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Josep Ferran Sorts i Muntades (baptised 14 February 1778 – died 10 July 1839, Parismarker) was a Spanish guitarist and composer. He is best known for his guitar compositions, but he also composed music for opera and ballet, earning acclaim for his ballet titled Cendrillon. Sor’s works for guitar range from pieces for advanced players, such as Variations on a Theme of Mozart, to beginner pieces such as the first few of his instructional book Méthode pour la guitar (Guitar Method).

Sor gave concerts throughout Europe, including in Englandmarker, Parismarker, Berlinmarker and Warsawmarker. Before the early 1800s, the guitar was little known in England. Sor seems to have created a market for himself there and then met the demand. Sor’s contemporaries considered him to be the best guitarist in the world, and his works for guitar have been widely played and reprinted since his death.

As Sor's works were published in various countries, his name was translated, leading to variations in the spelling. Variations have included Joseph Fernando Macari Sors, Fernando Sor, Ferran Sor, Ferdinand Sor, and Ferdinando Sor.


Born in Barcelona to a fairly well-off family, Sor was descended from a long line of career soldiers, and intended to continue that legacy, but was distracted from this when his father introduced him to Italian opera. He fell in love with music and abandoned a military career. Along with opera, Sor's father also introduced him to the guitar, which, at the time, was little more than an instrument played in taverns, thought to be inferior to orchestral instruments.

Sor studied music at a monastery on the slopes Montserrat, a mountain near Barcelona, until his father died. His mother couldn't afford to finance continued studies and withdrew him. It was at this monastery that he began to write his first pieces of music for the guitar.

In 1808, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain, he began to write nationalistic music for the guitar, often accompanied by patriotic lyrics. After the defeat of the Spanish army, Sor accepted an administrative post in the occupying government. After the Spanish repelled the French in 1813, Sor and many other artists and aristocrats who had befriended the French left Spain for fear of retribution. He went to Paris, and never returned to his home country again.

He began to gain renown in the Parisian art community for his skills of composition and for his ability at playing the guitar, and eventually began to tour across Europe, gaining considerable fame. In 1827, due partly to his advancing age, he settled down and decided to live out the rest of his life in Paris. It was during this retirement that he composed many of his better works.

His last work was a mass in honour of his daughter, who died in 1837. Her death sent the already sickly Sor into serious depression, and he died in 1839. He died of tongue and throat cancer.


François-Joseph Fétis has called him "le Beethoven de la guitare" , though he has also remarked the Sor had failed to produce a good tone on one occasion.


The original cover of Sor's Variations on a Theme of Mozart, Op.
9, published in Paris in 1821

One of Sor's most popular compositions is his "Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart", Op. 9. It is based on a melody "Das klinget so herrlich, das klinget so schön!" from The Magic Flute, which Mozart composed in 1791.

Méthode pour la Guitare

Sor's Méthode pour la Guitare was first published in Paris in 1830 and translated into English by A Merrick in 1832 under the title Method for the Spanish Guitar .
The original cover of Sor's Méthode pour la Guitare, published in Paris in 1830.

Instructional material

Sor was a prolific and, in his time, quite popular composer—and there was a great demand for him to compose material that was approachable by less accomplished players. The resulting body of instructional studies he produced is not only noteworthy for its value to students of the guitar, but for its inherent musicality. Much of this work is organized in several opuses (in increasing order of difficulty): Opus 60 (25 lessons), Opus 44 (24 lessons), Opus 35 (24 exercises), Opus 31 (24 lessons), Opus 6 (12 studies) and Opus 29 (12 studies).


  1. Fernando Sor: composer and guitarist‎ by Brian Jeffery
  2. Cecilia Ruiz de Ríos, Nicaraguan historian

External links

Sheet music



  • Information (Tecla Editions)
  • Ich, Fernando Sor Versuch einer Autobiografie und gitarristische Schriften; by Wolf Moser (Edition Saint-Georges, ISBN 30001552741)

Historical sources


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