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Profiles in Classical Guitar: Fernando Sor

Fernando Sor was a classical guitarist and composer who was born in Spain and he lived from 1778 to 1839. He was a contemporary of Beethoven and is often referred to as the “Beethoven of the Guitar”.  He wrote many different works for the guitar including his famous Sor Method for the Guitar and his 20 Studies for the Classical Guitar. Both of these works are still in use today.

Fernando Sor was a classical guitarist and composer who was born in Spain and he lived from 1778 to 1839. He was a contemporary of Beethoven and is often referred to as the “Beethoven of the Guitar”.  He wrote many different works for the guitar including his famous Sor Method for the Guitar and his 20 Studies for the Classical Guitar. Both of these works are still in use today.

His Life

Sor grew up in tumultuous time is Spain. It was during the time that Napoleon and the French were attempting to take over Spain and Sor spent time in military service.  For a period of time the French successfully occupied Spain but eventually they were ousted.  After the war was over and France had been successfully ejected from Spain Sor moved to Paris (around the age of 35) and he never returned to his homeland. He also spent time living in Russia and in London but he eventually returned to Paris where he would live out the remainder of his years. It was during this time in Paris that he achieved a significant amount of fame as a composer, a teacher, and a performer, and he spent many years touring the great cities of Europe.

As a Performer

In Spain during his younger years and early adulthood he achieved an amount of fame that began with a performance of his opera “Telemachus on the Calypso’s Isle” and this lead to a short lived sponsorship by the Duchess of Alba. While living in Europe he reached the height of his fame as both a composer and performer and he performed concerts all over Europe including Paris, Russia, and London.

As a Composer

As a composer of music he had a remarkable wide variety of pieces that ranged from instructional in nature to songs, duets, vocal music for voice and guitar, and even an opera.  His style of music ranged from sheer classical to very Spanish in sound.

Some of his more famous work

Much of his work is no longer played and some of it is lost but he does have some pieces that have withstood the test of time and are still regularly performed to this day. Or course there is his method for guitar and his twenty studies; and while these are instructional works they are also comprised of many pieces and arrangements that stand alone on their own right as legitimate performance pieces. A couple of his more famous individual pieces include his Opus 35 number 22 in B minor which is often called “The Moonlight Etude” and his Opus 9 variations on a theme by Mozart (The Magic Flute). Both these pieces are remarkably beautiful and perennial favorites of modern guitarists.

Recordings and More

Many contemporary classical guitarists have incorporated Sor’s compositions into their repertoire and you can readily find works.  There are many CD’s by current performers that are devoted solely to the work of Sor. There is also a book about him (Fernando Sor: Composer and Guitarist). It is written by Brian Jeffery and it is a comprehensive and detailed account of Sor’s life.  The first edition was published in 1977 and a second edition published in 1994.

Fernando Sor was a remarkable multi-talented man who was a gifted performer, a teacher, and a composer who wrote across many forms and genres of music.  His music still lives on todayBusiness Management Articles, and through his methods for guitar he is still teaching students over 150 years later.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


You can hear pieces composed by Sor, watch videos of performances and download sheet music composed by Sor on my website: The Classical Guitarist



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