Andante is a general name given for a passage or piece of music to be performed slowly. This Andante comes from Opus 35 (a composition or set of compositions as “a work”). To give a sense of timeline Opus 6 was first published in 1815 and Opus 60 was published in 1837 just two years before the composer’s death.
Fernando Sor, born Jose Fernando Marcario Sors in Barcelona 14 February 1778 (died 10 July 1839 at 61), was a composer and virtuoso guitarist. The period of his activity could be described as “late classical to early romantic”. This is a very important time period for guitar. Other great composers like Mauro Giuliani and Ferdinando Carulli lived during this era. They all stylistically fell between the nomenclature of the two periods. These players also marked the last or nearly last of the pre-Torres players. In other words, they were the last or nearly last players performing and composing on the earlier construction style of the “Romantic Guitar” and probably some of the first to be performing mostly or solely on the six course single string guitars which had fairly recently become popular in Spain at the time.
Andante No1 Opus 35 Book 1
The ABRSM, The Associated Boards of the Royal Colleges of Music reckons this to be a Grade 2 standard in the 1997 syllabus. I don’t know if that has been changed since then, you can try to google that!
From my perspective this piece can be simplified down to an initial beginner level by isolating voices (and various other methods) and raised up to expert level with the inclusion of all notes being played to their specified score value, with the proper expression and emotive delivery of dynamics, fingering and phrasing. Others may not agree, but with some careful thought this piece is a good candidate for differentiation in performance levels and therefore further its useful purpose as a vehicle for education and not just as a nice sounding and "playable" piece.
Here is the same piece at 60% tempo for practice. Have fun. Remember you can slow it down further by going into the settings (little gear icon) in Youtube!
Sor wrote these lesson exercises as a response to feedback. It seems people wanted a more graduated and gentler approach to development of technique and advancing difficulty throughout the climb up the exercise ladder. Opus 35 seems to be aimed, along with the companion method book, at mere mortals like me and you who struggle to find the time the discipline and the luck of natural born ability that other may have. I’m only speaking for myself on that last one!
The original edition has an introductory note translated from French as follows:
“Many felt that my twenty-four lessons for beginners advanced to quickly and that they were organised so as to help the student acquire great proficiency, and that this arrangement was a not one to suit those who only wanting to attain a low level and not being able to devote sufficient time to study, would have been satisfied with being able to accompany themselves and to play a few pieces which are not exacting.
The soundness of these observations led me to compose these Exercises sufficient to make the pupil feel at ease when accompanying himself and to attain the level to tackle the twenty-four lessons and should he wish to improve his proficiency. These lessons will then seem less difficult since he will have already coveedr the essential work of each one.
These exercises will be very useful, particularly to those studying according to the method which I am about to publish, as my principal purpose has been to put into practice the principles contained therein.”
If you want to go through a few of these in order contact me and we can do it together!
Have a look at thees video lesson examples.
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