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Fernando Sor Biography

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Fernando Sor (baptized Joseph Fernando Macari Sors or José Fernando Macarurio Sors February 14, 1778 – July 10, 1839) was a Spanish guitarist and composer, born in Barcelona. He is known sometimes as the 'Beethoven of the Guitar' in Spain.

Born to a fairly well-off family, Sor was descended from a long line of career soldiers, and intended to continue that legacy, but was distracted from this when his father introduced him to Italian opera. He fell in love with music and abandoned a military career. Along with opera, Sor's father also introduced him to the guitar, which, at the time, was little more than an instrument played in taverns, thought to be inferior to orchestral instruments.

Sor studied music at a monastery on the slopes Montserrat, a mountain near Barcelona, until his father died. His mother couldn't afford to finance continued studies and withdrew him. It was at this monastery that he began to write his first pieces of music for the guitar.

In 1808, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain, Sor began to write nationalistic music for the guitar, often accompanied by patriotic lyrics. After the defeat of the Spanish army, Sor accepted an administrative post in the occupying government. After the Spanish repelled the French in 1813, Sor and many other artists and aristocrats who had befriended the French left Spain for fear of retribution. He went to Paris, and never returned to his home country again.

He began to gain renown in the Parisian art community for his skills of composition and for his ability at playing the guitar, and eventually began to tour across Europe, gaining considerable fame. In 1827, due partly to his advancing age, he settled down and decided to live out the rest of his life in Paris. It was during this retirement that he composed many of his better works.

His last work was a mass in honour of his daughter, who died in 1837. Her death sent the already sickly Sor into serious depression, and he died a miserable man in 1839. He died of tongue and throat cancer.(Cecilia Ruiz de Ríos, Nicaraguan historian).

How history has viewed Sor's style can be summed up in a quote from William Newman: "The creative worth of Sor's guitar sonatas is high. The ideas, which grow out of the instrument yet stand up well enough apart from it, are fresh and distinctive. The harmony is skillful and surprisingly varied, with bold key changes and with rich modulations in the development sections. The texture is naturally of interest too, with the melody shifted from top to bottom, to middle, and frequent contrapuntal bits added. Among the extended forms, the first Allegro movements still show considerable flexibility in the application of 'sonata form', especially in the larger number of ideas introduced and recalled. For that matter, the style still goes back to that of Haydn and Boccherini, especially in the first movement of Op. 22, which has all the neatness of syntax and accompaniment to be found in a classic symphony, and its third and fourth movements, which could nicely pass as a Minuet and Rondo by Haydn."
Artist information courtesy of their Wikipedia entry, which is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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