Born: June 28, 1806; Amondans
Died: February 17, 1883; Paris, France
Largely a forgotten figure today, Napoléon Coste was one of the few composers to maintain interest in the guitar during its period of general neglect from the 1830s to the end of the nineteenth century. Coste is said to have learned guitar technique from his mother at an early age. He was writing music for the instrument by 1830, the year he moved to Paris and saw his first pieces published. Coste studied with the great Spanish guitarist of theRead more day, Fernando Sor, and became a friend and duo partner. But after Sor's death, public interest in the guitar declined, and Coste made his living mainly as a civil servant while dabbling in musical activities. He apparently took part in the nineteenth century French early music revival spearheaded by Fétis; his role included making transcriptions for modern guitar of Baroque pieces written in tablature.
Coste maintained his own guitar skills as a performer (until a hand injury in 1863 ended his concretizing) and composer; in 1856 he won second place in a Brussels competition for guitar compositions. He published an abundance of his own pieces for the instrument, primarily a seven-string version; he also wrote a fair amount of music for oboe, usually accompanied by guitar. His style was strongly influenced by that of Sor, but with more Romantic harmonies and a greater tendency to indulge in descriptive titles. Coste furthermore kept the music of his friend Sor in circulation, having many of Sor's compositions (as well as his guitar method book) republished. Read less
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