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ProduitsPartitions pour guitareGuitare seuleThe Essential Justin Holland

The Essential Justin Holland

The Essential Justin Holland

Compositeur: HOLLAND Justin

Arrangeur: MALLETT Christopher

DZ 4099


ISBN: 978-2-89852-016-7

Guitare seule

48 p.


The music of Justin Holland represents a remarkable intersection of creativity, determination, and social justice. As a 19th-century classical guitarist and composer of African American descent, Holland defied the social and cultural barriers, leaving a lasting legacy that has inspired generations of musicians and music lovers.

When I first came across the music of Holland nearly 20 years ago, I was astounded to discover that he was an African American guitarist making a living pre-civil war and had built a multifaceted career for himself as an arranger, composer, and teacher. He became one of the most highly regarded American classical guitarists of his time and was the first black professional to settle in Cleveland. However, his accomplishments have been largely overlooked in the 21st century.

In this publication, I have gathered some of Holland’s most exquisite and captivating arrangements and compositions, beautifully engraved for modern guitarists to perform and enjoy. From the delicate harmonies of Nearer my God to Thee to the soaring arpeggios of the classic Carnival of Venice, these pieces showcase Holland’s exceptional talent in crafting emotive and complex music on the guitar. This publication is more than just a collection of music; it is a celebration of Holland’s life and legacy and a testament to the power of music to inspire and transform. As an advocate for the rights of Black musicians, Holland paved the way for future generations of black Americans to express themselves freely and fully.

Holland was born free in Norfolk, Virginia, and moved to Boston in 1833 to escape a dangerous environment for young black men. In Boston, he heard the playing of Spanish guitarist Mariano Perez, who inspired him to take guitar lessons from members of the Ned Kendall Brass Band and the Philharmonic Society of Boston. After studying at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio from 1841–1843, Holland was said to have traveled to Mexico to learn Spanish to study Sor and Aguado’s methods in their original language. Eventually, he settled in Cleveland in 1845 and began his career as a teacher while also starting to publish his music in 1848 with S. Brainard’s Sons/Cleveland and J.L. Peters & Co/New York. Holland advocated for civil rights as his fame grew, making a name for himself both musically and politically.

Holland left a remarkable legacy, consisting of approximately thirty-five original pieces and three hundred arrangements of European operatic themes and popular songs from America and Europe. However, his contributions to American music extend beyond his compositions and arrangements. Holland’s Comprehensive Method for the Guitar, published in 1874, is considered the first American guitar method. The method covers technique, applied music theory, and repertoire, placing the approaches of European masters Matteo Carcassi, Fernando Sor, and Dionisio Aguado in the context of American performance practice. This publication, which underwent several editions until 1908, became the best-selling American music publication of the 19th century.

The works included in this publication are recorded on my album, Justin Holland, Guitar Works, and Arrangements. This publication will introduce a new generation of guitarists and music enthusiasts to the beautiful music and life of Justin Holland.

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