The Lost Music of Fernando Sor – Complete Works for Harpolyre Transcribed for Guitar

The Lost Music of Fernando Sor Harpolyre Transcriptions for Guitar
by John Doan
Book Price $49.95

If the guitar’s history and the music of Fernando Sor (“Beloved Father of the Classical Guitar) interest you, then this book will be a fascinating read. It is little known that the guitar was in crisis in the late 1820’s as it moved from the salon to larger concert venues. At this time it was beginning to be heard as lacking in volume and sonority. J. F. Salomon, inventor of the harpolyre, had an extraordinary vision for the instrument to be the world’s first amplified guitar (and with foot pedals no less) a full century before the electric guitar came on the scene.

Based upon years of research for his two albums, The Lost Music of Fernando Sor and Homage to Sor, John Doan reveals the master behind the music. Learning about the historical confusion surrounding the instrument (forging its obscurity) not to mention misunderstanding Sor’s music for it (perpetuated by various guitar historians) and the subsequent “ban” on guitars that went beyond six strings into the 20th century (promoted by Segovia), all makes for compelling, if not intriguing reading. You will be left Imaging how Fernando Sor beat out Jimmy Page with a three neck guitar 141 years before Stairway to Heaven belted from a wall of Marshalls. What we have here is history and sheet music of a forgotten collection of Masterpieces now playable on a six string guitar.

The Lost Music of Fernando Sor – What’s Inside the Book?


Fernando Sor (1778-1839) composed ten forgotten works that for the first time in nearly 200 years are presented here as music for the six-string guitar. Lost to time, this remarkable music has been overlooked along with the little known and misunderstood instrument that they were composed for in 1830 – the three necked, twenty-one string harpolyre, originally dubbed the “Perfected Guitar.”

Forgotten Guitar History

John Doan, Emmy-Nominee, award-winning recording artist, pioneer of the twenty string harp guitar, and professor of music at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, presents a forgotten chapter in Sor’s music as well as the guitar’s history. This striking music is comprised of six short studies on par with Sor’s similar student pieces as well as four major works each of which are serious guitar pieces of length, musical depth and complexity, all deserving of high recognition.

What is a Harpolyre and Who Invented It?

General information is provided about the instrument and its inventor that is not commonly known.

This book is ideal for anyone from concert artists to students, and is a must-have for the bookshelf of every guitar teacher.

Cover of John Doan Album - Sor on Harpolyre, The Lost Music of Fernando Sor.


Doan is the first to record all of these works on The Lost Music of Fernando Sor and did so on an original harpolyre. His follow up recording Homage to Fernando Sor is a reflective musical portrait of Sor’s life conceived and performed in his style upon an original Panormo guitar that may have been personally associated with Sor.

Sor’s Original Works for Harpolyre Transcribed for Guitar


Six Petite Pieces Progressives

Marche Funèbre

Trois Pieces Pour La Harpolyre
Andante Largo
Andante Cantabile

Andante Sheet Music from book. Andante Text from book. Andante Text from book.

Marche Funebre Sheet Music found in book.

In addition to the nearly fifty pages of music presented separately in standard notation and tablature, Doan provides general remarks for each piece referencing the intended special harpolyre effects sought in the original music, a detailed musical analysis, and transcription footnotes.

Standard Notation is presented in multiple voices with various fingering suggestions to ease in the reading of the music.

Guitar tablature is given the equivalent rhythmic notation as standard notation presented in multiple voices.

Marche Funebre Sheet Music in Book.Some passages played with harmonics or cross string scales may actually be easier to read in this format.

Sor’s Marche Funebre is truly one of his forgotten masterpieces where life passes before your eyes at the funeral of a loved one.

Page from book with sheet music example of Andante Largo. Although playable on the six-string guitar, special accommodation is made for 8 to 10 string guitarists to play various passages in the bass as intended with indications of (8vb) to play the notes an octave below what is written for the six-string guitar or to consider special ossia alternate passages.

Three additional large works are included in this collection that present Sor as a consummate composer for the guitar as well as an accomplished player who can dazzle as well as charm the listener.

Censorship of Guitars Beyond Six Strings

Censorship of Guitar with more than 6 strings page from book.Doan spent over a decade following Fernando Sor’s path through Spain, France, England and Russia, walking the same streets, meeting with some of the world’s leading authorities of Sor’s life and music.

In his studies Doan was surprised to uncover a pattern of misunderstanding and out right censorship of instruments beyond six-strings by both historians and prominent players. He shares his insights in the book, information relative to today’s current events.

Brief Bio: John Doan

Emmy-Nominee, John Doan is a recording artist and concert performer as well as a professor of music at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He is known as one of the world’s leading harp guitarists and perhaps the only master of the very rare harpolyre. He completed his classical guitar studies at California State University at Northridge under noted guitar historian Ron Purcell, and has participated in master classes with renowned artists such as Oscar Ghiglia, John Duarte, Michael Lorimer, and Alirio Diaz and lute studies with Toyohiko Satoh, Paul O’Dette, and Catherine Liddel.

Reviews: The Lost Music of Fernando Sor -John Doan – Harpolyre

“Doubtlessly John Doan’s recording is an important cultural achievement.”
Kenneth Sparr. Gitarr och Luta, Sweden

“This is a first class artistic achievement which goes straight to my heart.”
Alain Bieber – Historian, Journalist – Paris, France

“Ground breaking work. I admire John’s ability to interpret the music and also to play it cleanly for recording. Well done!”
Dr. James Westbrook – Guitar Museum, Brighton, England

“What a wonderful CD… it’s perfect! The sound is clean, precise, crystalline and at the same time ethereal. Also John’s interpretation is perfect for Sor. Moreover this work is very important because John has introduced music that few people know. Congratulations!”
Eleonora Vulpiani – Concert Artist, Rome, Italy

For performance reviews and information about this and his other award winning recordings see our store and press reviews.

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