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.
Etudes Op. 31
Fernando Sor composed a large amount of didactic material -Etudes and Lessons- for the beginning and advanced student.
Opus 31 is a collection of 24 Etudes in progressive difficulty. Sor’s strength was the fact that he connected melody and music to his didactic compositions. As a consequence, his Etudes are more pleasurable than the often dull and very technically sounding studies of his contemporaries.
Etudes Op. 35
Fernando Sor (1778 – 1839) composed a large amount of didactical material -studies and lessons- for the beginner and advanced guitarist.
Besides his guitar method, he composed a number of collections with etudes, in order of increasing difficulty these are Op. 60 (25 etudes), Op. 44 (24 etudes), Op. 35 (24 etudes), Op. 31 (24 etudes), Op. 6 (12 etudes) and Op. 29 (12 etudes). He succeeded in adding a lot of original and fresh music to the otherwise formal and sometimes dull etude form.
He composed his ‘24 Easy Studies’ Op. 35 as a reaction to complaints that players found his other studies quite difficult to play and far too ambitious for the beginner. Nevertheless these ‘easy’ studies have some difficulties too!
Six Petites Pièces Op. 32
Fernando Sor composed various little collections of pieces, this collection Six Petites Pièces Op. 32 is a striking example. The fact that these pieces are small (in comparison to his larger works) does not mean that they are easy as well.
Sor’s own opinion about the complexity of these pieces was different when he published the set in Paris in 1828. The front pages states Six petites pièces faciles et doigtées avec soin, which translates as six little and easy pieces, fingered with care. Well, in this version you will have to think about your fingering yourself.
Sor dedicated this Op. 32 to an English lady, Miss Wainwright, who appeared to be a talented pupil indeed. In just twenty-five lessons she had learned to play Sor’s studies (the difficult ones, I guess) and the pieces from Op. 32 itself. Sor admired her perseverance and analytical mind. Apparently, she flattered him too by stating that his method was the only right one to learn to master the guitar.
Est-ce Bien ca? Op. 48
Fernando Sor composed a number of albums with little pieces for the guitar enthusiasts of his day. Just like Op. 48, a collection of 6 pieces titled Est-ce Bien ca? You can translate this as “It this as you like it?” A weird title perhaps. Possibly Sor was bothered a bit by an impatient publisher.
I used a manuscript-like old setting as the basis for the transcription. The original was not quite clear in some aspects and missed a bit of consistency in the notation. Where necessary I have simplified the voicing a bit.
Etudes Op. 60
Fernando Sor composed a large amount of didactic material -Etudes and Lessons- for the beginning and advanced student. Sor’s strength was the fact that he connected melody and music to his didactic compositions. As a consequence, his Etudes are more pleasurable than the often dull and very technically sounding studies of his contemporaries
Unfortunately, his first opus numbers with Etudes, in particular Op. 6 and Op. 29, appeared much too difficult for the average player and beginning professional. As a consequence, Sor composed his Introduction a l’ Etude de Guitare Op. 60 that consists of 25 Etudes with some instructive notes in French. In an afterword, Sor emphasizes the importance of Etudes for technical development and recommends the exercises as pleasant for the ear and extremely useful for technique.