On this page you will find a varied (small) collection of pieces by composers from the classical era. I added some biographical data of the gentlemen below. For their music, refer to the Music page.
Luigi Castellacci (1797 – 1845) was an Italian guitar- and mandolin virtuoso. It is told that as a kid he got a mandolin in his hands as soon he was able to hold it. It did not take longe before he got famous as a prodigy. He composed music for guitar, mandolin and ensembles with singer. Like many composers from his day, he devised a guitar method, the Complete and progressive method for the guitar. (1845).
Fernando Sor (1778 -1839) was born in Barcelona and was one of the leading guitar composers of the Classical Era. He had an adventurous musical life that started comparatively peacefully at the church choir of the Montserrat Convent close to Barcelona. During the reign of Napoleon, he served as a captain in the Spanish army and sided with the French emperor. The British were not amused, so Sor was forced to flee to France when the British seized power on the Iberic Peninsula. Paris became Sor’s home.
In the French capital, an active guitar scene had grown. In Paris he celebrated his greatest success as a guitarist and composer. People soon forgave him his political choices and appreciated his music. His concert tours brought him all over Europe, he even visited Russia. In his last years he was forgotten and he passed away in solitude.
In 1830 he published his didactical work Méthode Pour la Guitare, a quite advanced method for those days, that was translated in several languages.
Francesco Molino was born in Turin in northern Italy. As a fifteen-year-old boy, he enlisted with the Piemonte Regiment as a member of the military band. Later on, he worked in the theatre and the royal band (yes, Piemonte was a principality in those days). In 1820 he moved to Paris -the capital of the European guitar-scene- and worked there as guitarist, composer and teacher until his death.
He left a few guitar methods and wrote a number of works which today are for the most part forgotten.
Carl Michael Bellman
The Swedish poet and singer Carl Michael Bellman (1740 – 1795) was a contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Already in his childhood Bellman showed a remarkable talent for singing and presentation. As an adult he sang everywhere, from the Royal Court in Kungliga Slottet in Stockholm till the salons, pubs and brothels in the same city. That’s a bit of a parallel with Mozart indeed!
He wrote about 1700 poems and songs. Many of them were about the daily life with for this era daring lyrics about booze, erotica, death and life’s wisdom. He often presented his songs in a tragi-comical or even parodic way.
Bellman accompanied himself on a Centrina – a kind of eleven string lute – and caught all kinds of catchy tunes for his songs. He did not compose himself, but he had a perfect sense for the right melody with his songs and a lot of friends who could help him with the music.
Thus, many of his songs are set to popular melodies from his time. These melodies are part of Sweden’s cultural heritage and even popular in our days! The songs are simple yet catchy. The Dutch singer Cornelis Vreeswijk (1937 – 1987) who was quite popular in Sweden recorded a few of Bellman’s songs.
Bellman’s songs are mainly passed down in two collections, Fredman’s Epistles (1790) and Fredman’s Songs (1791). The clockmaker Fredman was one of the main characters from his songs.
Louis Spohr (1784 – 1859) was a German violin player and composer who competed with Niccolo Paganini for the honour of being the greatest violinist of their days. Spohr also was a friend of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Spohr was quite successful with the organisation of music festivals. As a conductor he introduced the baton (which was feared by the members of the orchestra). As a composer he conceived a large oeuvre of orchestral and chamber music, unfortunately largely forgotten nowadays.