It was of course the pianoforte that was the instrument of choice of the Romantic composers.  In this video we are going to study the works of a French composer how wrote for guitar in the Romantic era. His name: Napoléon Coste.

The first work that I studied for was the Marche Funèbre et rondeau Op.43.  The Funeral March itself isn’t too difficult to play but the accompanying Rondeau was a piece of technical brilliance that I had never encountered before on the guitar.

Marche funèbre et rondeau (score)

Much of Coste’s work was dedicated to his students or people he knew. The piece “Variations on La cachuca” was dedicated to his student Olive Pauilhé, who would eventually become his wife.  I studied this piece as part of my repertoire in the Second Year and it is less vurtuosic and demands less technical ability to master.

Caprice sur l'air espagnol La Cacucha Op. 13 (score)

Coste achieved some reknown during his life after winning Second Prize in a guitar composition competition. This contest was organized by the Russian nobleman Nikolai de Makaroff, who seemed to be on a quest to find the best guitarists and composers in Europe for  the guitar.

Coste actually submitted five works to this competition. One of the works that wins, the Grande Sérénade, is a suite of musical compositions which is almost symphonic in nature. One of the most beautiful moments is a chorale played on the guitar entitled « choeur des pèlerins » in which the composer lets us imagine a procession of faithfuls singing a hymn.

Sérénade Op. 30 (score)

I decided to study more of Coste’s work and I can say that his compositions are definitely among my favourites for Classical Guitar from that period.

Check out the full video with musical example that I made on the life and works of Napoléon Coste.