François de Fossa: Cinquième Fantaisie
sur l’air Des Folies d’Espagne, Op. 12

8 pp., $6.95, Presser Order number 494-02873 (PWYS-15c)

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fossa-12.jpgUntil the beginning of the 1980s, the figure of François de Fossa was mainly known by his relationship with Dionisio Aguado, a relationship that included de Fossa’s collaboration in producing the two Parisian editions of the Aguado Escuela, and the complete translation of one of them into French. The situation changed radically in 1981 with the publication by Editions Orphée of a monograph which not only revealed very interesting and decisive factors in regard to the guitar quintets of Luigi Boccherini, but also included an important biographical study and a checklist of the known compositions of François de Fossa. Several works by de Fossa were published in later years, among which were works for two guitars, trios, quartets, an anthology of selected works for guitar solo published in 1990. De Fossa’s Cinquième Fantaisie sur l’air Des Folies d’Espagne, his Op. 12, was part of that anthology. The current edition of it was engraved anew, and completely edited and fingered. The theme of Les Folies d’Espagne needs no introduction. As a dance form, and a particular chord sequence, it followed the evolution of the guitar from its earliest times. In the latter half of the eighteenth century, the theme was used in many guitar tutors as a vehicle for teaching right-hand arpeggios, appearing with a large number of variations, each in different r.h. formulæ. The practice continued well into the nineteenth century and one can find it in the works of Baillon, B.C.D., Doisy, Carulli, and many other. The variations on the theme by Sor and Giuliani are very well-known today as examples of concert level compositions, not specifically intended for didactical purposes. The present work of de Fossa’s gives us a fresh insight into the technical possibilities of the guitar, far ahead of its time. Having spent a good part of his youth in Spain and Mexico, de Fossa must have maintained fond memories of Spanish culture all his life. This fantasia on one of the better known instantiations of things Spanish follows, at least chronologically, de Fossa’s previous work in the fantasia form, his Op. 11, the Quatrième Fantaisie, Les adieux à l’Espagne, which was dedicated to his Spanish friend and colleague Dionisio Aguado. Being of Catalan descent himself, de Fossa took special pains to commemorate his ethnic origins, however surreptitiously, by adding to the set of these very Spanish variations, a Coda which is a typical sardana, the national dance of Catalonia.

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. It was published as an illustration to an article titled “Le Marechal aux Champs” (l’Illustration, 20/11/1926, N° 4368) describing the residence of Marshal Ferdinand Foch at Trefeunteuniou, near Morlaix in Brittany. We are indebted to Marielle Olive for a copy of this water-color.

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Last Modified: 11/19/2011 11:40:23 AM