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Women in Classical Guitar History

A Lady with Guitar William Edward Millner - Date unknown

Most recent update 12/5/2023

Background Information

In 2006, I presented a lecture at the Bethlehem Guitar Festival celebrating the contributions of women to the world of guitar as performers, composers and philanthropists. I shared biographies and music from female musicians associated with a variety of musical styles. Since that time, I have continued to study such contributions within the classical genre. I completed my doctoral thesis titled "Ida Presti as a Solo Performer and Composer of Works for Solo Guitar," at Shenandoah University in December 2012 and I have had the opportunity to give lectures for numerous concert series, guitar festivals, libraries and public school events.

Much has changed since I first began collecting information. The internet has made available resources that were once quite difficult to obtain. I remember sitting on the floor of a library physically searching through decades of journals; mail-ordering used, out-of-production recordings and books at expenses that were difficult for a graduate student to manage; and graciously being gifted LP’s and other saved treasures that assisted my search for information. Although my doctoral thesis focused on Ida Presti, I collected resources about other guitarists, especially items pertaining to Luise Walker and Maria Luisa Anido. The digital age has made possible an incredible ability to access, store and share information, and I anticipate the need to update my writing and lectures as more people engage in this area of research and share new findings. I have diligently tried to honor and cite the sources I have referenced through the years and hope new researchers will be kind as I take my place in this lineage.

About the Essays and Posts

Through the years, I have collected masses of files about women who played or composed for the classical guitar. From these materials, I have composed several essays which are published below. One of the aims and unique aspects of my research is my overt effort to guide readers to resources–to encourage exploration of the lists of works cited (sometimes purposefully over-cited) and draw readers to the projects and writings of other people who have been working in this area of research and performance. I often think of my efforts as being a hub for information, hopefully guiding new researchers to resources, honoring and promoting the work of others, and presenting writings and lectures in an academic yet accessible voice.

Seven of these essays were edited and published across two issues of the Guitar Foundation of America's journal, Soundboard, in 2021. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to share this work broadly through those publications as well as in two previous lectures for the GFA. The versions of my essays provided here include my unedited citations and extra resources.

Please note this blog software presents word processing limitations therefore footnotes are numbered with parentheses. Citations appear in an adapted Turabian style.

An additional note: During Women's History Month 2015, I shared short essays on my public Facebook page highlighting the contributions of women guitarists with a primary focus on historic figures who also composed. By using Facebook, I was able to post direct links to sources, sheet music, recordings and videos in the comments area. Although I don't update the Facebook posts, links are provided with each corresponding essay where applicable.

This project is ongoing and I revisit it from time to time with updates to this page. Clearly, it is not a definitive list: it is simply a beginning. It is a labor of love. Please continue to check back and you are welcome to share resources with me. If you use my writing as a resource, your citation is appreciated.


My research is independently funded: it has not been funded through support received from an academic position. I would like to extend my appreciation to Berta Rojas who commissioned research from me in contribution to her album, Legado, which won two Latin GRAMMY Awards, and to the many people through the years who supported and encouraged me to continue with this and other areas of research, writing, and lecturing.

If you would like to help support my work, consider "buying me a coffee" at This helps me to purchase books, subscriptions, recordings and other research materials. If you have resources to share or donate (ex. news clippings, letters, journals, scores, etc), please contact me through email. I also have a Wish List from which you can gift materials. Thank you.


Essays About Women in Classical Guitar History

(Listed in chronological order)

Francesca Caccini (1587-ca. 1645)

Facebook Post:

Raised in a musical household in Florence, Italy, Francesca Caccini was a composer and virtuosic singer who played guitar, lute, theorbo, harp and harpsichord. Francesca's mother and sister were accomplished musicians and her father, Giulio Caccini (1551-1618), was a singer and composer who played lute, harp and viol. He was a key figure in the early development of opera, having participated in the famed discussions of the Florentine Camerata and is credited with establishing the use of monodic texture and creating stile recitativo.(1)

Francesca Caccini worked for the Medici court in Florence from 1607-27, and again from 1633-1641. She was highly valued by her patrons as a composer and performer, as well as a music teacher, eventually becoming “the highest paid musician at the Florentine Court.”(2) She is known to have given chamber performances throughout Europe as a celebrated contralto singer. Her compositional output is said to have included over 300 titles by 1614, though only a small portion of her work has survived.(3) Surviving works include a book of songs and duets from 1618, an opera, and some individual songs that survived in anthologies.(4 )Published in 1618, her Il primo libro delle musiche (First book of music) was dedicated to the Cardinal de' Medici and consists of 36 songs including solos and duets for soprano and bass. Her opera, La liberazione di Ruggiero (The liberation of Ruggiero) from 1625, is the first known opera by a female composer. At least two sources state it was the first Italian opera performed outside of Italy.(5) She also contributed music to court works by Ottavio Rinuccini (1562-1621), Michelangelo Buonarroti (1568-1646), Ferdinando Saracinelli (1640-unknown) and Jacopo Cicognini (1577-1633).(6 )

Francesca Caccini'sIll primo libro delle musiche of 1618: A Modern Critical Edition of the Secular Monodies by Ronald James Alexander and Richard Savino was published by Indiana University Press in 2004. The book contains seventeen secular monodies for one and two voices with figured bass accompaniment as well as biographical information, commentary on performance practices, text translations and an extensive bibliography. Savino's ensemble, El Mundo, recorded works by Caccini on their album, What Artemisia Heard, for the Sono Luminus record label in 2015. Another resources for Caccini’s music is the The New Historical Anthology of Music by Women, also published by Indiana University Press. It includes Doris Silbert's edition of “Aria of the Shepherd" from La Liberazione di Ruggiero and Carolyn Raney's transcription of "Maria, dolce Maria" from Il Primo Libro as well as a biographical essay by Suzanne Cusick and a list of suggested readings.

An additional resource of interest to guitarists is Mariette Stephenson's Arrangements for Solo Guitar from Francesca Caccini’s Il primo libro delle musiche a una, e due voci. The collection was self-published in 2016 and the selections were originally written for one or two voices with continuo accompaniment. In the preface to the publication, Stephenson said she created the arrangements for intermediate-level guitarists and suggested players who are more advanced may choose to ornament or add notes to chords. This collection as well as Alexander and Savino’s critical edition of Il primo libro offer great resources for incorporating Caccini’s music into performance and or educational activities.

Sources Cited:

(1) K. Marie Stolba, The Development of Western Music: A History, Brief 2nd ed. (Madison: Brown and Benchmark, 1995), 199-200.

(2) Andrew Clements, “Caccini: La Liberazione di Ruggiero CD review – first opera by a woman stands firmly on its own feet,” The Guardian, March 8, 2017,

(3) Suzanne Cusick, “Francesca Caccini (1587-after 1641),” in New Historical Anthology of Music by Women, ed. James R. Briscoe (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 48-59.

(4) Cusick, 48.

(5) Stolba and Clements.

(6) Nate Zuckerman, “Caccini, Francesca (1587-ca.1645),” Italian Women's Writers, University of Chicago Library, 2004,

Additional Resources:

• Ronald James Alexander and Richard Savino, Francesca Caccini's 'Il primo libro delle musiche' of 1618: A Modern Critical Edition of the Secular Monodies (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004).

• “Giulio Caccini,” Naxos Records, accessed June 20, 2020,

• Mariette Stephenson, Caccini Works for Solo Guitar (Self-published, 2016).

Selection of Compositions:

  • La liberzione di ruggiero

  • Ch'Amor sia nedo

  • Dov'io credeo

  • O chiome belle

  • Lasciatemi qui solo

  • Chi desia di saper

Selection of Recordings:

  • What Artemisia Heard by El Mundo and Richard Savino (CD)

  • Italian Sirens by Ars Lyrica Houston (Youtube)

  • Francesca Caccini - Sacred and Secular Songs by Elena Cecchi Fedi (CD)

Additional Info:

Ronald James Alexander and Richard Savino's book is available at

Regina Strinasacchi (ca. 1761-1839)

Facebook Post: Regina Strinasacchi is best known as the violinist for whom Mozart composed the Sonata in B-flat Major, k454 but she was also a guitarist of exceptional skill. She was born near Mantua in 1764 and trained at the conservatory of the Ospedale della Pieta (the institute of Vivaldi fame) in Italy. She also received some training in Paris. While in her 20's, Strinasacchi traveled through Italy. In 1784, she went to Vienna for two performances at the National Court Theater and performed the Sonata in B-flat with Mozart during a second concert. Her female contemporaries include Maria Anna Mozart (Wolfgang's sister), Maria Theresia von Paradis (a virtuoso pianist who wrote concertos and whose operas were staged) and Nancy Storace (soprano). She married an cellist and mandolinist, Johann Conrad Schlick, of the ducal chapel at Gotha and, after his death, moved to Dresden. She died in 1839. Although Strinasacchi's successes are most associated with violin performance, multiple biographical resources include reference to her skill as a guitarist, placing her in the same time frame and geography of many figures in this golden age of the guitar. Resources:

Other Possible Resources:

  • Violin Virtuosas cites Musical Times, October 1, 1906, Vol. 47.

  • Mentioned in Andrew Robinson's Sudden Genius? The Gradual Path to Creative Breakthroughs, (United Kingdom: OUP Oxford, 2010), 10.

Emilia Giuliani-Guglielmi (1813-1850)

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Emilia Giuliani-Guglielmi established herself as a virtuosic guitarist and composer, following in the footsteps of her father Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) and earning veneration for her performances. Emilia was born on April 23,1813 in Vienna, Austria and was one of three children born to Mauro Giuliani and Anna Wiesenberger, the woman with whom he was in a relationship while in Vienna although not his legal wife.(1) Wiesenberger died in 1817 and Emilia went into the care of a Viennese orphanage and foster mothers.(2)

Information about Emilia’s education and training is not readily available and it is fascinating to consider that she joined her father in Italy in 1828 at the age of 15, making her concert debut in duet with him at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples. A review of the performance in the Giornale del Regno delle Due Sicilie on February 13, 1828 stated, “the guitar pieces executed by him and by one of his daughters named Emilia…pleased so much, that he and this young lady, for whom we have great hopes, were repeatedly applauded, and ultimately [given a curtain call] by the public.”(3) In October of the same year, Emilia gave a solo performance between acts of an opera with the same journal reporting that she showed herself to be “not only a worthy disciple but also an emulator of her father.”(4) One can contemplate the possible role Mauro had in Emilia’s young life and the way it may have been concealed due to his marital status.

The author of the announcement in the Giornale delle Due Sicilie mourning Mauro’s death cites Emilia’s musical promise as a comforting force upon the passing of the great musician: “On the morning of the 8th of this month [May 1829] Mauro Giuliani, the famous guitarist, died in this capital…He has left us a daughter of tender age, who shows herself to be the inheritor of his uncommon ability–a circumstance which alone can mitigate the sadness of this loss.”(5)

Emilia performed in cities such as Vienna, Pest, Naples and Florence where, in 1839, she performed during a concert that also featured the famed pianist and composer, Franz Liszt (1811-1886).(6) The reviews for this and other concerts by Emilia are very favorable, reporting unrivaled abilities, adoration from distinguished audiences and encores. Reviews also credit her with the invention of a double-harmonic technique.

Emilia’s compositions show a virtuoso’s understanding of guitar mechanics and share some traits with her father’s work. Whereas he wrote Rossiniane, works based on themes by Gioachino Rossini (1792 - 1868), she composed Belliniane, works based on themes by Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835) as well as other operatic-based works. Her variations on the theme “Non piu mesta accanto al fuoco” from Rossini’s La Cenerentola, were dedicated Luigi Guglielmi, whom she married in 1839. In Emilia’s setting, guitarists are faced with the challenge of utilizing their technical prowess while maintaining the lightness and spirit of the original aria. While the notes and tempo can be achieved by a late-intermediate guitarist, the ability to maintain the original light spirit of the aria requires an excess of ability accompanied by the musicality of an experienced performer. Giuliani’s Variations on a Theme of Mercadante requires the skills of a very advanced player and offers ample opportunity for virtuosic display. Her Six Preludes are more accessible to the developing performer and could be incorporated into a curriculum alongside advanced studies by Mauro Giuliani, Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849) or Matteo Carcassi (1792-1853).

The Six Preludes are opus 46 in her catalog. Opus numbers 1-11 were published by Giovanni Ricordi between 1834 and 1837, leaving 35 opera unaccounted for. Modern publications of Giuliani’s compositions include Variations on a Theme of Mercandante by Berben in 1989 and Prelude No. 1, which is included in Annette Kruisbrink’s Guitar Music by Women Composers (D’Oz). All of Giuliani’s surviving scores have been published by DGA Editions in Emilia Giuliani (1813-1850). This book by Nicoletta Confalone and Robert Coldwell, with foreword by noted Mauro Giuliani scholar Thomas Heck, includes biographical information, lengthy annotations, concert reviews, a timeline, and a catalog of Giuliani’s works.

Sources Cited:

(1) Michael Lorenz, “New Light on Mauro Giuliani's Vienna Years,” Michael Lorenz Blogspot, April 15, 2015,

(2) Ibid.

(3) Thomas F. Heck, Mauro Giuliani: A Life for the Guitar (Austin: Guitar Foundation of America, 2013), chap. 4.3.2, Kindle.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid., 4.3.4.

(6) Nicoletta Confalone and Robert Coldwell, Emilia Giuliani (1813-1850), (Dallas: DGA Editions, 2013), 21, E-book.

Additional Resources:


Variations on L'amo from I Montecchi ed i Capuleti by Bellini op. 1, Milan 1834

Belliniana no. 1, ossia varii pezzi tratti dale opera di Bellini, ridotti e variati op. 2, Milan 1834

Variations on Ah perchè non posso odiarti by Bellini op. 3, Milan 1836

Belliniana no. 2, ossia varii pezzi tratti dalle opere del Maes. Bellini, ridotti e variati op. 4, Milan 1835

Variations on Non più mestaby Rossini op. 5, Milan 1836

Belliniana No. 3, ossia vari pezzi tratti dalle opere de Maes. Bellini, ridotti e variati op. 6, Milan 1835

Belliniana No. 4, ossia vari pezzi tratti dalle opere del Maes. Bellini, ridotti e variati op. 7, Milan 1835

Belliniana No. 5, ossia vari pezzi tratti dalle opere des Maes. Bellini, ridotti e variati op. 8, Milan 1836

Variazioni su un tema di Mercadante op. 9, Milan 1837

Belliniana No. 6, ossia vari pezzi tratti dalle opere del Maes. Bellini op. 11, Milan 1836

Six Preludes op. 46, Vienna 1841

Selection of Recordings:

Belliniana no. 1 by Frederica Artuso (Youtube)

Emilia Giuliani "Opera Complete per Chitarra" by Paolo Amico (CD)

La Donne e la Chitarra by James Akers (CD)

Prelude 1 by Annette Kruisbrink (Youtube)

Prelude 1 by John Mendle (Youtube)

Vespers by Emily Shaw (CD)

Wake the Sigh by Emma Rush (CD)

The Woman's Voice by Connie Sheu (CD)

Sheet Music:

Madame Sidney Pratten - Catherina Josepha Pelzer (1821-1895)

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Madame Sidney Pratten was born in Germany in 1821 and died in England in 1895.(1) Her birth name was Catherina Josepha Pelzer. When she married Robert Sidney Pratten (1824-1868), a respected flutist and composer, she took her husband’s name. When searching for information and resources related to Pratten, it is advised to consider variants of her name, which may include alternate spellings (ex. Catherine, Sydney) or combinations of her birth and married names.

Pratten’s father, Ferdinand Pelzer (1801-1861), was a guitarist and noted music pedagogue.(2) He authored a guitar method and was the editor of the Giulianiad, a guitar magazine published in honor of Mauro Giuliani. Pratten was considered an accomplished guitarist by the age of seven and gave duo concerts with another young prodigy, Giulio Regondi (1822-1872). In Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten: Guitariste and Composer, Frank Mott Harrison recounts a charming story of the two children performing on top of a table because the stage didn’t allow the two tiny performers to be adequately seen by the audience.(3) The book also includes a photo of a concert advertisement for Pratten (Pelzer) and Regondi.

The Pelzer family moved to England when Catherina was a child, and the young Pratten performed in the King’s Theater and Hanover Square Rooms. A review of a performance as quoted by Harrison stated: “She played three brilliant pieces, accompanied by her father, to the general admiration of the company assembled. Her touch is powerful, and her execution wonderful; we were surprised how such tiny fingers could draw forth such perfect sounds…In a very few years we doubt not to see this interesting child at the head of her profession.”(4) Another critic described her as “a little heroine.”(5)

By age 17, Pratten was teaching in Exeter. She became a tutor to Lady John Somerset who encouraged her to move to London, providing her with accommodations and introducing her to aristocratic persons. Pratten’s composition Lord Raglan’s March, was written for Lady Somerset’s brother-in-law. Pratten became part of social and artistic circles, and was very successful as a teacher and performer. Guitar makers such as Panormo and LaCote labeled hundreds of guitars with her name in order to promote sales of their instruments.(6) She gave a concert of Mauro Giuliani’s third concerto with Giuliani’s own niece playing piano for the concert.(7) She often collaborated with other musicians and played guitar with the orchestra for Sir Frederic Hymen Cowen’s (1852-1935) cantata, The Corsair, at the Birmingham Festival in 1876. Pratten gave her last public concert in 1892 during which she performed her own works. In his book, The Guitar from the Renaissance to the Present Day, Harvey Turnbull referred to Pratten as “the leading figure of the Victorian guitar world” and, in The Classical Guitar: Its Evolution, Players and Personalities since 1800, Maurice Summerfield said, “There is no doubt she was one of the outstanding figures of the 19th-century guitar.”(8)

Pratten also played the concertina (an instrument played by her childhood duo partner, Regondi), terz guitar and bambina guitar. Her bambina guitar is in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Art. A photo and a recording of the instrument is accessible through the museum’s website. Pratten and her sister, Giulia Pelzer, were great collectors of instruments, having in their possession guitars that had been owned by Regondi and Fernando Sor (1778-1839). Numerous guitars from their collection were sold at auction through Sotheby’s in 1938.

Pratten’s publications include a guitar tutor for the serious student as well as pedagogical materials for the amateur player and a tutor for guitar tuned to E major. She wrote many compositions including short character pieces with titles such as Eventide, Forgotten and Sadness, and longer works such as her setting of the Carnival de Venice. An extensive list of her compositions appears in an article by Artemio Milla Gutierrez in which he states that she wrote more than 200 works.(9) In his article, “’Delicate sweetness and sympathetic tones’: Madam Sidney Pratten and her Guitar School (1859),” Paul Cesarczyk states: “Her compositions often forgo obvious virtuosity in favor of expressive, reflective lyricism.”(10)

Notes and Sources:

(1) There has been dispute over her birthdate with some sources stating she was born in 1824.

(2) Some sources state Ferdinand Pelzer died in 1860. The date 1861 was retrieved from Giulia Pelzer’s memoirs as transcribed and shared by Robert Coldwell.

Robert Coldwell, “Memoirs of Madame Giulia Pelzer,” Digital Guitar Archive, May 4, 2019,

(3) Frank Mott Harrison, Reminiscences of Madame Sidney Pratten: Guitariste and Composer (Bournemouth, England: Barnes and Mullins, 1899), 20.

(4) Ibid., 22-23.

(5) Ibid., 23.

(6) Maurice Summerfield, “Madame Sidney Pratten” in The Classical Guitar: Its Evolution, Players and Personalities since 1800 (Blaydon on Tyne, UK: Ashley Mark Publishing, 2002) 231.

(7) An English translation of Emilio Pujol’s biography of Francisco Tarrega states it was Giuliani’s granddaughter playing piano rather than his niece.

Emilio Pujol, The Biography of Francisco Tarrega, trans. Jessica Burns, ed. Patrick Burns (Miami and Santa Fe: The Emilio Pujol Foundation, 2010), chap. 3, Kindle.

(8) Harvey Turnbull, The Guitar from the Renaissance to the Present Day (Westport, CT: The Bold Strummer 1991), 70; Summerfield, 231.

(9) Artemio Milla Gutierrez, “Sidney Pratten, Una mujer guitarrista en la Ingalterra del siglo XIX,” Royal Classics Newsletter, 3rd Quarter 2012: 7-8,

(10) Paul Cesarczyk, “‘Delicate Sweetness and sympathetic tones’: Madame Sidney Pratten and Her Guitar School (1859),” Mahidol Music Journal, Vol. 24, No. 6 (February 2019): 36-41, accessed from “Books and Articles,” Women of the Classical Guitar, accessed January 8, 2021,

Additional Resources:

  • “Catharina Pratten," The Royal Parks, accessed June 22, 2020,

  • "Madame Sidney Pratten (Catharina Josepha Pratten (nee Pelzer))," National Portrait Gallery, accessed June 22, 2020,

  • Heike Matthiesen, "Madame Sidney Pratten: Composer, Virtuoso, Teacher and Editor," accessed January 8, 2021,

  • Daniel Nistico, "1. Sidney Pratten's Guitar School (c. 1859)," The Resourceful Guitarist, accessed January 8, 2021,

  • A.P. Sharpe, “Madame Sidney Pratten,” The Story of the Spanish Guitar (London: Essex Music, 1959), 50.

  • “Treble Guitar (bambina model),” Museum of Fine Arts Boston, accessed January 8, 2021,;jsessionid=F70AA335082F0742371DCE8D2538C9E8

Maurice Summerfield suggested the following resources: Guitar News (July/August 1962) and Classical Guitar (December 1994)

Selection of Compositions:





A Lament

Carnival de Venice

Fairy Sketches

Selected of Recordings of Pratten’s Works:

Guitar Ladies by Heike Matthiesen (CD)

Carnival de Venice by Heike Matthiesen (Youtube)

14 Histoires de guitares by David Jacques (CD)

Forgotten, A Lament, Weary and Song Without Words by David Jacques (Youtube)

Forgotten played by Emily Shaw (Youtube)

Garden Waltz by Candice Mowbray (CD)

La Donne e la Chitarra by James Akers (CD)

Sadness played by Ciyadh Wells (Youtube)

Velvet Touch by Ulrich Wedemeier (CD)

Wake the Sigh by Emma Rush (CD)

Sheet Music:

Vahdah Olcott-Bickford - Ethel Lucretia Olcott (1885-1980)

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“The [Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar] movement [had] its share of acclaimed guitarists…None, however, garnered the notoriety heaped on Vahdah Olcott-Bickford and William Foden as performers, teachers, composer/arrangers, historians, and musical authorities.”(1)

The Grand Lady of the Guitar, Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, was born in Ohio in 1885. Her birth name was Ethel Lucretia Olcott.(2) Her family moved to Socorro, New Mexico before settling in Los Angeles, California. She began playing guitar at the age of eight and became a pupil of George C. Lindsey (1855-1943) at age nine. Through Lindsey, she was introduced to Manuel Ferrer (1828-1904) with whom she lived and studied for about a year until his sudden death.

Bickford concertized from a young age and gained notoriety as a performer, often appearing as a soloist: Bickford’s “insistent use of [solo recitals] as a young performer put her in the vanguard of the BMG community and contributed to a change in expectations for the American guitarist.”(3) Her repertoire included music by Ferrer, Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909), Fernando Sor (1778-1839), Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856), Luigi Legnani (1790-1877) and William Foden (1860-1947). In addition to solo performances, she directed and played in ensembles such as Olcott Guitar Quartet of Los Angeles and La Bandurria Guitar Trio. Both of these ensembles consisted of only female players.

In 1915, she married Zahr Myron Bickford, a composer and multi-instrumentalist who played organ, viola, guitar and mandolin. The couple lived in New York and played music together performing works for two guitars, guitar and mandolin, or guitar with string quartet. Zahr and Myron made a number of recordings in 1921 and 1922, which are some of the few surviving recordings of American guitar soloists from the era. They moved to Los Angeles in 1923 and their recordings were frequently used in Hollywood movies during the 1920s and 1930s.(4)

Upon returning to California, Bickford helped to establish the American Guitar Society, organization which still exists today. Zahr Myron Bickford shared Vahdah’s plans for the group, stating “She wanted to actively sponsor concerts, encourage composers to enrich the literature of the guitar and urge the sale of such literature in all music publications.”(5) A unique aspect of the society’s early activities was Bickford’s presentation of lecture-recitals. In addition to historical figures, Bickford spoke about contemporary composers such as Heinrich Albert (1870-1950), a chamber music specialist with whom Luise Walker studied.(6) A photo of Bickford with members of the American Guitar Society Orchestra hangs in the Martin Guitar museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania next to a signature Olcott-Bickford Artist Model guitar.(7)

Bickford was a columnist for journals such as Crescendo, Cadenza and Serenader. “Olcott-Bickford stood shoulder to shoulder with Foden on the pages of Cadenza and Crescendo and in the eyes of much of the BMG community.”(8) She worked to promote the guitar’s role as a classical concert instrument, encouraging technical mastery in service of musicality and expressiveness.

In addition to guitar, Bickford played terz guitar, lute, ukulele and mandolin. She wrote method books for guitar and ukulele, and published numerous transcriptions and arrangements of classical and popular works as well as some original compositions. Her catalog includes themed volumes such as a collection of Russian music with arrangements for solo guitar, guitar duet and voice and guitar. Other volumes have themes based on works by Schubert, Beethoven, music from Spain and Mexico, and classic and modern music. Her publications are plentiful and she was a great collector of music as well.

Throughout her lifetime, Bickford amassed an incredible collection of guitar-related materials:

"She was a visionary collector of guitar music, guitar journals, letters from important musicians and other materials relating to the guitar and other plucked instruments."(9) The Olcott-Bickford Collection is housed by the International Guitar Research Archives at California State University, Northridge. The archives were founded in 1980 by Dr. Ronald C. Purcell when the collection was donated.(10) There are more than 15,000 items in the collection which includes about 7,000 musical scores.(11)

Bickford gave her last concert in 1977 for the American Guitar Society and died in 1980 at the age of 94. “There is little doubt that through her promotional efforts and her transcriptions of music for the guitar, she was one of the most influential figures in the North American classical guitar scene during the first 50 years of this century."(12)

Notes and Sources Cited:

(1) Jeffrey Noonan, The Guitar in America: Victorian Era to Jazz Age (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008), 138, Kindle. This book has been an especially notable source of information for this essay. It is highly recommended for information about Vahdah Olcott-Bickford’s career and legacy, and offers poignant and thoughtful commentary.

(2) Ethel Lucretia Olcott changed her first name to Vahdah after developing an interest in astrology and serving as the personal assistant for Evangeline Adams, a well-known astrologer in New York.

(3) Noonan, 145.

(4) Ibid., 149.

(5) As quoted in “Notes on Vahdah Olcott-Bickford and the Founding of AGS,” American Guitar Society, accessed January 9, 2021, This article may be from Guitar Review, No. 23, June, 1959.

(6) Noonan, 150.

(7) The photo of the American Guitar Society Orchestra from the Martin Guitar Factory and other photos of Bickford can be viewed at A handwritten list of persons in the American Guitar Society Orchestra photograph can be viewed at

(8) Noonan, 153.

(9) Patricia Ward Biederman, "'Motherly Instincts' and a Passion for the Guitar," Los Angeles Times, September 21,1998,

(10) Dr. Ronald Purcell was one of the founding members of the Guitar Foundation of America and received the Distinguished Service Award from the GFA in 2008. A profile of Dr. Purcell can be viewed at

(11) An overview and guide to the Vahdah Olcott-Bickford Collection can be viewed at More information about the correspondence portion of the collection can be obtained at

(12) Maurice Summerfield, "Vahdah Olcott-Bickford," The Classical Guitar, It's Evolution, Players and Personalities since 1800, (Blaydon on Tyne, UK: Ashley Mark, 2002), 58-9.

Additional Resources:

  • Ernie Jackson, "Vahdah Olcott-Bickford," The Only Book You'll Ever Need - Guitar (United Kingdom: F+W Media, 2012), accessed June 20, 2020,

  • “Oviatt Opens Guitar Archive,” Oviatt Friends, Vol. 10 Issue 4 (June 2005),

  • A.P. Sharpe, “Vahdah Olcott Bickford,” The Story of the Spanish Guitar (London: Essex Music, 1959), 35.

Selected Works:

I have obtained a very limited number of scores by Vahdah Olcott-Bickford. I recommend her arrangement of La Golondria by Narciso Serradell Sevilla (1843-1910) as it was dedicated to her teacher and friend, George Lindsey. Rather than recommend further works without the opportunity to view a greater portion of her output, I have chosen to contribute by searching the Guide to the Vahdah Olcott-Bickford Collection using the keyword searches “Composer: Vahdah” and “Composer: Ethel” to begin forming a list of her original compositions. Those works appear below.*



Elegy Songs Without Words

Cupid’s Wireless Telegram

Manikin Dance

Knight and Lady Fair danse ancienne

Lullaby Cradle Song

Caprice Characteristique Op. 2

On the Wings of Morpheus

The Story of the Strings suite for mando-cello (or mandolin) and guitar

Eventide Op. 18

Heart of Joy

In a Rare Garden

Valse Petite

On a Summer’s Day


Day dreams reverie Op. 11

November, an Autumn Inspiration Op. 83

Gladness - Songs Without Words

Francesca Valse

Beauty’s Dream

Heart of Joy

*Update: Since writing this essay, the online archives of the Olcott-Bickford Collection have been updated. Numerous scores have been scanned and uploaded. There are 42 entries as of June 1, 2021 which have Olcott-Bickford listed as the composer:

Josefina Robledo (1892-1972)

Facebook Post: ***Most of the information from this post came from my rough translation of the Altrecorde website. Please visit the website listed in the works cited for the original article.

Guitarist Josefina Robledo was born in Valencia on May 10, 1892 and died in Godella on May, 25, 1972. She began her studies with Francisco Tarrega at the age of seven.(1) During a lecture in 1959, Robledo shared personal recounts of their first meeting and her consequent studies with Tarrega as well as time she spent caring for him. A transcription of that lecture and excerpts from letters by Tarrega to Robledo can be read by visiting Robledo moved to Buenos Aires in 1914 and gave concerts in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. "She performed in Sao Paulo in the same period as Barrios and Canhoto. Her refined style created a sensation in the city, not only because of the high level of her performance skills but also due to the fact that she was a female virtuoso, something rarely seen at that time."(2) Robledo returned in Spain in 1924, performing many concerts, but ended her concert career after being married in 1927. She continued to play for friends and give occasional performances. One of those concerts occurred November 20, 1952, for the centenary of the birth of Tárrega, with Pepita Roca, Daniel Fortea and Emilio Pujol.(3) Photos of her published transcription of Chopin's "Marche Funebre" appear on the Altrecorde website. One of those photos shows the back page of the publication where a list of other published transcriptions by Robledo appears. Some of these publications can be accessed through the Royal Danish Library by searching for her name via the site's homepage. At least two of her scores come up as "Untitled."

Sources Cited: (1) "Maestri: Josefina Robledo Gallardohe," Altre-Corde, accessed June 20, 2020, (2) Joao Paulo Figueiroa da Cruz, “An Annotated Bibliography of Works by the Brazilian Composer Sergio Assad” (DMA, Florida State University, 2008), accessed June 20, 2020,, 6-7.

  • (3) Altrecorde: Maestri.

Additional Sources:

Maria Luisa Anido (1907-1996) Facebook Post:

Maria Luisa Anido was born on January 26, 1907 in Moron, a province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She died in Tarragona, Spain on June 4, 1996. Anido had an incredible career as a concert artist and teacher, relentlessly touring since the 1950s with performances in South America, Europe, Russia, Japan and Cuba. Musically active into her later years, Anido received a great number of honors in the form of awards, titles, and musical and literary tributes. These include being named Honorary Member of the University of Havana at age 80 and earning the Konex Platinum Award 1989: String Instrumentalist in Argentina.(1) She continues to be honored through guitar festivals such as the annual International Guitar Festival “Maria Luisa Anido” in Moron, and a significant new composition, “Anido’s Portrait” by Sergio Assad, was recently commissioned by concert artist, Berta Rojas, as a tribute to Anido.

Nicknamed “Mimita,” Anido grew up in an environment rich with guitar activity. She received her first guitar in 1914 and learned some guitar skills from her father, Juan Carlos Anido (1871-1932). “Maria Luisa Anido chose the right sort of father! But for his many interests and activities Don Juan Carlos Anido, a man of considerable culture and ability, might have become a great guitarist. No doubt his musical potentialities and his love of the guitar found realization, indeed, personification in his daughter.”(2) Juan Carlos Anido was a great supporter of the guitar and founded a magazine called La Guitarra. Guitarists such as Miguel Llobet (1878-1938), Josefina Robledo (1897-1972), Emilio Pujol (1886-1980) and Regino Sainz de la Maza (1896-1981) were guests in her family home.(3)

Domingo Prat (1886-1944) became Anido’s teacher within a few months of receiving her first guitar. When Prat went to Spain for performances, she studied with Robledo for the months prior to his return.(4) She was under Robledo’s instruction when she gave her first recital in 1916.(5) Anido’s father obtained a Torres guitar for her that had been owned by Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909). With this guitar, she gave her formal debut in 1918 at La Argentina in Buenos Aires. The program included works by Tarrega, Llobet, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), Fernando Sor (1778-1839), Robert Schumann (1810-1856), Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Jules Massenet (1842-1912), Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Joaquin Malats (1872-1912) and Tomas Damas (1825–1890) as well as a work by Vieuxtemps, likely Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881).(6)

Anido became a student of Llobet, with whom she also performed. Recordings she made with Llobet between 1925 and 1929 are considered to be among the earliest recordings of guitar in duet.(7) Llobet said, “Maria Luisa Anido was for me a revelation. The impression it produced to me I’ll never be able to erase from my mind, since in reality it is something that surpasses all that is imaginable.”(8) He also expressed, “It constitutes for me the highest honor, to have contributed to her artistic perfection.”(9)

Anido’s father accompanied her when traveling for performances. She stated that upon her father’s death in 1932, traveling became impossible. “It was a very different time for women. Llobet would tell my father that if I had been born a man, he would’ve taken me with him to Europe.”(10) After his death, she gave some performances in Argentina and Uruguay, performed for radio, published music, and became a professor at the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica y Arte Escenico of Buenos Aires in 1942.

Following her mother’s death in 1950, Anido embarked upon an extensive international touring career. Between 1951 and 1956, she performed in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, England, Austria, Italy, France, Japan and Russia. Her concert travels also led to the Philippines, Costa Rica, Mexico, Romania and Switzerland. Venues in which she performed include Schubert Hall (Vienna), Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (Moscow) and Wigmore Hall (London). A celebration of the 50th anniversary of her first performance was held in Argentina in 1966. “The entire country mobilized, paying her a tribute that, according to the newspaper La Nación ‘was the most important rendered to a living Argentine musician.’’(11) Participating in the tribute were “artistic personalities such as Andres Segovia, Alberto Ginastera, Benito Quinquela Martin, Joaquin Rodrigo, Roberto García Morillo, Antonio Berni, Emilio Pujol, among others.”(12)

Anido’s concert programs incorporated works for guitar, transcriptions of classical and folkloric pieces, arrangements of music by Argentinean composers, and her own compositions. In a review of her performance at Wigmore Hall in 1952 for B.M.G. magazine, by A.P. Sharpe stated, “she performed early English music, arrangements of Handel and Mozart, three movements of her own ‘Suite Argentina’ and solos by Llobet, Aguirre, Segovia, Tarrega, etc.”(13) A brochure for a nine-concert tour in Japan gave notes for a vast number of works she was scheduled to perform and which spanned the major musical time periods.(14) During this tour, she performed Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Yomiuri Japanese Symphony Orchestra.

Anido taught at the National Conservatory in Buenos Aires, Manuel de Falla Municipal Conservatory, Higher Institute of Music of Olavaria, and the Higher Institute of Music of Rosario of the National University of Litoral.(15) During her international engagements, she taught classes and served on competition juries. Many of her students became superb players with wonderful careers. Students such as Cristina Cid, Maria Esther Guzman and Maria Isabel Siewers have furthered Anido’s legacy by recording her music, giving lectures, publishing articles, and organizing festivals and associations in her honor.

In addition to performing and teaching, Anido wrote numerous arrangements and original compositions for guitar. Her arrangements include folkloric works, music by Argentine composers such as Julian Aguirre (1868-1924) and Alberto Williams (1862-1952), and classical works. Her original compositions are often infused with folk music elements. Many of her works are outstanding and require the skills of advanced players. Aire norteno is vibrant and rhythmic with accents and intricacies that are sure to engage the player as well as the listener. Aire de vidalita and “El misachico” (dedicated to her mother) from Impresiones Argentinas are expressive and evocative. “Lejania” is the first in Anido’s series of Preludios Nostalgicos. Marked melancolico, gentle dissonances are created and resolved through arpeggios that utilize a combination of fretted and open internal strings. It is both sweet and stunning. Anido recorded several of her own works, and Maria Isabel Siewers, Clara Campese, Carmen Becerra, and Omar Atreo have recorded albums solely featuring her compositions. The Anido Guitar transcribed and recorded several of Anido’s solo works for duo performance.

A biography by Aldo Rodriguez titled Maria Luisa Anido: la gran dama de la guitarra was published in 2018. Much of the information came directly from Anido through interviews with the author in 1989 thus providing an intimate view of Anido’s personality and outlook as well as details of her career. She discusses her experiences with managers, travels and other artists. The book includes lists of her compositions and arrangements as well as photos of manuscripts, programs and press. An interview between Anido and Rodriguez is available online and Rodriguez recorded an album of duets with Anido.

Annotations for the History of the Classical Guitar in Argentina 1822-2000 by Randy Osborne and Hector Garcia Martinez is a monumental set of books published in four volumes which feature a drawing of Anido and Llobet on their covers. Chapter Three, spanning pages 975-1338, is titled “The Women of the Guitar in Argentina” and over 60 pages are dedicated to discussion of Anido’s education, performances, teaching, recordings and compositions. Biographical writings from various sources have been reprinted in the books along with photos of Anido, concert programs, communications, article clippings and reviews. Translations of reviews are included.

Another notable resource about Anido is an in-depth article by Cristina Cid titled “Maria Luisa Anido.” Published on, the article includes biographical information, reprinted correspondence pertaining to the guitar previously owned by Tarrega, letters exchanged between Anido and Segovia, and a list of Anido’s compositions with annotations regarding volumes in which individual pieces can be found as well as publishers for several of the works. Cid also shares several quotes from Anido:

“Every human being requires, at times, to hold some kind of spiritual dialogue with the infinite, to dream with that thrilling immaterial beauty that comes from poetry or music, recreating either with colors or sounds the mysterious sensations that awaken in his or her soul. Art has helped me convey those feelings and communicate them to people all over the world.”

“It gives me great joy to see so many children devoting themselves to the guitar. Times have changed: at the beginning of the century, everyone said to my father, slightly scandalized: ‘What, a woman playing the guitar!’ I felt humiliated, but my father, who in remembering I admire more and more each time, persisted with his mission of making a guitarist out of me without knowing, perhaps, that in doing so he was giving me a “credit card” or universal “passport”. I became a relentless traveler, with my guitar on my back, like the countrymen of my remote childhood. My guitar was my passport…”

Notes and Sources Cited:

(1) This was the same year Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) won the Honour Konex Award. “Konex Awards - 1989 - Classical Music,” Fundacion Konex, accessed January 12, 2021,

(2) “Contemporary Guitarist No. 5,” Guitar News Magazine, (April/May 1952) as reprinted by Randy Osborne and Hector Garcia Martinez, Annotations for the History of the Classical Guitar in Argentina 1822-2000 Volume II (Campbell, CA: Fine Fretted String Instruments, 2020), 1075.

(3) Cristina Cid, “Maria Luisa Anido,” Guitarrasweb, accessed January 12, 2021, and

(4) La Guitarra and Ricardo Munoz as cited by Osborne and Martinez, 1029-30.

(5) When naming great Spanish guitarists in a lecture for students in Argentina, Anido named Robledo along with Llobet and Andres Segovia. Aldo Rodriguez, Maria Luisa Anido: la gran dama de la guitarra. Una vida a contramano (Costa Rica: EUNA, 2018), 66.

(6) Cid.

(7) Jack Silver, liner notes to Legendary Treasures Andres Segovia and His Contemporaries, Volume 6, Andres Segovia, Miguel Llobet and Maria Luisa Anido, DHR-7754, CD, 2000.

(8) As cited by Osborne and Martinez, 1030.

(9) As cited by Ricardo Munoz, reprinted by Osborne and Martinez, 1037.

(10) As cited by Rodriguez, 130.

(11) “Maria Luisa Anido,” Fundacion Konex, accessed January 12, 2021,

(12) Ibid.

(13) As reprinted by Osborne and Martinez, 1074.

(14) “Maria Luisa Anido,” Guitar News, no. 71 (May-June 1963) as reprinted by Osborne and Martinez, 1088.

(15) “Maria Luisa Anido,” Fundacion Konex.

Additional Resources:

  • Anido, Maria Luisa. Impresiones argentinas: para guitarra. Buenos Aires: Editorial Julio Korn, 1953.

  • Anido, Maria Luisa. Lejania: preludio n.1: de la serie de Preludios nostálgicos. Buenos Aires: Ricordi Americana, 1979.

  • Carmen Becerra, “Maria Luisa Anido,” accessed January 26, 2020.

  • Cristina Cid, accessed January 12, 2021,

  • Silvina Luz Mansilla, “Los conciertos de la guitarrista Maria Luisa Anido en la ciudad de San Juan, Argentina (1952-1963),” Boletin Musica, Issue 39 (April 2015), 97-106,

  • Randy Osborne, “How Buenos Aires Became the World Center of the Classical Guitar,” Fine Fretted String Instruments, September 26, 2003,

  • A.P. Sharpe, “Maria Luisa Anido,” The Story of the Spanish Guitar (London: Essex Music, 1959), 34.

  • Jack Silver, liner notes to Legendary Treasure Andres Segovia and His Contemporaries, Volume 4, Andres Segovia and Maria Luisa Anido, DHR-7719, CD, 1999.

  • Maurice Summerfield, The Classical Guitar: Its Evolution, Players and Personalities Since 1800, 5th ed. (Blaydon on Tyne: Ashley Mark Publishing, 2002), 35.

Selection of Compositions:

Adios, adios

Aire norteno

Aire de vidalita


Cancion de cuna

Cancion del Yucutan

Impresiones argentinas: I. Boceto indigena (dedicated to Lalyta Almiron) II. Preludio pampeano

III. Variacions camperas IV. Triste V. Santiaguena VI. Catamarquena VII. Preludio criollo

VIII. Canto de la Llanura IX. El Misachico (dedicated to her mother)

Preludio Campero no. 3

Preludios nostalgicos: I. Lejania II.Mar III. Gris

Selection of Arrangements:


Selection of Anido's Recordings:

Concert in Russia (Youtube)

Concierto Magistral by Maria Luisa Anido and Aldo Rodriguez, Arieto (LP)

Grand Dame De La Guitare, Erato (LP)

Legendary Treasures, Andres Segovia and His Contemporaries, Volume 4. Andres Segovia and Maria

Luisa Anido, DOREMI (CD)

Legendary Treasures, Andres Segovia and His Contemporaries, Volume 6. Andres Segovia, Miguel

Llobet and Maria Luisa Anido, DOREMI (CD)

Selection of Recordings of Anido's Compositions:

Anido: A Mimita by Maria Isabel Siewers, Acqua Records (CD)

Impresiones Argentinas by The Anido Guitar Duo, Soundset (CD)

Legado by Berta Rojas, OnMusic (CD)

Luise Walker (1910-1998)

Luise Walker was born in Vienna, Austria in 1910. She began guitar lessons at age eight. Her father chose the guitar as the instrument for her study, saying that piano should not be the only instrument taught to young girls at her school.(1) She studied with Dr. Josef Zuth (1879-1932), a noted musicologist who authored Das kuenstlerische Gitarrespiel and the Handbuch der Laute und Gitarre. With Dr. Zuth, Walker was required to learn books 1-10 from the Lauten und Gitarre Schule by Heinrich Scherrer (1865-1937). Studies by Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841) followed. Later, she attended the Musikhockschule of Vienna where she studied with Jacob Ortner (1879-1959).

Walker’s father organized the Vienna Guitar Club and helped to bring great artists to the city including Heinrich Albert (1870-1950), a guitarist and chamber music specialist. With Albert, Walker intensified her studies. She also had lessons with Miguel Llobet (1878-1938) who was a guest in her family’s home. In an interview with Maria Isabel Siewers, Walker expressed that she learned discipline and how to think about music with Albert. With Llobet, she learned many things, especially techniques such as rest stroke.(2) He would sometimes motivate her to work on Francisco Tarrega’s (1852-1909) etude, La Mariposa, by saying how wonderfully his other student, Maria Luisa Anido (1907-1996), had played it.(3)

Walker gave her professional debut in Vienna at the age of 15. She toured England, Europe, the United States, Russia and Japan, and her repertoire was wide-ranging. She played transcriptions of music by 19th-century composers such as Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Robert Schumann (1810-1856) and Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), and music by composers who wrote for the guitar including Napoleon Coste (1805-1883), Fernando Sor (1778-1839) and Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). She also performed works by composers who were contemporaries to her lifetime such as Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) and Guido Santorsola (1904-1994), and music by Austrian composers such as Alfred Uhl (1909 - 1992) and Armin Kaufmann (1902-1980). A concert performed by Walker in May 1960 at the Brahms-Saal in Vienna included music by Sor, Tarrega, Kaufmann, Santorsola and Villa-Lobos as well as Alonso Mudarra (1510-1580), Ludovico Conte del Roncalli (1654-1713), Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), Frederico Morena Torroba (1891-1982), Manuel Ponce (1882-1948) and Daniel Fortea (1878-1953).(4) Siewers said Walker continued to possess an eagerness to learn in her late life, requesting Siewers share some pieces by Maximo Diego Pujol.(5)

Numerous composers dedicated works to Walker including Santorsola, Heinrich Gattermeyer (1923-2018), Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999), Ekcard Lind, and possibly Manuel Ponce (1882-1948). In her autobiography, Ein Leben mit der Gitarre (A Life With the Guitar), Walker shared a story of meeting Villa-Lobos and wanting to ask him to write a piece for her as Rodrigo, Santorsola and Ponce had done.(6)

The piece Rodrigo dedicated to Walker is titled, En Tierras de Jerez and it was published in a collection that included Sarabande by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), dedicated to Ida Presti (1924-1967).

Walker recorded solos, chamber music and music for guitar with orchestra. Her trio and quintet recordings of works by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) and Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) from 1932 may be among the earliest recordings of guitar in chamber ensemble. Those recordings as well as solos are included on Volume 3 of the DOREMI series, Andres Segovia and his Contemporaries. The recording of Italienisch Fantasie by Antonio Dominici (1872-1934) and Gran Jota by Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) included on this album showcase remarkable virtuosity, while works by Chopin, Weber, Brahms and Franz Schubert (1808-1878) reveal her beautiful romanticism and expressivity. Later ensemble recordings include Santorsola’s Concertino for Guitar and Orchestra with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (1953) and Niccolo Paganini’s (1782-1840) Quartet No. 7 in E major and Terzetto Concertante in D major (1969).

Walker published original compositions and pedagogical works. Her Variationen uber ein spanisches Lied includes an enjoyable theme and several short variations that employ guitaristic figurations such as slurs to open strings, arpeggios, rasgueados, melodies fingered on inner strings for expressive effect and melodies harmonized in thirds. Her Brasilianisch and Argentinische Weise are tonal, folk inspired pieces, and Regentude is an evocative tremolo piece. Countryside by Night has an improvisatory quality and is meant to elicit Japanese music. She wrote several compositions that can be performed by beginning guitarists. Works such as Kleine Romanze (which opens with a figure similar to Villa-Lobos’ Prelude No. 4), Kleine Ballade, Alte Laute and Biedermeeier-Walzer are pieces with character that can be incorporated into beginning or early-intermediate repertoire.

Walker dedicated a great part of her career to teaching. In the preface to her publication, Das tagliche Training (The Daily Training), Walker offers advice on nails, improvement of technique and practice: “Let your brain work when you are studying and let your heart sing when you play.”(7) She became professor at the music Musikhockschule of Vienna in 1940 and, in 1956, she was a juror for the 12th International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva, Switzerland. Her colleagues on the jury included Jose de Azpaziu (1912-1986), Julian Bream (1933-2020), Hans Haug (1900-1967), Dr. Hermann Leeb (1906-1979), Andres Segovia (1893-1987) and Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986).(8)

Walker’s autobiography, Ein Leben mit der Gitarre, was published in 1989 by Musikverlag Zimmermann. The text is in German and the book includes a foreward by Gattermeyer who had a two-decade friendship with Walker. Topics discussed in the autobiography include stories of her youth and later concert travels, advice on guitar care and technique, and meetings with famous musical figures. She offers thoughts on emotional aspects of being a guitarist and gives encouragement to those pursuing its study. In her biography as well as magazine interviews, Walker gives reflections on the how the guitar world changed over the course of her lifetime which spanned most of the 20th century. Her words emanate warmth and a true commitment and admiration for her art as the title of her autobiography implies.

In 1987, Walker was awarded the Gold Medal of Honor of the Federal Capital Vienna and the Golden Honor for Service to the Republic of Austria. The Musikhochschule of Vienna honored her in 1990.(9) Walker died in 1998 at the age of 87. In a tribute published in Classical Guitar Magazine, November 1998, John Duarte (1919-2004) stated “Her life with the guitar was one of total dedication and motivational purity. She was possessed of formidable technique (Segovia told me of this even before I had even heard her) and a musicality whose warmth was comparably expressed in her willingness to help others.”(10)


(1) Luise Walker, Ein Leben mit dem Gitarre (Frankfurt: Musikverlag Zimmerman, 1989), 19.

(2) Maria Isabel Siewers, “Luise Walker,” Classical Guitar, November 1998.

(3) Walker, 60.

(4) Several programs given by Walker at the Brahms-Saal are archived at

(5) Siewers.

(6) Luise Walker, Ein Leben mit dem Gitarre (Frankfurt: Musikverlag Zimmerman, 1989), 92-93.

(7) Luise Walker, Das tagliche Training (Vienna: Musikverlag V. Hladky, 1947).

(8) “By the Way,” BMG, Vol. LIII no. 609 (January 1956,) 111, as quoted by “Magazine Articles: 1956-1959,” Julian Bream Guitar, accessed January 10, 2021,

(9) An entry for the “Große Ehrenmedaille der Wr. MHsch. 1990” is listed among Walker’s awards on the Musiklexikon website. An assumption that “Wr. MHsch” refers to the Musikhochschule has been made by the author. Christian Fastl, "Walker (married. Hejsek), Luise (own Luise-Ida)," Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon, accessed January 10, 2021, /Walker_Luise.xml.

(10) John Duarte, “Luise Walker (1910-1998),” Classical Guitar, November 1998.

Additional Resources:

  • Tobias Braun, "Guitarist Luise Walker and her Santos Hernandez Guitar," Tobias Braun Guitars, accessed June 22 2020,

  • John Duarte, liner notes to Ida Presti and Luise Walker: Les grandes dames de la guitare, GEMM 9133, CD, 1995.

  • Gitarre und Laute Online Magazine, Vol. 29 no. 1 (2007),

  • A.P. Sharpe, “Luise Walker,” The Story of the Spanish Guitar (London: Essex Music, 1959), 58-9.

  • Jack Silver, liner notes to Legendary Treasures, Andres Segovia and His Contemporaries, Volume 4, Segovia and Walker, DHR-7709, CD, 1998.

  • Maurice Summerfield, “Luise Walker,” The Classical Guitar: Its Evolution, Players and Personalities since 1800 (Blaydon on Tyne, UK: Ashley Mark, 2002), 305-6.

Selection of Compositions and Arrangements (some grouped by publication):

  • Kleine Romanze

  • The Young Guitar Soloist: Alte Laute, Hofischer Tanz, Repos, Greensleeves, Carlito, Gaucho, Es waren zwei Konigskinder, Gitana, Adios, Variationen uber Leise rieselt der Schnee

  • Dance song and Etude in C Major

  • Altspanische Suite fur Altblockflote und gitarre op 49

  • Old Masters of the 17th Century (trans.)

  • Daily Training (method)

  • Miniatures: 10 Little Pieces

  • Favorite Guitar Pieces (edition of Tarrega’s music)

  • Regentude

  • Variationene uber ein spanisches Lied

  • Brasilianisch and Etude in E Major

  • Marsch nach einer Tiroler Melodie and

  • Etude Chromatisch

  • 5 Easy Compositions for Solo Guitar: Kleine Ballade; Prelude; Biedermeier-Walzer; Capriccio; Countryside by Night

  • Argentinische Weise; Triste; Volksweises

  • Musik für die gitarre luise walker (VOB6453) Composer: H. Marschner, Instrumentation: Solo; Guitar as per V.O. Bickford collection Box 109, Folder 9

Selection of Compositions Written for Walker:

En Tierras de Jerez by Joaquin Rodrigo

"Prelude II" from Cinco Preludios by Guido Santorsola

Vals Romantico by Guido Santorsola

Cancion para Luise Walker by Ekard Lind

Kassation I (flute, viola and guitar at request of Walker) by Heinrich Gattermeyer

Impressionen (flute and guitar for Walker and Werner Tripp Duo) by Heinrich Gattermeyer

Partie im Dialog (flute and guitar for Walker and Werner Tripp Duo) by Gattermeyer

Fantasia for Guitar and Piano by Heinrich Haug

Selection of Walker's Recordings:

  • G. Santorsola, Luise Walker, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Paul Sacher - Concertino For Guitar And Orchestra, Philips (LP)

  • Guitar Recital by Luise Walker, Philips (LP)

  • Ida Presti and Luise Walker: Les grandes dames de la guitare, Pearl (CD)

  • Legendary Treasures, Andres Segovia and His Contemporaries, Volume 3, Segovia and Walker, DOREMI (CD)

  • Luise Walker - Jota/Italienische Fantasie, Telefunken (LP)

  • Schubert, Weber, Haydn, Luise Walker - Guitar Music In Vienna, Turnabout (LP)

Partial Discography:

  • Andres Segovia and his Contemporaries Vol. 3: Segovia and Walker, DOREMI (CD)

  • Ida Presti and Luise Walker: Les grandes dames de la guitare, Pearl (CD)

  • Guitar Recital by Luise Walker, Philips (LP)

  • Guitar Recital by Luise Walker, Supraphon (LP)

  • Guitar Recital by Luise Walker, Epic (LP)

  • G. Santorsola, Luise Walker, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Paul Sacher - Concertino For Guitar And Orchestra, Philips (LP)

  • Luise Walker, Roncalli, Scarlatti, Sor, Santórsola, Villa-Lobos, Torroba*, Van Hoek - Famous Guitar Compositions, Supraphon (LP)

  • Paganini, Luise Walker - Quartet For Guitar, Violin, Viola & Cello / Terzetto Conceretante For Guitar, Viola & Cello, Turnabout (LP)

  • Schubert, Weber, Haydn, Luise Walker - Guitar Music In Vienna, Turnabout (LP)

  • Luise Walkerová* / Leo Witoszynskyj* - Kytarový Recitál, Supraphon (LP)

  • Luise Walker - Jota/Italienische Fantasie, Telefunken (LP)

  • Luise Walker, Franz Lehár - Concertino For Guitar And Orchestra / Die Czardasfürstin - Operettenquerschnitt, Philips (LP)

  • Menuetto (Donna Diana) / Standchen by Luise Walker, Decca (LP)

  • Luise Walker - Guitar, Test Pressing, Philips (LP)

Lali “Lalyta” Delfina Almirón (1914-1997)

Essay forthcoming

A biography can be obtained at:

Ida Presti (1924-1967)

Although I have provided an essay below, I would like to direct you to my 2012 doctoral thesis, its footnotes and bibliography for resources about Ida Presti. The paper discusses Presti's general biography, her performance style, solo compositions and the way her performance skills influence interpretation of her works. There is also a list of notational concerns for the published works. In the bilbliography, you will find citations for articles, videos and more by persons such as Elisabeth Presti, Anna Marillia, Eleftheria Kotzia, Alice Artzt, Angelo Gilardino, Gilbert Biberian, Andres Segovia and John Duarte. The paper is available for free download. A link and abstract are provided below. I have also written articles about Presti for Soundboard and Prodigies, publications of the Guitar Foundation of America, and recorded a selection of Presti's solo works.


Ida Presti as a Solo Performer and Composer of Works for Solo Guitar by Mowbray, Candice, D.M.A., Shenandoah University, 2012, 113; 3537481

Thesis Abstract:

Ida Presti (1924-1967) was one of history's greatest classical guitarists. Her extraordinary technique was matched by incredible musicianship. Remembered largely for her contributions to the guitar-duet medium, Presti was a child prodigy and gave many concerts as a soloist before she and her husband, Alexandre Lagoya (1929-1999), dedicated their careers to performing as a duo. Her few released solo recordings reveal that her virtuosity and musicality were evident early in her career. Throughout her lifetime, Presti's playing exhibited unique vitality and stunning facility. Esteemed colleagues remember Presti with fondness and reverence, considering her untimely death to be a great loss for the guitar community.

Presti's solo career and compositions for solo guitar are the primary focus of the study. Historical perspective is offered to determine possible influences on her education and repertoire. Her solo recordings and compositions were examined to identify aspects of her technique and interpretive style. Additionally, the study includes a discussion of select works written in homage to Presti. Through these efforts, it is anticipated that readers will be encouraged to listen to Presti's recordings and perform her compositions and the works written in her honor.

My Articles:

My Recordings:

Ida Presti (1924-1967)

By Candice Mowbray

January 14, 2021

Ida Presti was born on May 31, 1924 in Suresnes, near Paris, France. She died while on tour in the United States in 1967 at the age of 42. She was a virtuosic guitarist whose work as a soloist and duo partner exemplified the highest levels of classical guitar performance. She possessed unusual physical attributes including a remarkable left-hand stretch and unique right-hand positioning. As evidenced in her recordings and remembered by those who heard her perform, Presti’s incredible virtuosity worked in the service of her interpretive imagination and expression. Confirmed by observation and commentary from her colleagues, the most overwhelming aspect of Presti’s performance was the energy and vitality with which she played.

Presti’s father, Claude Montagnon (1892-1938), was inspired by hearing Andres Segovia’s (1893-1987) Paris debut in 1924 just prior to Ida’s birth. He declared that his daughter would be a great virtuoso of the guitar. Her father guided her instruction using a full-sized guitar.(1) He assigned etudes composed by 19th and early 20th century guitarists including studies by Matteo Carcassi (1792-1853), Fernando Sor (1778-1839) and Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849).(2) Concert attendance was part of Presti’s early music education as were recordings and she learned many works from Segovia’s repertoire.

Presti gave her first public performance at the age of 8 and her first full length recital occurred on April 28, 1935 at the Salle Chopin-Pleyel in Paris. The program, given at the age of ten, included works by Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), Joaquin Malats (1872-1912), Joaquin Turina (1882-1949), Frederico Moreno-Torroba (1891-1982), Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). This was the same year that the influential concert artist and musicologist Emilio Pujol (1886-1980) called her “a miracle of facility and grace.”(3) She was invited to perform for the Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire and Les Concerts Pasdeloup, and played a waltz by Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) in the 1938 film, Le Petit Chose.(4) Her earliest recordings were made around this time as well. These recordings belie the age of the player and elicited contemporaneous comparisons to Segovia. Early 20th-century critic Arthur Dandelot (1864-1943) recalled this experience: “A friend played me a recording of a guitarist that I found excellent and asked me to guess the name of the performer. Without hesitation I replied that only Segovia was capable of playing in such a way. Absolutely not he told me. This is a little 13-year-old girl, Ida Presti, who has attained such perfection.”(5)

Segovia met Presti when she was a child and Segovia recounted the meeting in a memorial printed in Guitar Review in 1969: “I met Ida Presti when she was a girl of eight. The first impression was given me by her delicate and youthful beauty, and when I listened to her I was aware that heaven had bestowed to her the gift of musical communication. Her heart resounded melodically. Her fingers sometimes were disobedient to the right tempo by excess of vitality. Later on, when she was in every respect a grown-up artist, as a soloist or in association with her husband, her playing was flawless, expressive, and strictly and delicately rhythmic. My wife and I have loved her and we have shed tears of real sorrow for her disappearance from this world.”(6)

The death of Presti’s father in 1938 and the Second World War caused a very difficult time in Presti’s life and impacted her career. In the decade following Montagnon’s death, she continued to give performances when possible, played for radio, and taught some guitar lessons. One of her students was Robert Bouchet (1898-1986).(7) Presti was invited to play Hector Berlioz’s (1803-1869) guitar on live radio and perform using Niccolo Paganini’s (1782-1840) guitar for centennial commemorations. Presti gave the French radio premiere of Joaquin Rodrigo’s (1901-1999) Concierto de Aranjuez on September 16, 1948 and the first public performance of the work in France on March 24, 1949.(8) She received the score just eight days before the premiere.(9) “At the beginning of the 1950s, she had become again a famous guitarist, sought after by the great concert halls of France and Europe.”(10)

Presti met guitarist Alexandre Lagoya (1929-1999) in the summer of 1951 at a guitar soiree. The couple married in 1952 and eventually set aside their solo careers to perform as the Presti-Lagoya Duo. They performed about 2,000 concerts together before her death in 1967. They are considered one of the greatest guitar duos to date. In his article “In Praise of Classical Guitarists Alexandre Lagoya and Ida Presti,” Tony Cornwell stated “this was not simply due to their technical excellence but their subtlety and force in emotional expression.”(11)

In addition to their outstanding performances, the Presti-Lagoya Duo expanded repertoire for the guitar duet genre by commissioning and inspiring new works. Composers such as Rodrigo, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) and Pierre Petit (1922–2000) dedicated works to the them. Presti also wrote original works for guitar duet and Lagoya wrote many transcriptions, especially works from keyboard literature. The duo’s compositions and arrangements have been published in several volumes as The Presti-Lagoya Collection by Berben.

Although comprising a relatively small number of works, Presti’s compositions for solo guitar showcase her unique technical and musical skills.(12) Left-hand stretches, shifts, use of pizzicato and spritely tempi as well as timbral, dynamic and articulative variances permeate her works. Due to the immediacy of her compositional process and her known ability to improvise, Presti’s solo works offer an intimate view of her musical personality as both a composer and performer: “One must not imagine Ida Presti sitting comfortably behind a desk composing rigorously for fixed periods of time. She did it any place and in any way. When she got a musical idea, she would take her guitar and a piece of music paper and sit on the first chair she came to sometimes in the living room but more often in the kitchen. She put the paper on the table and resting her foot on a box of cookies instead of a proper footstool she’d begin to write.”(13) Familiarity with the spontaneous nature of her writing process as well as knowledge of her skill and style as a performer will provide insight for interpretation of her pieces.

Segovia is the most substantial of Presti’s solo works with regard to its length and the variety of musical ideas employed. It is more serious in character than her Etude du matin and Danse rythmique, which are both bright and playful. Of her Six Etudes, the second is especially beautiful and is quoted in the third movement of Concerto metis by Roland Dyens (1955-2016), which he composed in homage to Presti.(14) A collection of all of Presti’s solo works, which includes seven previously unpublished works, was published by Berben in 2018. The collection, Ida Presti Oeuvres pour guitare seule, features French, English and Italian text. It was edited by Olivier Chassain and includes a foreward by Frederic Zigante.

Recordings of Presti playing in duet with her husband are plentiful and worthwhile acquisitions for all music enthusiasts. The available solo recordings by Presti are more limited in quantity but offer views of Presti as a child prodigy and a mature performer. The recordings included on the Pearl album, Ida Presti and Luise Walker: Les Grande dames de la Guitare, were made when she was 13 years old. It is a great experience to listen to Presti’s recording of the first movement from Torroba’s Sonatina alongside Segovia’s recording of the work from approximately a decade before while considering both her age and the influence his concerts and recordings may have had on her education. A limited number of solo recordings of Presti as an adult were released by Istituto Discografico Italiano on an album titled, The Art of Ida Presti: Studio Recordings 1938-1956. On this album, Presti can be heard playing two pieces written by Lagoya: Reverie and Caprice. In all of Presti’s recordings, her incredible abilities are obvious. Her tone was robust; her playing was spirited and imaginative; and she possessed skill in excess.

A biography titled Ida Presti: Her Life, Her Art was written by Anne Marillia and Presti’s daughter, Elisabeth. The text appears in side-by-side French and English, and there are numerous photos illuminating the career of this wonderful artist. The biography includes details about Presti’s personal life, career and compositions. Guitar Review and Les Cahiers de la Guitare published memorial issues dedicated to Presti. These magazines include lengthy biographical entries, reflections written by friends and colleagues, and scores. A memorial composition for two guitars by Tedesco, written at the request of John Duarte (1919-2004), was published in Guitar Review, May 1969. In the same issue, Duarte stated, “If any guitarist ever merited the description ‘impeccable’ it was she; her technique was truly transcendental and if its limits were ever approached, it was never in my hearing…when both seeing and hearing defied belief.”(15) Eleftheria Kotzia’s article “Wish You Were Here,” published in Classical Guitar, May 1992, is another great resource about Presti’s life and career as are articles by Alice Artzt and Presti’s other friends and colleagues. Each has helped propel her legacy and certainly influenced the studies of persons such as myself.

As information about Presti and her music is being more widely disseminated, her legacy is coming to the forefront and she is being remembered more frequently in those discussions of the great guitarists in classical guitar history.


(1) Eleftheria Kotzia, “Wish You Were Here Ida Presti 1924-1967,” Classical Guitar, May 1992, 11.

(2) Anne Marillia and Elisabeth Presti, Ida Presti: Her Life, Her Art (Ancona: Berbèn, 2005), 26.

(3) Kotzia, 11.

(4) Le Petit Chose was an autogbiographical memoir written by Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897) in 1868. The novel was adapted into a movie by director Maurice Cloche (1907-1990). Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983), who later composed a concerto for two guitars and orchestra, composed the musical score for this film.

(5) Marillia and Presti, 49.

(6) Andres Segovia, Guitar Review, Issue 31 (May 1969), 3.

(7) Bouchet became a legendary luthier whose instruments were played by the Presti-Lagoya Duo.

(8) “Premieres,” Joaquin Rodrigo, accessed January 13, 2021,

(9) Marillia and Presti, 89.

(10) Ibid.

(11) Tony Cornwell, "In Praise of Classical Guitarists Alexandre Lagoya and Ida Presti," World Socialist Web Site, February 17, 2001, feb2001/guit-f17.shtml.

(12) In my 2012 thesis, Ida Presti as a Solo Performer and Composer of Works for Solo Guitar, I wrote about the ways in which Presti’s unique technical and musical skills can be observed in her solo works. The document can be accessed at

(13) Marillia and Presti, 155-6.

(14) Although the score for Concerto metis, published in 1997, indicates an “extrait de l’Etude du matin d’Ida Presti,” the musical quotation is from the end of “Etude No. 2” (from Six Etudes) where the main theme occurs is E major.

(15) John Duarte, Guitar Review, Issue 31 (May 1969), 2.

Additional Resources:

  • Alice Artzt, “The Ida Presti Right Hand Technique for Guitar,” February 9, 2009, video,

  • Alice Artzt, “Ida Presti – Another Point of View,” Classical Guitar (August 2007), 28-31.

  • Olivier Chassain, liner notes to Les Compositions de Ida Presti pour Deux Guitares, PSC 1289, CD, 2009.

  • Classical Guitar, (May 1992).

  • John Duarte, liner notes to Ida Presti and Luise Walker: Les grandes dames de la guitare, GEMM 9133, CD, 1995.

  • S. Patrick Flynn, “The Revival of the Classcial Guitar Duet Medium Through Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya,” (DMA diss., University of Memphis, 2005).

  • Guitar Review, Issue 31 (May 1969).

  • Les Cahiers de la Guitare, 4th trimester (1984).

  • Candice Mowbray, “Ida presti as a Solo Performer and Composer of Works for Solo Guitar,” (DMA diss., Shenandoah University, 2012).

  • Candice Mowbray, “Ida Presti: The Solo Recordings,” Recordings to Revisit, Soundboard, Vol. 39 No. 3 (2013), 66.

  • Candice Mowbray, “Introducing Ida Presti,” Prodigies (December 2016).

  • A.P. Sharpe, “Ida Presti,” The Story of the Spanish Guitar (London: Essex Music, 1959), 51.

  • Maurice Summerfield, “Ida Presti,” The Classical Guitar: Its Evolution, Players and Personalities since 1800 (Blaydon on Tyne, UK: Ashley Mark, 2002), 231-3.

  • “Tribute Ida Presti: 40 Years Since Her Death (24/4/67)” Tar, accessed January 13, 2021,

Presti's Solo Compositions:


Etude du matin

Six Etudes

Danse rythmique


Etude Joyeuse

Prelude en pensant a Bach

Etude D’Arpeges (Etude I)

Etude II en accords

Etude III en pensant a Bach


Selection of Duo Compositions:

Etude Fantasque

Danse D’Avila

Berceuse a Ma Mere

Selection of Compositions Dedicated to Presti for Solo Guitar or Guitar Soloist:

Sarabande by Francis Poulenc

Idylle por Ida by John Duarte

Prelude No. 1 by Gilbert Biberian

Concerto metis by Roland Dyens

Selection of Presti's Recordings:

Ida Presti and Luise Walker: Les grandes dames de la guitare, Pearl (CD)

The Art of Ida Presti, Istituto Discografico Italiano (CD)

Ida Presti & Alexandre Lagoya Solos, Golden Era (CD)

L’art de Alexander Lagoya avec Ida Presti, Decca (CD)

Selection of Recordings of Presti’s Compositions:

Les Compositions de Ida Presti pour Deux Guitares by Olivier Chassain and Stein-Erik Olsen (CD)

Guitar Ladies by Heike Matthiesen (CD)

A Tribute to Ida Presti by Cinzia Milani (CD)

Reverie by Candice Mowbray (CD)

Legado by Berta Rojas, OnMusic (CD)

Vespers by Emily Shaw (CD)

The Woman’s Voice by Connie Sheu (CD)

Additional Names:

Renata Tarrago (1927-2005)

Rosita Rodes

Pepita Roca

Clara Monteith Holland

Dona Maria Martinez

Luisa M. de Roca

Matilde Cuervas

Nelly Ezcaray

Maria Angelica Funes

Teresa de Rogatis

Blanca Prat

Maria Rita Brondi (1889 -1941)

Madeleine Cottin (1876 -after 1952)

Julie Fondard (ca.1819 -1864)

Madame De Goni - Madame Knoop - Delores de Goni (1813-1892)

Olga Coehlo

Consuelo Mallo Lopez

Maria Bello

Carmen Farre

Celia Rodrigues Boque

Maria Esperanza Pascual Navas

Irma Haydee Perazzo

Barbara Strozzi

Monina Tavora

Elsie Tooker

Jennie Durkee

Gertrude Miller

Susan Domett (1826-1911)

Julia Piston (ca. 1800-1842)

Angiolina Panormo Huerta (1811-1900)

Women in Guitar History Lecture Playlists

These playlists correspond with my lectures about Women in Classical Guitar History:

There are numerous recordings that are not currently available through these popular streaming formats. Some have been listed with the essays. Hopefully, these playlists and resources can be a launching point for further listening.


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