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Thread: Mozart and the guitar.

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    Default Mozart and the guitar.

    I listen to Baroque music, lute, and classical guitar music. Lots of things have been transcribed for guitar, including Mozart, but I have a question.
    Why did Mozart not write for lute or guitar?
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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    Senior Member Leporello87's Avatar
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    Most likely, there were a lack of good guitarists in Bonn in the 1770's and 1780's, so Andrea Luchesi had no occasion to write pieces for the guitar which he could send to Mozart. Thus, in turn, there are no works by Mozart for the guitar.

    I'm not sure why he didn't, although there are small bits in operas where a guitar is simulated. Also, the canzonetta "Deh vieni alla finestra" from Don Giovanni, KV 527, uses a mandolin. Not quite the same, but similar.

    EDIT: Right after posting, I also remembered a couple Mozart lieder that use it too, such as "Komm, liebe Zither, komm", KV 351.

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    Senior Member Saturnus's Avatar
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    Well, the modern guitar wasn't invented untill the 20th century, untill then he hadn't enough volume to stand the competition of the violin, piano and the other classical isntruments. And the lute did not evolute to keep up with the greater demands of volume.

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information, Leporello87.
    Saturnus, thanks for your input too. The modern guitar's a bit older than 1900, and there were guitar-like instruments and lutes around in Mozart's time. Much fine music was written for the lute before then. It would never have had to compete for volume with the fortepiano anyway, and it could have held its own in quintets or as continuo.
    We have the beginnings of an answer so far, but I expect there's more.
    Perhaps I'd better focus the question better: why did Mozart choose not to write pieces or parts for the lute?
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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    Senior Member Morigan's Avatar
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    Were these instruments popular in the Classical era? It seems many Baroque composers wrote for them, and then they disappeared in the 1750... Except for all those 2nd rate spanish composers.

    I found that I like lute and mandolin concertos in Baroque music (mostly Vivaldi's) and I'd like to get into classical guitar. Any suggestions?

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    Senior Member Saturnus's Avatar
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    Well, the importance of volume is often underestimated. In the baroque era the volume was really low compared to what we are used to today. But as the music became more public through the classical period volume became important becaue audience grew bigger and outdoor concerts, or concerts in large halls, became very popular.

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    Fair point, Morigan: the lute was less popular after 1750. Mozart reflected that trend. But that still doesn't tell us why.
    Lots of lute music has been transcribed for classical guitar, although possibly more successfully in Bach's case for the 8-string (Galbraith) and the 10-string (Yepes). Presti and Lagoya played Vivaldi's Concerto for mandolin, strings and bass continuo, RV 425, and that's available on "L'Extraordinaire Duo", Decca 465 215-2.
    Please let me know who those "2nd rate Spanish composers" were, and we could have a friendly scrap!
    Saturnus, I think your point is a cogent one, and I'm happy to accept that it's likely to be a significant part of the picture. Thanks.
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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