Intended for our English - speaking readers.
François de Fossa
Son of a Perpignan jurist from a minor noble family, François de Fossa left for Girona at age 17 and volunteered for the « Legion of the Pyrenees ». In 1798 he sought his fortune in Mexico as page to the Viceroy of New Spain. In 1803 he returned to the port of Cádiz after embarking on a military career the previous year. Back in Spain, he took on a position heading up an office in the Ministry of the Indies. Imprisoned in 1808 in Granada after the invasion of Spain by Napoleon’s army, he returned to France in 1814 via the Pyrenees when the French army retreated after their defeat by British troops,
François de Fossa was named a major in 1824, at Molins del Rei, during the campaign of the Duke of Angoulême. He was decorated by the Spanish and French monarchies of Louis XVIII and Ferdinand VII. France awarded him the medal of Officer in the Legion of Honor, before his participation in the taking of Algiers in 1830. Finally, he left the army in 1844 and settled in Paris, where he died in 1849, probably of cholera.
His beginnings in musical composition date from Cádiz and, around 1808, Madrid, where public performance of his works earned him the nickname “Haydn of the guitar.”
He produced and published his compositions under the French Restauration, then during the period from 1824 to 1844, in France and Germany. His style blends the violin, the cello and the guitar.
It is only in the early 1980’s that the work of François de Fossa began to be rediscovered. Nowadays, his compositions for quartets, duets or soloists are being recorded in Japan, Italy, Norway and Germany. Previously scattered, De Fossa’s work is now reconstituted, played in concerts and published thanks, notably, to the efforts of the international guitarist fron Perpignan, Juan Francisco Ortiz who recorded his works on several CDs, and his American discoverer, the guitarist, musicologist and music publisher, Matanya Ophee.
Brian THOMPSON, Professor of French emeritus
University of Massachusetts Boston