Music for the Guitar and the Swedish Lute
in the Collection of Kenneth Sparr
The collection consists mainly of works for the guitar published or written before c. 1900. There are also a few works with other instrumentation and the reason for including them is that their composers also composed for the guitar or have some other connection with the guitar. The collection has been built during the last 30 years and the works are acquired from many different sources: antiquarian book sellers from all over the world, junk shops, markets, private persons, through the Internet etc. An important acquisition was the collection of music from the Skottorp castle in Halland, Sweden, which contained more than 50 early prints for the guitar. This acquisition also was an inspiration to continue the search for old prints and manuscripts for the guitar. However, the main objective has been to collect Swedish prints and manuscripts, but these are scarce. In fact it is easier to get hold of first editions of Fernando Sor's works than many of the early Swedish prints!
After collecting for some years one may conclude that early printed works for the guitar now are quite rare and seldom found in antiquarian bookseller's catalogues, not even with the more specialised dealers of antiquarian music. Many guitar works were printed in small editions and as the guitar went out of fashion the music for it fell into oblivion. Much of it was probably thrown away during the second part of the 19th century. The printed music for the guitar also seldom found its way to the libraries and it is mainly due to devoted collectors that so much of this music still is preserved. Some of these collections have later been entrusted to libraries and thereby have been made available for the general public (Rischel and Birket Smith's collection in the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Vahdah Olcott Bickford's in Califonia State University in Los Angeles, Boije af Gennäs’ and Daniel Fryklund's in the Music and Theatre Library of Sweden in Stockholm, Robert Spencer's in the library of the Royal Academy of Music in London).
The earliest work in my collection dates from c. 1760, a small book containing erotic songs with accompaniment for the five-course guitar. A peculiar fact is that this, the oldest item in the collection, was acquired using the most modern technique: it was found through the Internet in California! A strong part of the collection is French songs to guitar accompaniment from the second half of the 18th century (more than 40 recueils) and the first quarter of the 19th century as well as the Swedish prints and manuscripts. The collection is also fairly strong concerning guitar methods. You can find prints from many countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, United States etc. Some of the works have travelled a lot. Just to mention one example: Molino's Método completo was printed in Paris in the 1820s, later sold in Cuba and finally landed in Sweden in the 1990s after having passed the United States! The collection is continually enriched with interesting and rare material: Trille La Barre's guitar method, an unknown edition of the Carulli method, the earliest English method for the six-string guitar, a Ventura collection for the Spanish guitar probably dating from 1813-1814 and many Belgian guitar prints from the period 1820-1840.
I've tried to give a full description of each item and I've also tried to date the works using different sources of information. However, the dates should be viewed with caution and seen merely as suggestions. I welcome any corrections of the dates! I will update the catalogue of the collection as soon as new works or new information is added. I cannot provide photocopies of works in the collection except for serious and clearly specified research purposes. I'm always interested to get in touch with other collectors within the same area of interest.
The picture at the beginning of this page is from Cognizioni Elementari Teorico - Pratiche di Musica e di Chitarra Francese. Compilate Con nuovo ed utilissimo Metodo Da I.M.C. Accademico Professore delle Beller Arti. Firenze 1816. Giuseppe Frilli incise. / Fatto a tutte Spese di Zanobi Piccardi, Vendesi alla Cartoleria della Briglia nella Condotta, e alla di Lui abirtazione in Via Portarossa No. 1026. With a handwritten notation: Per uso di me Antonio etc [?] Mosconi / 1817. From a copy in my collection.
© Kenneth Sparr