Sunday, February 17, 2013


A happy Sunday, friends! There’s some really delightful music for you today.

The name Gaspar Sanz is not known to the general public, but he was one of the most important composers for the baroque guitar. Sanz lived from 1640-1710 in the area of Madrid, Spain, where he studied & later taught at the University of Salamanca. In addition to his work in music, he also wrote poetry, though his poems have not proved as durable as his compositions.

Sanz is noteworthy for three published books that were designed as instruction & song collections for the instrument we know call the baroque guitar. Typically, the baroque guitar has either 10 strings in four double string courses, or nine strings, with four double courses & one single (usually the treble string.) Often this was tuned (from lowest sounding string to highest ADGBE, with the doubled D strings (& sometimes the A strings) actually be an octave apart—but as guitar players will see, this is like the standard modern guitar tuning without the low E string. Sanz, however, used a different tuning: GABDE. This strikes me as quite unusual, as the top two strings are only a whole tone apart.

“Canarios” is one of his best known pieces—presumably based on music from the Canary Islands. It’s here given a wonderful interpretation by a duo known as Luteduo (yes, this is duet month, as you will remember!) Luteduo is Anton Birula on lute or theorbo (as in this video) & Anna Kowalska on baroque guitar or lute. They have recorded four cds, & also have a number of videos up on YouTube. I think I’ve listened to all of these, & they are excellent without exception.  This particular performance—in which they deftly interpolate themes from Bach’s cello suites into "Canarios"—was given at the Bialystok Early Music Festival in Poland in July 2009.

Hope you enjoy this lively & enchanting music as presented by the talented Luteduo!

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
Example of tablature manuscript from Instrucciòn de Mùsica sobre la Guitarra Española by Gaspar Sanz, 1674 – public domain


  1. More great music for a Sunday morning. Thanks, John.


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