News 2023

There is a great deal of news with which to start the New Year, beginning with our slight change of name that makes the famous old university town where we meet more prominent. We are now The Cambridge Consortium for Guitar Research. Details of our last conference can now be found on the colloquia page.

Congratulations to our benefactor, Jeffrey Wells, who has been elected an Honorary member. We encourage you to visit his website where you will find luxurious photographs of the guitars, from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth, in the Austin-Marie collection.  

We are delighted to announce that The Great Vogue for the Guitar in Western Europe1800-1840, edited by Christopher Page, Paul Sparks and James Westbrook, and in almost every respect a Consortium book, will be published by Boydell and Brewer within the next few weeks.

For details and pre-ordering, visit:

The Contents are as follows: 

Foreword – Richard Savino

Introduction – Christopher Page, Paul Sparks and James Westbrook

Eighteenth-century precedents: the role of Paris – Damián Martín Gil and Erik Stenstadvold

The Great Vogue for the guitar: an overview – Christopher Page

The instrument and its makers – James Westbrook

Printing and publishing music for the guitar with Appendix: Matteo Carcassi – Erik Stenstadvold

Amateurs and professionals – Christopher Page

Teaching and learning the guitar – Erik Stenstadvold

Early-nineteenth-century guitars in the saleroom, private hands and public collections – James Westbrook

Music for early-nineteenth-century guitars in the saleroom, private hands and public collections – Kenneth Sparr

Accompanied song – Jelma van Amersfoort

Chamber music for the guitar – Jukka Savijoki

Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841) – Mario Torta

Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) – Gerhard Penn

Fernando Sor (1778-1839) – Erik Stenstadvold

Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849) – Luis Briso de Montiano

Emilia Giuliani (1813-1850) – Nicoletta Confalone

Giulio Regondi (1822/23-1872) and Catharina Pratten née Pelzer (1824-1895) – Sarah Clarke

Appendix: A note on string-making – Jenny Nex


Our members have been busy recently in other ways:

Luis Briso de Montiano has contributed a twenty-three-page catalogue of a Spanish collection of manuscripts for solo guitar solo. See his ‘Catálogo del Fondo Manuela Vazquez-Barros de la Biblioteca Lázaro Galdiano’, in Jesús Saiz Huedo (ed.), Los Manuscritos del Fondo Manuela Vazquez-Barros de la Biblioteca Lázaro Galdiano (Madrid, 2022), pp. 137-159.

Luis also has as article in press for Roseta: ‘Dionisio Aguado – Testamento y Memoria’.

Paul Sparks has just published ‘Una breve storia del mandolino napoletano in Europa nel XVIII secolo’, which appears in Anna Rita Addessi, et al., eds., Il mandolino a Napoli nel Settecento (Naples, Edizioni Turchini, 2021).

James Westbrook gave a paper on ‘The Early American Guitar’’at the San Anselmo Inn, California, on 26 January 2023. Since James was a contributor to the book Inventing the American Guitar (Milwaukee, Hal Leonard Books, 2013), and has had a life-long interest in guitars by C. F. Martin, he welcomed the challenge to deliver a paper on the American guitar to an American audience. The room was full, with a real mix of people. Most owned a guitar, and everybody knew of the Martin guitar company. There were American guitar dealers, restorers, and people who interest had been inspired by the inheritance of a Martin guitar. Seven of the finest rare American guitars were available to be shown, thanks to the generosity of Jeffrey Wells and the Austin-Marie Guitar Collection. The paper focused on the importation and use of the Spanish guitar prior to Martin’s arrival in America in 1833 and considered the question of whether there were already established makers in America at that time. James then went on to present some of the Martin models and partnerships, and work by other American makers, such as Scherr and Ashborn. The talk was was rounded off with a little local history concerning the Californian dealers and players, a word on the type of strings used and the process of evolution which created the American flat-top guitar of today.

Christopher Page has just published a two-part article in Soundboard Scholar, “An Attractive and Varied Repertoire’: The guitar revival of 1860-1900 and Victorian Song’. The article surveys and presents the data for over a thousand guitar-accompanied performances by amateur singers.

Cohort news. Congratulations to Luis Mantovani, who writes ‘I wanted to share with you that the Austrian Society for Musicology has selected my article “Fine-tuning Ferdinand Rebay’s Second Sonata in E major for Guitar” for the Best Paper Award 2022. The official result will be announced at their annual meeting by mid-October and the article will be published on MusAu – Musicologica Austriaca by the end of the year.

GFA Online Event

Consortium member Gerhard Penn will be speaking about his research on the Viennese guitarist Leonard Schulz (1813–1860) for the Guitar Foundation of America on June 26 at 12 noon, US Eastern Time. The event is online and includes five presenters and topics. Registration is required; all the details of the event, including schedule, abstracts, and biographies of the presenters are here.

Recent Publications by Damián Martín-Gil and Luis Briso de Montiano

Two new articles by members of the Consortium published in the Spanish Journal Roseta.

Briso de Montiano, Luis, ‘Dionisio Aguado – Los escritos a Santiago de Masarnau’, Roseta 16 (2021-22), 6-41

Martín-Gil, Damián, ‘El certificado de matrimonio de Fernando Sor (Granada, 1812)’, Roseta 16 (2021-22), 42-55

Download here:

http://www.sociedadespañ ‘

A New Complete Edition of the Guitar Music of Fernando Sor

Our Founder Member Erik Stenstadvold has now released a new critical edition of Fernando Sor’s collected guitar music, published by Guitar Heritage (

This edition, in 14 volumes, is based on the latest research into Sor’s composing and publishing activity. New knowledge about the various early versions of his music has resulted in this edition, in many cases, being modelled on different sources than those used by other modern editors. A thorough General Introduction to the music and a full critical apparatus are provided to each volume. There are also abundant notes on the individual pieces, frequently with suggestions for the performance of ornaments and other interpretative matters. Notation has been standardized to conform to modern practices with high-quality engraving. A discreet (and easily distinguishable) editorial fingering has been added as a service to guitar players of today.

Annual Research Prize

The Consortium for Guitar Research at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, is offering an annual Research Prize of £200 for original research into the history of the guitar, or closely related plucked instruments, during the period 1540–1940. Entries from scholars, performers, instrument makers and collectors are invited. The research must be previously unpublished and may take the form of an article (maximum length 5000 words) or any other form which the competitor finds useful for the best presentation of new facts, thoughts or findings. The judges would welcome (but do not insist upon) the inclusion of photographs, diagrams, images, and short audio or audiovisual recordings. A complete video presentation (not exceeding fifteen minutes in length) may be presented instead of formal written work, perhaps submitted as an unlisted link on YouTube or Vimeo. Other solutions may be possible. (NOTE: Videos of performances must include a substantial element of explication or commentary.)
Submissions must be in English, and all candidates whose native tongue is not English are asked to ensure that their text is checked by a native speaker of English. The opening date for submissions is 15 June 2022; the closing date is 5pm, 15 August 2022. The winning entry will be announced at the Consortium’s Business Meeting on 13 September 2022. The decision of the judges, drawn from members of the Consortium, is final. Submissions should be sent to accompanied by a short synopsis not exceeding 200 words. Entry is open to everyone (no age limit), except for full members of the Consortium (members of the Consortium’s Cohort wing may apply).

In Memoriam – Thomas F. Heck (10 July 1943 – 3 October 2021)

Fifty years ago, the study of guitar history was in a rudimentary state (woefully short on verifiable facts, and worryingly long on unsubstantiated anecdotes), with even professional performers having little idea of the full extent and richness of their instrument’s repertoire. A key figure in the emergence of guitar history as a formal area of study was Tom Heck, whose death was announced recently. A fine obituary paying tribute to his long life and his many achievements (which extended far beyond the guitar) can be found in a newspaper from Santa Barbara (his home town since 2001) at

So here (on behalf of my Consortium colleagues) I would like to concentrate specifically on his key contribution to the history and understanding of the guitar.

Many of us first encountered Tom’s name, thanks to his groundbreaking PhD thesis: “The birth of the classic guitar and its cultivation in Vienna, reflected in the career and compositions of Mauro Giuliani (d.1829)” (Yale University, 1970). As its name suggests, this thesis sought to locate the roots of the modern guitar (especially in Italy) during the late eighteenth century, and demonstrated how the Italian virtuoso Giuliani had been a key figure in developing the instrument’s popularity in early-nineteenth-century Vienna. The depth and originality of Tom’s research (much of it conducted in Austria in 1968-9, thanks to a Fulbright Fellowship), his meticulous attention to detail, and his ability to place guitar history within a wider musical context were a revelation to younger scholars like me when I first encountered it. I can still remember the deep impression that this thesis made on me when I was able to read it in London (via a rare microfilm copy) in 1983. I learned a great deal about Giuliani’s life and work, but more importantly, this thesis set the gold standard for how all research into plucked instruments should be conducted. Thankfully, the essence of this pioneering work eventually became much more widely available, when it was published in book form as “Mauro Giuliani: Virtuoso Guitarist and Composer” (Columbus: Editions Orphée, 1995).
Years later, I was able to meet Tom in person in Cambridge, when he became a founding member of the Consortium for Guitar Research at Sidney Sussex. Unassuming, immensely knowledgeable, and with a quietly subversive sense of humour, he was generous and helpful to colleagues, endlessly curious to learn about newly rediscovered guitar music, and willing to discuss different ways of looking at guitar history. He was always open to new ideas, and was never defensive about his own work, because its quality and reliability still speaks for itself, more than half a century after its first appearance. He and his wife Anne became frequent visitors to the UK, and Tom regularly attended our gatherings until his failing health finally prevented him from travelling a couple of years ago.
For much of his career, Tom worked as a librarian, being director of the Music and Dance Library at The Ohio State University for more than two decades. He was also one of the founding members of the Guitar Foundation of America (1973), whose journal Soundboard is well known to guitarists worldwide. In 2015, he also created a special annual edition, entitled Soundboard Scholar, which concentrated more exclusively on historical research.
The Consortium for Guitar Research has now been in existence for more than a decade, and the death of a member is one of the sad inevitabilities of life. But Tom leaves behind him a legacy of scholarship that sets the standard for the rest of us, as well as many fond memories of a funny, warm, and exemplary colleague.
Paul Sparks

First Consortium Research Prize to Luca Soattin

In 2021 the Consortium Research prize was awarded for the first time, to Luca Soattin for his research on the largely unexplored transitional guitar of five single strings. The prize is meant to encourage the sharing of for new facts, thoughts, and findings in the field of the classical guitar.

Luca’s winning article, ‘Were all guitars of the nineteenth century ‘Romantic’? A study of iconography and organology in the 18th and 19th century’ can be found here:

The Andrew Britton Fellow for 2021

The Andrew Britton Fellow for 2021 is Romaric Martin (France). 

After obtaining, in 2011, the first prize in guitar and chamber music at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux in the class of Olivier Chassain, he continued his studies at the Pôle Supérieur de Spectacle Vivant in Rennes where he studied with Hervé Merlin, Pablo Marquez, Roberto Aussel, Michel Grizard and Francisco Bernier. In 2015, he completed his Bachelor’s degree with the Diplôme National Supérieur Professionnel de Musique and finished, the following year, his training for the Diplôme d’Etat de professeur de guitare at the Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de Musique et de Danse de Poitou-Charentes.

Working with Bruno Marlat since 2009, Romaric specializes in romantic guitar and obtained in 2017 a master’s degree in early music at the Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de Musique et de Danse de Poitou-Charentes and at the University of Poitiers. During this training he was introduced to baroque guitar and continuo with Beatrice Pornon and Pascal Dubreuil.

The Consortium was especially taken with Romaric’s proposed research into The French guitarist and composer François Doisy (1748-1806).