Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Portuguese Guitar

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by José Gameiro, organized by ICOM Croatia. José is director the Portimão museum in Portugal. Much of the lecture concerned his experience in organizing an industrial museum and creating dialog with the local community, but Jose also told about recently setting up a temporary exhibition on Portuguese guitars.

The Portuguese guitar is a fantastic instrument, important not only for its central role in Fado music, but also as the last living expression of a cittern tradition that was all the vogue throughout Europe two hundred years ago. Compare the modern Portuguese playing above with Taro Takeuchi's historical performance on very similar "English guitars" built around 1800:

Portuguese guitar making and playing has gone through a renaissance during the last generation. Might we await a similar revival of the English guitar in the rest of Europe? There are instruments in museum collections in Norway and other places that could serve as models for makers today - some of these can be viewed at

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