Luigi Legnani

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Luigi Rinaldo Legnani (7 November 1790 – 5 August 1877) was an Italian virtuoso guitarist, singer, composer and luthier.[1]


Born in Ravenna, Legnani was trained as a string player while very young but dedicated himself to guitar and voice. His debut as an operatic tenor was in Ravenna in 1807; his singing career spanned 17 years.[2] His career as a guitarist began with a concert in Milan in 1819, and continued with the 1822 concerts in Vienna and return visits in 1833 and 1839. He tried to continue the guitar tradition established there by Mauro Giuliani.[3] He met lots of figures during his career including Beethoven and Paganini.


Legnani is perhaps best known for his 36 Caprices op. 20 for the guitar, which cover all the major and minor keys, and which were probably inspired by Paganini's 24 Caprices for the violin. He and Paganini were friends from the 1830s; while it was once thought that he and Paganini performed together in public (Powroźniak mentions a concert in Northern Italy in 1837),[4] there is no evidence to support this claim. After the 1850s Legnani retired from active performance and became an instrument maker, concentrating on guitars and violins. The "Legnani model" guitar was popular in Central Europe through the middle of the nineteenth century.

Legnani composed some 250 works, which were published in his lifetime throughout many of the major publishing houses in Europe. He died in Ravenna.


As a regular visitor to Vienna, Legnani cooperated with Johann Georg Stauffer and his son Anton to make guitars according to Legnani's design, to be followed by a number of other luthiers ("Nach dem Modell des Luigi Legnani" / 'after the model of Luigi Legnani').[5][6]

Later he began making his own guitars, and some of his instruments still exist:

  • Guitar by Legnani[7]
  • Guitar of Legnani (ca.1870)[8][9]

There is some confusion regarding the luthierie of Legnani, as there seems to have been a second (earlier) Luigi Legnani, an apprentice of Zosimo Bergonzi.[10]
Sergio Monaldini affirms clearly that there is no reliable evidence that Legnani[which?] ever built a guitar or a violin, and there is no guitar signed by him.[11]



  1. ^ Josef Zuth: Handbuch der Laute und Gitarre (Vienna, 1926–8), p. 176; Józef Powroźniak: Gitarren-Lexikon (Berlin, 1979; 3rd edition, 1986), p. 123.
  2. ^ Powroźniak (1986), as above).
  3. ^ Powroźniak (1986), as above).
  4. ^ Powroźniak (1986), as above).
  5. ^ Stauffer Label: Nach dem Modell des Luigi Legnani Archived 14 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (ref)
  6. ^ Nach dem Modell des Luigi Legnani
  7. ^ "Guitar by Legnani". Archived from the original on 8 May 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "Guitar of Legnani (ca.1870)". Archived from the original on 8 May 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  9. ^ Luigi Rinaldo Legnani: His life and position in European music of the early nineteenth century, with an annotated performance edition of selections from 36 Capricci per Tutti I Tuoni Maggiori E Minori, Opus 20. by Douglas Goff James; see page 18 regarding a guitar supposedly made by Legnani
  10. ^ other Legnani (?): 1, 2, 3 Archived 2 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Monaldini, bibl.p.109: "non esiste alcuna prova attendibile che Legnani abbia costruito anche una sola chitarra, e tantomeno dei violini. Sino ad ora non è stato trovato un solo strumento che porti la sua firma."

External links[edit]

  • Legnani's guitar: 1 2