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:  www.cambridge.org/9781108419789

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.


me5 copy



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 (chp1000@cam.ac.uk) 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.



Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize

Consortium member Christopher Page’s new book The Guitar in Tudor England has been awarded the Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize, given annually for the best book in English in furtherance of the purpose of the American Musical Instrument Society to promote the understanding of all aspects of the history, design, construction, and usage of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods. Congratulations!

A new book by Panagiotis Poulopoulos

Consortium member Panagiotis Poulopoulos has published a book in the series ‘Deutsches Museum Studies’. The book concerns the early history and development of the musical instrument collection at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, particularly in relation to issues of provenance and authenticity of stringed instruments.


The book is titled New Voices in Old Bodies: A Study of ‘Recycled’ Musical Instruments with a Focus on the Hahn Collection in the Deutsches Museum.

A large number of historic musical instruments that survive in museums have been drastically transformed through a process of ‘recycling’. Although often leading to the loss or distortion of original features, these ‘recycling’ transformations can also reveal a wealth of information about the history of these artefacts and how they were valued and treated by their various owners and users during their lifetime.

This book presents and analyses several representative cases of ‘recycled’ stringed instruments focusing on the Hans Hahn collection, the first major collection of musical instruments that was acquired by the Deutsches Museum in 1906. Using a combination of object-based and archival research, the book provides a comprehensive insight into the foundation and development of the musical instrument department at the Deutsches Museum in the beginning of the twentieth century while discussing issues of provenance and authenticity of historic instruments.

The book is published in print form (ISBN 978-3-95645-885-9, price: € €29,90), but is also available for free downloading (ISSN 2365-9149, PDF-Download) at the website of the Deutsches Museum here:


For more info on the series and the book see here:

The Regency Lute

Taro Takeuchi has been doing research on the Regency lute and its music. He recently recorded a CD using a rare original Regency lute by Buchinger belonging to the Butcher Row House Museum in Ledbury, and now he is writing an article on this subject. In this article, extant instruments, the original sources, the repertory and the playing technique are discussed in detail, contributing to a re-discovery of the forgotten lute and its music in the Regency period.


The Buchinger instrument from Ledbury’s Butcher Row House Museum

Around 1800, the instrument called ‘lute’ or ‘modern lute’ gained popularity for a short period of time. The typical instrument had an egg-shaped body with 10 single gut strings. The most prominent London craftsmen building them were Buchinger, Barry and Harley. Additionally, older lutes from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were converted into modern lutes.


The ‘natural scale’ of the modern lute

For the Regency lute, several major instruction/music books were published in the early 1800s in London as well as some individual pieces. Many of these works were arrangements of contemporary popular tunes and dances. However, there were also a number of unique and creative pieces, such as sonatas, rondos and lute songs.


Taro Takeuchi recording on the Ledbury instrument

Book reviews

Christopher Page’s new monograph:  The Guitar in Tudor England: a social and musical history, was described as ‘impeccably conceived, comprehensively researched and exquisitely written’ by John Milsom in his book review ‘Tudor books and guitars’ in Early Music, May 2016.

A review of the same tome in the North American journal Soundboard Scholar read: ‘What Christopher Page has penned […] is an elegant amalgam of social history and musicology mainly in one country. He makes creative and meticulous use of a wealth of the available research materials, many of them unique to England. He writes with elegance and insight, and provides an exhaustive bibliography. For anyone interested in building a library on the history of the guitar, this should be the essential first volume.’ Richard Long, Soundboard Scholar Volume 2, 2016.