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Luigi Castellacci

(1797 - ?)
prominent guitarist and composer from Pisa

Luigi Castellacci (Pisa 1797 - Paris? after 1845) was a prominent guitarist of the first half of the Nineteenth Century, whose importance today is somewhat less than the one attributed to him by the musical world during his life. He started his musical studies in his home city, devoting himself initially to the mandolin; but he changed soon to the guitar, evidently recognizing its greater resources. He soon had success as a concert guitarist and had moved by 1820 to Paris, where he lived for a long time. His artistic journeys carried him to the greatest musical European centers: in 1825 he distinguished himself in Germany and, from 1834, in London, enjoying success and an increasingly good reputation everywhere.

After 1835 Castellacci settled for good in Paris, devoting himself almost exclusively to composition and teaching, rather than compete with the many other guitarists, above all Italian ones, who were active in Paris in that epoch. There is no sure information about his last years: the date of his death is assumed to be coincident with that of the publication of his “Methode compléte et progressive pour la guitare” (Paris, 1845), without opus number, which is probably his last composition. As far as his works are concerned, he published his numerous works almost entirely in Paris, starting from 1830. Castellacci was the author of more than one hundred works with guitar, among which are various collections of Airs and Nocturnes with guitar accompaniment, and duets for guitar and piano and for two guitars.

His most interesting works are the ones for solo guitar: the Fantasias, waltzes and themes with variations on arias from operas, among which we must mention the “Fantasia,” Op. 99, on a theme from “Cenerentola” by Rossini; the “Variations,” Op.35, on the theme “Nel cor più non mi sento” of Paisiello; the “Variations,” Op. 36, and a pleasant collection of airs from the “Les Passe temps,” Op. 54, of didactic value. We must mention also the “Fantasia,” Op.44, for guitar and piano; and the “Three Duets,” Op. 26, for two guitars.

Many of his works are unfortunately lost today.

(Transl. M. Penny)

Bibliographical Notes