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Giulio Regondi

(1822-1872)

Prodigious Guitarist and Romantic Composer

G. RegondiGiulio Regondi was a principal figure in the history of the guitar in the Romantic period. He was born probably in Geneva, in 1822 (some sources say 1824). His father Giuseppe was of Milanese origin and his mother German. He started learning the rudiments of music and guitar playing from his father when he was still a child. He made his debut as a child prodigy in Lyons when he was eight years old -- his family had moved to this city before going to Paris in April 1830. In Paris Regondi achieved immediate fame and soon was invited to perform in the best concert halls, which led to more widespread recognition. In May 1831 he moved to London with his family. He was already a prominent concert virtuoso, and his renown was strengthened by a continuous stream of positive criticism in all the magazines of the time. In a few years his concert activity had taken him to all parts of England. In 1834 he was in Dublin, where he performed in the main concert centers. In about 1835 Regondi began to take an interest in a new melodic wind instrument, the concertina, invented by Wheatstone. With urging from his father, he became a skilled performer on this instrument also. From then on he often presented himself in public both as guitarist and concertina performer. In the years 1840-41 Regondi toured in Europe, in duo with the cellist Joseph Ledel. He was first in Vienna, doing a series of ten concerts, and subsequently performed in Munich, Frankfurt and Darmstadt. In February 1841 he was in Prague. Then he visited Leipzig, where he performed in a charity concert organized by Clara Schumann to establish a pension fund for the city's orchestra members.

Returning to London, he continued his concert activity in duo with the pianist Dulken, from 1844 onwards. In October 1846 he held a solo concert in Dresden, and in November 1847 he performed in Liverpool. It seems certain that from 1850 on Regondi abandoned the guitar to devote himself to the concertina, for which he also published some works. His concert activity continued until 1860 in London; after this period he retired to private life. He died in London on 6 May, 1872.

A musician devoted to concertizing, he was only an occasional composer for the guitar. He left five works for solo guitar, which prove to be of great instrumental and artistic value, published by André Regondi. Giulio Regondi was the dedicatee of the Fantasia Op.46, “Souvenir d'amitié,“ for solo guitar by Fernando Sor.

(Transl. M. Penny)

Guitar Works of Giulio Regondi

  1. Notturno Op. 19, guitar
  2. Rondò capriccio Op. 20, guitar
  3. Aria Variata Op. 21, guitar
  4. Aria Variata Op. 22, guitar
  5. Introduzione E Capriccio Op. 23, guitar
  6. Romanza, voice & guitar
  7. 10 Studies, guitar
  8. Ten Etudes. Source: Klinger manuscript

Modern Reviews

"Not to be confused with the first edition (1990), these pieces exist as a result of years of painstaking work by the editor. The first edition was based on xerox copies of the manuscript which is now owned by the editor. This has resulted in an incredible amount of detective work on the layers of ink and pen cil to reveal more accurately what was actually set down and now a balanced version has been produced. The Etudes are now set down with the changes as per the actual m/s: apparently, many of these were invisible via xerox processing and if you already possess the previous edition, then there are many, many changes here in each item. Some of the changes, for example, refer to voice-stemming, others to finger selection, others to rests and accidentals and so on. Sufficient to say that the serious Regondi player will want to compare this immediately with what is already available. These wonderful works now have a new lease of life, the remarkable Etude 2 with the wealth of modulations, the poignant Etude 4 and the rippling Etude 8. All are tremendous studies and all work so well in a concert situation. They place the composer so high on the list of the best writers for the guitar, not to mention his position in the general music scene at the time. Many features here could be easily mistaken as a creation of Liszt, etc, and it is apparent that he made few concessions to the difficulty of the guitar. This is a fine collection, updated and well printed with as much information as one could wish for. Recommended." Neil Smith, Classical Guitar.

" ... These Etudes are truly outstanding examples of Romantic writing for the guitar, rich in harmony and texture, seductive in melody.
This new edition [Orpée edition, my note] represents the continuing researches of the editor, and the introductory notes tell a fascinating tale of musicological detective work (and some serendipitous fortune). You will enjoy reading the story. Every effort here has been made to find the "original intent" of the composer, peeling back successive layers of alterations to the manuscripts. To the casual glance, there are few differences from the prior publication, but closer scrutiny shows numerous differences in detail (both text and fingering). Some of the changes resolve questions I had regarding the earlier edition, but I believe there are still a few missing accidentals. The fingerings given shed valuable light on the instrumental and musical concepts of the composer, and are quite workable; nevertheless, they may not always be the very best choices for a particular modern performer  . . .

If you have not heard or played these beautiful pieces, by all means buy a copy. If you are serious about playing them, you might want to compare the two editions carefully; they both offer useful information, fingerings and interpretive ideas on the music." David Grimes, Soundboard.

Bibliographic Notes