François de Fossa: La Tyrolienne Variée, Op. 1

8 pp., $6.95, Presser Order number 494-02871 (PWYS-15a)

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fossa-1.jpgUntil the beginning of the 1980s, the figure of François de Fossa was mainly known by his relationship with Dionisio Aguado, a relationship that included de Fossa’s collaboration in producing the two Parisian editions of the Aguado Escuela, and the complete translation of one of them into French. The situation changed radically in 1981 with the publication by Editions Orphée of a monograph which not only revealed very interesting and decisive factors in regard to the guitar quintets of Luigi Boccherini, but also included an important biographical study and a checklist of the known compositions of François de Fossa. Several works by de Fossa were published in later years, among which were works for two guitars, trios, quartets, an anthology of selected works for guitar solo. De Fossa’s La Tyrolienne Variée, his Op. 1, was part of that anthology. The current edition of it was engraved anew, and completely edited and fingered. La Tyrolienne belongs to the international hit-parade of the beginning of the nineteenth century. The melody is said to be based on a folk-song from Tyrol that begins with the words Wann I in der Früh aufsteh... (Literally: “When I get Up In the Morning”). The song is characterized by the typical rhythm of the ländler, alternating between normal singing and yodeling. Instrumental variations on La Tyrolienne were written by many composers, including guitarists such as Ferdinando Carulli (Op. 94,  a work based on both La Tyrolienne and Le Gentil Housard), Leonhard von Call (Op. 67 for guitar and clarinet, Joseph Küffner (Op. 22 for guitar solo), Luigi Legnani (Op. 12 for guitar solo). Needless to say, the theme was also varied by other guitarists such as Harder, Lemoine, Sandrini, Sychra and many other. While still conforming to the traditional theme and variations design, de Fossa presents us with a veritable platform for the artist to show-off his technical prowess. Of special interest is Variation 4 which is written entirely in harmonics, perhaps attempting to evoke Tyrolese yodeling.

François de Fossa was born in Perpignan on August 31st 1775 and died in Paris on June 3rd 1849. He was one of the most influential composers for the guitar, an influence which was reflected in his close personal relationships with many well known guitarists of the early nineteenth century, and in particular, with Dionisio Aguado. It is thanks to de Fossa that the guitar quintets of Luigi Boccherini, perhaps the basis of the repertoire for chamber music with guitar, were preserved and are available to us today.

Front cover illustration is a water color by François de Fossa (1861-1935?), the composer’s grandson. It was published as an illustration to an article titled “Le Marechal aux Champs” (l’Illustration, 20/11/1926, N° 4368) describing the residence of Marshal Ferdinand Foch at Trefeunteuniou, near Morlaix in Brittany. We are indebted to Marielle Olive for a copy of this water-color.

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Last Modified: 04/24/2012 11:22:35 AM