On this page you will find a colourful collection of Romantic composers. Below you can read some biographics, music is included on the Music page.
Enrique Granados (1867 – 1916) was a Spanish composer and pianist. He mainly wrote piano and vocal music, so the guitar pieces are transcriptions. He studied under amongst others Emilio Pujol and Felipe Pedrell and founded the Barcelona Conservatory in 1901.
In contrast with the other Spanish composers of his generation, he had little interest in the culture of his native district. He felt attracted, however, to the Castilian Tonadilla and the Spanish art from the classical and early romantic period. His love for the paintings of the classical Spanish painter Goya is legendary and shows in many pieces he composed with Goya’s paintings in mind.
Although his work was influenced by Robert Schumann, Grieg and Liszt, he developed a characteristic style with individual harmonic and rhythmic progressions and original melodies. Distinctive for his intuitive style are the excessive and monotonous repetition of phrases. For instance, in Oriental, the starting theme occurs many times in different octaves.
His major works are the Goyescas, pieces after Goya’s paintings, the Spanish Dances and the Colleccion de Tonadillas for voice and piano. Further he wrote an essay about the use of the piano pedal, published sonatas by Allessandro Scarlatti, re-arranged a Chopin piano concerto and wrote multiple romantic pieces like Valses Poeticos and Escenas Poeticos.
He met his death in a sad way. In march 1916, near Dieppe on the English Channel a German submarine torpedoed his ship on which he returned to Europe after a concert tour in the USA. He drowned miserably.
Alfred Cottin started his career as a surgeon, but exchanged his scalpel for a guitar. He became a celebrated performer on guitar. His activities as a composer were limited to a few Etudes and some small performance pieces.
It was not surprising that a Spanish composer tried to compose in the Russian style. In those days, musical forms from abroad, like the Polish Mazurka, were popular amongst the Romantic composers.
Isaac Albéniz (1860 – 1909) was a Spanish composer and pianist. He performed as a child prodigy and became a pupil of Marmontel in Paris, being a six-year-old. Later on -in between concert tours- het studied in Brussels.
Being a young man, he got fed up with the life of a classical musician. He ran away to the USA and Latin America, where he earned his living in a wild life as a bar pianist.
After his return he worked as a composer in London (where he composed opera’s commissioned to him by a rich banker), in Paris and in Spain. His repertoire sounds particularly Spanish, although the music shows influences from Debussy and Liszt.
Together with Felipe Pedrell, Albéniz is considered the founder of the Spanish School, a music movement that revives and is inspired by Spanish (particularly Andalusian) folk music.
Albéniz composed amongst others an oratory El Cristo, the orchestral work Catalonia (first part of an uncompleted suite) and piano music. Examples are the Album Leaves España (with e.g. the famous Tango), the Suite española and the twelve-part Suite Iberia. A number of these works was arranged for orchestra and guitar settings.
The musical talent of Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924) became obvious in his early youth. At the age of nine, he attended l’ Ecole de Musique Religieuse of Louis Niedermeyer in Paris, causing him to move from his native region in the southern part of France. Niedermeyer wanted to reform the church music in France that was rather bombastic and theatrical, his pupil Fauré would play an important role in this pursuit.
Fauré composed for piano, church organ, chamber music ensemble and choir. Besides a lot of church music, he wrote more secular works like operas and ballets.
Giuseppe Farrauto (1915-1979) is een Italiaanse gitarist annex componist. Hij werd geboren in Palermo en componeerde diverse evergreens zoals Morenita do Brazil. Er is opmerkelijk weinig over hem bekend, dus laat ik het hier ook bij.
Giuseppe Farrauto (1915-1979) is an Italian guitarist annex composer. He was born in Palermo and composed a number of evergreens like Morenita do Brazil. It is remarkable that little is known about his life, so this biography will be rather short.
Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907) has gained fame as the composer of music with Scandinavian romantic moods. He composed a vast amount of piano works (such as his Lyriske Stykker) and became a master of the miniature piece. Additionally, he conceived well-known orchestral works like the Peer Gynt Suites and From Holbergs Time.
Pjotr Ilitsj Tsjaikovski
Pjotr Ilitsj Tsjaikovski (1840 -1893) is one of the major composers from the Romatic era. He left a considerable oeuvre of orchestral works, ensembles, chamber music and choral works.
Chopin is known as an inegenious and innovative composer for the piano. He mastered the instrument on a very high level (history states that he knew the complete Wohltemperiertes Klavier -24 preludes and fugues in all keys- by Bach by heart, and that is quite a thing!) I guess that is why you won’t find much of Chopin’s more elaborate works arranged for solo guitar, the complexity of his musical textures is too much. Well, after a little search on Internet you will find some nevertheless, the attraction of his music is definitely there despite the more limited scope of the guitar.
At the age of eighteen I had my first introduction to Chopin’s music. Listening to the classical pop arrangements by Ekseption and just starting to play the classical guitar, I became interested in classical music. So, I wanted to have some classical albums. That was no sinecure for my low budget, because most classical LPs were about ten guilders more expensive than a recent popular LP (which sold at 21 guilders already). Apparently, those days there was some elitism in the prices of classical music. That has changed today, just consider the underselling of classical music collections by Kruidvat, one of the Dutch drugstore concerns! And just consider the present-day Naxos label with lots of good guitar music at a quite reasonable price!
The De Slegte Bookstores -well known in Holland for its second-hand book sales and remaindered books- came with an absolute bargain of a collection of classical records in EP format (a size in between single and LP). Probably it was some ‘All Time Classics’ set which was dead stock as a whole and was sold per album instead. The records were delivered in a very limp cover which served as a kind of fold-out which revealed some information about the music. The record would drop out if you were not aware of the silly sleeve!
It was a pleasantly inexpensive introduction to classical music, particularly for a high school student with little pocket money. I bought a few of these records, including two with Chopin’s music, one record with Polonaises and one mixed bag album, some waltzes, nocturnes and other stuff.
When I played the records, the sound quality was a little poorer than I expected, the recordings looked like a conversion of old 78 rpm records. But the musical idea was clear nevertheless, particularly one piece –Berceuse Op. 57– impressed me with its nocturne-like tranquility.
Later when I met the girl who would be my wife, Chopin’s music returned. She played the piano and a few waltzes, mazurkas and nocturnes by Chopin were part of her repertoire. When I got settled, I bought some more of Chopin’s music, and the nocturnes and ballades became my favourites.
You will have to study some history in order to understand the atmosphere of Chopin’s music.
Poland prospered most in the sixteenth century when it consisted of the present-day Poland, a large part of the Ukraine and the Baltic states.
In the seventeenth century the problems started when Austria, Prussia, Sweden and Russia attempted to incorporate parts of Poland in the progress of their expansive policies. At the end of the eighteenth century, Poland was off the map.
The end of the eighteenth century brought the French Revolution and the notion of more or less democratic freedom for many European nations. The Polish felt the same and started resistance against their Russian masters, a pursuit which the latter suppressed without mercy. The 1830 revolution became a disaster and a terrible defeat for the Polish ‘insurgents’, which inspired Chopin to write his ‘Revolutionary’ Etude Op. 10, No. 12. The next attempt -the 1863 revolt against the Russians- would not bring a Polish state either, because the Polish were defeated again. It would take until deep in the twentieth century before Poland became a sovereign state despite the attempts of a world-wide ideology to prevent Polish nationalism.
Chopin spent his youth in Poland, but left for Paris when he was 21 in order to continue his piano career in the cultural capital of Europe at that time. The failure of the Polish 1830 revolution made his return to his homeland forever impossible. His sadness about this and his longing for his homeland can be heard in all his music, even in the more joyful passages.
Chopin made the Polish musical characteristics well-known in the world of classical music, he used lots of themes and phrasing from Polish popular music. A Polish dance form -the Mazurka from the Masurian district- spread through Europe as a classical form, so that even the Spanish composer Tarrega composed some beautiful mazurkas for guitar.
Edward McDowell (1860 – 1908) was an American composer from the Romantic era. He attended musical training in Paris and spent quite some time in South-America for further musical training. He left a large number of compositions for piano, some orchestral works and a few songs.