Sor’s Fantaisie op. 54 bis, published in Paris in about 1833, is a remarkable work in the history of Spanish music and its diffusion throughout Europe. It has an Andante allegro leading into an Andantino, followed by an Allegro dans le genre espagnol.
Since the publication of my article on this work in Soundboard in June 2022 (on which see below) I have had this work re-engraved, meaning that the new pdfs which we now provide for this work are sharper and clearer than the pdf for this work which we previously provided.
The fine Allegro dans le genre espagnol is the first and only piece for guitar without voice which Sor is known to have written in the popular Spanish style.
You can hear the whole Fantaisie op. 54 bis played splendidly here by Claudio Maccari and Paolo Pugliese. The Allegro dans le genre espagnol begins at 5’11”.
You can also hear the whole Fantaisie op. 54 bis played here by Bream and Williams. The Allegro dans le genre espagnol begins at 6’05”.
Sor’s Fantaisie op. 54 bis, published in Paris in about 1833, is a remarkable work in the history of Spanish music and its diffusion throughout Europe. It contains a fine Allegro “dans le genre espagnol”, the first and only piece for guitar without voice which he is known to have written in the popular Spanish style. I have written an article about it entitled “Sor’s Allegro in the Spanish style, Natalie Houzé, and key dates in European cultural and political history” which was published in Soundboard in June 2022.
In his early career, Sor composed a number of fine songs in seguidillas boleras form for one to three voices and guitar or piano, which are very much in the popular Spanish style. They are published today in two volumes which I have edited: Sor’s Seguidillas (Tecla Editions, 1976) and More Seguidillas (Tecla Editions, 1999). He also composed two songs in a style similar to the style of this Allegro: “Las quejas de Maruja” for voice with guitar or piano and “Should a pretty Spanish lass” for voice with piano, both of which are available from Tecla in modern editions. But when he composed for instruments without voice, for example for guitar solo or guitar duet, he composed always in the normal central European style of his time, and never before this work in the peculiarly Spanish popular style. Thus, all his music for guitar solo and for guitar duet up to the moment of this Fantaisie op. 54 bis is in the central European style and not specifically “Spanish” in style (the Bolero a Duo in this edition is a special case).
However, in the 1820s and 1830s a growing enthusiasm for things Spanish swept through Europe with the Romantic movement. It was especially important in Paris, where the famous bataille d’Hernani took place in 1830. Sor and Aguado, Spaniards living in Paris, found themselves in the middle of it. Aguado wrote down his Fandango Varié, which is for solo guitar and which appears to recall certain elements of Spanish popular music of thirty years earlier, and Sor composed this present duet, op. 54 bis, with its fine Allegro “dans le genre espagnol”, the first and only piece for guitar without voice which he is known to have written in the popular Spanish style. (For more about this subject, see the introductions to my editions of Sor’s Seguidillas and More Seguidillas, and of Aguado’s Le Fandango Varié, all published by Tecla.)
The original title of this work is Fantaisie pour deux guitares, composée expressément pour Mlle. Houzé. Sor and his pupil Natalie Houzé gave a joint concert in Paris on 29 February 1832, and it is likely that they played this piece in that concert, as I describe in my article. Which of them played which part? One of the parts lies generally higher than the other, but both parts have the remarkable syncopated rhythm. The earlier L’Encouragement op. 34 for two guitars, a much simpler work, had specifically marked the upper part for L’Élève and the lower part for Le Maître, and that may have been the case here also, we don’t know. In either case, Sor and his pupil would have been playing a work full of Spanish rhythms, in a Paris which at that moment was enthusiastic about things Spanish.
How did it happen that Sor composed this work in this style at that particular moment? I have explored that subject in the article mentioned above which you can read here on the Tecla website and in which I suggest ways in which the piece relates to the politics and culture of its time and how Natalie Houzé and Sor’s daughter Caroline, both of whom had literary connections, may well have been involved in urging Sor to compose this piece.
This new edition is copyright © by Brian Jeffery 2022. Your cooperation is requested in not making illegal copies for other people.
This edition comes from the new 2020 second edition of Sor’s New Complete Works for Guitar edited by Brian Jeffery. The Introduction and Index to the entire series can be seen here on this site.