Fernando Sor (baptized 14 February 1778 – died 10 July 1839) was a Spanish classical guitarist and composer. While he is best known for his guitar compositions, he also composed music for a wide range of genres, including opera, orchestra, string quartet, piano, voice, and ballet. His ballet score Cendrillon (Cinderella) received over one hundred performances. Sor's works for guitar range from pieces for beginning players to advanced players such as Variations on a Theme of Mozart. Sor's contemporaries considered him to be the best guitarist in the world, and his works for guitar have been widely played and reprinted since his death. Although modern classical guitar players usually do, Sor rarely used his ring finger and refused the usage of nails when playing.
As Sor's works were published in various countries, his name was translated, leading to variations in the spelling. Variations have included Fernando Sor, Joseph Fernando Macario Sors, Ferdinand Sor, and Ferdinando Sor and, in the last years, Ferran Sor, even though there is no record of him using that name.
Likewise, the surname of the guitarist and composer appears in different forms in contemporary documents. In the file and marriage certificate of his grandfather, which also includes the great-grandfathers of Fernando, the surname always appears as Sor, as well as that of his great-grandfather, the oldest document found to date.
A lithographed painting of Fernando Sor, c.1825
José Fernando Macario Sors
Baptized 14 February 1778 (date of birth unknown)
|Died||10 July 1839 (aged 61)|
Born in Barcelona to a fairly well-off family, he is baptized as José Fernando Macario Sors, as recorded in the baptismal record, although in most of his manuscript and printed musical works he appears as Fernando Sor or Ferdinand Sor, and only in some cases his surname appears as Sors.
Sor was descended from a long line of career soldiers and intended to continue that legacy, but was distracted from this when his father introduced him to Italian opera. He fell in love with music and abandoned his military career goals. Along with opera, Sor's father also introduced him to the guitar.
At a young age, Sor's parents wouldn't give his musical abilities too much special attention, for fear it would distract from his Latin studies. Therefore, the young Sor (still not 11 years old) began to write songs to words in Latin to impress his parents. He even invented his own system for notating music, as he had not yet received formal training.
When he reached the age of 11 or 12, the head of the Barcelona Cathedral took notice of young Sor's talent, and he was enrolled in the school there. Not long after, his father died, leaving his mother without the funds to continue his education at the Cathedral. However, at around the same time Joseph Arredondo, the new abbot of Santa Maria de Montserrat, the famous monastery, heard of his talent, and provided funds for him to attend the choir school located at the monastery. Sor reveals in writings, mainly from the last ten years of his life, that he was greatly attached to this place, and had fond, nostalgic memories of his childhood there. But his mother began to see that Sor was becoming greatly distracted from his "chosen" path in the military or administration and, following the advice of friends, took him out of the monastery and placed him in military school for four years. It was not a terrible turn of events, as he had much free time to play and compose music in the army as well.
In 1808, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain, Sor began to write nationalistic music for the guitar, often accompanied by patriotic lyrics. Sor was even part of traveling military bands that would play protest music on the streets. He was also promoted to captain in Córdoba and may have fought battles against the French at this time. After the defeat of the Spanish army, however, Sor accepted an administrative post in the occupying government. Here he was to be officially labeled an afrancesado along with the other Spaniards who abandoned their defense of Spain to embrace the French Revolutionary ideas. After the Spanish repelled the French in 1813, Sor and other afrancesados left Spain for fear of retribution. He went to Paris, never to return to his home country again.
Having abandoned his family's ideal of a military or administrative post, Sor could finally give music a serious try in France. He gained renown at first as a virtuoso guitarist and composer for the instrument. When he attempted composing operas, however, he was rejected by the French. His Opus 7 was a large and strange piece, notated in three clefs, and no guitarist at the time could play it. Since France was no longer supportive of his music, Sor decided to try his talents elsewhere.
In 1815, he went to London to attempt to build a stronger music career there. Again, he gained considerable fame as a guitarist and gave guitar and voice lessons. Since ballet in London was more popular than opera, Sor decided to try his hand at this new genre of music. He had considerable success this time, especially with his ballet Cendrillon.
By 1823, once he had acquired a level of fame in London, Sor again wandered away, this time with the ballerina Félicité Hullen to Moscow in her quest to become a prima ballerina. Not much is known about his time there, however, despite the exaggeration about his romantic and professional life. After three years in Moscow, he traveled around Europe giving concerts and getting into music circles everywhere he went.
In 1827, partly due to his advancing age, he settled down and decided to live out the rest of his life back in Paris. It was during this retirement that he composed the majority of his guitar works. He had to comply with the demands of the public, though, and most guitarists wanted technically simple, nice-sounding pieces. It was in these last ten or so years of his life that his writings reveal his bitterness towards how his publications were being received by the public. For example, Opus 43 is entitled Mes Ennuis ("My Annoyances"), and six of his ballets are dedicated to "whoever wants them". These and other caustic remarks did not help his sales in the least. The foreword to Opus 45 goes even further than sarcasm: "Let's see if that's that. Six short and easy pieces in stages, which aim to lead to what has generally been agreed are difficulties. Composed and dedicated to the person with the least patience, by Fernando Sor. Opus 45."
"The creative worth of Sor's guitar sonatas is high. The ideas, which grow out of the instrument yet stand up well enough apart from it, are fresh and distinctive. The harmony is skillful and surprisingly varied, with bold key changes and with rich modulations in the development sections. The texture is naturally of interest too, with the melody shifted from top to bottom, to middle, and frequent contrapuntal bits added. Among the extended forms, the first Allegro movements still show considerable flexibility in the application of 'sonata form', especially in the larger number of ideas introduced and recalled. For that matter, the style still goes back to that of Joseph Haydn and Mozart, especially in the first movement of Op. 22, which has all the neatness of syntax and accompaniment to be found in a classic symphony, and its third and fourth movements, which could nicely pass as a Minuet and Rondo by Haydn."— The Sonata in the Classical Era (published 1963) (p. 664) by William S. Newman
"Here, Newman recognizes the creative value of Sor's guitar sonatas, but misconstrues several important points. Most significantly, Newman falls into an easy association of Sor's sonata style with that of Haydn (and Boccherini)." (p.1) (...) "The present article examines the formal and stylistic procedures employed by Sor in his guitar sonatas, determining appropriate models for these works and placing them in a likely chronological context. This examination affords a telling glimpse of Sor at two very different stages of his career: as a young composer in Spain emulating the imported cosmopolitan high-classical style of the Italian opera overture and Austro-French symphony; and as an established post-classicist exercising a personal aesthetic and a confident, individual approach to formal construction." (p. 3)
"How should one perform Sor's music? I believe the answer is with considerably more freedom, expression and passion than has, for the most part, been done in the recent past. Sor, in his method of 1830 has much to say about the use of tone color on the guitar and even discusses how to imitate the various orchestral instruments. This use of color is something that is very uncommon amongst modern guitarists. Ironically Sor says very little about other aspects of expression, but other guitar methods from the era do recommend much use of portamento, arpeggiation of chords, and other expressive devices which most people today consider anachronistic and completely out of style in the interpretation of the guitar music from this very era! (It never ceases to amaze me how so many modern guitarists and musicologists [...] don't even consider the wealth of material and instruction from Sor's era which cries out that this music is meant to be expressed with such devices as dynamics, tone color, portamento, chordal arpeggiation [...]. These same modern guitarists with the conspiratorial support of supposedly enlightened musicologists will often perform this music, sometimes on a "period" guitar, and use practically none of the above-mentioned expressive devices.)"— Fernando Sor – Master Composer For Guitar?
One of Sor's most popular compositions is his Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 9. It is based on a melody "Das klinget so herrlich, das klinget so schön!" from The Magic Flute, which Mozart composed in 1791.
Sor's Méthode pour la Guitare was first published in Paris in 1830 and translated into English by A Merrick in 1832 under the title Method for the Spanish Guitar.
Sor was a prolific and, in his time, quite popular composer. There was a great demand for him to compose material that was approachable by less accomplished players. The resulting body of instructional studies he produced is not only noteworthy for its value to students of the guitar, but for its inherent musicality. Much of this work is organized in several opuses (in increasing order of difficulty): Opus 60 (25 lessons), Opus 44 (24 lessons), Opus 35 (24 exercises), Opus 31 (24 lessons), Opus 6 (12 studies) and Opus 29 (12 studies).
Sor undoubtably played guitars by Pierre René Lacôte, mentioning: "M. Lacote, a French maker, the only person who, besides his talents, has proved to me that he possesses the quality of not being inflexible to reasoning".
"[...] if I wanted an instrument, I would procure it from M. Joseph Martinez of Malaga, or from M. Lacote [...]
The guitars to which I have always given the preference are those of Alonzo of Madrid, Pagès and Benediz of Cadiz, Joseph and Manuel Martinez of Malaga, or Rada, successor and scholar of the latter, and those of M. Lacote of Paris. I do not say that others do not exist; but never having tried them, I cannot decide on that which I have no knowledge."
In his method, he also mentions that "J. Panormo" of London and "Mr. Schroeder of Petersburgh", made some guitars under his direction; but it is curious that he mentions them only in regard to his own guitar design ideas, which are today partly critically viewed. Guitars made according to Sor's design have not yet been located.
Andrés Segovia selected a set of twenty studies, each emphasizing a particular aspect of technique; these studies are now some of the best known works of Fernando Sor.
Andrés Segovia Torres, 1st Marquis of Salobreña (21 February 1893 – 2 June 1987), known as Andrés Segovia, was a virtuoso Spanish classical guitarist from Linares, Spain. Many professional classical guitarists today were students of Segovia, or students of his students. Segovia's contribution to the modern-romantic repertoire not only included commissions but also his own transcriptions of classical or baroque works. He is remembered for his expressive performances: his wide palette of tone, and his distinctive musical personality, phrasing and style.Carlo Barone
Carlo Barone (born in Vigevano in 1955) is a classical guitarist and conductor specializing in the performance practice of 19th-century music, especially 19th-century guitar works.
He is director of the Accademia "l'Ottocento" (Academy of Nineteenth-Century Music) a non-profit Association active since 1982, in Italy and France; which documents and publishes original 19th-century musical material and researches the performance practice of this musical era. Carlo Barone conducts international courses, masterclasses and lectures on the interpretation of 19th-century musical works, e.g. by composers such as Mauro Giuliani and Fernando Sor.Barone is the conductor of Orchestra dell’Accademia l’Ottocento which performs on original classical period instruments.
As a performer Barone uses historical period guitars by luthiers such as Guadagnini, Soriot, Garganese, Lacote, etc.Filomena Moretti
Filomena Moretti (born 11 June 1973) is an Italian classical guitarist. She was born in Sassari, graduated from the Sassari Conservatory, winning the first prize. After her graduation, she continued her studies with Ruggero Chiesa and won several international competitions:
1985–1987 Premier Prix and "Mention Spéciale" at the Competition Mondovi
1991 Premier Prix "Golfo degli Angeli" at the Competition Cagliari
1992 Second Prize "E. Pujol" at the International Competition of Sassari
1993 Premier Prix at the International Competition of Stresa; Second Prize at the Competition Fernando Sor in Rome
1995 Premier Prix et mention spéciale at the International Competition of Alessandria
1996 Premier Prix at the Competition de l'A.R.A.M.In 1993, she obtained a grant to pursue her studies with Oscar Ghiglia at the Chiagana Academy in Siena.Giulio Regondi
Giulio Regondi (1823 – 6 May 1872) was a Swiss-born classical guitarist, concertinist and composer active in France and (mainly) the United Kingdom.
Regondi was born of a German mother and an Italian father in Geneva, Switzerland. A child prodigy, Fernando Sor dedicated his Souvenir d'amitié op. 46 to Regondi in 1831, when the boy was just nine.
There is a reference to his appearing in London in 1831, presented as a child prodigy of the guitar. Most of Regondi's concertina music was written for the English system, however, at which he was a virtuoso, though his guitar music is probably better known. His works for solo guitar comprise a set of etudes, variations on a theme by Bellini and five larger works.
Regondi died in London.Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart (Sor)
Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 9, is one of Fernando Sor's most famous works for guitar. It was first published in London in 1821 and dedicated to Sor's brother Carlos.Jang Daekun
Daekun Jang (장대건) is a young Korean guitarist. He began his guitar studies at the age of 13 in Seoul, Korea. Later, he moved to Spain and became a student of Manuel González at the Escola Luthier d´Ars Musicals of Barcelona. He then continued his studies with Jose Tomas at the Óscar Esplá Conservatory Superior of Music in Alicante, where he won the Extraordinary Prize. From 1997 to 2000, Mr. Jang continued his studies with the world-renowned guitarist Oscar Ghiglia in Konzertklasse at Musikhochschule in Basel, Switzerland, obtaining the Solisten Diplom. He also studied basso continuo with lutenist Peter Croton at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He has attended seminars and master classes with Gustav Leonhardt, Erika Schneidr, Hopkinson Smith, Gerardo Arriaga, and György Kurtág.
From 1993 until 2003, Daekun Jang has won more than 20 prizes at various guitar competitions, among them first prize at the Luys Milan International Guitar Competition in Spain, the Kukulcan International Guitar Competition (Mexico) and the Zarautz International Guitar Competition (Basque Country). His awards also include the Maria Canals International Guitar Competition (Spain), the Fernando Sor International Guitar Competition (Italy), Printemps de la Guitare International Competition (Belgium), the Ciudad de Coria International Guitar Competition (Spain), the Sernancelhe International Guitar Competition (Portugal), the Villa de Puente Genil International Guitar Competition (Spain), the Segovia International Guitar Competition (Spain) and the Julian Arcas International Guitar Competition (Spain).
A noted solo and chamber performer, Daekun Jang has given recitals in many countries including Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, South Korea, Mexico and Japan. He has been a soloist with such orchestras as the Mexico City Symphony Orchestra and the Europea Mediterranea Symphony Orchestra.
Aside from his duties as a performer, Mr. Jang is also dedicated to the art of teaching. He has been invited to perform and teach at many festivals such as the Astorga Music Festival, the Balaguer Music School, the Ricard Chic International Guitar Course, the Tui International Guitar Festival, and the Madrid Getafe Conservatory of Music, etc. He currently resides in Salamanca, Spain.
[From Mr.Jang's official site with permission]Jeffrey McFadden
Jeffrey McFadden is a Canadian classical guitarist, and a recording artist for Naxos Records. He is known for his recordings of works by composers of the romantic era such as Fernando Sor and Napoleon Coste. His latest recording features the works of the Paraguayan guitarist-composer Agustín Barrios. He is also a noted editor and arranger, and wrote the standard text on guitar harmony Fretboard Harmony: Common Practice Harmony on the Guitar (d'OZ, 2010). His performances and recording have received critical notice in major media outlets such as the London Daily Telegraph, The Ottawa Citizen, and Gramophone UK.
McFadden was born in 1963 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He attended the University of Western Ontario, finishing first in his class in 1984. Later he attended the University of Toronto where he was an Eaton Graduate Fellow and studied under Norbert Kraft. He was a silver medalist in the 1992 Guitar Foundation of America competition. He is currently Head of Guitar Studies and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. In 2010, Jeffrey McFadden became the first ever graduate of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree program at the University of Toronto. Jeffrey McFadden is currently the artistic director of the Sauble Beach Guitar Festival.John Doan
John Doan (born May 16, 1951) is an American guitarist and composer.José Rey de la Torre
José Rey de la Torre (December 9, 1917 – July 21, 1994), known by his stage name Rey de la Torre, was one of the most significant classical guitarists of the mid-twentieth century, and considered by many to be the father of "modern classical guitar technique".Kazuhito Yamashita
Kazuhito Yamashita (山下和仁, born 1961 in Nagasaki) is a Japanese classical guitarist. His technique and expression are highly acclaimed. By the age of 32, Yamashita had already released 52 albums, including repertoires for solo guitar, guitar concertos, chamber music and collaborations with other renowned musicians such as James Galway. To date, he has released a total of 83 albums.Leif Christensen
Leif Christensen (1950–1988) was a Danish classical guitarist.
Christensen was born in Århus, Denmark, where he studied theory and history of music at the University of Århus and guitar at the Royal Academy of Music. He then studied with Konrad Ragossnig at the Basel Music Academy, after which he returned to Århus. His recording debut came in 1981 with an LP of music by the 19th-century composer and guitarist Giulio Regondi.
Christensen was the first guitarist to record both of the Royal Winter Music sonatas by Hans Werner Henze, and also made recordings of music by Fernando Sor and Vasilii Sarenko, the latter on a Russian seven-string guitar.
In addition to his solo performances and recordings, Christensen played in a duo with his wife Maria Kämmerling, also a respected solo artist. They made three records together.
Christensen died in a car crash in 1988, in Denmark approx. 20 km outside Aalborg, Roldskov(a wood) due to a slippery icy road.Lex Eisenhardt
Lex Eisenhardt (born 1952, Netherlands) is a performer and recording artist on early plucked instruments, such as the vihuela, the baroque guitar, and the 19th-century Romantic guitar. He studied lute and guitar at the Utrecht Conservatory. In 1981 he was appointed professor of guitar and early plucked instruments at the Sweelinck Conservatorium (later the Conservatorium of Amsterdam). In the forefront of the Historically Informed Performance (HIP) on the guitar, Eisenhardt was the first to make several gramophone recordings (in 1981 and 1984) with music by the Catalan composer Fernando Sor on a period instrument from the early 19th century. He has given solo recitals and lectures in many European countries, Australia, and the United States. Well-known guitarists such as Johannes Moller and Izhar Elias studied with him.List of compositions by Fernando Sor
This is a list of compositions by Fernando Sor.Méthode pour la Guitare
The Méthode pour la guitare is a method for the classical guitar originally written in French by guitarist and composer Fernando Sor.
The method was written with the early romantic guitar in mind (Sor mentions some 19th-century guitar-builders: J. Panormo, Schroeder of Petersburg, Alonso of Madrid, Pages and Benitez of Cadiz, Joseph and Manuel Martinez of Malaga, Rada, and Lacôte of Paris), but it is not only about instrumental technique, but also includes details about the theory of scales, harmony, sonority, composition, and above all music as an art.Njål Vindenes
Njål Vindenes (born 17 July 1957 in Vinnes, Norway) is a Norwegian classical musician (guitar and lute) residing in Bergen, Norway.Romance (guitar piece)
"Romance Anónimo" (Anonymous Romance) is a piece for guitar, also known as "Estudio en Mi de Rubira" (Study in E by Rubira), "Spanish Romance", "Romance de España", "Romance de Amor", "Romance of the Guitar", "Romanza" and "Romance d'Amour" among other names.
Its origins and authorship are currently in question. It is suspected of originally being a solo instrumental guitar work, from the 19th century. It has variously been attributed to Antonio Rubira, David del Castillo, Francisco Tárrega, Fernando Sor, Daniel Fortea, Miguel Llobet, Antonio Cano, Vicente Gómez, and Narciso Yepes. The Anónimo (anonymous) part of its name has been incorporated over the years due to this uncertainty. The question of authorship has probably been propagated by three main reasons: the lack of claim by its true author, the desire to avoid paying copyright fees, and the desire of publishing companies to claim the lucrative copyright of this world-famous piece.The style of the piece is that of the Parlour music of the late 19th century in Spain or South America, having a closed three-part form: the first in the minor key and the second being in the major key, with the third being a restatement of the first.Romantic guitar
The early romantic guitar, the guitar of the Classical and Romantic period, shows remarkable consistency from 1790 to 1830. Guitars had six or more single courses of strings while the Baroque guitar usually had five double courses (though the highest string might be single). The romantic guitar eventually led to Antonio de Torres Jurado's fan-braced Spanish guitars, the immediate precursors of the modern classical guitar.
From the late 18th century the guitar achieved considerable general popularity though, as Ruggero Chiesa stated, subsequent scholars have largely ignored its place in classical music. It was the era of guitarist-composers such as Fernando Sor, Ferdinando Carulli, Mauro Giuliani and Matteo Carcassi. In addition several well-known composers not generally linked with the guitar played or wrote for it: Luigi Boccherini and Franz Schubert wrote for it in several pieces, Hector Berlioz was a proficient guitarist who neither played keyboards nor received an academic education in music, the violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini played guitar informally and Anton Diabelli produced a quantity of guitar compositions (see List of compositions by Anton Diabelli).Telemaco (Sor)
Il Telemaco nell'isola di Calipso (Telemachus on Calypso's Island) is an opera by composer Fernando Sor. The libretto was by Carlo Sigismondo Capece. It was first produced in Barcelona at the Teatro de la San Cruz on 25 August 1797. It was revived in the same city on 18 May 1798.The work was thought lost for many years until a score was found in the early 1990s. A 1999 production of the opera was mounted at the Teatre Principal of Vilanova i la Geltrú by the Symphonic Orchestra of Garraf under conductor Joan Lluís Moraleda i Perxachs. The presentation was recorded on the Moleda label and was released on CD in 2000.
Other operas with the same title were written by Giovanni Vincenzo Meucci (1773), Charles Lepicq (1776), João Cordeiro de Silva (1787), Countess Maria Theresia Ahlefeldt (1792), and Simon Mayr (1797).Walter Borden
Walter Marven Borden, (born 1942) is a Canadian actor, poet and playwright. He is originally from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. His film and television credits include Nurse.Fighter.Boy, The Event, Gerontophilia, Lexx and Platinum.
Most prominent as a stage actor, he joined Halifax's Neptune Theatre company in 1972. He has since appeared in stage productions across Canada, including William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Richard III, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Henry VIII, Aeschylus' Agamemnon, Jean-Paul Sartre's The Flies, James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Djanet Sears' Harlem Duet and The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God. Since 2003, he has been a member of the Stratford Festival of Canada.He has also recorded and released an album, Walter Borden Reads Shakespeare's Sonnets to the Music of Fernando Sor, in collaboration with classical guitarist Paul Martell.