Sor, Segovia and More in New ‘Soundboard Scholar’

Segovia c. 1935

It’s only once a year, but we’re always happy to give a shout-out to the annual publication of the Guitar Foundation of America‘s Soundboard Scholar, which bills itself “A Peer-Reviewed Journal of Guitar Studies,” and in just three years has established itself as a vitally important (and fascinating!) source for some of the latest academic writings about classical-guitar history. As most of you know, Soundboard Scholar is ably spearheaded by editor Thomas Heck, and is a spin-off, of sorts, from the always superb GFA quarterly, Soundboard (helmed by the illustrious Robert Ferguson).

This latest Soundboard Scholar is highlighted by a pair of deep dives into topics that are about a century apart.

The first is an examination and thorough analysis of a newly discovered 1827 letter written in elegant script by Spanish guitarist/composer Fernando Sor, in French during a visit to St. Petersburg, Russia. As the story’s author, Erik Stenstadvold notes, “this remarkably long letter provides new insight into the publishing and personal relationship between Sor, his Paris publisher Meissonnier [to whom the letter was sent], and various intermediaries; it also mentions some unknown Sor works, including a book of drafts at Málaga, and some pieces mistakenly published under Sor’s name. . .” and more. The original documents is displayed in its entirety, and Stenstadvold’s detailed annotations put the letter in the context of what we already know about Sor.


The second feature, by Andrew Stevens, is titled “Andrés Segovia’s Unfinished Guitar Method: Placing His ‘Scales’ in Historical Context.” Stevens starts by discussing the enormous impact the “so-called Segovia Scales—the systematic fingerings advocated by the Andalusian maestro” have had on the guitar world for the past six-plus decades (since their first publication in the U.S. in 1953), but then traces their history back to 1928 and a pair of little-known publications in Spain and Germany. There are copious quotations expressing Segovia’s own thoughts on his “method” through the years, as well as reflections and reactions from others that give more context to Segovia’s pedagogical efforts.

There’s lots more in this year’s issue, including several excellent, in-depth reviews of publications and CDs, ranging from Ari van Vliet’s two-volume Napoléon Coste tome and the Oleg Timofeyev-John Schneiderman box The Russian Guitar 1800–1850 (two projects we also covered, differently, in ‘CG’ in the past year), to the late Matanya Ophee’s edition on Boccherini’s Sinfonia concertante.

You can purchase a digital download of Soundboard Scholar through the GFA’s website. (And you can get back issues of Soundboard here.)

As usual, we want to leave with you a video! So, here is Julia Trintschuk performing Sor’s Grand Solo, Op. 14