When I was in Landslide, way back in the 70's, I would frequent new and used record shops, looking for interesting material, hoping to find a great undiscovered song on some bargain barrel album. One day, while looking through the marked down records, I came across several classical guitar records. Marked down to 99 cents, they were too good to pass by.
I found that I really enjoyed the music. That inspired a trip to the local library, where I found sheet music matching some of the pieces. Since I took piano lessons as a child, I figured that I could pick up the notation. Fortunately, guitar music is almost always written for the treble clef. After all, the guitar usually never spans more than 3 octaves.
All of this happened while I was finishing college. In fact, I was able to take 6 credit hours of applied music in classical guitar. This helped my skills and accumulated some easy credit hours.
The Internet contains many excellent Classical Guitar web pages. There is not much new I could contribute. I will simply share some of my observations, and suggest two composers that I have come to really enjoy.
20th Century Music
Western music of most all types has been broadly grouped into periods. Terms such as Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Modern often describe these periods. Modern music tends to nicely overlap with the 20th century time period. These terms can certainly apply to guitar music.
I'm one of those people who, in general, enjoys most all Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical guitar music. From composers such as Dowland, through Bach, ending with Sor and Tarrega, there are hundreds of years of wonderful music. When it comes to Modern guitar music, however, I find most of it lacking. There are several notable exceptions. This list includes names such as Ponce and Villa-Lobos. Very recently, Andrew York has written some very fine music. Beyond these names and a few more, I simply didn't care very much for 20th century guitar music. Please note that I am only talking about music usually played on the nylon string guitar, inheriting the history and tradition of the classical guitar. Many other types of guitar music have emerged in recent decades. Some of it, perhaps most of it, can be exceptionally good. I'm not considering that here.
In the last few years, I have become aware of two composers from the Modern period that have written some tremendous music. Since they may not be well known outside of the small community of guitar folks, I wanted to mention them here.
Annibal Augusto Sardinha (Garoto)
The works of Garoto have come back to life almost exclusively through the efforts of Paulo Bellinati. In addition to creating two volumes of the music of Garoto from manuscripts, transcriptions, and arrangements, Bellinati is an accomplished composer and performer. Bellinati performs the music of Garoto on a GSP Recordings CD. This one CD, containing 24 tracks, is chock full of little masterpieces. GSP is also a source of sheet music for the album.
For me, the highlights on the recording include: Duas Contas, Inspiracao, Mazurka No. 3, Carioquinha, Desvairada, Naqueles Velhos Tempos, and Esperanca.
It could be argued that the music of Garoto belongs in the category of popular music. I won't argue either way, it's simply good music no matter how you consider it.
Augustin Barrios Mangore
Augustin Barrios was born in 1885, 30 years before Garoto. Richard Stover is responsible for creating a four volume collection of a large number of surviving Barrios compositions. Barrios appeared to be quite a colorful individual, on top of being an incredible composer and performer.
The music of Barrios has become quite popular in recent years, appearing on many CD's, and being included in many performances. John Williams has a CD which combines the music of Barrios and Ponce, and David Russell has a CD of only Barrios music. The music of Barrios appears on many other records as well.
The list of notable Barrios compositions is too long to list. I would like to mention his last major piece, Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios (An alm for the love of God), composed shortly before his death in 1944. This piece is perhaps the most beautiful piece in tremolo form, even surpassing the well known Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Tarrega.
Here are some links related to classical guitar, and these two composers.
Guitar Review (Guitar Review Magazine)
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Last update: Monday, April 29, 2002 07:39 PM
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