Picking Through the Repertoire: A HyperHistory of the Contemporary American Classical Guitar

Picking Through the Repertoire: A HyperHistory of the Contemporary American Classical Guitar

The classical guitar developed in Europe during the 19th century out of the rich and varied tradition of plucked stringed instruments. By the time the 20th century rolled along, the 6-string “classical” guitar had developed a dignified, serious repertoire of solo works, chamber music, and concerti. Also in the mix was a creative guitar building culture and a wide variety of methods dealing with the actual playing of the instrument.

In the United States, too, there developed a guitar culture made up of native-born and immigrant guitarists. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century we find a small but consistently active succession of teachers, composers, performers, pedagogues, and builders.

Outstanding figures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Justin Holland (1819-1887), William Foden (1860-1947), Luigi Mozzani (1869-1943), Vahdah Olcott Bickford (1885-1980) and her husband, Zarh Myron Bickford.

Among the earliest guitarists in the U.S. was Justin Holland. Holland, an African-American, was born in Virginia and moved to Boston where he met Senor Mariano Perez and began to study guitar. In 1841, he entered Oberlin College and later gained a widespread reputation throughout the United States as a fine guitarist and an erudite musician. He spoke five languages fluently and was familiar with the methods of Sor and Aguado, then at the cutting edge of guitar technique. He settled in Cleveland were he organized the “Cleveland Guitar Circle”. He was cited in international journals.

Holland’s music is remarkable within the context of the time because it manages to follow the rules of proper voice leading, thus reflecting Holland’s education, not only at Oberlin but also with Simon Knable, a member of Ned Kendall’s Brass Band, who taught Holland theory and arranging.

Holland’s compositions are salon pieces often based on traditional tunes such as “Ever of Thee” and “Tis the Last Rose of Summer” followed by variations. The “Spanish March” uses a scordatura that Holland deliberately exploits for its colorful, “incorrect” voice leading not unlike Hector Berlioz use of it in the last of his Huit Scènes de Faust (1829). The “Last Waltz of the Lunatic” follows the Romantic fascination with the irrational. The piece features abrupt key changes, a chromatic passage and a few out of place appogiaturas.

William Foden was a guitarist and teacher whose works are mostly arrangements of hymn tunes, folk songs, and original pieces. For a time, he lived and taught in New York City. Foden’s student and advocate, George C. Krick writes:

Foden’s early compositions and arrangements for guitar show somewhat the influence of Mertz; in them we find frequent use of arpeggio movements and florid cadenzas of which the ‘Fantasie on themes from Der Freischütz‘ and the ‘Sextette from Lucia‘ are good examples. Many original compositions for guitar came from the pen of this prolific writer and aside from the numerous small pieces for teaching purposes there are quite a few that should be included in the repertoire of every player. “Ballerina Valse’ (solo or duet), ‘Esperanza Mexican Dance,’ ‘Grand Valse Caprice,’ ‘Gavotte,’ ‘Chevalier March’ and ‘Minuet in F’ are of medium difficulty, quite melodious and thoroughly guitaristic. The most popular of Foden’s works are perhaps his transcriptions of the old songs, such as ‘Alice,’ ‘Where Art Thou?,’ ‘Annie Laurie,’ ‘Old Black Joe,’ ‘My Old Kentucky Home,’ and others. The list of these comprises several dozen and they are of similar construction – Introduction, theme, a number of variations and finale. In these transcriptions Foden shows great inventive genius, and they require an accomplished technique for their performance. Julio Martinez Oyanguren has included some of these in his recent radio broadcasts and letters on their reception have been highly complimentary.

Also in New York in the 1890s was the Italian virtuoso, Luigi Mozzani, who published his first works, three volumes of studies, with F. A. Mills while living in New York. This musician, for whom Ottorino Respighi wrote a set of variations, also performed in a quartet of guitar, two banjos, and zither. This kind of “whole consort” was popular in the Italian immigrant communities.

Of particular importance is Vahdah Olcott Bickford, an influential pedagogue, performer, and composer of some 160 works for guitar and her husband, Zarh Myron Bickford, a versatile musician and composer of a Concerto Romantico, for guitar and piano.

Other significant guitarist/composers of this period include: William O. Bateman (1825-1883), best known as William Foden’s teacher; Jean Joseph Bott (1826-1895); Manuel Ferrer (1828-1904); Charles de Janon (1834-1911); and Luis Romero (1853-1893).

In the period before World War II, great players such as Miguel Llobet and Andres Segovia began to concertize in the U.S. Most notably, Llobet performed a work of Percy Grainger (“Willow, Willow” for guitar, string quartet, and soprano) at the Library of Congress in the 1930s. Segovia traveled here regularly until his death in 1987 and cultivated his relationships with resident U.S. composers, some of whom dedicated works to him. In addition Segovia taught master classes at University of California, Berkeley, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, North Carolina School of the Arts, and at the Manhattan School of Music.

However, the guitarist to make a deep and lasting impact on the guitar culture of the United States between World War I and II was the Uruguayan-born Julio Martinez Oyanguren (1905-1973). Oyanguren resided in New York during the 1930s. Known as a composer, his works have yet to be catalogued and only a few are published. His historical importance really lies as a teacher and performer, particularly because he was in a position to take full advantage of the emerging mass media. He recorded several albums for Decca, the label that later signed on Segovia, and performed weekly broadcasts on the radio. His student, Rolando Valdes-Blain, served as a page turner for Oyanguren during these broadcasts. Rolando, a teenager at the time, remarked upon Oyanguren’s excellent reading ability, the high degree of fluency of his technique, and his lightness of touch.

Therefore, during this period, Oyanguren was the guitarist in the U.S. with the highest profile, for this was the period when Segovia left Spain to escape the Spanish Civil War and World War II and lived and worked in South America. In fact, such was Segovia’s displacement from the international scene that many thought him dead!

As a teacher, Oyanguren is of importance because he taught Alberto and Rolando Valdes-Blain. These two artists went on to teach at major U.S. institutions and, in turn, their students now teach at many schools of music and universities throughout the U.S.

Also significant as guitarists and less so as composers were Vicente Gomez and Jesus Silva. Both of these names merely dabbled in composition and in some ways presage the dilettante figure of “guitarist/composer” that would become a genre in itself in the 1980s.

Independently of all this was Ernst Bacon (1898-1990). An excellent composer, often with the moniker “neglected” attached to his name, Bacon wrote a handful of guitar pieces. Since Bacon’s son and grandson are both professional guitarists, it is not surprising that he would try his hand at composing for the instrument. Ernst was primarily a pianist, and keyboard textures are apparent in his pieces. In addition, his harmonic language is tonal and basically diatonic. He makes use of American folk songs and folk styles such as spirituals, jazz, Appalachian tunes, and hymns. He can be put in the group of composers such as Copland (who nominated him for a Pulitzer Prize), Thomson, and others actively searching for an American voice. His guitar works draw heavily on American genres. In “Parting” we hear echoes of the parlor song genre. In “Coon Hollow,” a guitar duet, we hear minstrel music and banjos. Other guitar works are “Fulfillment,” “Quiet Halleluia,” and “Morning Star.” This is a small but valuable collection of pieces, still largely unrecognized. A work titled “Whisperella (humming-bird)” is catalogued as a guitar piece by the Ernst Bacon Society but appears to be, because of internal evidence, a piano piece. Still, it is notated on one staff and is almost exclusively single lines and within the guitar’s range. So it may be an either/or situation. “Parting” has been published and the others are in the process of being edited by Stanley Alexandrowicz in cooperation with the Ernst Bacon Society.

Rey de la Torre was an important figure in New York in the 1950s and 1960s. A student of Miguel Llobet with a dazzling technique and a forceful personality, Torre was the inspiration for several excellent mid-century guitar compositions including the Six Variations on a Theme of Luis Milán by Joaquin Nin-Culmell‘s (1908-2004) and the Prelude y Danza by Julian Orbon (1925-1991). Nin-Culmell takes a pavane by the renaissance Spanish composer Luis Milan and writes a set of variations that are etude-like in their exploration of the guitar’s resources. Written in a neo-classical style with a strong Spanish undercurrent, the work has proved popular with performers. Orbon’s Prelude y Danza is a minor masterpiece of great rhythmic vitality and dazzling virtuosity.

In a 1958 interview in Down Beat Magazine, guitarist Laurindo Almeida (1917-1995) said, “Segovia accomplished all the things worth while by the established classical composers. I’d like to see what American composers would write for the Spanish guitar. As a matter of fact, I commissioned works from a group of American composers for the instrument.”

This project resulted in the now little-known and awkwardly-titled LP Contemporary Creations for Spanish Guitar. Released on Capitol records, it featured 12 compositions by 9 American composers not normally associated with the classical guitar. They are “Toccata” by Jerry Goldsmith, “Prelude” by Henry Mancini, “Children’s Album” and “Three Romantic Waltzs” by Jack W. Marshall, “Fantasy” by Martin Paich, “Ballad for a Westerner” by Alex North, “The Merry Makers” and “La Coquette” by George M. Smith, “Night and the Sea” and “Dialogue” by Franklyn Marks, “Danza” by Lewis Raymond, and “The Bad and the Beautiful” by David Raksin (in a transcription by Almeida).

All of these composers are notable in varying degrees as film and television composers. Although it appears as if not much came out of this enterprise, the endeavor is notable because here we have a significant early attempt, perhaps the first in the U.S., to present a group of U.S. composers under the stewardship of a renowned guitarist in one package. Laurindo Almeida, himself an active studio and film musician, used his contacts within his milieu to inspire composers to write for him. The musical language employed in these pieces is not deep and stays within a language that does not go much beyond Moreno-Torroba.

Almeida himself wrote and recorded a Guitar Concerto and, Jack Marshall (1921-1973), best known to audiences as the composer of the theme for the television show The Munsters, wrote a fine Essay for Guitar and Orchestra recorded by his cousin, Christopher Parkening. In addition, Jack Marshall was a guitarist himself. Interestingly, he played the guitar part in the West Coast premiere and first recording of Stravinsky‘s Ebony Concerto with the composer conducting.

Guitarist/composer/teacher, Richard Pick (1915-2001) was primarily, although not exclusively, concerned with devising his systematic teaching method, “The Richard Pick School of Guitar.” His compositions are tonal and make frequent use of Americana such as cowboy songs, folk songs, etc. In Richard Pick, we find a harmonicist not unlike Fernando Sor. In a work such as the “Interludes,” extracted from his “School of Guitar,” we find a concern with the tonal equalization of the fingerboard, that is, the exploration of all keys on the guitar. Also apparent is his astute ear for voice-leading and harmonic color. Other works of Pick include “Nine Preludes” (1964) and “First Repertoire for Classic Guitar” (1958).

Active in Los Angeles at the same time as Almeida, was Canadian-born guitarist/composer/teacher Theodore Norman (1912-1997). Norman followed an entirely different path. He was an early proponent of the 12-tone method of composition in the U.S., and among the first guitarist/composers to find an affinity with this language. In 1954, Music Selecta published his “Two Twelve-tone Pieces for Solo Guitar.” Norman has composed many pieces for the guitar, both solo and chamber. His works have yet to find a place in the repertoire. In addition, Norman served as editor for Ernst Krenek‘s Suite for guitar and, in 1957, he played the guitar part in Columbia Records debut recordings of Schoenberg‘s Serenade, Opus 24, and Pierre Boulez‘s Le Marteau sans maître.

At this point, Andres Segovia was the dominant influence on all things guitar during much of the 20th century. Interestingly, Segovia was attracted to the music of Albert Harris (1916-1981). Harris moved to New York in 1938 and earned a doctoral degree from New York College of Music [Ed. note: which merged with New York University in 1966 but was once the oldest conservatory of music in New York City]. In 1942, he made his way to Los Angeles, where he had a successful career as a composer and orchestrator for films and television. Segovia took Harris’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel (c.1950) into his repertoire and even recorded it. Written in a pleasant neo-classical style cleverly tailored for Segovia’s taste, this would be among the last handful of pieces Segovia would add to his repertoire until his death in 1987. Harris also wrote a Sonatina (1953), a Suite and a Concerto de California (1977) for guitar and string quartet.

Another important solo guitar piece dedicated to Segovia is the Sonatina by Carlos Surinach (1915-1997). Written in New York, the work is in three short movements and is distinctly Spanish in style and neo-classical in form and approach. The first movement, Allegretto, is full of rhythmic vitality with 3/8 or 6/8 alternating with 3/4 time. It has some Stravinskian qualities such as the irregular repetition of short phrases. There follows an expressive Andante of 19 measures and a lively Allegro. This terse music demonstrates a mastery of control. Particularly impressive is the clear holding back of the guitar’s third octave register to achieve a fresh sound at the end of the piece.

There also exists a major work of great power by the Polish composer Ignace Strasfogel (1909-1994), a copy of which was found recently in the archives of Andres Segovia. The Prelude, Elegie and Rondo, written around 1940 for Andres Segovia, is an unknown masterpiece of polyphonic writing in the stylistic vein of Paul Hindemith and Artur Schnabel. Strasfogel was a pupil of Franz Schreker in Berlin and emigrated to New York in 1933 where he was a pianist and, later, a conductor for the New York Philharmonic. He was also piano accompanist for Joseph Szigeti, Gregor Piatigorsky, and Lauritz Melchior. From 1951, he conducted many opera performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia from 1986-1988.

Other works from this period include: 3 Fantasias (1960) by Otto Luening (1900-1996); Rhapsody by Marilyn Ziffrin (b. 1926); and Waltz for guitar (1958), a “12-tone crab canon” by Frank Zappa (1940-1993).

Although Segovia was a presence, missing from the scene at this time was a galvanizing figure devoted to the cultivation of new works. England had Julian Bream, for whom a number of masterpieces were written, including works by Britten, Berkeley, Walton, and Henze. Spain had Narciso Yepes and Italy had Oscar Ghiglia and Angelo Gilardino. Interestingly, the Italians inspired significant U.S. composers to write for them, including: Giampaolo Bracali (b. 1941)—Viajes, Quintetto, and a concerto; Gardner Read (b. 1913)—”Canzone di Notte”; Harrison Kerr (1897-1978)—Variations on a theme from The Tower of Kel; and Johan Franco (1908-1988)—Suite of American Folk Songs and Three Prayers.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, several significant American guitarists began to make themselves known. This generation took an active interest in the cultivation of new repertoire. At the fore during this time were Michael Lorimer and David Starobin.

“Seasons” for solo guitar by William Bolcom (b. 1938) takes a circular view of the four seasons. In five movements, the work commences with “Winter” and ends with “Harvest and Winter’s Onset.” Premiered in 1975 by Michael Lorimer, the work reflects some of the notational developments of the time. The special notation used (directional arrows for accelerandi and ritardandi, repeated figures ad lib, and noteheads without stems, etc.) is seamlessly interwoven with traditional notation. Here we find the fruit of the 1960s, when notation was often an end in itself. The piece begins theatrically with vocal sounds on a second staff, performed by the guitarist, with the direction to make wind sounds in such a manner as to be unnoticed by the audience. Some lessons in ventriloquism will be helpful here but not required as these sounds are optional. The movement marked “Spring and Summer Dances” with its external and internal pedal tones, regular pulse, and general exuberant quality evokes an American Domenico Scarlatti, such is its effervescence. “Harvest Time” alternates a theme expressing satisfaction and satiation, with a lively tune that cannot contain itself, ultimately developing into a ragtime. “Summer Sounds” uses extended techniques effectively.

Another work of equal ambition is Shadows (eight serenades for guitar, 1977) by William Albright (1944-1998). In his colorful notes Michael Lorimer, for whom the piece was composed, writes:

Shadows explores and exploits a wide expressive spectrum. The guitar’s capacity for tenderness and intimacy begets four serenades – the haunting, plaintive “Open”, the stark, lonely “Nights,” the sweet, exquisite “Lullaby,” and the ethereal, cathartic “Close”—while our instrument’s ability to lead an aggressive dance gives rise to three more—the primitive, Rite of Spring-like “Tierra,” the colorful, driving “Days” and the virile, dramatic “Tarantas.” “Tarantas,” a flamenco-inspired fantasy, features strums typical of its Spanish musical origin. A surreal nocturnal jam session of Halloween characters, cackling and giggling as they pick their guitars and banjos, appears in the remaining “Spirits,” which springs from still one more resource, humor. Like other William Albright compositions written in the late 1970’s, particularly Five Chromatic Dances for solo piano, Shadows combines tight musical control with direct emotional impact. The title of the eight serenades point to Shadows‘ overall architecture, four symmetrically placed pairs: on the outside, “Open” and “Close”; then, going towards the center, the two with Spanish names, “Tierra” and “Tarantas”; next, “Nights” and “Days”; and, in the center, “Spirits” and “Lullaby.” While the unity and variety encompassed by this scheme makes playing the whole collection perfect, there is excellence in performing shorter groups or individual serenades.

Temperaments (five solos for guitar) by Leslie Bassett (b.1923) is another large, ambitious work consisting of a string of short, descriptive movements or character pieces. Throughout the work, the lowest string of the guitar is tuned a half-step down to Eb which provides a darker resonance than normal, allowing different pitches to cause the sixth string to vibrate sympathetically. The language is chromatically saturated and the textures are rather thin to the eye, mostly single notes, in variegated arpeggio textures or repeated notes and figurations. There are few chordal passages and just a smattering of overtly notated counterpoint.

The form of these three major works seem to me to recall Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal (1963). In many ways, they seem indirectly inspired by Britten’s masterwork—in the scope of the works, in the quality of the writing and especially in the short descriptive sections or movements evoking and analyzing the various shades, qualities, aspects and moods of a single subject: in Britten’s case, sleep; in Bassett’s case, states of emotion; in Albright’s, the social and personal qualities of nighttime alluding to traditional musical and extra-musical qualities; finally, in Bolcom’s contribution, the seasons.

John Anthony Lennon (b.1950), a student of Bassett and Bolcom, has thus far contributed a substantial number of important works for the guitar. Lennon’s music is very gracefully written for the instrument, extremely idiomatic, and within the most resonant range of the instrument, generally avoiding the highest register. His works include Another’s Fandango (1981), Sonatina (1997), Gigolo (1998), The Fortunals (1999-2000) and the Concert Etudes (1983-84, revised 2003). The latter is an ambitious set of 12 studies and is a major contribution to the etude repertoire. In addition to these solo works, Lennon has written chamber music and a concerto.

Many composers of this period, the “baby boom” generation, grew up with the guitar prominent in popular music. Many can play the instrument to varying degrees and many studied it. These composers became familiar with the modern guitar classics of Ponce, Villa-Lobos, Frank Martin, Britten, Berkeley, and Walton, through the performances of powerful personalities and were equally familiar with the instrumental exploits of such figures as Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and Eric Clapton, as well as jazz greats like Joe Pass and Jim Hall.

Therefore, in the music of Lennon and composers such as Joseph Schwantner (b.1943), Christopher Rouse (b. 1949), and William Bland (b. 1947) among others, we find a deep and natural understanding of the guitar’s resources and potential, its idiosyncrasies and pitfalls. In turn, the vitality of this generation, its performers and composers, clearly impressed the older, more established generation.

Elliott Carter (b. 1908) made his first foray into guitar music back in 1938 with “Tell me Where is Fancy Bred” for voice and guitar. But he did not return to writing for the guitar for 40 years, when he effectively incorporated an involved and extensive guitar part into Syringa (1978), for mezzo, baritone, and 11 players. The text is based on the Orpheus legend and the allusive quality of the guitar, its sound and history, is evoked not unlike the way Henze uses it in “Kammermusik 1958.” But it is Carter’s solo work Changes (1983) that clearly put the U.S. on the map as far as guitar music is concerned. Changes quickly became standard repertoire for guitarists throughout the world and is a frequent requirement in major competitions. The seven-minute work was written for guitarist David Starobin and is “music of mercurial contrasts of character and mood, unified by its harmonic structure” as Carter writes in his program notes for the composition. Carter’s most recent solo composition is the exuberant 3-page Shard (1997) which has the excitement and energy of the best be-bop. Shard was later incorporated into the chamber work Luimen (1998).

In the final decade of his life, Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987) composed a 12-minute Parable for solo guitar (1978), the 21st in his series of parables for solo instruments. The guitar writing here is superb in all respects. There is a real feeling for the guitar’s dramatic potential. Beginning with a simple germinal idea using intervals of fifths and fourths, the work is texturally varied with expressive singing lines, 3-part counterpoint, sweeping arpeggios, rasqueados, and staccato repeated notes.

Likewise, the Suite for Guitar (1980) by Ned Rorem (b. 1923) explores the textural and expressive variety of the guitar with wit and expressive force. This suite of seven movements contains a kaleidoscopic array of moods: from the melancholic simplicity of the fourth movement, with its simple open string ostinati and sweet melody, to the effective jazz inflections of “Rapid: like raindrops.” This well-rounded work is rich in sound and spare on the page.

Among the most spectacular pieces ever written for guitar solo is Kurze Schatten II (1985-88) by Brian Ferneyhough (b. 1943). Also in seven movements but anything but spare, Kurze Schatten II is a work of enormous complexity, delicately noted with painful specificity. This work is revolutionary in the guitar repertoire and will, no doubt, knock you off your chair, so rarely does guitar music seem to come from another world. Ferneyhough uses several microtonal tunings throughout the course of the piece. The final movement has the direction, “As if performing (whilst unconscious) several pieces simultaneously.”

The fact that the name of jazz guitarist Eddie Lang (1902-1933) is brought up by Milton Babbitt (b. 1916) in his notes for his Sheer Pluck (1984)—formally known as “Composition for Guitar”—is both humorously incongruous and astutely sensitive. Lang was known for his single-line improvisations as well as his “strong attack” and “intriguing use of smears, glissandi, harp-like artificial harmonics” and “unusual intervals” as Joe Pass describes Lang’s playing. Babbitt’s piece does in fact make use of this jazz guitar idiom in the most delightful way and with such originality and abstruseness as to be positively endearing.

Uniquely American, this genre of guitar styling has informed much American guitar music, from Rorem to Reich. Occasionally accessed by European composers, perhaps most notably by Malcolm Arnold in his guitar concerto, composers from Europe allude to the lute or their own brand of guitar-related tradition. Interestingly, Babbitt uses this basic single-line approach to support a complex latticework structure of six voices. Babbitt has written another solo work, Danci (1996), a dance of all dances. The title is from the Esperanto word, “to dance.”

Another piece that makes felicitous use of the American vernacular is “The Great American Guitar Solo” (1982) by C. Curtis Smith (b. 1941). The form is a chaconne in which rock, blues, swing, and even a passage that recalls a Hammond organ in duet with a steel string guitar (missing its bass strings) seems to be taking place, perhaps in a honky-tonk roadside one-room church. This work is surprising underplayed given its audience appeal.

Cuban-American Tania León (b. 1943) and the Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra (b. 1953) have both contributed significantly to the guitar repertoire. Leon’s Paisanos semos! (We’s Hillbillies!) (1984) and Sierra’s Toccata y Lamento (1987) both make use of idioms from Hispanic culture and both have composed chamber works with guitar, Sierra having two concertos under his belt. Likewise, Puerto Rican composer Ernesto Cordero (b. 1946) has contributed a large body of works including a Sonata (1980), 5 Preludes (1977) edited by Alirio Diaz, Estudio a la Cubana (1986), and other works including several concerti. Cordero, as an accomplished guitarist, represents a new breed of composer, one intimately familiar with the labyrinthine corridors of the fretboard. These composers are akin to the great composer/pianists of the past, writing from inside the very bowels of their instrument, aware of every nuance, resonance, and ramification of their note choices, unencumbered by any limitations other than their own and without need of an outside advisor.

Important guitarist/composers and their works, among others, include Dusan Bogdanovic (two sonatas plus a “Jazz Sonata”), Brian Johanson (“Open up your Ears” and “Mortua Dulce Cano”), David Leisner (Nel Mezzo: Sonata) and Fred Hand (“Trilogy”). These composers are creating a large body of works that trace a lifetime. Most of the aforementioned composers have just a few works for guitar (only one in some cases) in their portfolio, the stylistic thread of which is embedded in their entire catalogue.

There also exists a genre of light guitar music, sometimes amazingly amateurish, that is very popular with guitarists and audiences. This music is generally pleasant fare, with little or no substance, and has an affinity with the New Age music of the 1980s.

As guitar programs were instituted in colleges, universities, and conservatories across the country, members of the guitar faculty and student body from these institutions enlisted their composer colleagues to write for them. Among pieces known to me of high value are Giampaolo Bracali’s Sonata, Nils Vigeland‘s “La Folia”, Ursula Mamlock‘s Five Intermezzi, Robert Beaser‘s Canti Notturni and Notes on a Southern Sky, Thea Musgrave‘s Postcards form Spain, Daniel Asia’s Your Cry will be my Whisper, Richard Winslow’s Variations on a Tune of Stephen Foster, Samuel Adler‘s Sonata, Sebastian Currier‘s Assertions/Reflections, Alan Hovhaness‘ Sonatas 1-5, Gunther Schuller‘s Suite, and Peter Racine Fricker‘s “Paseo”, etc.

Some prolific composers, such as Meyer Kupferman, Elias Tanenbaum, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, have also contributed a large body of works for guitar. Other fine composers such as Lou Harrison, Melinda Wagner, Barbara Kolb, Lowell Liebermann, Marilyn Currier, Charles Wuorinen, Bruce MacCombie, Joan Tower, Miklos Rozsa, Leonardo Balada, Nathan Currier, Tan Dun, and many, many others have contributed excellent works for guitar solo.

From Picking Through the Repertoire: A HyperHistory of the Contemporary American Classical Guitar
By Mark Delpriora
© 2004 NewMusicBox

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