Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of my article with the same title published in Gendai Guitar, No. 218, May, 1984 in Japanese translation, Gitarre & Laute, No. 3, May, 1984 in German translation, and in Guitar International magazine, June, 1984 in English. I have been prompted to re-examine the issues involved, by the recent publication by Angelo Gilardino of the Guitar Works of Luigi Mozzani in which he makes an impassioned plea for the cause of Mozzani’s innocence in the matter of the plagiarism of his best known piece, Feste Lariane. The main argument in my 1984 article was that Mozzani plagiarized a piece published in 1889 by Luis T. Romero. In the course of updating this article, I have added to it a great deal of new information, some of it unearthed by myself, some of it supplied to me by Charles Duncan and Peter Danner.

Who Did What, And With Which, and to Whom? (Note 1)

By Matanya Ophee

This article deals with the question of plagiarism in guitar literature. The problem, as abhorrent as it may seem to us in this age of enlightenment when “authenticity” in guitar performance is becoming a cause celebre, is a lot more common in our literature than is usually suspected. We cannot possibly imagine today a guitar composer publishing as his own music known as an original work by, let’s say, Takemitsu, Britten, Berio or Henze. Yet, not very long ago, in our lifetime as a matter of fact, the question of ascribing correct authorship of certain “famous” guitar pieces to their rightful composers, was treated with a flagrant disregard of basic decency and a cavalier fashion of ignoring authors’ rights in their own works.

In the early part of the nineteenth century, authorship of tunes was rarely mentioned in publications of guitar arrangements of these tunes. This was a common practice based on the assumption that the general public was well aware that the author of a tune like Nel cor più non mi sento was Paisiello, and not Sor, Giuliani, Carulli, Carcassi and hundreds of other arrangers who used the tune as the basis for their own theme and variations compositions.

Unquestionably, Sor’s op. 16, Variations on Nel Cor Più, is an original composition by Fernando Sor; the tune is not. When a tune has not survived the ravages of time, quite often the arrangement is taken by scholars to be the original composition. (Note 2)

The problem we are dealing with in the present article is different in nature. Late nineteenth century guitarists, quite often, took the work of others, changed it a little bit, and published the result as their own composition. If the original composer had not established a world-wide reputation as the imposter’s, then authorship would be ascribed forever to the imposter, particularly if the usurpation of authorship was condoned by the leading concert performers of the day. Let me tell you a story.

I learned to play the guitar some forty five years ago from Mrs. Esther Bromberger, the leading guitar teacher in Tel-Aviv at the time. Mrs. Bromberger was a student and disciple of Luigi Mozzani, the teacher of such guitar notables as Mario Macafferi, Maria Rita Brondi and many others. (At the time, she still owned one of Mozzani’s monster ten-stringers featured in many recently published photographs of Mario Macafferi in various guitar magazines.) Luigi Mozzani (1869-1943) was one of the leading guitarists in Italy during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early part of the 20th. After running me through the early Carulli-Carcassi preliminaries, Mrs. Bromberger taught me my first real guitar concert piece—the famous Feste Lariane by Mozzani. (Note 3)

Like many other guitarists, I fell in love with the piece and together with the immortal Romance d’Amor, alias Spanish Romance, alias Jeux Interdits, it became an important tool in my attempts to seduce my audiences, large and small. When I came to New York in 1960, I was once invited to a party in the studio of Gregory d’Alessio, then one of the editors of the Guitar Review. Sophocles Papas was there, and Shirley de Wald, Julio Prol, Gustavo Lopez and many other New York guitarists. As in other guitaristic get-togethers, a guitar was soon produced and passed around the room. When it came my turn to play, I thought of nothing better than my all time favorite, my first guitar concert piece—Feste Lariane by Mozzani, and immediately I embarked on exploiting its sweet melody, audacious glissandi and scintillating arpeggios and tremolos. My success, as Makaroff used to describe his own playing (Note 4), was tremendous! When the wild applause died down, (grant me license in a bit of exaggeration!), Sophocles Papas turned to me and said: “You said this is Feste Lariane by Mozzani? That is not so. The tune is called Peruvian Air and it is not by Mozzani.”

A long discussion ensued. I argued, but he insisted that I was wrong, and the matter was never settled. Deep down in my heart, I knew that I was right and that he was wrong. My teacher told me that the piece was by Mozzani and teachers always tell the truth. Right? right! What I did not know then, is that Papas had published the very same piece, with the title Peruvian Air, arranged by himself. (Columbia Music CO-102).

Several years later, I chanced upon a copy of the Carcassi method, an American edition published in Boston by Oliver Ditson and edited by one G.C. Santisteban. Much to my surprise, I found there a work titled Peruvian Air, arranged for two guitars by Santisteban. The first guitar part, was practically identical with my cherished Feste Lariane. (note 5) Ah, ah! I said to myself, arranged from what? From the Mozzani original, of course! There was one little problem though. My teacher told me that Mozzani earned with Feste Lariane the first prize in a competition organized by the Milano based magazine il Plettro in 1906, and my copy of the Carcassi-Santisteban bore the copyright date of 1906. Same year. It seemed to me then, that because the same piece was published on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year, the question of rightful authorship cannot be determined with any accuracy. Santisteban may have arranged the work from another source than Mozzani’s work, and the latter could have used the same source as his “inspiration” for composing Feste Lariane.

In recent years I have become increasingly interested in what is referred to as “historical research.” Not having had to bear the stifling yoke of an academic course of training, I designed my own version of the discipline. Basically, I learnt to do in my work what is now a popular political slogan: I QUESTION AUTHORITY. Some of the questions I ask are contained in the title of this article. I found out on several occasions that teachers sometimes do not tell the truth, that very often they are entirely ignorant, and that other authorities, such as some very famous concert guitarists, do not hesitate to dispense the most outrageous fibs from the pulpit of their concert stage. I also found out that Feste Lariane was not composed by Luigi Mozzani but by someone else.

The first inkling that this may have been so, is contained in the MOZZANI entry in the Prat Diccionario. I translate:

“. . . As a composer Mozzani is not very prolific and as to quality, his main work [obra capital] is Feste Lariane, an air with variations which was premiered in the First Competition organized by the review il Plettro of Milano, and published in its issue No. 18 of the year 1906. It is made up of two sections of eight bars each, which determines one part . . . other Italian guitarists have adopted the work and we have seen it recorded on phonographic records . . . ”

So far, this is about the same story I heard from Mrs. Bromberger. But then—surprise!

“. . . The Antigua Casa Nuñez of Buenos Aires, published a respectable number of forty pieces by the author J. Sancho. The one marked as op. 11 titled Melodía Nocturna and dedicated to the guitarist Romulo Troncoso happens to be the same of which we just spoke. Feste Lariane! The first part is as we described above, and the second part, the only variation, develops in an arpeggio of a reduced tremolo, a bass and two notes. We do not personally know the author called Sancho (cf), neither do we know the “illustrious” with which we deal presently. Mozzani! but it is our duty to indict this “coincidence”. The work in question was published in Buenos Aires in 1905, and that of Mozzani, we repeat, was published in 1906 (Note 6)

The plot thickens! In the SANCHO entry, Prat had some more to say on the subject:

“. . . we have already noted the “coincidence” in which the guitarist Luigi Mozzani received the same “inspiration” as José Sancho, who had published the work titled Melodía Nocturna, and Mozzani’s Feste Lariane was published in the second half of September of 1906 by the review il Plettro of Milano. Sancho sold the piece to the publishing house of Francisco Nuñez on March 23rd 1905. (1) [The footnote says: “date copied off the original bill of sale”.] We give these dates because it is our duty to remind the reader that both authors resided in North America at the same time (Note 7)

Prat insinuates here that Mozzani must have swiped this beauty from Sancho while both were living in the U.S.A., and completely disregards the possibility that the opposite may have well been the case.

One of the salient features of Prat’s Diccionario is his consistent espousal of partisan views, and his indignation and disapproval of his contemporaries that were often marked by a transparent attempt at self-aggrandizing at the expense of his real and imagined opponents. Before we can accept Prat’s veiled accusations, we have to verify his facts. Assuming that his data about the respective publication dates is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him, let us find out if his dutiful “reminder” that both Mozzani and Sancho were in the States at the same time can be corroborated by other sources.

According to Romolo Ferrari, Luigi Mozzani went to America at the inducement of a dishonest concert promoter who hired him as an oboe player, but soon left him to fend for himself. He supported himself as a guitar teacher and as player in a banjo trio. With the worsening of economic conditions in the States at the onset of the Spanish-American War in 1898 Mozzani decided to return to Italy. Ferrari states that Mozzani stayed in America for a little over two years, which means that he came there sometime in 1895-96. (Note 8)

As for Sancho: his name appears in a catalogue of guitar and mandolin compositions published by Broder & Schlam in San Francisco. This catalogue is printed on the back cover of several guitar works published by this California publishing house and bear copyright dates of 1889 through 1896. Another American edition by Sancho was his Susanita Polka, issued by Hugo V. Schlam, New York, with a copyright date of 1900. (Note 9) As was customary at the time, the work was issued simultaneously for mandolin solo, mandolin and guitar, mandolin and piano, mandolin guitar and piano, 2 mandolins, 2 mandolins and guitar, 2 mandolins and piano and, believe it or not, 2 mandolins, guitar and piano which is the version I happen to own. The cover even contains a photograph of our composer. Here it is:

Sancho also published several mandolin and guitar pieces with the Boston publisher Jean White. I have his Serenata Espanola. La Sevillana for 2 mandolins and guitar, with a copyright date of 1895. During the nineteenth century it was not common for a publisher to issue works of a composer who resides in a different continent, unless the composer was a personality with universal reputation. American publishers did in fact issue many works by Carulli, Carcassi, Küffner etc, but in the case of lesser luminaries of European extraction, the person had to establish a local reputation in America before a publisher would invest in him. A good example of this is the American publication of several works by Marco Aurelio Zani de Ferranti, issued by the New York publisher Ernst in 1848, during the course of Zani de Ferranti’s American tour which he undertook together with Paganini’s protégé Camillo Sivori. Once Zani de Ferranti left the United States and went back to Europe, there were no more American editions of his music. Thus, the majority of guitarists whose work was published in America, were either local born, or immigrants who established themselves on a permanent basis. One does not find American guitar publications of the nineteenth century of minor, little known Europeans who have remained in Europe (Note 10) In order to have his music published in the United States José Sancho would have had to be there, and to be personally known to the sheet-music buying public.

According to Prat, José Sancho was born in the province of Valencia in Spain. He was one of the leading members of the Estudiantina Figaro which was directed by Domingo Granados and later by Carlos García Tolsa. (Note 11) The Estudiantina Figaro was formed in 1879. (Note 12) It toured widely in Spain and Europe, and according to P.J. Bone, also toured South America and the U.S.A. where it was dissolved in 1904. On its dissolution, Sancho made his way to Buenos Aires, (Note 13) where, as we already were told by Prat, he published forty pieces of guitar music. Prat also reports that 15 compositions by Sancho were issued by the Parisian publisher Jacques Pisa who was active in the French capital from 1895 to 1904. I have in my collection several Pisa editions, mainly by guitarists such as David del Castilio, Luigi Mozzani, August Zurfluh and Alfred Cottin. I rather doubt he also published Sancho. In about 1901-1902, Jacques Pisa, like many other guitar publishers and individual guitarists active then, donated many of his publications to the library of the Internationaler Guitarristen Verband, also known as the Internationaler Gitarristische Vereinigung. The 1905 catalogue of that organization, (see note 15 below,) does not contain any works by Sancho. Most probably Prat confused Pisa with another Parisian publisher who did in fact issue 12 (not 15) pieces by Sancho. This was a

Recueil Guitares Solo / 12 morceaux / par / J. Sancho / 2 francs net / Paris, Louis Elleaume, Editeur de Musique / 12, Boulevard Voltaire, 12. Pl. nr. E.L. 704 [Copy in my collection, datable to 1900. See Lesure.]

This latter publication may lead us to think that in 1900, Sancho was actually in Paris, and not in the United States. That is a question which would need further research to be answered properly. Either way, Prat’s contention that Sancho and Mozzani were in the United States at the same time is fairly well supported by the available evidence. They may have even resided in France at about the same time, dealing with some of the same publishers. Did they know each other? Was there any possibility the one would have access to a composition by the other? perhaps. But so far, I have not found any evidence to establish that.

Peter Danner, a leading authority on the guitar in America, forwarded recently a reference from Cadenza magazine, Dec. 1903 issue, p.18., that confirms that Mozzani was in the United States around the time Prat says he was.

From an article by J.G. Schroeder, “A European Trip in Search of Old Violins”:

“Here [Bologna] I had the pleasure of meeting my former guitar teacher, Mr. Luigi Mozzani, who is also well known through the country. It was certainly a pleasure for me to hear him play the guitar, as he has improved at least a hundred per cent, since I last heard him in New York a few years ago.”

Most likely, both Mozzani and Sancho had access to a composition that looks like Feste Lariane or the Melodía Nocturna and written by someone else. This someone else could have been a Spanish born guitarist named Luis T. Romero (1853-1893) who published in 1889 a composition titled Peruvian Air, Melodia Española, issued by Oliver Ditson of Boston. Here is this composition, currently in my private collection, and also in the Vahdah Olcott-Bickfrod Collection at the California State University at Northridge: (Note 14)

(To view the full size pages, click on the thumbnails below.)

One does not need to make a detailed analysis and comparison of this work with Mozzani’s Feste Lariane to realize that we are dealing with one and the same piece. Mozzani’s variations are a bit more elaborate, but there is no question that the basic theme, harmonic development and rhythmic structure of both pieces are too similar in nature to have happened simultaneously by two different authors. The additional variation and the use of a three finger tremolo by Mozzani instead of the original two-finger variety, is akin to re-writes of chord studies by Carcassi and Carulli in different arpeggio patterns and examples of this are too numerous in the literature. Every teacher prescribed such variations at one time or another to his or her students.

It is noteworthy that Romero did NOT claim authorship and clearly stated that his version is an arrangement. From Mozzani’s? Not likely. Romero died three years before Mozzani’s arrival in the States, and thirteen years before Mozzani’s glorious coronation as the laureate of the 1906 “Il Plettro” competition and the subsequent publication of Feste Lariane. One also notes that during his stay in Paris in the early years of the century, Luigi Mozzani donated some works to the library of the Internationaler Guitarristen Verband in Munich. The catalogue of that organization, published in 1905 in Der Guitarrefreund, does not contain Feste Lariane in the list of publications received from Mozzani. (Note 15)

In other words, we have no choice but to conclude that there is no way Luigi Mozzani could have been the original composer of the piece called by him Feste Lariane.

It still remains to be established whether the original composer was Romero or Sancho, or perhaps someone else altogether. The tune itself may well be a popular Spanish melody or a Peruvian Air (I wish Romero had made up his mind one way or the other!), or it could well be of a different national provenance as claimed by either Romero or Mozzani. (Note 16)

A short time after the publication of this article in 1984, I received an inquiry from Charles Duncan, asking me if I knew more details, over and above those I mentioned in the article. The reason for his inquiry was that he planned to include the piece in one of his many anthologies and he was not quite sure who the original author was. His source was an early twentieth century German publication, edited by Erwin Schwartz-Reiflingen where the piece was attributed to Sancho. Obviously, Duncan knew about the piece some details of which I was ignorant. He even knew what was the meaning of the title Peruvian Air. This is what he wrote me then, published here with his permission:

October 16, 1984
“. . . here’s a theory to explain the odd double title of Romero’s version.
As anyone can plainly hear, there’s nothing at all Peruvian about the tune. For that matter, there’s nothing particularly Spanish about it either, but it is certainly not Un-Spanish either. Whoever wrote it grew up on Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, etc., and not altiplano music. It is justifiably a Spanish song because it is played on the “Spanish” guitar (i.e., the familiar nineteenth century way of referring to the instrument [In the United States]). And whether Romero or Sancho or some other Hispanic person wrote it, it is probably “Spanish” in that sense too. But why Peruvian? Here’s the answer.
In the mid-1880’s, cocaine was introduced to America and within a very few years it had become the basis of numerous pain-killers, cough syrups, elixirs, tonics, and soft drinks—Coca Cola being of course the prime example of the latter; cokes were referred to as “dopes” in my father’s boyhood because they still had a smidge of cocaine in them (talk about the pause that refreshes!) In fact, the late 1880s saw a wave of cocaine addiction that makes today’s fashionable use seem rather tame by comparison. By the 1890s, a reaction set in as the harmful effects of the drug became more widely perceived, and by the l900s it was off the market. But for a few years in the late ’80s coke was IT.
The source of much, if not most, of the cocaine imported was Peru. And thus, elixir after elixir were named things like “Peruvian Cough Remedy,” “Peruvian Elixir of Life,” and so on to clearly imply the narcotic content — we must assume of course that people bought these feel-good products to get high. By extension, Peru took on for a time in the popular imagination an exotic aura. I had been vaguely aware of the “Peruvian connection,” but the May [1984] issue of Life magazine I just happened to look at in a dentist’s office a couple of months ago really nailed it down. There, for all to see, are the labels, the decorated bottles, the quaint advertisements, that proclaim time and again the Peruvian mystique. And that, I bet you, is why, in 1889, Romero tacked on the title “Peruvian Air”—namely, to help sell copies by plugging into the vogue!”

Another addition to my knowledge of the subject, was provided by Peter Danner in a letter back then. Having misplaced the letter in my files, I asked Peter if he still recalled the essence of it. This is what he sent me by E-Mail, reproduced here with his permission:

Yes, I do remember us having correspondence about “Peruvian Air” some ten years ago. At that time I was not familiar with Mozzani’s “Feste Lariane,” but did know of the Romero edition and another one by Papas that appears in an early Columbia edition “Five Solos” (CO 102). The Romero and Papas are practically identical. Papas does not credit Romero . . . The Papas says: “Peruvian Air” Arr. by Sophocles T. Papas” . . . “Feste Lariane” appeared in Il Plettro (1906) and adds an arpeggio variation between the theme and the tremolo . . . Sometime in the mid-70s, when I was putting that American anthology together, I attended a meeting of the American Guitar Society on the Northridge campus. After it was over, Ron [Purcell, director of the American Guitar Society and curator of the VOB Collection in Northridge] and I had a long talk with Vahdah [Olcott-Bickford] about “the early days.” She really seemed to open up and had lots to say. She talked to us for over an hour. Ron and I were sorry we didn’t have a tape recorder at hand. Vahdah was talking about Ferrer and said that when Romero moved to Boston he took a lot of Ferrer’s music with him and published it under his own name. Specifically mentioned were “Peruvian Air” and “Fantasie Americaine.” Vahdah had nothing good to say about Romero, because of this alleged plagiarism. It’s hear-say, of course, but straight from the horse’s mouth. Ferrer was unlikely to have ever published a version of “Peruvian Air,” but a manuscript copy may still be in the Bickford archive. On the other hand, if Vahdah was right, Romero would have lifted the manuscript and taken it with him to Boston.

In other words, the sequence of events most likely to have happened is this: Manuel Y. Ferrer (1828-1904) wrote the music, in whatever title he may have given it. Somehow it ended up in the hands of Luis T. Romero who gave it the curious title Peruvian Air-Melodía Española and published it in 1889. It was still in circulation several years later when both José Sancho and Luigi Mozzani came to the United States. in 1905 Sancho republished the piece in Argentina as his Melodía Nocturna, and a year later, Luigi Mozzani submitted it to the il Plettro competition as his own composition, now titled Feste Lariane. It was also arrogated by C.C. Santisteban who arranged it for two guitars and published without credit to his source in the same year as Mozzani. It then took on another metamorphosis as an arrangement of the Sancho version by Erwin Schwartz-Reiflingen. I have not seen this version directly, but Charles Duncan sent me a xerox copy of it, stating that it was published in Volume 3 of Spanish Guitar Music, edited by Schwartz-Reiflingen and published by Verlag F.E.C. Leuckart in Leipzig. According to Prat’s description, the Sancho Melodía Nocturna seems to have been identical to Romero’s. It was, and still is. The Antigua Casa Nuñz is still in business at Sarmiento 1573, Buenos Aires, and it still carries the work in its catalogue. As a matter of fact, I bought a copy of it in their shop in Buenos Aires, last year. Here is the first page:

(To view the full size page, please click on the thumbnail below.)

With the exception of the three-finger tremolo suggestion at the beginning of the variation, the entire work is almost identical with the Romero version. It is interesting to note that the title page of the copy I have, states that this is the 33rd edition of the work. In other words, it may have been in print ever since it was first published in Argentina in 1905. Carmelo Rizzuti who did the revision and fingering for the present version was a leading student of Domingo Prat’s and the dedicatee of several works by him. Most probably, the three-finger tremolo suggestion belongs to Rizzuti, not to Sancho.

Schwartz-Reiflingen’s version, titled Spanisches Lied, is modified to portray a more elaborate harmony and voice-leading. There is an additional arpeggio variation between the theme and the tremolo, which is now configured as a a.m.i.m sequence, beginning on the beat. There is a third variation in repeated chords and a pompous sounding Coda in the best traditions of German kitsch. The tune even made its way into the 1930s hit-parade in the Soviet Union where it became a hit song popularized with the lyrics U Samovara, Ia i Moia Masha by Leonid Utiosov. Sophocles Papas, it appears, repeated the operation once again, publishing it some 60 years later, without a clear reference to the origin of the piece.

Contrary to Prat’s accusations, there is nothing in our knowledge to suggest that Mozzani actually knew of the Sancho publication. He did not need to know this, as he must have seen the Romero edition during his lengthy stay in the United States. It does not matter if a copy of it was ever in his possession or not. He could have well memorized it. He took the piece, either in printed form, a hand-written copy or simply in his memory back to Italy, “improved” it a little bit and published it as his own. That is unmistakably a blatant case of plagiarism. Case closed.


For the time being this small example serves to demonstrate one simple point: authorship of many established pieces repertoire of the guitar, particularly those pieces that became enshrined in our tradition during the early years of the twentieth century, needs to be constantly questioned. I already pointed out in my article on François de Fossa in Soundboard VIII/4 (Note 17) that the famous Campanelas study by Tárrega, is really the second variation of de Fossa’s Fantasy on Les Folies d’Espagne his op. 12, which was published in the second Spanish of Aguado’s Escuela in 1826. It is frustrating to note that even though this mis-attribution was carefully documented and published in 1981, at least two anthologies of Tárrega’s music appeared since then (1984! There have been a few more such editions since 1984) with the false attribution still there. How much of Tárrega’s output is really by Tárrega? in the TARREGA entry in his Diccionario, Prat states that only 25 compositions and nine studies can be authenticated as pure Tárrega. (Note 18) . Pujol’s catalogue contains 78. (Note 19) The authorship of Tárrega “masterpieces” such Jota Aragonesa can be clearly traced to people like Julián Arcas and Tomás Damás, and his variations on The Carnival of Venice are clearly derived from other variations on the same theme by Mertz, Zani de Ferranti, Carcassi, Makaroff, and countless others. Perhaps the most flagrant rip-off by Tárrega, is his religious pastiche called Oremus (Let us pray) written some days before he died. There are legends circulating in Spanish guitar circles that he wrote the piece as a self-obituary, since he knew then that he will die soon. The only problem with the legend, is that Oremus is not an original composition at all, but rather an arrangement of Robert Schumann’s Phantasietanz, No. 5 from Albumblätter, Op. 124 of 1836. That bit of information was already published in 1955 (No. 26, August-September, page 18) in an apologetic article by Miguel Ablóniz in the English magazine Guitar News. How many new editions of Oremus appeared in print since 1955, still attributed to Tárrega? I haven’t counted them all, but I do know of a few.

This is by no means the entire list of mis-attributions. How sad to see, so many years after the death of Tárrega and Mozzani and their ilk, an original composition by Johann Jacob Froberger (1616-1667), published in 1974 as a Giga melancholica by Manuel Ponce, subtitled “In the style of Robert de Visée”’ (Note 20) and two years later, in 1976, the same piece published by Andrés Segovia as an original composition of his own, with the same title: Giga Melancholica. (Note 21) ) Even sadder is to observe that although the matter was discussed in detail by several people in the pages of Soundboard shortly after the appearance of the Segovia piece, we have yet to see anything by him denying responsibility for this. John Duarte’s correct attribution of the Giga Melancholica to Froberger is a small step in the right direction, (Note 22) though one wishes the opportunity was taken to enable Segovia himself to disown the publication of the piece as his. It is still in print in 1996!

One does not wish to fish in the back-waters of guitar history for the sole purpose of stirring mud. It is the responsibility of every performer, educator and writer to ensure that the younger generation gets a true picture of the history of the instrument we wish to entrust in their hands. It is important to tell them precisely if a given piece was written by Ponce, Robert de Visée, Andrés Segovia, or by Johann Jacob Froberger three hundred years ago. Guitar history deals with everything that happened before yesterday. It is imperative to clarify its nebulous areas NOW, while there is still time, and while we still have access to many documents and to the memory of many living people.

One of the better known cases of mis-attribution, is the famous Suite in A, recorded by Segovia as a Weiss original, and in recent times, claimed by several writers to be an original work of Ponce. One would have hoped that Corazón Otero’s book on Ponce would settle the question beyond any shadow of a possible doubt. (Note 23) I am afraid that it did not. I read in that book some unsubstantiated statements by Otero, some vague allusions by Segovia in his letters to Ponce, but Ponce himself does not say clearly: “Yes! I am the original author of this one!” He is curiously silent on the subject. Even if there is in existence an original manuscript of this work in the hand of Ponce, we still need a proof that this is not another re-working of a work by Froberger, Buxtehude, Graupner, Telemann etc, in the same manner of Ponce’s re-working of the Grande Sonata by Paganini.

In conclusion, let me say that if we hope to elevate the guitar and its culture to the level of credibility enjoyed by other instruments, we need to stop our Sacred Cows in their tracks, and to debunk mythologies perpetrated by earlier guitarists in the course of their own self-serving promotional hype. We need to ask questions. If the answers will be forthcoming, then we will be grateful. If they are not forthcoming, we shall find them ourselves.

End Notes

1. The title, in case you wondered, is not of my own invention. It is a paraphraseof the punch line of this well-known limerick:

A Lesbian girl from Khartoum,
Took a fairy-boy into her room.
As she switched off the light,
She said: “Let’s get this right,
Who does what, and with which, and to whom?”
Return to text

2. See in this regard: Matanya Ophee, “Who Wrote La Sentinelle?”, article in Soundboard, Cypress, California, May 1981, Vol. VIII, No. 2 p. 75. Return to text

3. Modena, Berben, No. EB1097. Feste Lariane was the subject of an article in Gendai Guitar. Vol. 211, Oct. 1983 p. 63. Not being able to read Japanese, I do not know if some of the material covered in the present article was or was not discussed there. Return to text

4. see: “The Memoirs of Makaroff,” partial translation of his “Zadushevnaia Ispoved,” in Guitar Review, No. 5, New York 1947. p. 111. Originally published in Sovremenik, St. Petersburg, 1859. Return to text

5. Carcassi Method for the Guitar, English and Spanish Text. G.C. Santisteban. Oliver Ditson Company Copyright MCMVI. Reprinted by The Theodore Presser Company, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. p. 108.

The April 1909 Cadenza magazine identifies Santisteban as follows:

“Mr. G.C. Santisteban, the celebrated guitarist of Alameda, Cal., has achieved a well-defined success in several branches of his chosen profession. As leader of the Pan-American Quartette he has done much to make that organization famous, as a soloist he is acknowledged to be the most artistic performer, and a guitar folio he has recently written stamps him as a composer and arranger of exceptional ability.”

I am indebted to Peter Danner for this reference. Return to text

6. Domingo Prat Marsal, Diccionario Biografíco-BibliografícoHistorico-Critico de Guitarras, Guitarristas, Guitarreros. Buenos Aires, Romero y Fernandez, 1934. p. 218. Reprint: Editions Orphée, Columbus, 1986. Return to text

7. Prat, Diccionario, p. 281. Return to text

8. Romolo Ferrari, “La vita e le opere de Mozzani”, article in L’Arte Chitarristica, Modena, Berben, June 1947. No. 3 p. 5. Return to text

9. Copies in my private collection. Return to text

10. For further information on this subject see: Peter Danner, The Guitar in America, Melville NY, Belwin Mills 1978. No. EL 2638. Return to text

11. García Tolsa was, according to Prat, the author of a composition published by Tárrega as his own, the Tango, No. 5232 in the Ildefonso Alier series, Pujol No. 74. Prat does say that the real author was neither Tárrega nor Tolsa, but perhaps Yradier of La Paloma fame. Return to text

12. Information supplied by Prat who is quoting Saldoni’s Diccionario de Efemérides, Vol. IV p. 130. Return to text

13. Philip J. Bone, The Guitar and Mandolin, London, 1954. 2nd edition. There is no Sancho entry in the 1914 1st edition of Bone. Return to text

14. See: Guitar Music Collection of Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, Volume I. California State University, Northridge, 1991. VOB Nos. 2161 & 2152. I also own two different issues of the same plates, which tends to indicate that the work was reprinted, perhaps more than once. Return to text

15. Archiv-Katalog des Internationaler Guitarristen-Verbandes, Herausgegeben von der Redaktion des Verbandsorgan “Der Guitarrefreund” als Nr. III, VI. Jahrgang 1905. Return to text

16. A similar case is to be observed in the tune we always associate with Spain, the inimitable Romance d’Amor alias Jeux Interdits. The tune is neither Spanish nor written or authored by a Spaniard. It is a commonly known old Ukrainian folk song. Return to text

17. Op. cit p. 334 Return to text

18. Prat, Diccionario, p. 316. Return to text

19. Emilio Pujol, Tárrega, Ensayo Biografíco, Lisbon 1960, p. 259. Return to text

20. Columbia Music Co., Washington DC No. CO 199. Return to text

21. Belwin Mills, Melville, NY, No. SI 109. Return to text

22. In notes to: Andrés Segovia, The EMI Recordings 1927-39. Angel records, No. ZB-3896. Return to text

23. Corazón Otero, Manuel M. Ponce y la Guitarra,Mexico City, Ediciones Fonapas, 1981. English translation by John D. Roberts, Shaftesbury, Dorset, Musical New Services Ltd. 1993. Since the first publication of the present article in 1984, I published the entire set of letters written by Segovia to Ponce. The correspondence, presented without the obsequious editorializing of Ms. Otero, does in fact throw a bit more light on the subject, but I am afraid it still does not clarify the matter with absolute certainty. The Segovia-Ponce Letters, edited by Miguel Alcázar (original Spanish language text) with an English translation by Peter Segal, Columbus, Editions Orphée, 1989. Return to text

24. Ancona, Edizioni Bèrben, 1995. Edition Nos. E. 3750 B. and E. 3800 B. respectfully. Return to text

Copyright © 1996 by Editions Orphée, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


G.A.L.I. Table of contents


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