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Biography of

Gaspar Sanz

4 apr 1640 (Calanda) - 1710 (Madrid)
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An example of tablature from Instrucciòn de Mùsica sobre la Guitarra Española

Gaspar Sanz (1640–1710) was an Aragonese composer, guitarist, organist and priest born to a wealthy family in Calanda in the Spanish comarca of Bajo Aragón. He studied music, theology and philosophy at the University of Salamanca, where he was later appointed Professor of Music. He wrote three volumes of pedagogical works for the baroque guitar that form an important part of todays classical guitar repertory and have informed modern scholars in the techniques of baroque guitar playing.



His birth date is unknown but he was baptized as Francisco Bartolome Sanz y Celma in the church of Calanda de Ebro, Aragon on 4 April 1640 later adopting the first name "Gaspar". After gaining his Bachelor of Theology at the University of Salamanca, Gaspar Sanz travelled to Naples, Rome and perhaps Venice to further his music education. He is thought to have studied under Orazio Benevoli, choirmaster at the Vatican and Cristofaro Caresana, organist at the Royal Chapel of Naples. He spent some years as the organist of the Spanish Viceroy at Naples.

Sanz learned to play guitar while studying under Lelio Colista and was influenced by music of the Italian guitarists Foscarini, Granata, and Corbetta. When Sanz returned to Spain he was appointed instructor of guitar to Don Juan (John of Austria), the illegitimate son of King Philip IV and Maria Calderon, a noted actress of the day.

John of Austria
John of Austria as he appears in Instrucciòn de Mùsica sobre la Guitarra Española

In 1674 he wrote his now famous Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española[1], published in Saragossa and dedicated to Don Juan[2]. A second book entitled Libro Segundo de cifras sobre la guitarra española was printed in Saragossa in 1675. A third book, Libro tercero de mùsica de cifras sobre la guitarra española, was added to the first and second books, and all three were published together under the title of the first book in 1697, eventually being published in eight editions. The ninety works in this masterpiece are his only known contribution to the repertory of the guitar[3] and include compositions in both punteado ("plucked") style and rasqueado ("strummed") style.

In addition to his musical skills, Gaspar Sanz was noted in his day for his literary works as a poet and writer, and was the author of some poems and two books now largely forgotten.

He died in Madrid in 1710.


His compositions provide some of the most important of examples of Spanish baroque music for the guitar and now form part of classical guitar pedagogy. Sanz's manuscripts are written as tablature for the baroque guitar and have been transcribed into modern notation by numerous guitarists and editors, Emilio Pujol's edition of Sanz's Canarios being a notable example.

He has influenced some twentieth century composers.


Volume 1: Instruccion de musica sobre la guitarra española (Zaragoza, 1674)

Volume 2: Libro segundo, de cifras sobre la guitarra española (Zaragoza, 1675)

  • Gallardas;
  • Las hachas[33][34];
  • La Buelta[35] Lavolta;
  • Folias[36][37];
  • Rujero[38][39][40];
  • Paradetas[41][42][43][44];
  • Matachín[45];
  • Zarabanda;
  • Jácaras II[46];
  • Chacona[47];
  • Españoletas[48][49];
  • Pasacalles;
  • Canarios II[50];
  • Canarios III;
  • Villanos[51][52][53];
  • Marionas II[54];
  • Marizápalos[55][56];
  • Granduque I;
  • Otro Granduque;
  • Passacalles;
  • Pavanas por la D[57][58];
  • Giga Inglesa;
  • Bailete Frances;
  • Passacalles por la D;
  • Clarines y Trompetas con canciones muy curiosas españolas, y de estranjeras naciones: La Cavalleria de Nápoles con dos clarines; Canciones: La Garzona, La Coquina Francesa, Lantururú, La Esfachata de Napoles, La Miñona de Cataluña, La Minina de Portugal, Dos Trompetas de la Reyna de Suecia, Clarín de los Mosqueteros del Rey de Francia.[59][60][61];
    • La Cavallería de Nápoles[62][63][64][65];
    • La Garzona;
    • La Coquina Francesa;
    • Lantururú;
    • La Esfacheta de Nápoles;
    • La Miñona de Cataluña[66][67];
    • La Minina de Portugal;
    • Dos trompetas de la reyna de Suecia;
    • Clarín de los mosqueteros del rey de Francia[68].

Volume 3: Libro tercero de musica de cifras sobre la guitarra española (Zaragoza, 1697)

  • Pasacalles por la C[69];
  • Prosiguen más diferencias sobre los antecedentes Passacalles;
  • Passacalles por la I;
  • Passacalles por la E y la D;
  • Passacalles por la Cruz y K;
  • Passacalles por la H;
  • Passacalles por la G y B;
  • Passacalles por la D por el Uno bemolado y por segundo Tono;
  • Passacalles por la L;
  • Passacalles por la K.


  1. ^ The full title Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española y metodo de sus primeros rudimentos, hasta tañerla con destreza can be translated as "Musical Instruction for the Spanish Guitar and method of the primary rudiments for playing it with dexterity"
  2. ^ *Instruccion de musica sobre la guitarra española Biblioteca Nacional de España
  3. ^ *Patykula, John. Gaspar Sanz - Master of the Spanish Baroque Guitar


  • Gaspar Sanz, Anthology of Selected Pieces edited by Raymond Burley (Schott 1993)
  • Baroque Guitar In Spain And The New World by Frank Koonce (Mel Bay Publications)

External links


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Gaspar Sanz. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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