‘We can say that the lute is to the guitar as the harpsichord is to the piano. And if this is true, how can we take the music written for these eight, nine, or 10-course instruments – even [eleven,] thirteen and fourteen courses, in the case of the baroque lute – and transcribe it for a guitar, which has only six strings? [...] I want to be able to make “legitimate” transcriptions in which the music loses nothing, but rather improves in quality.’ (Narciso Yepes. 1978. “The Ten-String Guitar: Overcoming the Limitations of Six Strings”. Interviewed by L. Snitzler. Guitar Player 12, p. 26.)
Sonata no. 2 by Adam Falckenhagen (live in Buenos Aires):
Sonata no. 1 by Rudolf Straube:
Sonata no. 2 by Silvius Leopold Weiss:
“With the ten-string guitar I have many possibilities, and I do not need the baroque [lute] tuning exactly.” (Narciso Yepes. 1983. “Conversation with Narciso Yepes”. Interviewed by J. Schneider. Soundboard , Spring: p. 66.)
Cromwell Everson (1925-1991): Sonata (1984) for ten-string guitar (dedicated to David Hewitt)
1. Allegro Energico
Oliver Cromwell Everson (1925-1991) was a pioneer of modernist and electro-acoustic music in South Africa, and composer of the first opera in Afrikaans. His oeuvre includes, among other works, five sonatas, a trio, the opera Klutaimnestra (1967), a set of inventions, four song-cycles, a piano suite, miscellaneous pieces for the piano and the guitar (Cantūs Tristitiae for ten-string guitar), as well as an incomplete symphony and string quartet. He received his Doctorate in Music from the University of Cape Town in 1974.
Here is a sample of Everson’s music, from Vier Liefdesliedjies (1949):
David Hönigsberg (1959-2005): African Sonata (1990, rev. 2004) for ten-string guitar (dedicated to Viktor van Niekerk)
1. Amiably, with a sense of walking (A Basutu Tune)
2. A quiet summer evening…
3. Fast and play very rhythmically
David Hönigsberg(1959-2005) was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to German-Jewish and Afrikaner parents. He studied with the most prominent South African piano teachers (Peggy Haddon, Annette Kearney, and Pauline Nossel). After graduating with a B. Mus. in Composition from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, he attended the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna, as a composition student of Roman Haubenstock-Ramati. He emigrated to Switzerland in 1993, working as a freelance composer, conductor, and pianist. Hönigsberg’s oeuvre includes, among other works, 4 Symphonies, an Orchestral Suite, 2 Violin Concertos, a Piano Concerto, a Viola Concerto, a Guitar Concerto, a Piccolo Concerto, Soliloquy for Violoncello and String Orchestra, 5 String Quartets, Missa Brevis, two cantatas, numerous songs and chamber music, notably, a number of African Dances for piano, African Sketches (1988, for flute or oboe, ten-string guitar and optional African shaker or tambourine), and Antique Suite (1988 rev. 2004, for ten-string guitar and harpsichord).
Lastly, it should be mentioned that these sonatas exist thanks to the late David Hewitt (1947-2001), an accomplished ten-string guitarist and composer in his own right.
Hewitt started his career as a rock guitarist and only turned to the classical guitar after finishing his schooling and meeting Fritz Buss, who became Hewitt’s mentor of many years. Through Buss, Hewitt later also attended master classes with Narciso Yepes.
Hewitt never lost his ear for African music. He inspired numerous South African composers to write new works for the guitar and eventually contributed many of his own compositions to his two African guitar albums (An African Tapestry from 1989 and The Storyteller from 1990). He also recorded duets with fellow Buss/Yepes alumni Tessa Ziegler and Simon Wynberg, including the guitar duets of J. K. Mertz and Napoleon Coste.
With the terrifying early onslaught of Alzheimer’s, David refused to capitulate. He knew his memory was failing him with ever increasing frequency, yet he bravely battled the debilitating symptoms. At last he was unable to play, or articulate his appreciation of excellence, but still continued to enjoy other guitarists’ concerts.
Here is David Hewitt performing both parts of his composition Street Beat (c. 1989) for guitar duo:
And here is David Hewitt performing the Five African Sketches (1990) by Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph: