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Fernando Sor

Classical Yet Romantic Master

"Fernando Sor - One of the great figures in the history of the classical guitar..."

He was in no small way responsible for the resurgence of the guitar in the 18th century, helping it to eclipse the harp as the pre-eminent salon instrument of the day. Born in Barcelona in 1778, Fernando was by definition a classical composer, though he was heavily "colored" by Romanticism. He was by all accounts, a talented composer who wrote operas, ballets, symphonies, string quartets, songs for voice and guitar accompaniment and more. He is probably the most famous classical guitar composer on the guitar time line.

Indeed, his first work was an opera performed when he was only nineteen. He is best known for his method of guitar and theory of harmony, adapted for guitar. Fernando even studied violin, cello and piano and was taught composition by Anselmo Viola, who was a major 18th century composer in the Monserrat monastery where he first attended Choir School. Later on, he attended military school and was said to be quite a capable soldier, rising to the rank of captain. He kept composing throughout his military enlistment (even composing patriotic songs to motivate his comrades against the French Napoleonic army, who had invaded them).

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Back to Sor...

When the French defeated the Spaniards, he was influenced by their ideals of liberty and egalitarianism. He even worked for them in a clerical capacity for some time. This caused the ire of his countrymen. Indeed, he was seen as a traitor by some and found it necessary to withdraw to France with Napoleon's army when they were finally defeated in 1813.

He led a somewhat nomadic life after this point but never returned to his homeland. As well as France he went to England, Prussia and even Russia. Beethoven is supposed to have stolen the theme for the "Moonlight Sonata" from Sors. Also, whilst in Russia, he wrote the funeral march for Alexander the 1st.

Check out this great little video on YouTube of Julian Bream playing Study in B minor...

Also, you can listen to his excellent andante here...

Whilst he was in London, he started writing his more serious works for guitar. Fernando also continued to play guitar, and when he returned to Paris in 1826 he was regarded as the "best guitarist in the world." We know now that he was perhaps the greatest composer for classical guitar of all time. This is despite the fact that when he died in 1839 (of cancer of the tongue) he was all but forgotten and near penniless. A fate unfitting such a fine composer and the player who has enriched the repertoire of the guitar greatly.

You can buy some Fernando Sor sheet music here...

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Here are a few related pages in which you may be interested...

Here is some information about other classical guitar composers...

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Welcome to LCG! I'm Trevor Maurice, owner of this site. I hope you find inspiration in these pages to help you with  your journey of learning to play the classical guitar. You can read more of my story here...

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