5 obscure classical guitar pieces

5 classical guitar pieces by obscure composers

Most people who are interested in classical guitar know names like Matteo Carcassi, Fernando Carulli or Fransisco Tarrega fairly well. But there’s a gigantic body of work out there from composers who are not that well known and some of these pieces are absolutely gorgeous. Here’s five such pieces I happened upon in my guitar studies.

1. Ryuji Kunimatsu - Nostalgic melody

Ryuji Kunimatsu

About the piece

Nostalgic melody is part of a series called “short melodies” by Ryuji Kunimatsu. They are all very lovely pieces but this one spoke to me the most.

If you’re interested in learning this piece or any other Kunimatsu piece for that matter,  you can download the sheet music for free on his official website:

 

Background info on composer

Ryuji Kunimatsu was born in Kyoto in Japan in 1977. He went to Spain and studied guitar and composition at the Luthier Art Music School. He won the first prize at the Barcelona International Guitar Competition in 2006 and the special prize at the Zarautz International Guitar Competition in 2005. 

He returned Japan in 2007, on June of this year, he held his debut recital with an all improvisation program in Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto, and received a favorable review. So far he was invited by various music festivals overseas, and has performed at the Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc. His activities are playing guitar solo, with a variety of ensembles and orchestras. He composes his own music and plays them by himself.

2. Claude Gagnon - Pour endormir Nadine

Claude Gagnon

About the piece

Pour endormir Nadine (Cradle song for Nadine) is a lullaby written by Canadian composer Claude Gagnon.

It’s alternating bassline is an ideal excersise for beginning classical guitar players to disengage the thumb from the other fingers.

It’s a simple piece but beautiful none the less.

Background info on composer

Claude Gagnon, presently classic guitar teacher at the Sainte-Foy College (Quebec), performs regularly as a member of various ensembles and as an accompanist for voice and violin. He is interested in Renaissance and Baroque music and occasionally collaborates in projects where he plays cittern with singers and instrumentalists playing lute, viola da gamba and recorder. 

He is also founder of the Ensemble Arabesque which brings together violin, guitar and cello and offers programmes of original compositions and arrangements of classical traditional and popular works. As a composer, his works include Alice aux pays des merveilles for three guitars, Hello Cello for cello and guitar, Douze préludes en forme d’études for solo guitar as well as Kamendja for two guitars. Claude Gagnon has published twenty volumes of music for guitar with Productions d’OZ and Éditions Doberman-Yppan. He has also taken part in several recordings as instrumentalist or as producer for the Atma and Analekta labels.

3. Debbie Cracknell - Oasis

Debbie Cracknell - Book series

About the piece

Debbie Cracknell is such an obscure composer, I couldn’t find a picture of her anywhere. She has however written a number of guitar learning books.

Oasis is a grade 1 exam piece at Trinity College in London (2020-2023). It has a kind of middle eastern sound to it and is actually a great start if you’re just starting out with classical guitar.

Background info on composer

Debbie Cracknell studied guitar and piano at Trinity College of Music in London. After graduating with licentiate diplomas in both instruments, she has been teaching as a peripatetic guitar teacher for Buckinghamshire County Council for many years. Her very successful series, Enjoy Playing Guitar, has been followed by many solo and ensemble works aimed mainly at beginners and those in the early grades.

4. Mario Gangi - Study in E minor

Mario Gangi, 1923 - 2010

About the piece

Mario Gangi is fairly well known in Italy. Even Ennio Morricone dedicated works on the guitar to him. But to the rest of the world he’s a fairly obscure composer. Hopefully this article can help removing that injustice from the world!

This little study is a beautiful piece that is surprisingly challanging to play. Enjoy!

Background info on composer

Mario Gangi (1923-2010) was among the pre-eminent Italian guitarists of his generation. Born in Rome to a professional jazz-musician father, Gangi graduated from the city’s Accademia della Santa Cecilia and soon followed in his father’s footsteps as both an orchestral bassist (with the local radio orchestra) and a guitarist. This latter career took off in the 50s: Gangi gave several important first performances of concertos by the likes of Petrassi and even Giuliani. A distinguished discography bears testament to a supremely fluent technician whose gifts as a shaper of melody are reflected in these brief songs for guitar on this album. 

According to the guitarist Alessandro Minci, these songs explore the most intimate and sensitive side of Gangi’s output for the guitar, combining jazz, classical and popular idioms in an entirely personal voice and one which speaks with the eclectic, cosmopolitan spirit of his age. The album thus makes an essential complement to the Brilliant Classics issue of the 22 Studies (BC95204) drawn from the third volume of Gangi’s influential guitar method. Several of them evoke natural landscapes; others cast wistful glances back at childhood, at the Baroque heritage of his instrument, and at past loves and passions. 

This is Minci’s debut on Brilliant Classics. His experience in crossing musical boundaries and linking pop and classical idioms includes previous albums with the Trio Rhapsody, which he founded some years ago. Having studied in Italy, Minci now pursues a distinguished international career and leads the Note Classiche guitar festival. Mario Gangi (1923-2010) was one of the most important protagonists of the guitar in 20th century Italy. A performer of world rank he also did extensive scholarly work to promote the publication and performances of contemporary guitar works. Gangi’s compositions for guitar deal with every technical aspect of the guitar technique: scales, arpeggios, repeated notes, polyphony, melodic use of the thumb. The music is inspired by 20th century elements of Jazz, Latin-America, and the European guitar tradition, music written by a warm and deeply feeling person with a passion for his instrument. Played with virtuosity and obvious love by the Italian guitarist Alessandro Minci.

5. Remi Bouchard - Prelude

Remi Bouchard

About the piece

Remi Bouchard is mostly known as a pianist and not as a classical guitar composer, and yet he wrote this beauty!

This is another piece that is an ideal excersise for beginning classical guitar players. The thumb playes a droning bassline while the other fingers have to phrase a beautiful melody!

 

Background info on composer

Rémi Bouchard, born on March 15, 1936 in Laurier, Manitoba, began his musical education with the “Presentation of Mary” nuns. After studying with Gerald Death in Neepawa, he undertook more advanced studies with Phyllis Holtby (piano) and A. A. Zimmerman (theory), in Winnipeg. In 1956 he began teaching piano in Neepawa where he still resides. In 1960 he received a piano teacher’s diploma from the University of Manitoba. 

Remi Bouchard is a composer entirely self-taught, Bouchard is strongly influenced by French and English composers. The core of his work has always been a concern for, and commitment to, his environment. Variously described by critics as “melodically appealing,” “modestly scaled,” and “very tonal and spiritual,” his compositions reflect a continuous effort to express his impressions of his prairie homeland, deep in the centre of North America. 

Bouchard’s compositions have been performed by learners and professionals all over the continent in festivals and recitals. His compositions are also included in the piano Syllabi of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Conservatory Canada and the Canadian National Conservatory. In November 1988 the prestigious U.S. magazine Clavier, commissioned two piano pieces for their journal. 

Since 1990, Bouchard has continued to be published by several different publishers, the most recent one being Russell Publishing, a local firm (the owner probably being the youngest in Manitoba if not Canada). His body of 550 works is written mostly for piano students at all levels. He was an adjudicator during the 1990’s for the Associated Manitoba Arts Festivals and gave workshops of his music across Canada during the 1990’s and up to the present time. In 1998, the Manitoba Heritage Federation, Inc., recognized his work with a Heritage Publication Award. Conservatory Canada and the Canadian National Conservatory of Music honored him with a Licentiate in Pedagogy in 1999 and 2003 respectively. Recently in 2007, the local Rotary Club of Neepawa awarded him the Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his accomplishments. 

He is a member of the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers’ Association, the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’, SOCAN and has been an Associate Composer of The Canadian Music Centre since 1989.

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