Salon music by women Composers

In Brief

  • Title: Salon Music for Guitar by Women Composers
  • Musician: Annette Kruisbrink, guitar.
  • Identification: Les Productions d’ Oz DZ4039.
  • Recordings: 2022.
  • Publication: 2023.

Reverie van Carrie Hayden


This year an interesting combination of sheet music and CD was released: Salon Music for Guitar by Women Composers, collected, fingered and commented by the Dutch guitarist/composer Annette Kruisbrink.

Book and CD is a tried and tested combination for her own work, I have a number of her composition books with beautifully recorded CDs of the pieces. Now we have it for collected works of others as well.

Salon music originated in the early nineteenth century in the form of live music in pubs, saloons and coffee houses and developed into a genre of its own. The musical establishment looked a bit down on it, but many well-known composers nevertheless ventured into this often quickly written music. For instance the Strauss family had already understood that you also had to be able to dance waltzes in the salon and composers such as Robert Stolz added their own.

The collection starts with two jump dances (Sauteuse) by the nineteenth-century French guitar teacher Julia Piston, who also composed and published her own work. They sound pretty classic. Carulli could have written them.

Valse Suisse No. 2 by Julie Fondard has the characteristics of traditional Zither playing. Fondard was a student of Fernando Sor who actively started her own business in Paris as a teacher, composer and music publisher.

Madame Knoop (alias Dolores Nevares de Goni) is an old acquaintance from Guitar Music by Women Composers. The Adieu has an unusual tuning, the 6th string to D and the 5th to G. The piece has the atmosphere of wistful romance in three-four time. Because of the detuning, you have to pay attention when reading the score!

Andante and Allegretto by Angiolina Panormo Huerta both use the same chord material. Due to its liveliness, the Allegretto is technically more challenging. If you happen to recognize the name Panormo: She was the eldest daughter of the famous nineteenth-century luthier. The guitar came with her mother’s milk!

We also know Madame Sidney Pratten from the collection Guitar Music by Women Composers. Sehnsucht presents little technical difficulties. Pratten had a guitar school in England in the time of Queen Victoria. The piece expresses the desire for rather than the practice of a passionate relationship. Yes, in Victorian times you weren’t allowed to emphasize physical passion too much.

Susan Domett contributes to this book with two Polkas. Some passages require a smooth movement across the neck from bottom to top and vice versa. It will require some practice to play it at the pace necessary for a lively performance. Domett was a versatile woman, she played herself, composed for piano and guitar and also painted.

The Argentinian guitarist Elba Rodriguez Arenas was inspired by her father Mario, who had ties to the long-standing Nuñez publishing house in Buenos Aires. De Tardecita is an Estilo Criollo, an Argentine traditional song form. Well playable and interesting due to the tempo variations.

Another old acquaintance from Guitar Music by Women Composers: The Italian Lisanella Gentilli. Impromptu is a nice quiet ballad that requires study the transitions to play the melody smoothly.

The guitar also became popular in America and not only for cowboy songs. Carrie Hayden followed in the footsteps of her father Winslow Hayden who was a guitarist and quite a prolific composer. Reverie is a nice long piece in which you can put in some virtuosity as well as a few dreams.

To me, this seems like a nice piece as a teaser to this article.

Annie K. Pfund came from America as well. She was a teacher in all kinds of string instruments and composed catchy and fun music for it. Amaranth Waltz is a cheerful waltz with a trio in which you can improvise yourself. Opal Waltz seems easy at first sight, but especially the passage with the flageolets requires puzzling. This is partly because the original had the 6th string tuned in G.

The Argentinian guitarist Adela del Valle brings the music for the dance salon. El Nene is a Scottish, a lively folk dance in two-four time. These dances were popular in the nineteenth century, you even find them in Schubert’s work. Technically the piece is not difficult. T.V.O is a tango. The meaning of the abbreviation is unclear to me. The tango rhythm with the thumb gets easier when you put down the whole A minor and E7 chords.

Finally, there are two contributions by Annette Kruisbrink herself: Bagatela Nostálgia and Bagatela Española. The first piece is an interesting combination of quadruple and six eighth-time passages. The second piece has a distinctly Spanish, but also idiosyncratic character. Both pieces require careful study in order to perform them fluently.

Again, the CD with performances of the pieces is a valuable addition to the book. The tempos sometimes turn out to be a bit higher than I thought for playing myself, but that’s the challenge.

I also really like to play this CD separately, it’s fun music. Annette Kruisbrink plays the pieces with a beautiful finish and breathes the music clearly.

The recording is clear and does not suffer from blurring from an overly large room or enthusiastically mixing reverb. It gives the music an intimate character.

The book itself contains an illustrated introduction with information about the pieces and the composers. I personally appreciate that; the entire DOS Amigos Homepage is built on that idea. It’s nice to have a historical background to what you’re playing.

In summary, I recommend this book with the CD. It brings you interesting and relatively unknown repertoire with varying technical challenges, but all pieces are worth playing.

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