Classical guitar repertoire

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Pepe Romero in concert 2000

To a greater extent than most other instruments and ensembles, it is difficult to compose music for the guitar without either proficiency in the instrument or close collaboration with a guitarist. As a result, a large part of the guitar repertoire consists of works by guitarists who did not compose extensively for other instruments. Music prior to the classical era was often composed for performance on various combinations of instruments, and could be adapted by the performer to keyboard instruments, the lute, or the guitar. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, a significant amount of music has been written for the guitar by non-guitarist composers.


Renaissance era[edit]

During the Renaissance, the guitar was likely to have been used as it frequently is today, to provide strummed accompaniment for a singer or a small group. There also were several significant music collections published during the sixteenth century of contrapuntal compositions approaching the complexity, sophistication and breadth of lute music from the same time period. These works are intended for the vihuela, which differs in tuning with respect to both the renaissance and modern guitar.

Main compositions and composers for the vihuela:

Baroque era[edit]

Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 to 1750 (see Dates of classical music eras for a discussion of the problems inherent in defining the beginning and end points). This era is said to begin in music after the Renaissance and to be followed by the Classical music era. The original meaning of "baroque" is "irregularly shaped pearl", a strikingly fitting characterization of the architecture and design of this period; later, the name came to be applied also to its music. It is associated with composers such as J.S. Bach, George Friedrich Händel, Antonio Vivaldi, and Claudio Monteverdi. During the period, music theory, diatonic tonality, and imitative counterpoint developed. More elaborate musical ornamentation, as well as changes in musical notation and advances in the way instruments were played also appeared. Baroque music would see an expansion in the size, range and complexity of performance, as well as increasingly complex forms.

Main composers for the baroque guitar:

Classical era[edit]

Romantic era[edit]

Main composers of the early romantic era:

The Golden Age[edit]

The first 'Golden Age' of the classical guitar repertoire was the 19th century. Some notable guitar composers from this period are:

Modern era[edit]

Some genres of modern music include atonal music, which rejects the tonal system of nearly all other musical styles, as well as aleatoric, which rejects the absolutism of the composer and allows the player to take an active role in how the piece is played. For example, in Leo Brouwer's Étude No. 20, he supplies a series of melodies that increase in length, and he invites the player to play each section of the melody as many times as he or she chooses. Regional styles are also prevalent in modern guitar music, such as the music of Latin America, where unique harmonies and fresh material can be found.

Guitarist–composers of the 20th century[edit]

Other composers for the classical guitar[edit]

In the 20th century, many non–guitarist composers wrote for the instrument, which previously only players of the instrument had done. For a larger list of composers who have written for the solo guitar, see the list of composers for the classical guitar. Some of the better–known are:

Contemporary era[edit]

Solo compositions[edit]


Guitarists for whom many pieces have been composed[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Noad, Fredrick. "The Renaissance Guitar," "The Classical Guitar," "The Romantic Guitar". Compilations of notable repertoire for each era in standard musical notation.
  • Chappell, Jon; Mark Phillip (2009). Classical Guitar for Dummies. For Dummies. ISBN 978-0-470-46470-0.

External links[edit]

Free music scores

includes Sor, Giuliani, autographs by J.K. Mertz, etc.
(Index - Online access to pdf, via "Connect to resource or more info")