Ensemble: Various Composers
In this section you will find a colourful collection of compositions for guitar trio and quartet. This page includes some biographical data of the composers, for the scores, refer to the Music page.
Pierre Attaignant was a prominent French music printer and publisher of the Renaissance who was one of the earliest to use single-impression printing. (Earlier printers printed the staff and the notes in separate impressions. This was an expensive method and had definite problems with reference to correct alignment of staff and notes).
Before 1527 Attaignant began using a newly invented movable music type, in which a fragment of a musical staff was combined with a note on each piece of type. He used the new type in a book of chansons, Chansons Nouvelles (1528).
Because Attaignant's single-impression method halved the time and labour formerly needed to print music, it was quickly adopted throughout Europe. Attaignant was the first to use the printing press to achieve mass production in music publishing. In 1537 he became music printer and bookseller to the French king Francis I. His printings represent more than 150 outstanding composers of his day and include chansons, dance collections, masses, motets, psalms, and Passions. His 111 surviving publications are rich in information about early 16th-century music.
Baldassare Donato (1525 – 1603) Donato started as a singer and later became maestro di capello of the San Marco in Venice, a career which was marked by conflicts and even public fights and scandals. He composed religious works in the style of Palestrina and Gabrieli, his secular compositions included a new form, the Villanella (Farmer's Song), which is a light-hearted madrigal with a strong focus on the melody.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) was born in Venice. His father, a barber, helped him with his musical career and presented him with the Cappella di San Marco, where he played himself as a fine violist (some people considered Vivaldi's father a virtuoso).
In 1703, Vivaldi entered priesthood. He soon was called Il Prete Rosso (The Red Priest), presumably because of his red hair. From 1704 he was allowed to stop celebrating the Holy Mass because of his weak health, he suffered from asthma. Instead he became violin teacher in a girl's orphanage in Venice, the famous Pio Ospedale della Pietà. The orphans became very well trained in music and formed a famous ensemble, not only in Italy, but abroad as well. Vivaldi wrote most of his compositions -concertos, cantatas and sacred music- for this ensemble.
In 1705, Vivaldi published the first of his music collections, and many more would follow. Meanwhile he did the musical management of the Pio Ospedale, organizing concert tours and other musical activities.
Vivaldi was a quit prolific composer, writing over 700 works for orchestra and other ensembles. His works were quite innovative in his time, and well known amongst his fellow-composers, bearing in mind that even Bach arranged one of Vivaldi's Violin Concerto's for Church Organ.
After the Baroque era, Vivaldi was virtually forgotten. Quite recently, in the twentieth century his works were rediscovered and published, contributing to the Baroque Boom of our days.
Carl Michael Bellman
The Swedish poet and singer Carl Michael Bellman (1740 - 1795) was a contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Already in his childhood Bellman showed a remarkable talent for singing and presentation. As an adult he sang everywhere, from the Royal Court in Kungliga Slottet in Stockholm till the salons, pubs and brothels in the same city. That’s a bit of a parallel with Mozart indeed!
He wrote about 1700 poems and songs. Many of them were about the daily life with for this era daring lyrics about booze, erotica, death and life’s wisdom. He often presented his songs in a tragical-comical or even parodic way.
Bellman accompanied himself on a Centrina - a kind of eleven string lute - and caught all kinds of catchy tunes for his songs. He did not compose himself, but he had a perfect sense for the right melody with his songs and a lot of friends who could help him with the music.
Thus, many of his songs are set to popular melodies from his time. These melodies are part of Sweden’s cultural heritage and even popular in our days! The songs are simple yet catchy. The Dutch singer Cornelis Vreeswijk (1937 - 1987) who was quite popular in Sweden recorded a few of Bellman’s songs.
Bellman’s songs are mainly passed down in two collections, Fredman’s Epistles (1790) and Fredman’s Songs (1791). The clockmaker Fredman was one of the main characters from his songs.
Léo Delibes (1836 - 1891) was a French composer from the Romantic era who became known mainly because of his operas, operettas and ballet music.
Andrew Forrest has a remarkable career as a guitarist and arranger. In his childhood he played piano and clarinet until he got in touch with the guitar because his father started playing this instrument. He did not follow a formal music study at a Conservatory, but developed himself as a skilled amateur and autodidact, for both playing and arranging music.
When he found a job as ambulant guitar teacher, he discovered his passion for teaching and leading large ensembles. He made more than 100 arrangements for all kinds of guitar ensembles that include other instruments as well. His material is available for free from his web site.
Currently he is a member of the York Guitar Quartet.