Classical Fingerstyle

A performance of "Fantasie" by S.L.Weiss, based on the transcription from the Trinity College Grade 8 Classical Exam Book.

Watch the Video:

The story behind this recording:

    When I started playing guitar in 1987, at the age of 10, I studied classical guitar for a few years before beginning to discover modern guitar playing. The truth is in Cyprus I didn't have many choices at the time. But I did enjoy it thoroughly, and I also believe that my early classical guitar studies have given me a strong foundation for everything I have learned since.

    I still enjoy playing, and practicing classical repertoire, and occasionally I come across students who want to study classical with me. One of the pieces I have taught when preparing students for classical exams, is "Fantasie" by German composer and lutenist Silvius Leopold Weiss (1687-1750). 

    I recorded this so that my students can have a model for study and inspiration when studying this piece, but I'm sure that EMP viewers will enjoy this as well! (I used the transcription from the Trinity College London Grade 8 exam book)

About the composer:

(from wikipedia)

    Sylvius Leopold Weiss (12 October 1687 – 16 October 1750) was a German composer and lutenist.

    Born in Grottkau near Breslau, the son of Johann Jacob Weiss, also a lutenist, he served at courts in Breslau, Rome, and Dresden, where he died. Until recently, he was thought to have been born in 1686, but recent evidence suggests that he was in fact born the following year.

    Weiss was one of the most important and most prolific composers of lute music in history and one of the best-known and most technically accomplished lutenists of his day. He was a teacher to Philip Hyacinth, 4th Prince Lobkowicz, and the prince's second wife Anna Wilhelmina Althan.

    In later life, Weiss became a friend of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and met J.S. Bach through him. Bach and Weiss were said to have competed in improvisation, as the following account by Johann Friedrich Reichardt describes:


"Anyone who knows how difficult it is to play harmonic modulations and good counterpoint on the lute will be surprised and full of disbelief to hear from eyewitnesses that Weiss, the great lutenist, challenged J. S. Bach, the great harpsichordist and organist, at playing fantasies and fugues."

About the piece:

    I'm not going to turn this post into a full fledged lesson about the techniques used in this piece, but I am going to give you a few hints about it's main technical features :

  • Drop D tuning (yes, metal players did not invent this).
  • Tirando (free stroke) technique for arpeggio style, and contrapuntal passages.
  • Occasional Apoyando (rest stroke) technique for emphasized scalar passages.
  • Occasional simultaneous Tirando / Apoyando (tirando thumb, apoyando fingers).

I'm not sure how much EMP viewers are interested to learn more about learning classical guitar, so feel free to email me and let me know if you're interested. Maybe, if enough of you ask, I'll start posting some classical lessons. For now enjoy this wonderful piece :-)