François de Fossa: Douze Divertissemens

Op. 6

20  pp., $9.95, Presser Order number 494-02968 (PWYS-110)

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fossa-15.jpgFrançois de Fossa was born in Perpignan on August 31, 1775 and died in Paris on June 3, 1849. The importance and work of this guitarist and composer began to be known in greater depth in the early 1980’s through the first detailed investigation into his figure and the publication of much of his work that was known at the time. At the time, we did not have full information about the sum total of de Fossa’s compositional output, and even today, we are still missing several opus numbers. Our knowledge of de Fossa’s publications has been enhanced recently by the finding in the library of the conservatory “Jacinto Guerrero” of Toledo, Spain of four previously unknown works by de Fossa, apparently coming from the private collection of Dionisio Agaudo. Three of these four works have been published in modern editions, and this is the fourth publication of the works found. This collection of pieces is remarkable for several reasons:

The edition contains an unusually extensive layer of LH fingering, often quite detailed. That fact would suggest that in this case, the composer was actively involved in the production of the work.

Some of the Divertissemens bear a close affinity to some of the minuets by Fernando Sor included in his Op. 11. The Andante Maestoso N° 5, the Valse No. 6 and the Minuetto No. 7, use the scordatura of (5) = G and (6) = D. Same scordatura is used in the Minuets N° 1-3 by Sor. These pieces, both the de Fossa and the Sor, seem to use similar textures and melodic and harmonics gestures. Both editions were published by Meissonnier at about the same time. De Fossa’s work bear the plate number of 126, and Sor’s plate number is 135. Of course, we have no way of knowing if either composer was familiar with the work of the other. Nevertheless, the close affinity of these two cycles leads us to think that the aesthetics employed here were commonly accepted by the public

François de Fossa 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 19th 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.

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