Matteo Carcassi *


Matteo Carcassi (1792 – 1853) in the first place was a skilful concert guitarist who started composing at a later age, resulting in about 100 works.

Carcassi werd in Florence geboren, juist toen in Frankrijk de revolutie uitbrak. Als kind begon hij met pianospelen, maar werd algauw een virtuoos op de gitaar. Via Duitsland trok hij naar Parijs, waar hij enige tijd in de schaduw van Fernando Carulli zijn gitaarpraktijk uitoefende.

Matteo Carcassi was born in Florence, in the year, the French Revolution broke out. As a child, he started playing the piano, but then turned to the guitar and soon became a virtuoso. After a stay in Germany, he moved to Paris, where he started his guitar practice, more or less overshadowed by his fellow-Italian Fernando Carulli. It took a few years before he earned his reputation as player and composer. He stopped performing in 1840 and died thirteen years later in Paris.

Concerning his compositions, Carcassi is a bit in the shade of the great composers like Sor and Giuliani. Nevertheless, his Methode and the famous 25 Etudes Melodiques et Progressives are in use even today.


Various Pieces

On this page you will find a mix of Carcassi’s works, amongst them arrangements of the piano pieces by Henri Herz.

Contredanses Françaises from Nouveau Recueil Op. 8

In the nineteenth century a growing market emerged for sheet music for home use. Likewise for the guitar. Thus, most guitar celebrity composed a few works that were playable for amateurs.

Matteo Carcassi was no exception, composing a few works for the amateur, amongst others Op. 8 Etrennes aux Amateurs ou Nouveau Recueil de Six Contredanses Francaises, Six Valses et Trois Airs Varié, a title that translates as New Year’s gift for the amateurs, or new collection of six French peasant dances, six Waltzes and three airs with variations.

I will stick to the Contredanses, i.e. the peasant dances. The nice thing in the scores is that they contain instructions for actual dancing. Apparently Carcassi intended the pieces to be used as real dance music. Additional instructions explain the dance figures to be used, such as Demie Queue du Chat, Chaine anglaise entière, Demie chaine anglaise, Demie Queue du Chat and Tour de Mains, all French dance expressions, or indicate what kind of dance is required, for instance a Poule or Pantalon.

The structure of the Contredanses seems to be based on the old dance forms like a Rondo. The original score, however, lacked clear indications for repeats. So, I gave it a go myself.

Amusement ou 12 Morceaux Faciles Op. 10

On this page you will find Carcassi’s Opus 10, an interesting work for amateurs titled Amusement ou 12 Morceaux Faciles. Obviously Facile, simple, is relative, because for instance the last theme with variations requires solid practice.

Etudes Op. 60

A few Etudes from Op. 60. Carcassi’s 25 Etudes Melodiques et Progressives are in use even today.

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