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GUITAR HISTORY
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 was extinguished.

The 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."

As 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 laryngoscope.

Berlioz 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 Guitar, 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 and punteado techniques, adopted the techniques of portamento and vibrato, 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.

In 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.