François de Fossa:
Duo Concertant, Op. 16
Ouverture pour l'Opéra du Barbier de Seville par D. Ramon Carnicer
for Piano and Guitar
20 + 8 pp., $9.95, Presser Order number 494-02944 (EICM-46)
Ramon Carnicer i Battle (1789-1855) was a Catalan composer and opera conductor. As was common during the early nineteenth century, he often wrote arias and overtures to operas he conducted. In spite of a fairly prolific composing career, Carnicer is best known today as the composer of this overture to a Rossini opera, as well as the composer of the Chilean national anthem. Rossini’s famous opera The Barber of Seville was presented in Barcelona on July 10, 1818. Rossini used the famous overture to that opera several times before in other operas of his, the best known of which was his 1815 opera Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra. Since Elisabetta was performed in Barcelona a short time before The Barber of Seville presentation, Carnicer decided to write a new overture to Rossini’s opera so as not to repeat a well-known overture. Already during the composer’s life time, and for many years after his death, this overture enjoyed numerous arrangements for solo guitar.
The current arrangement for piano and guitar by François de Fossa, was published in Paris in 1827. As the title page tells us, this arrangement was made under the eyes and according to the composer’s intentions, that is to say, in very close collaboration between composer and arranger. Under such circumstances, the composer becomes in fact a co-arranger of his own music. As we know, as a French military officer, de Fossa took part in the 1823 campaign of the Duc d’Angoulême in Catalonia. At the end of this campaign, he was promoted to the rank of Chef de Bataillon, transferred to the 23rd regiment of the line, and remained in Spain as commander of the garrison at Molins-del-Rey. He remained in this post from April 20, 1823 until January 19, 1825. Molins-del-Rey is about 11 miles distance from the center of Barcelona, which would have given de Fossa ample opportunities to visit the city regularly, fully participate in it’s social and artistic life and maintain a close working relationship with one of the leading musicians of that city, the conductor of the local opera house, Ramon Carnicer. The resulting arrangement from this collaboration, give us a truly concertante duo, where both parts are able to display a dazzling virtuosity with fairly undemanding technical prerequisites.
François de Fossa was born in Perpignan on August 31st 1775 and died in Paris on June 3rd 1849. He was one of the most influential composers for the guitar, an influence which was reflected in his close personal relationships with many well known guitarists of the early nineteenth century, and in particular, with Dionisio Aguado. It is thanks to de Fossa that the guitar quintets of Luigi Boccherini, perhaps the basis of the repertoire for chamber music with guitar, were preserved and are available to us today.
Front cover illustration is a water color by François de Fossa (1861-1935?), the composer’s grandson.
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