Recent papers by Kenneth Sparr

Lorents Mollenberg – Early 19th Century Maker of Musical Instruments (Swedish lutes, guitars, harps and square pianos) in Stockholm, Sweden. Paper read at the 7th Lake Konstanz Guitar Research Meeting in Hemmenhofen March 29-31, 2019.

Daniel Fryklund – Swedish Collector and Author of Studies Concerning Musical Instruments. Paper read at Musical Instrument Collectors and Collections – International conference at the University of Oxford 23-25 augusti 2019.

For Courtesan, Queen and Gallant

Christopher Page has started his fourth series of free public lectures at the prestigious Gresham College in London. The new series is entitled ‘For Courtesan, Queen and Gallant: The Guitar in England from Henry VIII to Samuel Pepys’. There are four more lectures to come. These events are free to attend, and will also be live-streamed, so anyone can listen in from anywhere! The lectures are illustrated with fabulous musical intermezzi by Taro Takeuchi and Ulrich Wedemeier, and will be made available afterwards on the Gresham College website and on YouTube.

The WoodMusICK Initiative

Several of the members of the Guitar Consortium have been involved in the WoodMusICK COST Action FP1302, a 4-year European initiative that finished this year. WoodMusICK aimed to promote knowledge and interdisciplinary dialogue on the study and preservation of wooden musical instruments, bringing together specialists from diverse fields, such as organologists, musicologists, wood scientists, museum curators, conervators, musical instrument makers, acousticians, etc.

WoodMusICK has published proceedings of their conferences, usually containing extended abstracts of each paper, in Open Access booklets, which are available for free downloading here.

WoodMusICK also published a special issue (Wooden Musical Instruments Special Issue) in the Journal of Cultural Heritage, which includes a couple of articles relating to the guitar or other plucked instruments (this is not in Open Access).

Un angelo senza paradiso

A new book on Schubert and the guitar

Italian researcher Nicoletta Confalone, participant in the 2017 Cambridge Cohort for guitar research, has written a new book on the relationship between Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and the guitar. Schubert played the instrument himself, but only wrote minor works for it. Many of his songs though were published early on with guitar accompaniments (by others) and have been performed by voice-guitar duos ever since.

The new book is available with Ut Orpheus Edizioni.


The Guitar in Stuart England

Consortium founder Christopher Page has published a new book with Cambridge University Press: ‘The Guitar in Stuart England. A Social and Musical History’. It can be ordered here:

The new volume (a companion volume to The Guitar in Tudor England) comprises a history of the guitar during the reign of the Stuarts. The book gathers portraits, archival materials and literary works to investigate the guitar’s importance to key figures including Samuel Pepys and King Charles II.




2018 Andrew Britton Fellow

The second Andrew Britton Fellowship winner is Sarah Clarke.  She is currently working on a PhD at the Open University about English amateur guitar players in the long nineteenth century, and  has a particular interest in guitar players and guitar teachers in Victorian England.

The Consortium is very pleased with Sarah as a winner, as in many ways her research continues and extends the enquiries that Andrew Britton pioneered. Sarah Clarke will present a paper at the 2018 meeting of the Consortium.


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2018 Andrew Britton Fellowship

The Consortium for Guitar Research invites applications from guitar researchers at an early stage of their work for a Fellowship in memory of Dr. Andrew Britton. The Fellowship covers accommodation and meals during the three-day colloquium of the Consortium at Sidney Sussex College, The University of Cambridge, to be held from Saturday 24 March to Monday 26 March 2018. Because membership of the Consortium is by invitation only this award provides a unique opportunity to share ideas with a group of acknowledged experts in the field.

Although there is no age limit, the applicant for the Andrew Britton Fellowship must be deemed to be at a relatively early stage of their work. During the conference, the recipient is expected to give a 30 minute paper or other account of their current research.

Applicants are invited to submit their CV and a 400 word (maximum) statement describing their latest research and why this award would be useful to them. The application must be sent via email, in a Word or PDF document, to Professor Christopher Page ( by Wednesday 1 November 2017.

The chosen candidate will be notified by Friday 1 December 2017 and is required to accept the place by Tuesday 12 December 2017. The Consortium reserves the right not to appoint to the Fellowship if they deem no applicant suitable. The successful candidate will fund their own travel and must ensure any necessary visas are in place.

Dr Andrew Britton was a Founding Member of the Consortium. His PhD thesis The guitar in the romantic period: its musical and social development, with special reference to Bristol and Bath is a benchmark to all new scholars and is available online on the British Library Ethos site.

A newly discovered 19th century guitarist: Mariano de Castro (c. 1800-1856)

In a new article, Erik Stenstadvold reconstructs the biography of a musician of Spanish-French background whose name and existence have hitherto been unknown, the guitarist and singer Mariano Castro de Gistau (c. 1800–1856). He arrived in Britain around 1829, during the relatively brief period when the guitar was widely fashionable there. The article discusses the factors that created this fashion as well as some of the principal forces that would soon challenge the instrument’s position and complicate the life of musicians like Castro (such as the rise of a canonical repertoire performed in concert halls built ever larger). Castro remained in the British Isles until his death in 1856, with a career unfolding mainly in provincial centres like Edinburgh, Dublin, Aberdeen and Cheltenham. Contemporary reviews show that he was a highly respected musician who appeared in concerts both as a guitarist and singer, often accentuating his Spanish background in the choice of repertoire. In addition to giving singing and guitar lessons, he was teaching the French language (increasingly so in later years when the guitar had lost much of its status) and after 1845 he was also engaged as a teacher in various private schools and academies.

Erik Stenstadvold, ‘Mariano Castro de Gistau (d 1856) and the Vogue for the Spanish Guitar in Nineteenth-Century Britain’,  Nineteenth-Century Music Review, 2017, 1–21.

The ‘Cohort for Guitar Research’

In April 2017 a new research group, The Cohort for Guitar Research, met in the Old Library of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, to hear a range of excellent papers (and in several cases some fine performances) by scholars and instrument makers. For the titles of the papers, see the Colloquia page. The new group is affiliated to the Consortium and is principally for younger and early-career scholars, (though it is not restricted to them) who have reached the judging stage for election to the Andrew Britton Fellowship. Under normal circumstances, the Cohort will meet in alternate years when there is no Consortium meeting. The photograph shows Sarah Clarke, Miles Henderson Smith, Reggie Lawrence, Samantha Muir, Martin Damian Gil, Jan van Cappelle, Nicoletta Confalone, Jelma van Amersfoort, Erik Stenstadvold, James Westbrook, Thomas Heck, Paul Sparks, Gerhard Penn, Luis Briso de Montiano, Taro Takeuchi, Brian Jeffery and Christopher Page.

Participant Jan van Cappelle wrote an excellent report of his experiences, which can be read here.