Fernando SOR (Ferran Sor i Muntades)

  • Spanish guitarist and composer (Barcelona 1778 - Paris 1839), Fernando Sor is considered the first guitarist to have developed an international career and the greatest guitarist of all time. 
  • At the age of seven, Fernando Sor, already trained by his father, carried out his first musical studies at the manecanterie of the Montserrat monastery. He studied the violin, the cello and the organ there, before devoting himself exclusively to the guitar and composition.
  • After the death of his father, his mother wants him to take up a military career. He is eighteen years old and enlisted in the army without giving up music. From this period dates his first "Italian" opera Telemachus on the island of Calypso (Barcelona, ​​August 25, 1797) which met with real success: twelve performances at the Teatro de la San Cruz.
  • Around 1800, in Madrid, the young officer met the Duchess of Alba (1762-1802) friend of Goya and protector of artists. The Duchess lavishes "the affection of a mother" on him and allows him to complete his musical training without leaving his military career.
  • Between 1808 and 1812, Spain was occupied by Napoleonic troops. He then composes patriotic songs with one or more voices. In 1813, after the defeat of French troops, Sor, rallying to liberal ideas, had to go into exile and follow King Joseph to France. He will never return to his homeland.• In Paris, the Afrancesado receives the best reception. The guitar enjoys great popularity in the capital and Spain is in fashion. Luigi Cherubini, Étienne Méhul and Ignace Pleyel shower him with praise. Such friendships enabled him to quickly carve out a fine reputation for himself as a composer, performer and teacher.
  • In the aftermath, follow ballets for the Royal Academy of Music, a concert piece for solo guitar, a comparative study on the Spanish dances in vogue in Paris: boleros, séguedilles, sevillanes, murcianas, manchègues etc.Thanks to Fernando Sor, the Spanish guitar is promoted to the rank of a noble and refined instrument, worthy of welcoming subtle transcriptions (Introduction and Variations on a Mozart Theme for Guitar by Fernando Sor Op. 9, Das Klinget so herrlich, published in London in 1821).
  • In 1815, the virtuoso was in London. In England, the ballet being more appreciated than the opera, the composer tries it out. His ballet Cinderella (created in 1822) achieved considerable success. He marries the dancer Félicité Hullin.
  • In 1823, the couple moved to Moscow. With always as much success, Sor composes ballet music, gives concerts and publishes works for the guitar. At the funeral of Tsar Alexander I (1825), we play his Funeral March. The new Tsar Nicolas also asked him for music for his coronation (1826).
  • The Cinderella ballet, with Félicité Hullin-Sor dancing the role, was chosen for the inauguration of the Bolshoi Theater (January 1825). Sor plays twice in front of the imperial family.
  • In 1826, Fernando Sor, separated from his wife, returned to París where he lived until his death. During this last period, he devoted himself mainly to the guitar (guitar lessons, compositions, concerts) and published in several languages ​​his Method for the guitar (1830) long considered as the main work for learning the instrument. Among the latest works are four collections of studies, twelve duets, eighteen pieces for guitar and some ballets and instrumental scores.
  • His final composition is a Mass in memory of his daughter Caroline who died in 1837. He died in 1839 and was buried anonymously in the Montmartre cemetery. His grave was only identified in 1934.
  • © Didier Chagnas

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Here is an exceptional vocal piece by Fernando Sor, spanish composer from the beginning of Romanticism in the 19th century and best known for his music for the guitar. This motet alternates passages sung by the choir and those sung by...