Napoleon Coste

French Guitar Master

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"Napoleon Coste was first taught the guitar by his mother..."

Although he was born in the provinces, he rose to be the greatest guitarist/composer France ever produced in the guitar history. He was also feted and lauded by Parisian aristocratic society becoming the most celebrated French guitar composer that the city had ever seen.

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Starting guitar at an early age, he was first taught by his mother. By the time,  he was in his teens he had become both a virtuoso player and an excellent composer. Later on, when he moved to Paris, he took up lessons with the great Fernando Sor himself. Indeed, he moved in an illustrious circle of friends that included Aguado, Carulli and Carcassi. He played for the "creme de la creme of society" and was engaged to teach them as well...quite a lucrative arrangement!

Coste Sidebar - Did You Know?

In an international music competition,  he gained second prize behind the famed J.K. Mertz. This "kick-started" his composing career, which blossomed in the ensuing years.

Being "gainfully employed" allowed him to publish many of his own works later in life. Before this,  he had spent ten years learning harmony and counterpoint, which greatly enhanced his compositional powers.

Due to an unfortunate accident, Coste was deprived of the ability to play in public again. He broke his arm in a fall, which rendered his right hand virtually unusable. Perhaps, in an ironic way, it may have been fortunate that he fell. Incapacitated, he was able to devote more time to composition. I'm sure deep down he must have been disappointed not to be able to play. When you have developed yourself to such a level and then that is taken away from you you cannot help but be disappointed. I suppose with his dedicated nature he got on with things and involved himself in music as much as possible.

Here's a video I recorded and put on YouTube.com of his Barcarolle...

Here is a page dedicated to the barcarolle...

He composed over forty works for guitar both for the six and seven string instruments. Another achievement was to revive interest in the Baroque guitar and its music and to transcribe 17th century music to modern notational methods. Napoleon's music is full of charm and adds greatly to the repertoire. I'm sure he compares favorably with his contemporaries and deserves to be!

To get some excellent music by Coste click here...

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

Look here for more information on Napoleon...

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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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