Early Romantic Guitar Web Site

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What is Early Romantic Guitar?

Gaetano Guadagnini - 1828
Gaetano Guadagnini - 1828

Lacôte Guitar c1850
Lacôte Guitar c1850
"The guitar here is based on a late example of Lacôte's work which was Madame Sydney Pratten's concert guitar. It has a spruce front, birds eye maple back and sides (also available in flamed maple or rosewood), ebony veneered neck and a raised ebony fingerboard with 19 brass frets. This guitar has Jerome style tuning machines and a string length of 63cm." -Gary Southwell

The Early Romantic Guitar encompasses a style and a time period of playing guitar. This so-called "Early Romantic Guitar" era began at the adoption of the 6-string single-course guitar around 1785 and ended after the time of Tarrega, roughly 1909.

Since the term "classical guitar" is so widely used for so many time periods, the term "Early Romantic" guitar is coming into vogue to describe this era, which is actually Late Classical and Early Romantic. This web site covers the guitars and composers of that era, and covers specialized artists and recordings.

The late Classical and Early Romantic era was the guitar's "Golden Age". Composers such as Sor and Giuliani were prominent, and hordes of guitarists took up the guitar, which enjoyed immense popularity especially in Paris and Vienna.

See the "Composers" section of this web site for more information about the composers biographical information, pulled from other web site sources, and the editor's pick of essential repertoire for each which is available today.

The instruments of the day were much smaller, lighter, and easier to play. The tone was largely treble-dominated, with good balance across bass, mid and treble, more crisp and piercing, with a rapid response attack compared to today's large bass-heavy, mellow sustain guitars. See the "Guitars" section of this site for more information about the instruments, and where you can get one.

Lately, revisionist attitudes have thankfully given way to "Historically Informed" interpretations which serve the music on its own terms, in its own time. Although nobody knows for certain the playing habits and style of these performers, we can come to a reasonable approximation by studying period methods and facsimile repertoire, and playing on period guitars or modern reproductions of historical guitars. There is nothing wrong with playing old music on modern instruments; rather, the historically informed twist adds new depth and interest to the music that you do not often hear.

See the "Recordings and Artists" section of this site for good recordings of 19th Century Period Early Romantic Guitar music, as well as performers who specialize in that style today.

The editor's bio is listed below. Contributions of information to help build this site are welcomed. Many individuals have emailed with bits and pieces of what they know; acknowledgements are listed below.

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Purpose of this Web Site

Welcome to EarlyRomanticGuitar.COM. This web site was created out of my desire to find good organized information about the period guitar practices, composers, and instruments of the early 19th century, known also as the Early Romantic Guitar era. Much to my surprise, I could not find a web site dedicated to an overview of 19th century early romantic guitar - other than a few with a narrower specialty - so therefore I created one. Most general classical guitar sites mention the pre-Tarrega rich history of early romantic guitar only in passing; it is my hope that such sites will link to this site so that the reader can obtain more specific information. I include composers up to and including Tarrega, but the emphasis is placed on the first half of the 19th century.

The goal of this site is to have a central web site that brings together diverse and widespread information into one place. It is an educational overview of the early romantic 19th century guitar: the period composers and instruments, and the artists who specialize in that time period and style today. The target audience is the guitarist who wants to learn more about this genre, but does not have much information or access to instruments - perhaps being exposed to it for the first time. The links to outside sources will allow the reader to pursue further information.

This is a non-profit web site, run by a single volunteer. The reason I engage in this endeavor is to learn more about this era myself, through the research I have done, as well as emails from others. The editor is most grateful for the people who have contributed links, information or graphics. Product recommendations are the opinion of the editor based on experience. There are no advertisements, pop-up or banner ads, nor any paid endorsements on this site. I recognize that .COM does not best describe this site's purpose, given its non-commercial nature, but .COM is easier for most people to remember.

This web site covers only the Early Romantic 19th Century Guitar era, because the modern era which starts with Segovia to today, has been widely covered elsewhere. Another goal of this site is to address the bias that exists by some guitarists toward the pre-Torres guitar, and to inform the public.

Copyright and Fair Use

"Copyright" refers to legal protection for works of authorship. In the USA, such protection is automatically provided to authors, and no registration is required. Therefore, this web site and the material contained therein, is automatically under copyright protection in USA. A good overview is the circular (find section 107 in the PDF for Fair Use): United States Copyright Office: Copyright Basics. Copyright protection laws vary by country.

"Fair Use" is a provision in the US Copyright law which allows use of copyright material for certain purposes. Based on the "Fair Use" provision, as an educational, non-profit entity, this web site is entitled by law to use the photographs, quotations, and other source material contained herein. However, I respect the wishes of content owners and I have sometimes withheld material by request - although I feel this is not in the public's best interest. Similarly, anyone may use any of the material on this web site according to the "Fair Use" provision - for example, non-profit scholarship of this material is fair use, but selling a book which copies the published material on this web site is not fair use.

§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."

- Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code, Circular 92, section 107.

Spam Policy

"Spam" refers to unwanted advertising-related email. This web site does not send spam or advertisements of any kind. This web site does not send outgoing mail. If you receive an email from "Mail@EarlyRomanticGuitar.com", do not open it because it did not originate from this site. It may even contain a virus. All replies to emails will be sent out on a different e-mail account. It is common practice for spammers to steal e-mail addresses from legitimate sites like mine and send advertisements with false headers, trying to deceive the recipient into thinking the spam originated from the other site. If you examine the message header properties, you can usually determine who the real sender is.

When sending emails to this site, please indicate something in the header which is guitar-related so that I know your email is "real" and not spam. Because so many emails contain viruses and spam, I am very cautious when opening emails from unknown senders. I often delete emails with suspicious or vague subject lines. I apologize if I deleted a legitimate email, but if the subject line is not clear, I have no way to tell if the message contains a virus or spam.

In addition, there are no advertisements of any kind on my web pages. However, advertisements might be present on web sites which are linked to from my site. I have no control over advertisements on other third-party web sites. Goods and services are mentioned on this site that pertain to the early romantic guitar; however, these are for informational purposes only - I do not receive any payment from these vendors nor am I affiliated with them.

Contacting EarlyRomanticGuitar.COM

Contact is available by email only. Hit any of the email links listed at the bottom of each page, or mail to:

Primary Email Contact: Mail@EarlyRomanticGuitar.com Mail@EarlyRomanticGuitar.com

I am depending on you, the reader, to help build this site. If you have information, pictures, links, etc., to contribute, please send an email and I will probably incorporate it into this site. I am not an expert or a professional musician, so I rely on the open internet concept, where the readers help by contributing information.

Please send email relevant to the nature of this web site. This web site has a very specific focus: early 19th century classical guitar.

I especially welcome the following types of emails and contributions:

The Editor reserves the right to decide what goes here and what does not. For example, many guitars from the 1800's will not be listed, because they incorporate post-Torres design characteristics and thus fall outside the scope of this web page.

Also send any web site problems addressed to the editor, Len. If you are having a problem viewing this site, please be specific, and indicate which browser and version you are using. HTML web sites are interpreted differently by different browsers, so it may work fine on my browser but not yours. I will attempt to correct any problems, but I cannot guarantee every page will view perfectly on every browser version. Better yet is if you can fix the HTML code which is causing the problem and send me a fix to post on the site.

Link Exchange

Anyone may link to this site, and is encouraged to do so to help spread the information. The Editor reserves the right to decide what will be listed on this site. The many links from other sites to this site are greatly appreciated, but not all of those links are provided back. The reason for this is two-fold: first, lack of time; second, many sites that have linked up have a broader focus than early romantic guitar and thus fall outside the scope of this site. This site is not a general-purpose classical guitar site, it links only to sites which specialize in the ERG genre. Here are some suggested link graphics, submitted by other users, and suggested text you can use or edit freely:

Early Romantic Guitar Home Page, an educational overview of the early romantic 19th century guitar: the period composers and instruments, and the artists who specialize in that time period and style today. The target audience is the guitarist who wants to learn more about this genre, but does not have much information or access to instruments - perhaps being exposed to it for the first time. Links to outside sources for further information.

A more simplified link description might be: "Information about Early Romantic composers, guitars, and current artists."


I wish to thank the following individuals for their help in building this web site. My apologies if I have overlooked anyone.

Dr. Brian Jeffery, Director of Tecla, for providing many musical editions and information.

Michael Surrency, retired NASA engineer and a luthier in Houston, for much advice about guitar construction and for guitar restoration.

Dr. James Buckland for information on Terz guitar, including written notes and technical drawings.

Douglas James for information on period guitar practice, tuning, and strings during the times I have been fortunate enough to study with him, and in our many email correspondences.

Dennis Cinelli for information on strings and many aspects of early romantic guitar. Dennis provided many pages of hand-written notes as well as his time during phone conversation, to correct, revise, and add additional details in numerous places on this site. I am very grateful for his help and expertise.

John McCormick for many quotes from his article.

Bernhard Kresse and Kenny Hill for electronic photos of guitars and advice about multi-string guitars.

Clive Titmuss for source material quotations and photos.

Gary Southwell for source material quotations and photos.

Njål Bendixen for many material quotations regarding 19th century builders.

GFA, MelBay and WorldGuitarist for providing a link from the home page.

James Westbrook for photos and much information.

About the Editor, Len Verrett

Judicael Perroy and Len Verrett
Judicael Perroy (left) with Len Verrett (right)
Judicael's guitar: ca. 1813 Lavigne, Paris, collection of Len Verrett
Len's guitar: Bernhard Kresse, Germany, modern 8-string Stauffer copy, collection of Len Verrett

Overall I have been playing guitar for over 30 years. I consider myself a mainstream classical guitarist with a particular interest in the early romantic guitar.

My primary specialty is guitar music of the classical and romantic time periods. However, over the years I have studied repertoire covering a broad range of classical guitar styles and much of the standard classical repertoire, ranging from Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Spanish, Flamenco, South American, and Modern. There have been periods of my life where I was really dedicated to Spanish music of Albeniz, Tarrega and Calatayud, or deep into Bach Lute Suites, or immersed in Villa-Lobos and Pernambuco, Christmas arrangements, and so forth. I still go back to these pieces to stay well-rounded.

A large area of focus for me in the last few years has been the 8-string guitar. I have pulled together material that was either written for 7-10 string guitar, Baroque lute material, and made my own alterations to many pieces to study and play in depth. My 8-string Anton Staufer guitar by Bernhard Kresse has been a wonderful instrument.

Len - Lacote
A particularly memorable experience playing a Lacote possibly owned by Aguado, circa 1830, at the home of Jimmy Westbrook in Hove, England.

I am an avid collector of sheet music, with around 2 file cabinets of music (around 10-15 thousand works). I have sight read all of this music, and for me the discovery of a long-forgotten musical treasure is rewarding. This includes the complete works of Sor, Coste, Mertz, Giuliani, Z. Ferranti, Arcas, Aguado, Tarrega, etc., not to mention volumes of Baroque material including Bach, Weiss, Murcia, etc., Renaissance, etc.. I am constantly learning new material in addition to honing material for current projects. I contributed to Tecla's editorial process in proof reading Volume 1 of the New Complete Works of Sor. I have created new arrangements of works of Bach, Cimarosa, Vivaldi, and others for guitar solo, duo, trio, and quartet, as well as flute / guitar.

I have a large library of guitar recordings. Through the guitar society, I have seen many concerts of various levels and met or studied with many of today's concert performers. This access to source material and performers has allowed me to learn a great deal about the guitar's repertoire.
Len - Lacote
Playing an 1830 Fabricatore at the home of Jimmy Westbrook in Hove, England.
I initially started out playing electric guitar, driven to practice 6-12 hours daily, especially blues and rock improvisation. After hearing inspirational recordings by Paco de Lucia, Christopher Parkening, and Andres Segovia I began studying classical guitar in parallel with electric guitar. Over time I mostly dropped the electric guitar and focused on classical.

At the age of 18, I was admitted to the Classical Guitar Performance guitar program at the University of Colorado in Boulder with professor Charles Wolzien. Dr. Wolzien is head of the classical guitar program at CU, a specialist in early music transcriptions for guitar, who studied with Alirio Diaz for 2 years in Siena, Italy. My studies at CU were focused on the traditional classical guitar, with studies in Sor, Tarrega, Albeniz, Barrios, Lauro, Villa-Lobos, and Bach. By the end of the first year of study, I had nearly 2 hours of memorized standard repertoire, and I passed the Freshman performance exam by playing Leyenda by Albeniz, which was senior-level repertoire.

I was a guitar major for 1 year in college but otherwise I am mostly self-taught with a few periods of regular lessons, and numerous master classes and private lessons with top-class players through the guitar society.

I am an amateur player because I do not derive my income from music, but I am very dedicated and practice every day. Because I am not under pressure to teach lessons or perform for the general public, I have been able to explore the guitar repertoire and history in depth. I perform occasionally at guitar society, church, and other functions but I mostly play for the love of music.

I am regularly involved with a duet, and have performed in duo, quartet, and various combinations of instruments including oboe, violin, flute, voice, and piano.

I perform on a variety of instruments, including a modern Spanish classical guitar (1994 Manual Contreras), a replica of an 1847 Lacote by Bernhard Kresse, an 8-string replica by Bernhard Kresse of Anton Stauffer 1842, a terz guitar (Clive Titmuss), antique 19th century guitars, flamenco guitar (Navarro), and electric guitars (Les Paul, Stratocaster).

I live in the suburbs of Houston, Texas with my wife. I have 2 older children. I currently work as an IT program manager for a major energy firm. I grew up in Denver, Colorado and graduated from CU-Boulder (BA-Psychology) and CSU-Ft. Collins (MBA-General Business).

I maintain two web sites: Guitar Houston guitar society, and Early Romantic Guitar - this site.

In Houston, I helped to start up a new Guitar Society, Guitar Houston, where I donated my time and resources to create and maintain their web site since 1997. I am currently Treasurer and on the Board of Directors.

Through my Guitar Houston contacts, I studied privately or in a master class performance setting with the following artists, some of which on an extended basis:
  • Miguel Antonio (regular private lessons: flamenco and classical guitar)
  • Denis Azabagic (private lesson, master classes: Tarrega interpretation and phrasing; Scott Joplin and technique)
  • Isaac Bustos (private lesson: Barrios interpretation and technique)
  • Michael Craddock (private lessons: Bach and early music; Giuliani interpretation; using gut strings)
  • Ricardo Cobo (master class: "Se Ela Perguntar" by Reis which he performed the prior night in concert; discussed phrasing and structure in context of the harmonic framework)
  • Simon Dinnigan (master class: Bach interpretation)
  • Duo Melis: Susana Prieto and Alexis Muzurakis (master class: Folias interpretation)
  • Margarita Escarpa (master class: Arcas and Sor interpretation and technique)
  • Robert Guthrie (master class: Albeniz interpretation in a duet)
  • Valerie Hartzell (regular private lessons: classical guitar technique and interpretation)
  • Adam Holzman (several master classes: Giuliani, Sor, Scarlatti interpretation)
  • Douglas James and Pasquale Rucco (master classes: Early Romantic Guitar, particularly Giuliani; Gragnani duet interpretation)
  • William Kanengiser (master class: Coste interpretation, achieving dramatic effects, harmonic analysis, observing rests & rhythm)
  • Steve Kostelnik (master class: Arcas Spanish interpretation, use of dynamics)
  • Kupinski Duo (master class: Bobrowicz interpretation)
  • Ronn McFarlane (private lesson: Lute and Vihuela repertoire historically informed interpretation on terz guitar)
  • Nigel North (master class: Weiss Sarabande interpretation)
  • Elena Papandreou (master class: Morel and rhythmic precision, importance of perfection in practice, LH position)
  • Judicael Perroy (private lessons and master classes: Weiss, Mertz, Manjon, Legnani, Giuliani Duos (with Jeremy Jouve), Sor and Barrios interpretation, Malats/Tarrega)
  • Pepe Romero (master classes: public performance, tone, interpretation, playing in duets)
  • Richard Savino (Carulli and romantic guitar)
  • Karin Schaupp (legato phrasing, practicing, reading ahead, prepared strokes)
  • Hopkinson Smith (master class: Baroque guitar strumming, Sor interpretation)
  • Johan Smith (master class: Serenata Espanola by Malats)
  • Raphaella Smits (master class: Legnani and 19th century interpretation, 8-string guitar)
  • Pavel Steidl (master classes: technique and interpretation of Coste, interpretation of Paganini and Sor)
  • Meng Su (master class: El Colibri by Julio Sagrereras - technique and interpretation)
  • Ana Vidovic (Vivaldi, technique, phrasing, interpretation)
  • Jason Vieaux (Antonio Lauro; fingering strategy toward better phrasing, reducing barre fatigue)
  • Stanley Yates (Bach interpretation)
  • I have also audited master classes of: David Russell, Eliot Fisk, Ricardo Cobo, Jason Vieaux, Susan McDonald, Adam Holzman, Michael Craddock, and Zoran Dukic.

    I have had the privilege of meeting several well-known players, including having dinner with Christopher Parkening, one of the nicest and most interesting individuals you could hope to meet. I have had correspondence with notable guitar figures Fredrick Noad, Angelo Gilardino, Brian Jeffery, Raphaella Smits and many others who are listed on this site. I met many of today's up and coming players, including all the performers Guitar Houston has hosted since 1997.

    I became interested in the 19th century guitar upon acquiring several good facsimile editions of Sor, Giuliani, Coste, Zani de Ferranti, Mertz, Regondi and Aguado, and became engrossed in this area when I purchased a period guitar copy of a Panormo made by Kenny Hill. After studying with Douglas James, this interest grew further.

    Len's personal collection of guitars is on the following page:

    Len Verrett's Guitar Collection

    Free Music by Len Verrett

    Please see the link: Free Music Page.

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    The editor especially welcomes comments and ideas for this web site.
    Please send an email to Len if you would like to contribute text, links, photos or information.

    Primary Email Contact: Mail@EarlyRomanticGuitar.com Mail@EarlyRomanticGuitar.com