The Viennese guitar of the 19th century

World Capital of Music, Vienna, during the first decades of the 19th century, was also the city of the guitar par excellence. First in a long line of Viennese guitar makers, Georg Stauffer made a unique synthesis of Neapolitan and French influences; he created one of the best models of his time – the renowned “Legnani model” – and instigated lasting innovations such as the terz guitar and early contra guitars. In his wake, a genuine Viennese school of guitar making emerged: his son Anton, their colleague Bernard Enzensperger, but also Franz Feilnreiter, Nikolaus Georg Ries, Johann Gottfried Scherzer, Ludwig Reisinger and many others were its protagonists.

Played in concert by the finest virtuosos who have sojourned in Vienna – Mauro Giuliani, Luigi Legnani, J.  K. Mertz –, present in the most distinguished salons in town, the guitar was widely propagated by important music publishers like Anton Diabelli and Domenico Artaria. Thanks to the extraordinary success of the Schrammelquartett, it knew a popularity that even outreached the Biedermeier period and ignored all social barriers.

The guitar with individual strings as we know it today was indeed created in Italy at the end of the 18th century, but not only did major improvements take place in the capital of Austria: here were laid the foundations for the guitar’s specific repertoire and for its future pre-eminence, in Europe and beyond.

Based on documents mostly never published before, Stauffer  &  Co. retraces the history of this school, which has been neglected for a long time. A selection of sixty period instruments is displayed in individual portraits and illustrates the rich diversity of the Viennese production. The book also revives the musical and cultural context of the “guitaromanie”, that not only made the instrument an emblem of the romantic era in Vienna, but paved the way for the modern guitar.


ISBN: 978-2-9538868-0-1