Ferdinand Sor, the ‘philhellene’
For the contemporary music-lovers, the name of Ferdinand Sor is inextricably intertwined with the guitar, as he was one of the most (if not the most) prominent guitar composers and performers of the first half of the 19th century. Because of this fact, the interest for the rest of his compositional work has been narrow. However, through the study of his vocal works as well as through the study of his life, emerges that the composer was inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. His belief in the ideals of freedom and self-determination of the nations arises during the Spanish Independence War (1808-1813) with the composition of “patriotic” songs. Several years later (1828/1829), touched by the dramatic developments of the Greek Revolution against the Ottomans, he composes and publishes a song for voice and piano entitled “Le dernier cri des Grecs”, a song that must have been in great regard by the composer, as he chose it to serve as an example of his work in Ledhuy’s Encyclopedie (1835). A further reference to the Greek Independence War appears in a later song (unknown until quite recently) for voice and guitar entitled “Appel des nègres aux Français” (c.1832), which turns against the slavery of black people.