Michelangelo Sola, Domenico Puccini, Gaetano Marani, Girolamo Crescentini, Ferdinando Garulli
Favorite Arias at the time of Napoleon
The widespread popularity of the guitar in the chambers of the aristocracy did not cease even after the French revolution. The instrument, having acquired the sixth string at the turn of the century (flaunting its “fashionable” form, shaped after the neoclassical lyre), continued to delight social gatherings in the salons of Europe. In this sense, the period of Napoleonic domination highlighted the socio-cultural elements responsible for one of the most fertile moments in the history of the guitar, as the scholar and guitarist McCormick points out in his anthology, Italian Songs: “With the beginnings of European democratization which followed the French Revolution, The Age of Napoleon witnessed an explosion of popular interest in the guitar”. The fashion for the guitar virtually exploded, with celebrated composers and fanatical aficionados all jumping on the bandwagon, as De Marescot tells us a propos of the dispute between the two opposing factions of “Molinists” and “Carullists”, climaxing in an all-out brawl. The episode is also documented in a delightful illustration entitled “La Guitarromanie” . And again: there was the never completely resolved controversy between the young Sor (who sought recognition in Paris) and Carulli (the mature and established maestro), the salient points of which may be found in the Methode pour la guitarre, written by the Spanish guitarist. The repertoires in prints and manuscripts from the first half of the 1800s are a further indication of the enormous popularity enjoyed by the guitar in this period. Its diffusion spread to the grand capitols of Europe—Paris, Vienna and London—thanks above all to the Italian and Spanish players and the Viennese and Parisian publishers.