6 pp. $5.95. Presser Order number 494-02831 (PWYS-94)
Fernando Cruz Cordero was born in Montevideo (Uruguay) in 1822. Like many other Argentine guitarists of his time, Cordero did not pursue music as a profession. He studied law at the University of Buenos Aires, where he obtained his doctorate in 1843. His practice, specializing in criminal law, was among the most renowned of the period. He also embraced freemasonry and was one of the founding members of the Lodge Unión del Plata no. 1, which he joined in 1856 and where he served as Grand Secretary until 1861. From the accounts left by memoir writers we know that he frequented the salons and tertulias of porteño society. In 1851 he travelled to Europe where he frequented guitar circles and became acquainted with several European guitarists of his time, among them José María de Ciebra and Ramón de Cáseres who dedicated some of their compositions to him. Cordero is an enigmatic character, much of whose life remains obscure. He led a successful professional life in Buenos Aires during the controversial government of Juan Manuel de Rosas but left for Europe in 1851, the year before Rosas’ overthrow. In Buenos Aires he appears to have frequented the company of guitarists and intellectuals such as Nicanor Albarellos and Esteban Echeverría, well-known opponents to Rosas’ regime. In 1861 he travelled to Europe again, according to Prat on an “official” mission for the Argentine government. However, no traces of such a mission have been found so far at the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Buenos Aires. He died in Paris during this trip.
Cordero’s Six Divertissements pour la guitare were published in Paris at an unspecified date by the imprimeur L. Parent. The name A. Lafont mentioned in the title page is not that of the publisher, as was once believed, but possibly that of the designer/engraver of the cover. The imprint at the foot of the last page, on the other hand, reads “Paris. L. Parent Grav: Imp: 55 rue Rochechuart.” Cordero, as mentioned before, visited Paris on at least two occasions: between October 1851 and March 1852, and in 1861. It is likely that the Six Divertissements had been composed and published during, or as a result of, his first trip. It is worth noting the dedication to Ciebra on the first of the Six Divertissements, bearing in mind that Ciebra had dedicated one of his compositions to Cordero in 1851. Cordero’s Six Divertissements are an interesting example of the reception of Romanticism by guitar composers towards the mid-nineteenth century. They illustrate the period of transition between the Classical (notably that of Sor and Aguado) and Romantic styles in the guitar repertoire. Three of them bear descriptive or character titles: “Le Départ” (no. 1), “Le Lunatique” (no. 4), and “La Réminiscence” (no. 6), while the remaining three are simply identified by their numbers. The latter are comparatively more traditional and conservative and can easily be related to the work of Sor and Aguado. The re-edition of these works, more than a hundred and fifty years since their original publication, is a valuable contribution towards the recuperation of the guitar literature of the mid-nineteenth century.
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