology published in Spain during the 1830’s titled Imprenta nueva de música, containing guitar solos, duets with guitar and voice, and some flamenco.[86]

An overview of the content of Ferandiere’s book may lead to a better understanding of its contribution to the history of the instrument. Ferandiere’s book was in many respects, similar to that of Amat’s, which means that it aimed to provide simple instruction about how to play the guitar:

My sole concern is to enable those who love the Spanish guitar to learn how to play it; for with these first rudiments, teachers will be spared the necessity of providing many lessons for their pupils…[87]

The book follows with a short section explaining the number of frets, the use of courses, and basic information about the left and right hands. In this section the reader is informed about the use of the nails, and it can be deduced that the standard procedure for the right hand was to use the thumb, index, and middle fingers, although Ferandiere’s description implies an eventual use of the ring finger:

To continue: our guitar is played with at least three fingers of the right hand, without any more nail than is necessary to strike the string; and the left hand should have no nails, for otherwise the strings would break.[88]

The tutor follows explaining the major and minor keys, note-values, rests, accidentals, other signs of music, and the scale. Only after all that information is given, there is the “first lesson.” The next lessons include dances such as an allemande, and a menuet, among others. The simplicity of the book is further reinforced by the brief oneparagraph explanation about modulation, which Ferandiere calls “the most difficult art in music.”[89] A Socratic dialogue between a teacher and a student about counterpoint and composition concludes the written part of the book.

The end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries experienced the concomitant use of six-course and six-string guitars.[90] Nonetheless, it was just a matter of time until the instrument that we know as “classical” or “classic” guitar (tuned to E-A-d-g-b-e’) became the standard type of guitar, a definite step in the evolution of the instrument.[91] Improvements in guitar construction were decisive to the change in the number of strings in the guitar.

The definite shift to the construction of six-string guitars was already clear in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Among distinct luthiers of the period were José Pagés in Cádiz, Lorenzo Alonso in Madrid, José Martinez in Málaga, Louis Panormo in London, and Renés François Lacôte in Paris. By the 1830’s, other important changes occurred in the guitar.

Gennaro Fabricatore Napoli Romantic Era Guitar, 1830 / Museum of Barcelona, Spain

The neck, for example, became narrower and it was common to have between fifteen to seventeen frets. Metal frets became common, surpassing those made from ebony or ivory. An open hole replaced the rosette and machine heads substituted the wooden pegs of the older guitar types. The instrument was able to hold strings with higher tension because of a new fan-strutting system. The dimension of the body, in comparison with the older types of guitar, increased resulting in the placement of the twelfth fret at the junction of the neck and the body. Yet, the guitar was smaller than the modern type: the body size was circa 44 cm, and the string length about 62-64 cms.[92] All the significant changes mentioned would also demand, from the guitarists of the period, a new methodology towards the study of guitar technique. However, the improvements in this area would appear later. Many guitarists of the period continued to rely on earlier practices such as supporting the little finger of the right hand on the table while playing. Rest stroke was rarely, if at all, used.[93]

The establishment of the six-string guitar as the mainstream type of guitar opened a new set of possibilities and questions related to the instrument’s technique. Thus, the pursuit of a more appropriate approach to guitar technique became an important issue during the nineteenth century. Players had to rethink their approach from idiomatic aspects such as the use of arpeggio figures and chords to expressive devices such as vibrato and the exploration of the higher register. At the same time, the challenges also represented a trump to the new generation of composers/performers.

It can be said that it was a privileged time for the guitar. The instrument was going through several improvements, and players had a new horizon to explore in regards to its technique. These aspects certainly contributed to the revival of the interest for the instrument that occurred in Europe during the early nineteenth century.

Among the countries that experienced that revival was Spain. The country had a new generation of leading guitarists influenced by a monk called Padre Basílio.[94] Although he was an organist and composer, his main contribution to music history was as a guitarist. He also held a position in the Spanish court as the guitar tutor of Queen Marie-Louise.

Opposed to accepting the guitar as a mere strumming instrument, the Spanish monk revived the intricacies of the punteado style of playing. He has been considered the initiator of the modern school of guitar. He influenced several prominent guitar personalities of the time such as Moretti, Ferandiere, Fernando Sor (1778-1839), and Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849), among others.[95]

Composer Luigi Bocherini (1743-1805) is also important to the discussion. He went to Spain in 1768 and resided forty years there. He employed the guitar in several symphonies, wrote three quintets for guitar and strings, and eventually devoted much time to the composition of guitar solos and songs with guitar accompaniment.[96] The names of Moretti and Ferandiere have been already introduced to the reader earlier, when the topic of the six-course guitar was presented. More known to us are those of Sor and Aguado, both virtuoso players and prominent guitar composers. Indeed, all the important guitar composers of the period were also performers on the instrument. It was not until later in the evolution of the instrument that the task of composing for the instrument became common among non-guitarists. With this in mind, the next section will present the lives and the contribution of the principal names of the guitar during this flourishing period of the guitar history.

Guitar Personalities of the Nineteenth Century

A lithographed painting of Fernando Sor, c.1825 / Wikimedia Commons

One of the great icons of the guitar in the transitional period between the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries was Spanish Fernando Sor. He not only had a central role in the development of the guitar technique, but he was also one of the responsible for raising the credibility of the guitar as a “concert instrument.” The legacy of his pedagogical ideas and the importance of his guitar compositions to modern guitarists are undoubtedly evident in our times.

Descendant of a family from Catalonia, Sor’s actual date of birth is unknown. What is known is that he was baptized as ‘Joseph Fernando Macari Sors on February 14, 1778 in the Barcelona Cathedral.[97] From a very early age, his parents had in mind a
military career for him. As a result, music initially did not occupy a prominent position in his education.

According to an article written in 1835 by A. Ledhuy and H. Bertini, the situation changed when after the young Sor began to compose music for the words of his grammar exercises in Latin. Not long after this event, he started to study music under the tutelage of the leader of Barcelona Cathedral’s orchestra, who had heard about Sor’s natural inclination towards music. Before he had started his formal musical training, Sor had created a notational system of his own to write music, and was also playing the guitar and the violin. It seems that Sor, while a precocious child, was already in pursuit of his own artistic path.

After the death of his father and the financial burden that it caused to Sor’s family, he almost interrupted studies in music. A solution came by moving to the Monastery of Monserrat to continue his musical education in response to an invitation made by Josef Arredondo, Abbot of Monserrat. There, mainly under the tutelage of a certain “Father Viola,” Sor studied music theory, composition, sang in the choir, and remained there until he was about seventeen years old.

After Sor left the monastery, he took a military commission as sub lieutenant in Barcelona. His musical abilities soon resulted in a promotion to full lieutenant. It is believed that the composer spent from 1796 to1800 at the military school of the Catalan regiment close to Barcelona. Music was well considered in the Spanish military circle, which was favorable to the development of Sor’s activities as a performer and composer. The premiere of his first opera, Telemaco, for instance, occurred at the Barcelona Opera on August 25, 1797. According to Ledhuy, the successful repercussion of the opera was a combination of Sor’s young age and the fact he was from the city.[98]

The next step in the life of Fernando Sor was to move to Madrid. There, he found that his reputation as a fine guitarist was well established. In the new city, he continued as an army’s commissioned officer, and at some point he was taken under the protection
of the Duchess of Alba, who also patronized the painter Goya. After her death in 1802, he returned to Barcelona, and divided his military duties with a position as the administrator of a Catalonian property of the Duke of Medinaceli.

The biographical accounts of the composer reinforce the notion that he had no conflicts managing administrative duties and musical activities. For example, he directed the concerts promoted by the American Consul in Málaga while still continuing his work as an administrator in Andaluzia. The balance provided a calm period in the life of the composer, which was interrupted by a main event that occurred in Spain at the end of the first decade of the nineteenth century: the arrival of the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte in

With the insertion of the Frenchmen in Spain, Sor joined Spanish resistance forces. At first he joined a regiment that had expelled the French troops from Madrid at the turn of the second half of the year 1808. The French retook Madrid at the end of that year. Sor then went to Andaluzia and became a captain in a resistance group called Cordovan Volunteers.

Music played an important role in the time of the resistance against the French invasion, as it generally does during major turmoil events of all societies in history. One of the ways the antagonistic sentiment was expressed was in the form of patriotic songs. Sor composed four of them. An emphasis on folkloric elements as a tool to nurture the sense of national identity was also another path used by Sor. That approach can be seen in his Seguidilla Bolleras. The verses in the beginning of this paper were extracted from one of them.

In spite of the efforts of resisting the invasion, the Spanish were defeated, and a new reality was imposed to the lives of the Spaniards. Perhaps moved by a belief that the ideals of the French revolution would culminate with the transformation of the Spanish society, several intellectuals accepted positions under the French. Among them was Sor, who at some point took a position as the main commissary of police in Jerez de la Frontera until the Spaniards expelled the French in 1813.

Monument to the Battle of Vitoria, Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, Vitoria-Gasteiz

The shift occurred after Spain won the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813, forcing the French army to leave Spain. The victory over France further nurtured the feeling of nationalism in the Spanish people. Not surprisingly, a hostile attitude towards those who had made alliances with the old occupiers became part of the Spanish society. Most likely fearful of this context, Sor left to Paris.

Even though Sor arrived on good terms with the French, he had to adjust himself to the new challenges of the French capital. Telemaco, for instance, was considered too Italian and therefore unsuitable for the French theatres. Ironically Sor, whose musical
mind was accustomed to work free since a very early age, was advised by the poet Marsollier to look for a French expert who could help him to learn how to compose properly in the French style.[99] He never followed the advice, and criticized the experts, which only made his acceptance in the French musical scenario harder.

During his first years in France, the Catalan composer faced the difficulty to acquire the recognition that he earned in Spain. Yet, he managed to have four works published in 1814 (Six Petites Pièces, Boléro de Societè Op.5, Marche Patriotique Espagnole, and Fantasie Op.7) and applied for a position as a violist in the court of Duke of Fleury in 1815, which he did not get. Sor then moved, in the same year, to England, where he lived for six years.

In England, Sor expanded his activities as a guitarist and also concertized as a solo singer and as a member in small ensemble vocal groups. There is even evidence that he performed at the Pianoforte. Although he was a versatile musician, the guitar was the
instrument that opened Sor’s horizons in that country. Advertised as the ‘the most celebrated performer in Europe on the Spanish Guitar’ by the newspaper The Morning Post, he gave what is known to be his first performance in London on April 20, 1815.[100]

The concert was a success and Sor was soon booked with several performances. The high demand of Sor as a guitarist is illustrated by the fact that he played at least six recitals in a span of two weeks in June of that same year. It seems that by 1819 he began to limit his public appearances as a guitarist and shift the focus of his activities to the composition of ballet music. With a firmly established reputation as a musician, he had no difficulties to have his music published by the London presses.

The guitar activities of Sor in London were very important to the process of social acceptance of the guitar as a concert instrument in England. When he arrived there, the favored type of guitar was the English guitar. That was the same instrument mentioned in this paper during the discussion about the transition between courses to single strings and the changes in the material from which the strings were made. By 1822, Sor had raised the reputation of the Spanish guitar and was made an Honorary Member at the Royal Academy of Music and was even praised as ‘the most perfect guitarist in the world’ by John Erbers, the manager of the King’s Theatre.

In this fruitful period of his life, Sor was also focused on composing ballet music. In fact, Jeffery points that ballet was ‘a principal entertainment of London society.”[101] During July 1821 two of his ballets, La Foire de Smyrne and Le Seigneur Généreux were performed in the English capital. The year is also the same of the first edition of Sor’s most celebrated guitar work: the Variations on a Theme of Mozart Op.9. The apogee of his ballet music was reached in 1822 with Cendrillon, one of the few works performed more than a hundred times at the Paris Opera. In August of that same year, two of his songs were featured in the operatic drama Gil Blas.

The musical trajectory of Sor continued with a three-year period in Russia after he followed the ballerina Félicité Hullin, with whom he became involved while in England and who received the invitation to be the first ballerina of the Moscow ballet. On the way to Moscow, he spent some time in Paris, Berlin, and Warsaw. Owner of a solid reputation as a composer and guitar virtuoso, he did not have any difficulties to perform in these places. Indeed, his fame as a guitarist led him to play for the family of the Russian Tzar Alexander I.[102]

The last phase of Sor’s life is marked by his return to Paris, where he lived from either 1826 or 1827 until his death in 1839. In this phase of his mature years, he dedicated himself fully to the guitar by composing, teaching, and performing. The instrument was experiencing a time of revival, and he was a leading personality in that process. The fondness of the French society attracted other important guitarists. Among them was Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849).

Lithograph of Dionisio Aguado y García, by J.A. López / Wikimedia Commons

Both Sor and Aguado resided for a period of their lives at the Hôtel Favart in Paris. They developed a friendship that resulted in performing together. Sor’s duet Les deux amis Op. 41 was dedicated to Aguado. The first edition had two distinct guitar parts which were not labeled as “first” and “second” guitars, but were headed “Sor” and “Aguado.” Both guitarists diverged from each other in respect to how the strings were to be plucked- if with the nails or by just using the flesh. Nonetheless, the difference did not diminish their respect and admiration for each other as artists.

At the end of his life, Sor was struck by the death of his daughter Caroline on June 8, 1837. The event led him into a great depression from which he did not recover. A year later, he became ill and remained in that condition until his death in July 1839. With him at the moment of his death were an exiled Spanish politician by the name of Antonio de Gironella, and José de Lira, an old friend to whom Sor dedicated his work Souvenir d’une Soirée à Berlin.[103]

Sor’s legacy to the guitar is not only represented by the accounts of his performance activities, but also by the broad catalog of compositions that are still highly performed in our times. He also left a milestone work in the area of guitar pedagogy. The publication was titled Method for the Spanish Guitar. It was first published in Paris (1830) and two years later was released in English. The publication goes far beyond just dealing with guitar technique. It is a synthesis of Sor’s refined approach to the

The deep concern that Sor had about raising the status of the guitar to that of a concert instrument can be perceived already in the introduction of his method. He was not only opposed to limiting the guitar to the sole function of accompanying, but also criticized how poorly the instrument was played even within that role:

At first, I took up this instrument merely as an instrument of accompaniment; but, from the age of sixteen years, I was shocked to hear it said by those who professed to have but little talent, “I only play to accompany”. I knew that a good accompany supposes in the first place a good base, chords adapted to it, and movements as much as possible approximating those of an orchestral score or those of a pianoforte; things which, in my opinion, afforded a much greater proof of mastery on the instrument than all those sonatas which I heard with long violin passages, without harmony or even devoid of base, excepting the base found on the open strings.104

After the introduction, Sor’s method gives basic information about the instrument, its positioning, the right and left hand fingers, how to pluck the strings, etc. Sor also describes that the tone quality of a guitar is deeply affected by the use of suitable-length strings tuned in accordance to its dimensions. He also advocated the use of the thumb, index, and middle fingers as the default procedure for the right hand. On the other hand, it is clear in the text that the ring finger, which Sor called ‘the fourth finger,’ had some applicability, considering that Sor stated “I shall speak of the use of the fourth finger when I shall have developed all the resources that I have discovered with the three.”[105] Later Sor explains that the ring finger is to be used to play the top note of a fournote chord, when the other three fingers are required to play other notes at the same time. However, “when the upper voice is not accompanied by three others,” he recommends not using the ring finger. The explanation for this limited use is based on two aspects. The first one is the difference of the ring finger’s size compared to that of the middle finger. The second reason is the weakness of that finger. Although the use of the ring finger became a standard procedure in modern classical guitar technique, this section provides good insight about performance practices related to the guitar in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Sor’s approach to the use of timbre reflected his ideal that the guitar was to be taken as a type of “orchestra in itself”. The description about how to emulate the sound of different orchestral instruments enhances the understanding of Sor pieces. Also
interesting is the section titled “fingering on the left hand in regard to melody,” where he states that his fingerings of melodic passages are always dependent of those he employs for his harmony. The textual part of the method ends with a summary in the form of twelve general maxims that Sor describes as ‘the result of all that has been said’.[106]

Sor’s friend Dionisio Aguado was another leading artist of the guitar during the early nineteenth century. He also made a substantial contribution to the history of the guitar, as a player, composer, and pedagogue of the instrument. Born in Madrid in 1784, he was a pupil of Padre Basilio. Deeply influenced by Moretti, he embraced the use of staff notation. Aguado’s notation was more organized than Moretti’s, and included the indication of rests and the use of stems in distinct directions to better indicate different voices.[107]

Contrary to Sor, Aguado did not pursue any position with the French government and remained in the small village of Fuenlabrada where he had been living since 1803. There, he spent nineteen years of his life, concentrating on teaching the guitar and on refining his technique. After the mother of his mother, he went to Paris in 1825 and shortly acquired a respectable reputation as a player and teacher.

Aguado’s tripedisono

During that year, before leaving for France, Aguado’s method Escuela de guitarra was published in Spain. The method was translated and published in French under the title Méthode complete pour la guitar. Sor was still in Russia at that period. Aguado remained in Paris until 1838, one year before his ‘amie’ died. He returned to Madrid and spent the rest of his life teaching the guitar.

Aguado’s second guitar method, Nuevo metodo para guitarra, was released in 1843, and was a revised version of his first method. An English translation more than a century later exemplifies the relevance of this publication to the history of the guitar. Aguado was also responsible for the invention of a device called “tripedisono” (also known as “tripodison”, or simply, “tripode”), a type of guitar support that allowed the instrument to vibrate more by freeing its sides and back from the contact with the player’s body. The advantages of the device to the sound projection of the guitar were suppressed by its impracticality.

A look at the 1981 translation of his revised method is perhaps the best way to understand Aguado’s legacy to the pedagogy of the instrument. The book is lengthier than Sor’s method and it is divided into two parts and five sections. Part one is titled “Theoretical and Practical.” It addresses subjects such as the concept and nature of the instrument, the names of its parts, and a series of pre- requisites related to the player, the instrument, and the suitability of a place in terms of guitar performance. The author also explains the benefits of the use of the tripod in this part of the book.[108]

The second part is only “practical” and it is subdivided into five sections. The first one comprehends fifty lessons. Section two features a series of exercises for both hands. Twenty-seven studies for the application of the concepts from the previous sections compound the next one. The fourth section is the shortest of the method and addresses the issue of “expression.”

The playability of root-position chords and their inversions throughout different regions of the fingerboard, and indications on how to build dissonant chords (which are called ‘discords’) are discussed in the last section. The section ends with guidelines on how to play major and minor triads in root position and inversions, in closed and opened positions.

The recognition of Aguado’s method as a major publication in the history of guitar is not difficult to be understood if one considers the following: its organization into “theoretical and practical” parts; the gradual increase in the level of difficulty in the lessons and exercises, which provide a step-by-step path for the mastery of guitar technique, and the level of details included in the discussion of the theoretical concepts. All these aspects can be associated with Aguado’s large experience as a teacher. The active music life of the French capital during the early 1800’s attracted many players from several nationalities, who changed their countries in pursuit of a performing career. The flux of composer-guitarists there generated a phenomenon known as la guitaromanie (“guitar mania”). Guitar became the fashion in the metropolis, and the Parisian bourgeoisie considered the study of the instrument a suitable activity for welleducated people.

Aguado and Sor were, without a doubt, the most celebrated Spaniards reputed as guitar virtuosos in Paris during that period. Nonetheless, other guitarists from different nationalities also contributed to the increase of the popularity there. Among the Italian composers that went to Paris were Ferdinando Carulli (Naples, 1770-1841), Francesco Molino (Florence, 1775-1847), Matteo Carcassi (1792-1853), and Fillipo Gragnani (Livorno, 1767-1812).

Etching of Ferdinando Carulli, by Julien Léopold Boilly

Ferdinando Carulli is known as one of the main guitar composers of the nineteenth century, and is considered one of the greatest guitar teachers of all times. Although his early musical training was on the cello, under the tutelage of a priest, the guitar became the focus of his life between sixteen to twenty years old.[109] The lack of accomplished tutors in Naples at the turn of the eighteenth century led him to a period of reflection and deep study of the instrument on his own. The experience allowed him to formulate important concepts that influenced the entire way in which the guitar was taught in the nineteenth century.[110]

The composer left Naples and moved to Livorno, where he married and had a son, named Gustavo, with Marie-Joséphine-Boyer. Later, Gustavo Carulli performed, taught the guitar, and even wrote a guitar method. His activities with the guitar never gave him a similar status as that of his father. Perhaps, trying not to live in his shadow, Gustavo chose a different path, becoming a voice teacher. He must have been a good singer, because at some point he was a voice teacher at the Paris Conservatoire. He also tried,
unsuccessfully, to establish himself in the operatic scene as a composer. It is not out of question that Carulli may have spent some time in Vienna before definitely settling in Paris in 1808. There, he impressed audiences with his playing abilities, calling the Frenchmen’s attention to the musical expressiveness of the guitar. In 1810, Carulli’s Méthode complete op.27 was published. The method brought him a leading reputation as a guitar pedagogue.

Teaching and performing were not the only two activities that Carulli engaged in. A leading composer for the instrument, he also had a large amount of his works available thanks to Raffaele Carli, a Neapolitan who was one of the main publishers in Paris at the time and with whom Carulli became a friend. Carli was probably, at some level, an influential figure in Carulli’s life, because the composer himself became a publisher for a short period. Gragnani, for example, was one who benefitted from Carulli’s activities in that area.

Carulli’s achievements as a performer, publisher, teacher, and composer made him a standing name of the guitar in Paris. This notoriety also opened up room for other accomplished guitarists to question and eventually to oppose themselves to some of his ideas regarding guitar technique. One controversy in particular relates to Carulli’s use of the left hand thumb. It seems that a group of guitarists who agreed with Carulli on that practice and those who were opposed to it, battled over the issue. The episode was portrayed in La Guitaromanie, a book by French guitarist Charles de Marescot published in France in 1829 and which contains several interesting pictures depicting the guitar in the Parisian society.[111]

The participants of the controversial debate became known as “Carullists” and “Molinists.” The latter term is associated with Italian guitarist Francesco Molino (1768-1847). Born in Ivrea, a region close to Turin, he went to Paris in 1818 to work as a violinist, although he was also an oboist, a violist, and a guitarist. In fact, he had already written two guitar methods before he arrived in Paris and soon he became a prominent composer and teacher of the guitar. His production comprises over sixty pieces for guitar and is better known for his chamber music pieces with guitar.

The Neapolitan master’s legacy to the guitar is represented by more than four hundred works, some of them with opus numbers, and others without. The large amount of chamber works featuring the guitar also contributed to the development of a taste for
the instrument, primarily in Paris but also in other important musical centers. Representative of his production are his works for the unconventional formation of guitar and pianoforte, which reveal Carulli also as an experimentalist. His pedagogical works and treatises, all first published in Paris, even include an “anti method” (L’anti-méthode op.272) and a harmony treatise for the guitar (L’harmonie appliqué a la guitare), both published in 1825.

Matteo Carcassi / Wikimedia Commons

Another Italian guitarist famous in Paris during that period was Matteo Carcassi. Born in Florence, he initiated his musical studies on the piano, but while still young turned to the guitar and soon became a virtuoso. His first critical acclamation as a guitarist occurred in Germany, in 1810. While the Florentine was beginning his career, Carulli had already settled in Paris two years before, and in that year was already having his first method being published.

Carcassi moved to Paris around 1820. His virtuosity with the guitar led him to a series of trips, some short and others a little longer. First, he traveled to London in 1822 only for a series of concerts. In 1824 he returned to Germany, and then moved to London, that time to reside for a period. When he finally settled in the French capital, Carulli’s public appearances were already more limited due to his aging. The Parisians switched their allegiance to Carcassi, who was younger and also an impressive player. With the exception of a piece for guitar and piano, Carcassi’s compositional output was restricted to pieces for solo guitar. He is best remembered by his Méthode complete pour la guitar, op.59, and for the 25 études op.60. The first is one of the most popular published guitar methods in the history of the instrument. It has been used by generations of guitarists since its publication, remaining in print today. The latter represents an essential part of the student’s repertoire during the beginning and intermediate years of study.

According to church records, Filippo Gragnani is buried at the Church of St. Martino di Salviano in Livorno

The last guitarist to be included in this discussion about Italian guitarists in Paris is Fillipo Gragnani. His name has already been associated with Carulli’s printing activities. A virtuoso guitarist from Livorno, he moved to Paris only two years after Carulli’s arrival in that city. The two masters became friends and worked together on several occasions, and Carulli even dedicated some of his pieces to Gragnani. In spite of the collaboration with Carulli, Gragnani’s production was timid, and is represented by twenty pieces, from which fifteen have been published.

The mentioned biographical accounts make evident that France was not the only place to absorb the growing popularity of the six- string guitar. Indeed, other European cities such as Vienna and London welcomed guitarists from various nationalities, most notably from Italy. An analysis of the position of the guitar in the Italian musical scene may clarify the reasons for the exodus of Italian guitarists to these musical centers. In Italy, the guitar mainly had the role of accompanying the voice. Opera was the principal vehicle of musical entertainment. As a result, large theatres were built to accommodate the needs of operatic attractions. The aspect was unfavorable to the guitar, whose sound was not loud enough to fill the halls. Solo performers turned their focus to places like Vienna and Paris because of the fondness for music activities in the salons of the nobility in these centers.

Aside acoustical problems, there were also financial considerations. The guitar was not only more suitable to the small salons, but guitarists could find patronage in these cities. The lack of political stability of the Italian peninsula and the fact that the best publishing companies were located in Vienna, Paris, Leipzig, and London were also relevant.[112]

Considered the other leading exponent of the guitar aside from Fernando Sor, Italian virtuoso Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) developed the bulk of his guitar activities in Vienna. Born in Bisceglie, Giuliani initiated his studies on the cello at a very early age.
During his early years, he moved with his brother Nicola to Barletta, where he also studied counterpoint and the six-string guitar, rapidly becoming a skillful player. According to Filippo Isnardi, the first biographer of Giuliani, the reason for the composer to move to Vienna was not only the goal of a career as a guitarist, but also the pursuit of better musical training:

At the age of 18, his ardent eagerness to have better instruction led him to travel (italics are mine). In Vienna he perfected himself in counterpoint, in the art of playing the cello, and above all the guitar…[113]

The composer married very young with Maria Giuseppe del Monaco. In 1801 they had a son, Michel. He went to Vienna without his wife and son to enhance the prospects for a musical career. In the Imperial city, he was rapidly noticed as a virtuoso, and achieved a notoriety that surpassed that of local guitar personalities such as Alois Wolf (1775-1819) and Simon Molitor (1766-1848).

One important event that contributed to the development of Giuliani’s prestige was the success of the premiere of his Concerto Op.30 for guitar and orchestra. He became then reputed as the greatest guitarist alive and his fame spread all over Europe. The fame also allowed him to be acquainted with other musical celebrities in Vienna such as Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837), Louis Spohr (1784-1859), Joseph Mayseder (1789-1863), possibly Franz Schubert (1797- 1828), and Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827). In fact, Giuliani even played cello in the premiere of the German’s composer seventh symphony.

Mauro Giuliani / Wikimedia Commons

Teaching was another facet of Giuliani while in Vienna. The two most notable pupils of Giuliani who became successful instrumentalists were two guitarists from Poland: Jan Nepomucen Bobrowicz (1805-c.1860) and Feliks Horecki (1800-1871). The
former received public acclaim in 1833 as the “Chopin of guitarists”. The latter concertized throughout Europe, in places such as London, Vienna, and Edinburgh.[114] The most important publishing houses in Vienna such as Artaria, Weigl, Mollo, and Mechetti qm Carlo issued Giuliani’s works.[115] The leading publishing company in Vienna belonged to Anton Diabelli (1781-1858), who was responsible for several first editions of Giuliani’s works. Himself a guitarist, composer, and pianist, Diabelli composed pieces for solo guitar, duos, and pieces for guitar with other instruments, particularly guitar and pianoforte. Diabelli initially ran his firm in partnership with Pietro Cappi under the name “Cappi & Diabelli”. Six years later, in 1824, the partnership ended and the firm became “Diabelli & Co”.

After enjoying a solid reputation as a composer and virtuoso guitarist, Giuliani left Vienna in 1819 never to return after a citizen by the name of Jakob Scholze pressed charges against the composer requesting to be paid 660 Gulden,[116] which we can assume was a large amount of money at the period.[117] Since he was unable to pay his debt, Giuliani had his household goods seized and sold in an auction. For someone who only few years earlier had become an Honorary Chamber Virtuoso of Empress Maria-Louise, Napoleon’s second wife, it was a misfortune. The composer then returned to Italy, where he went to Venice, Trieste, and Rome, and Naples.

The reputation of the guitar as a concert instrument in Italy was not the same as in Vienna, and Giuliani spent the last decade of his life bravely trying to change that situation. The experience in Rome, where he stayed from 1820 to 1823 was not the most successful in the composer’s life. It is possible that the conditions in which he left Vienna affected his credibility with some publishers. In Rome, he became a friend of composer Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), and composed the first three Rossiniane (Op. 119-121). The next step in the life of the composer occurred after he moved to Naples at the second half of 1823. He left for Naples in pursuit of better conditions for his musical activities, but also because of the benefit of Naples’ climate to his health, which was not at its best. The end of Giuliani’s life was marked by his financial struggle. He died on May 8, 1829.

The impact that Giuliani caused in the guitar scene was very strong. Proof of this is that four years after his death, former colleagues of the composer from Vienna issued a guitar magazine that carried his name. The Giulianiad initiated in London, was
published from 1833 to 1835. Giuliani’s legacy to the guitar repertory include 150 compositions with opus numbers and others without, including pieces for solo guitar, duets, trios, quartets, quintets, concertos, voice and guitar (or piano), and guitar and flute (or violin). He also left a pedagogical material that has been used by generations of guitarists, to present: the 120 Right Hand Studies, an exhaustive study of arpeggio formulas.

Another Italian guitarist to be included in the list of virtuosos during the nineteenth century was Luigi Legnani (1790-1877). His initial musical studies included the guitar and the voice. He performed as a tenor in Ravenna, singing arias of Rossini, and Donizetti. His debut as a concert guitarist occurred in Milan in 1819, the same year in which Giuliani left Vienna. His virtuosity is confirmed by his success in that city three years later, where he was considered Giuliani’s “worthy successor”.

Luigi Legnani / Wikimedia Commons

In the same year he launched his performing career as a guitarist, Legnani had his first compositions published by Ricordi of Milan. An interesting aspect of his performances was that he would eventually accompany himself singing on the guitar. After living in Vienna until 1823, he resided in Germany, Switzerland, and Russia, with short stays in Italy, again in Vienna, and Paris. By 1835, he had returned to Italy, where he stayed in Genoa. There he met the virtuoso violinist Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), and together they planned a series of concerts in Turin. Unfortunately, due to Paganini’s health problems at the time, the concerts were cancelled.[118]

The friendship with Paganini was certainly influential in Legnani’s life. The fact that he composed 36 Caprices for the guitar covering all major and minor keys probably relates to his acquaintance with Paganini’s 24 Caprices for the violin. Legnani retired from his playing activities in 1850 and settled in his hometown and dedicated himself to building guitars and violins. Considered “the Paganini of the guitar”, his legacy comprises over 250 works published among the leading companies in Milan, Florence, Vienna, and Paris.

Niccolò Paganini, who considered Legnani the “the leading player of the guitar” was himself an accomplished guitarist. Although he is known more as the greatest virtuoso of the violin of the nineteenth century, he left over 200 pieces for the guitar, including solos, duets with violin, and quartets with guitar, most of which were not published for decades because the composers was reluctant to publish them. Only in the last two decades the solo pieces became available to the public, after more than 150 years of legal disputes for their ownership.

Another icon of the guitar during the nineteenth century was Italian guitaristcomposer Giulio Regondi (1822-1872). He was a prodigious player, and at age eight he gave his debut in Lyons. Shortly after his performance he moved to Paris, where he soon
became a famous player. The decisive step in his career was taken after his family moved to London in May 1831.

Lithograph of Giulio Regondi, by Josef Kriehuber, 1841 / Wikimedia Commons

Regondi also went to Dublin in 1834, where he performed in important centers. A year later he started learning the concertina, an accordion-like instrument invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in the same year of Giuliani’s death. A quick learner, he was soon a virtuoso on that instrument. His concerts from that point on included performances on both the guitar and the concertina. His virtuosity on both instruments led composers to dedicate works to him. In the case of the concertina, Regondi received a concerto for that instrument and orchestra from Bernhard Molique (1802 – 1869).

Fernando Sor also dedicated his Fantasia Op.46, titled “Souvenir d’amitié” to Regondi. During the years 1840 and 1841, he toured in duo with cellist Joseph Ledel. They performed in Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt, and Darmstadt. In Prague, he took part of a beneficent concert promoted by composer and virtuoso Clara Schumann in February 1841. Back to London, he gave continuity to his concert activities with a new partner, the pianist Dulken, starting in 1844. Regondi was more a performer than a composer, and only occasionally wrote for the guitar.

The amount of Italian guitarists mentioned in the paper undoubtedly reveals Italy as the main source of representative guitarists in the nineteenth century, followed by Spain. On the other hand, other countries also had their own virtuosos. In the case of France, the leading figure of the instrument was Napoleon Coste (1805-1883). A pupil of Fernando Sor, Coste was born in the province of Amondans, near Besançon. He initiated his guitar studies under his mother and as a teenager was already teaching the instrument and playing concerts. In 1829, he moved to Paris where he studied with Sor, becoming the most prominent French guitarist of the period. His presence in Paris obviously allowed him to develop a relationship with leading guitarists other than Sor, such as Aguado, Carulli, and Carcassi.

Napoléon Coste (1805–1883) with one of his Lacôte “floating 7th string” harp guitars, an 18th-century arch-cittern, a small terz(?) guitar, and a custom extra-large guitar. / Wikimedia Commons

Regarding a perfoming career, Coste faced a different reality than his virtuoso friends. The French capital not only was already inflated with guitar celebrities, but also the instrument experienced a lack of interest during the second and third decades of the nineteenth century. For various years he managed to have his teaching and composing activities parallel to working as a civil servant.

Coste was a successful pedagogue, and funded the publication of his own works, since the demand for guitarists was diminishing. He participated in a guitar composition contest promoted by Russian Guitarist Nikolai Makaroff (1810-1890) in Brussels in 1856. He was awarded second prize for the following pieces: Le Passage des Alpes Op.27 (The Trail in the Alps); Fantaisie Symphonique Op.28b (Symphonic Fantasy) La Chasse des Sylphes Op.29 (The Hunt of the Sylphes), and Grande Serenade Op.30 (Grand Serenade).[119]

A parenthesis in Coste’s biography is appropriate to mention the winner of the contest, guitarist and composer Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856). Born in Pressburg (now Bratislava, Slovakia) but residing in Vienna since about 1840, he was an active performer and considered a first-rate virtuoso. Unfortunately, he died before he could receive his award for the winning composition, Fantaisie Hongroise Op.65 (Hungarian Fantasy).[120] The piece has been constantly featured in recital programs and has been
recorded by fine guitarists of our times such as David Russell, David Leisner, and others. Mertz’s music was primarily written for solo guitar, although he also composed works for guitar and piano. Those pieces may have been inspired by his marriage to a
virtuoso pianist. In fact, Mertz’s writing resembles that of piano pieces. His more than 100 pieces are arrangements of operas, folk songs, sets of theme and variations and eventually some original compositions.

Back to Napoleon Coste, a milestone in his life occurred in 1863 when he broke his arm. The incident led to the end of his performing activities. His contribution to the guitar repertory contains about fifty works with opus numbers and ten without, for the six and seven string guitars. Coste also edited and republished Sor’s method under the title Méthode complète pour la Guitare par Ferdinand Sor, rédigée et augmentée de nombreux exemples et leçons par N. Coste. He is known to be a pioneer in transcribing
seventeenth-century guitar music from tablature to staff notation, as in the case of compositions by Robert de Visée found in his Méthode and in Le livre d’or du guitarist op.52.

In spite of the large number of guitarists who left their original countries in pursuit of a career, some others chose a different path. One such case is of the Spanish guitarist-composer Antonio Cano (1811-1897). An official archivist to Queen Isabella the Second, he was a medical doctor prior to dedicating himself to teaching the guitar, which he did at the Madrid Conservatoire.

Photograph of Antonio Cano / Wikimedia Commons

He was a pupil of Aguado, and his main addition to the guitar world was his Método de Guitarra, written in 1852. The method was reissued sixteen years later with an added harmony treatise adapted for the guitar. Although there is no real documentation, it is believed that he taught some lessons to Francisco Tárrega (1852- 1909) and was influential in the development of the tremolo technique. The titled “Paganini of the guitar” has already been mentioned in this paper to Legnani. Apparently the Italian master was not the only one who had his abilities compared to the virtuoso violinist. Spanish guitarist-composer Trinidad Francisco Huerta y Caturla (1800-1875) was also acclaimed as such. A music critic for La Revue musicale declared at the time of a review that he had never heard a better guitarist than Huerta. Composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) and French writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885) also praised him for his musicianship. His virtuoso reputation is further confirmed in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, in which the Spaniard is described as the greatest living guitarist of his time.[121]

Huerta is fairly unknown to modern guitarists. His contribution may have been faded by the decline in the popularity of the instrument. Nonetheless, there are interesting aspects that differentiate him from the other guitar virtuosos of his time. For instance, he was the first classical guitarist to play concerts in the United States, which occurred in 1825. He also concertized in Cuba, Martinique, Portugal, England, France, and even in the Middle East. His name is cited as a reference of guitar virtuosity in Berlioz’s Grand Traité d’Instrumentation, together with the names of Fernando Sor and Marco Aurelio Zani de Ferranti (1802-1878).

Born in a wealthy family, Zani de Ferranti started studying the guitar as a teenager, and soon he had a successful debut as a performer. Moving to Paris in 1820, he was well received by the public but not by the members of the guitar circle there. He was
heavily criticized because of his technique. The hostility may have been the reason for his move to St. Petersburg, where he continued refining his technique and congruently held positions unrelated to music Zani de Ferranti returned to the scene after a successful performance in Hamburg, which led to other recital engagements. From 1825, he played in Paris, London, and Brussels. He lived in the latter for a while and divided his time between teaching the guitar and Italian literature. Only in 1832 he restarted playing concerts, traveling to Holland, France, England, and following the path taken by Huerta, the USA.

Photograph of Trinidad Francisco Huerta y Caturla / Wikimedia Commons

Back to Italy after his travels, he met Paganini and nurtured a close relationship with him. His reputation as a virtuoso at the time was well established, and he was even named an “honorary guitarist” by King Leopold I of Belgium (1790-1865). With the
decreasing interest for the guitar, Zani de Ferranti settled in Brussels by 1846 and abandoned the instrument, devoting himself to teaching Italian at the Royal Conservatory of Music. At the end of his life, he moved to Pisa, where he died in unfavorable financial
circumstances. His compositions comprise 30 works. Among them are nocturnes and fantasias for solo guitar, and two polaccas for three guitars.[122]

There were several guitarists in the nineteenth century that also could have been included in this discussion. However, the provided biographical accounts are sufficient to confirm the popularity that the instrument experienced during the early part of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the last biographies make evident to the reader that the instrument lost its popularity over the years.

There were several reasons for the decline of the guitar as a concert instrument, some artistic and others of sociological reasons. The limited capability of the instrument regarding its loudness represented a crucial factor. This aspect put the guitar in a marginal position in respect to chamber music activities. At the same time, by not having too much volume, the instrument could not be well listened by large audiences in the concert halls. The weakness must have been even more obvious to the public in face of the astonishing popularity of virtuoso pianists and violinists.

The piano and the violin could also produce a much louder sound than the guitar, and the high level of technical requirements for virtuoso players on those instruments was far more impressive than what a guitarist could perform. Another aspect was the general
trend in music favoring a more complex harmonic vocabulary, which contrasted with that commonly found in the compositions for the guitar, representing a barrier to the majority of the guitar players.

Another reason may be the difficulty attributed to the composing for the guitar. Berlioz himself, in his orchestration treatise writes that for one to compose well for the instrument, it is necessary to play it. One may disagree with Berlioz’s point of view, but the fact is that most of the representative composers of the period neither played nor wrote for the guitar while he did.

At the social level, the guitar gradually became confined to domestic and folkloric musical manifestations. It was largely used as an accompaniment for dancing, and it became favored of the proletarian class, gypsies and people of all ethnic groups. This fact created a stigma related to the guitar in the dominant classes of society. In fact, the guitar is still approached with reservation in the dominant circles of classical music. In some respects, those factors were intimidating, and discouraging to the continuity of the guitar as a concert instrument. On the other hand, they also provided new goals to be pursued in order to reestablish that status. The first step that opened new horizons for the instrument occurred with improvements in construction that led to the appearance of the modern concert guitar.


  1. Tyler and Sparks, 193.
  2. Tyler, 202.
  3. Faucher, François. “The Eighteenth Century.” Classical Guitar Illustrated History, (accessed on September 16, 2006).
  4. Harvey Turnbull and Paul Sparks, “The Early Six-String Guitar,” in Stanley Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Vol.10 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 563.
  5. Tyler, 207.
  6. Resistance to new developments is an aspect not only of guitarists of that time. Proof of this fact is the current discussions about the increasing use of two new types of treble strings: “carbon” and “titanium.” While many players praise the sound of such strings, others defend that they produce a sound that is highly artificial.
  7. Wade, 69.
  8. Thomas Heck, “Mauro Giuliani: Virtuoso Guitarist and Composer” (Columbus, OH: Editions Orphée, Inc., 1995), 21.
  9. Alfredo Vicent, “Fernando Ferandiere,” in Stanley Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Vol.8 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 677.
  10. José Subirá, El Teatro Del Real Palacio (1849-1851) (Madrid: Instituto Español de Musicologia, 1950), 116-122.
  11. Fernando Ferandiere, The Art of Playing he Spanish Guitar from Music, Written and Set in Order by Fernando Ferandiere, Professor of Music at the Court (Madrid, 1799), 74.
  12. Ibid, 77.
  13. Ibid, 80.
  14. Another evidence is a list of guitars dating from 1750-1815 provided by Graham Wade A Concise History of the Classic Guitar (see pages 63-64). The list contains several six-course and six-string instruments, which emphases the transitional character of that period to the evolution of the instrument.
  15. Wade, 61.
  16. Sparks, 14.
  17. Turnbull and Sparks, 563.
  18. I noticed a discrepancy in relation to the real name of Padre Basílio. Nineteenth-century musicologist Mariano Soriano Fuentes indicates the name ‘Manuel García.’ This information is given by Marin Montero in Wade’s A Concise History of the Classic Guitar (see page 68). On the other hand, Turnbull’s book presents the name ‘Miguel García’ (see page 82).
  19. Wade, 68.
  20. Gilbert Chase, The Music of Spain (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1959), 117-118.
  21. Brian Jeffery, Fernando Sor: Composer and Guitarist (London: Tecla Editions, 2nd ed., 1994), 1.
  22. Ibid, 6.
  23. Ibid, 33.
  24. Ibid, 40.
  25. Ibid, 66.
  26. Ibid, 81.
  27. Ibid, 112.
  28. Fernando Sor, Method for the Spanish Guitar: A complete reprint of the 1832 English translation with a preface by Brian Jeffery (London: Tecla Editions, 1995), 5-6.
  29. Ibid, 20.
  30. Ibid, 48.
  31. Thomas Heck, “Dionisio Aguado,” in Stanley Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 234.
  32. Dionisio Aguado, New Guitar Method, Brian Jeffery, ed., 2nd ed. (London: Tecla Editions, 2004): 1-12.
  33. Marco Bazzotti, “The Guitar in Italy in the Nineteenth Century: Sixty Biographies of Italian Composers and Guitarsists,” Ebookcafe. (accessed on November 7, 2005). During my research, I came across with two ages: In Bazzottti’s the age is sixteen years old, while in The New Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians the age is twenty years old.
  34. Ibid, 8.
  35. Matanya Ophee, “A Short History of the Left Hand Thumb: Some considerations of its practical use in performance today,” (accessed on March 1, 2008). Another source that mentions the book,, brings the date of the publication as 1825.
  36. Heck, 20-26.
  37. Heck, 18.
  38. Graham Wade, Traditions of the Classical Guitar (London: John Calder Publishers Ltd.), 129.
  39. Heck, 85-86.
  40. Heck, 99.
  41. As a matter of curiosity, I searched about the currency used in Austria during Giuliani’s time. According to, in 1819, the Gulden was equivalent to 60 Kreuzer, or about 2 Marks. The value of the Gulden changed to 100 Kreuzer after 1892.
  42. Giuseppe Gazzelloni, “Luigi Legnani,” in Stanley Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Vol. 14 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 482.
  43. Wade, Traditions of the Classical Guitar, 128.
  44. Wade indicates Op.65 as the piece, but calls it a “Concerto for solo guitar”.
  45. Len Verrett, ed., “Guitar Composers of the Classical and Early Romatic Period Circa 1780-1900,” Early Romantic Guitar Information Web Page, (accessed on October 10, 2007).
  46. Marco, Bazzotti, “The Guitar in Italy in the Nineteenth Century: Sixty Biographies of Italian Composers and Guitarsists.” Ebookcafe.

From The History of the Guitar: Its Origins and Evolution, by Júlio Ribeiro Alves