For one, there is the Italian school initiated by the Italian Mauro Giuliani, who settled in Vienna around 1800. He was the first one to show the inhabitants of the German-speaking countries what a guitar is capable of. And secondly, it is the Spanish school which has the strongest influence to this day, because there is a direct line from F. Sor (pictured)to F. Tarrega and up to A. Segovia, who turned over a new leaf in the history of the guitar in today’s time.
M. Giuliani must have had a tremendously engaging personality and both an extraordinary musician and a brilliant virtuoso. Because when you flip through old newspapers, you see him suddenly appear like a meteor in the sky of art, conquering the hearts of all listeners with his play.
Soon after settling in Vienna, he hogged the limelight, became the musical hero of the day and enjoyed more fame and earned more gold than any guitarist before or after him.
He raised his instrument to an astonishing level of technical perfection, and he his works assured him a continual existence and development.
As an outstanding personality among his contemporaries and fellow players, of course there were many imitators, and several generations could benefit from his works.
But the instrument was not deeply rooted among the people, so despite all efforts of successors such as Molitor, Diabelli or Mertz, it did not have a long-term effect. Instead, the guitar disappeared into the insignificant shadow Giuliani had brought it from.
Spain, however, was the country where the guitar was earliest at home and where it is still the national instrument.
Its heyday began with the founder of the modern Spanish school, the guitar virtuoso Dionisio Aguado. His influence was often underestimated, but he prepared the perfect foundation to make a rising star like Fernando Sors shine.
With this virtuoso and composer, the guitar was able to experience the climax of its development so far. Sors was also known as the “Beethoven of the guitar”; not because his compositions are similar to Beethoven’s works, but because he stood far above all his fellow contemporaries.
This had a lot to do with his education. Because unlike most guitarists of his time, he could enjoy a profound education in the Montserat Monastery, where he was educated as a musician and not just as a specialist of the instrument. He learned about music on the basis of church music and composed not only works for guitar, but also operas, ballet music and much more.
This is also noticeable in his works for the guitar. Its polyphonic classical style, rich ingenuity and fluid musical line raise the guitar far beyond anything that has been composed for it before.
Thus, the Spanish school of the six-stringed guitar has had its most distinguished representatives, the two great masters Aguado and Sor. It enjoyed the spotlight these two masters left behind for a full century.
But the next generation had nothing to add to the work of these two, and so the guitar disappeared from the public eye in Spain, even by rooting in the population the tradition if the tradition never truly died.
This was also reflected in the works of a pioneer of the modern classical guitar, the Spaniard Francisco Tarrega. He learned to play at the schools of Aguados and Sor.