Closely related to the lute, the guitar entered the musical scene in the early 16th century, most likely in Spain. Now, the instrument has found its place in almost every genre of music. You might want to check out eight classical guitar composers for International Guitar Month this April.
John Dowland (1563-1626) — 'Lachrimae' (ca. 1590s)
While not a guitarist, lutenist John Dowland's compositions have been enjoyed by classical guitarists since its revival in the 20th century. Dowland was a fierce publisher, so many of his works have survived.
Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710) — 'Danzas Espanolas' (ca. 1675)
Born Francisco Bartolome Sanz Celma, the guitarist and composer in Spain is better known as Gaspar Sanz. He is considered one of the most important scholars and teachers of baroque guitar because of his three-volume set of guitar instruction that includes 90 works that are part of the modern canon.
Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) — 'Guitar Sonata No. 21 in A Major' (ca. 1813)
Known for his virtuoso violin playing, Niccolo Paganini also performed and composed for the guitar. Often overshadowed, his guitar and viola playing was just as impressive as the violin.
Justin Holland (1819-1887) — 'Carnival of Venice, Fantasie for guitar' (1871)
Born to free Black parents in Virginia, Justin Holland assisted with the Underground Railroad helping slaves gain freedom. As a musician, Holland went to Oberlin and became one of American's most influential guitar teachers. He wrote two method books, Modern Method for the Guitar and Comprehensive Method for the Guitar.
Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) — 'Capricho Arabe' (1888)
Tarrega was a classical guitarist in the Romantic period that worked to make the guitar a recital instrument. Often cited as the "father of classical guitar," he composed the Grande Valse known in popular culture as the Nokia ringtone.
Maria Luisa Anido (1907-1996) — 'Preludios Nostalgicos: No. 1, Lejania' (1962)
Maria Luisa Anido is an Argentine composer and classical guitarist. Her compositions often reflect her life and personality, but also the rich folklore of Argentina. She is considered a trailblazer, not only for female guitarists, but composers as well.
Ida Presti (1924-1967) — 'Etude fantasque' (1958)
Ida Presti was a child prodigy in guitar who became one of the leading performers in the mid-20th century. At 16, she played Niccolo Paganini's guitar at a ceremony for the 100 year anniversary of his death.
Nikita Koshkin (1956-Present) — 'Usher Waltz, Op. 29' (1984)
Nikita Koshkin is a modern-day composer who also stays true to the classical past of the guitar. His music was made famous worldwide by his Edgar Allan Poe inspired piece, The Fall of the House of Usher, which guitarist John Williams performed.
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