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date: 12 April 2021

Carcassi, Matteo locked

  • Paul Sparks


(b Florence, 1792; d Paris, Jan 16, 1853). Italian guitarist and composer, active in France. His virtuoso technique gained him an enthusiastic following among wealthy Parisians, and created a voracious market for his solo guitar compositions. Many of these were fantasias and sets of variations (often based on melodies from operas by Auber, Herold or Rossini) which, although musically straightforward, are well constructed and lie comfortably beneath the fingers. They generally sound far more technically complex than they really are, hence their long-standing popularity with amateur guitarists.

While Carcassi's works for guitar never attained the depth and structural complexity of those by Sor or Giuliani, many of his studies (especially those contained in his 25 études, op.60) remain popular with student guitarists. His three-part Méthode complète pour la guitare, op.59 (Paris, 1836), which he intended to ‘give in the clearest, simplest, and most precise manner, a profound knowledge of all the resources of this instrument’ is one of the most important 19th-century guitar tutors, and still widely used today. About 80 of Carcassi's compositions were published with opus numbers, mostly by Meissonier in Paris. His unnumbered works exceed that total, and still await definitive cataloguing....

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