Edited by Stefan R. Hackl
16 pp., $9.95, Presser Order number 494-02809 (PWYS-83)
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This first edition of Giulio Regondi’s Air Varié de l’opera de Bellini I Capuleti e i Montecchi is based on a manuscript found in the collection of Karl Scheit, now preserved in the library of the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst — the Music University of Vienna. This manuscript, was copied in 1854-1865 by Josiah Andrew Hudleston (1799-1865) and presented as a gift to Madam R. Sidney Pratten. The piece was composed in 1845 for Regondi’s pupil, a certain Miss Donovan of Dublin. Regondi is known to have played this piece in his concerts during the 1850s and it was highly acclaimed by the critics. The monumental style of the introduction — a kind of dramatic overture – appears to be strongly influenced by the opera fantasies of Sigismund Thalberg (1812-1871). Thalberg and his rival Franz Liszt developed a new type of “Opernfantasie” that goes far beyond simple variations or potpourris for entertainment, but delves deeply into the characters and the spiritual world of the works. Airs by Bellini were often on the programs of Regondi’s concerts in the 1840s, not only on the guitar but also on the concertina. Themes from Bellini’s operas were most popular in the guitar repertory of the nineteenth century. The air L’amo tanto, e m’è si cara used in this composition is from the opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi by Vincenzo Bellini. It was also used by Padovetz (op. 13), Pettoletti (op. 17), and Neuland op. 21. Without doubt, Regondi’s version is the most refined of all. A truly exciting discovery!
J. A. Hudleston, the man responsible for preserving this music, was among the most interesting figures of the nineteenth century British guitar world. He maintained a close amicable relationship with the leading guitarists in England at the time, Giulio Regondi and Madame R. Sidney Pratten. He was, now we know, the original dedicatee of the Regondi Etudes. He was an avid collector of guitar music, a remarkable feat considering that he spent most of his adult life in India.
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