n the French court of Louis XIV
the Guitar shone so brightly that in 1682 a composer named
Robert de Visee, produced the work entitled Livre de la
guitarre, four years after Gaspar Sanz wrote his treatise
on guitar instruction. But the guitar's unusual glory in the
court was, in effect, its "swan song." For beginning in the
18th century Italian music, invading both France and Spain,
became the predominant musical preference in both countries.
In the midst of this surprising, rapid and large fashion of
the Italian influence, inspiration for Spanish musicians apparently
royalty of the period, including Isabel de Farnesio and Barbara
de Braganza, favored the Italian trend. Even the Monarch,
Carlos III returned to Spain with his eyes dazzled and his
soul longing for the heavenly Naples.
Aguado. Litograph by Aubert I Ca,
from "Nuevo Metodo para Guitarra"
by Dionisio Aguado,
Published by Aguado in Madrid, 1843.
Used by permission of Guitar Review No.26
According to Jose Subira, "This Italian style reached its
peak with Rossini. Spanish values sought refuge in a smaller
unit which attained a wide diffusion, the tonadilla escénica
(a comic opera of popular type). The chief success of this
innovation is associated with such names as Luis Misón, Antonio
Rosales, Pable Esteve, Bias de Laserna, and Manuel Garcia
(1775-1832), a famous singer who spread the Spanish style
throughout the frontier and effected an influence which overtook
Rossini, Listz, and later, Bizet, three composers who employed
mature melodic scenes of Garcia's work."
a composer, Garcia was the author of several meritorious tonadillas
He was also the father of Maria Felicidad (1808-1836), a notable
singer, and of Manuel Garcia (1805-1906), inventor of the
and Paganini were also attracted to the guitar because of
the variety of rhythms and colorations that could be produced
from it. Paganini obtained extraordinary effects with the
guitar, for which he wrote several compositions. And in the
musical development of Berlioz, in which the poetical element
played a considerable role, the noble Spanish instrument had
a great part.
In the music of the tonadillas
, the guitar was important.
Writing in the 19th century, Moratin states, "After the traditional
merry ballads and dance songs, which endured for more than
half of the last century, tonadillas
came along and
constituted a new class of compositions that possessed more
variety and artistry than the historic ballads."
These interludes were accompanied with the guitar. In 1799,
Fernando Ferandiere wrote The Art of Playing the Spanish
, which already had the six strings that would make
it famous for a high degree of expressiveness. This reform
produced a flowering of true virtuosos who initiated a new
era for the guitar.
Scarlatti lived in Spain most of the time, and there he composed
many of his works. In his music, there is a pronounced presence
of typical Spanish melodies and rhythms, to the extent that
the Italian composer Malipiero has been able to state that
some of Scarlatti's themes appear to have been written by
a Spanish composer. Scarlatti's best Spanish disciple, Father
Antonio Soler (1729-1783), also shows the influece of the
guitar in his style.
The guitar's new era was started by Moretti, of Naples, Italy,
who became a naturalized Spaniard and who was an excellent
disciple of Father Basilio. Moretti was an innovator of the
guitar's technique and music.
After the 19th century, the guitar, which for some time had
been played with rasqueado
adopted the techniques of portamento
characteristic of bridged instruments, with such wonderful
results in the hands of a true artist performing in the concert
halls, where it was introduced in the last years of the 18th
century, that it came to be used as both a solo instrument,
and as an accompanying instrument in duets with another guitar.
With Fernando Sor, the classical guitar era attained its peak.
His work expressed the characteristic polyphonic independence
of the quartet and orchestra. Triumphing in the most important
European capitals, from London to St. Petersburg, Sor left
behind him a brilliant performance record in the concert halls.
In London, he was an enormous sensation, amazing audiences
with compositions never equalled. Two of his operatic works
presented there were Gil Bias
and La Feria de Smirna
Sor's sonatas and variations provoked no less astonishment
in Paris. Sainz de la Maza states that Sor was the first Spanish
concert artist of international calibre, alongside Paganini,
Morcheles, and Tummel, the greatest virtuoso of the period.
When Sor died in 1839, a friend of his by the name of Dionisio
Aguado, picked up where he left off and published Nuevo
Metodo para Guitarra
in 1843, which still constitutes
an indispensable resource for the student interested in the
development of the guitar technique.
the last years of the 19th century, the imposing performances
of Francisco Tarrega (1854-1909) made him an outstanding virtuoso
of the guitar and brought him much fame. The great Pablo de
Sarasate was Tarrega's contemporary and it has been stated
that as Sarasate was a magician with the violin, Tarrega was
a magician with the guitar.