Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1686 - 1750)

German lutenist and composer, born in Breslau [now Wroclaw] in 1686 and died in Dresden in 1750. He is regarded as the most important lutenist (performer and composer) of the late Baroque….[More info.]

Weiss on the guitar

Weiss's music was composed for a lute with 13 courses tuned: f', d', a, f, d, A, G, F, E, D, C, B, A. It is thus easy to see that making arrangements for the 6-string classical guitar might pose difficulties. Nevertheless a fair amount of his work is available in guitar arrangement, much of it very successfully - for example an arrangement of Tombeau sur le Mort de M. le Compte de Logy, popularised by Julian Bream, is commonly attempted by amateur guitarists worldwide (including myself!) The arranger’s usual tricks with Weiss are to raise bass notes by an octave or to raise the pitch of the piece and bring some passages down an octave (as in L'amant below) and to cast the piece in a different key (eg moving the Tombeau from B flat minor to B minor, or A minor). However it is arguable that much of Weiss's work cannot be treated this way without losing some of its essential character.

L'Amant Malheureux (The Unhappy Lover) [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Grade 08
This piece is Weiss's adaptation of an
allemande by Jacques Gallot, a French lutenist and composer active in the mid seventeenth century (it can be found in the Saizenay manuscript). Versions of Weiss's piece appear in both the Dresden and London manuscripts. My arrangement is taken from the transcription into staff notation of the London manuscript by Ruggero Chiesa. I also consulted the tablature version at In arranging the piece for 6 string guitar I have had to raise the pitch by a fourth in order to keep the bass line. The whole of the piece is readily playable in the new key providing the upper voice in bars 72 - 74 is dropped an octave. This thrice repeated figure in a descending scale (perhaps representing the anguished cries of the unhappy lover) is one of Weiss's elaborations on the original and, to my mind, works satisfactorily on the guitar at the new pitch. (In addition an A in the chord in bar 30 has been dropped an octave.)
There is a nice lute recording of this piece by the French-Canadian lutenist Michel Cardin (SNE-650-CD). If you like the piece it's well worth listening to this interpretation.

Fantasie [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Grade 08
This fantasie, one of the stand alone pieces in the London Manuscript, is in the form of a prelude and fugue. The original is in C minor and many guitar arrangements are available in either D or E minor. I made my arrangement (without fingering) purely because I always find something I want to voice or finger differently in other people’s arrangements.

Fuga [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Grade 08
Elliot Fisk has an arrangement in D of this baroque lute fugue. I have made the arrangement purely because I think it also works well in C (and it's easier to play). The piece appears in the London Manuscript and is arranged from the Ruggero Chiesa transcription.

Gavotte (Dresden 6) [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Grade 06
This gavotte is from the 6th suite in the Dresden Manuscript.

Mademoiselle Tiroloise [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Grade 06
Like L'Amant Malheureux and the Fantasie this is one of the stand-alone pieces in the London Manuscript, not attached to any of the suites.

Plainte [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Grade 06
Another of the stand-alone pieces in the
London Manuscript.

Prelude [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Grade 05
From Suite 4 in the Chiesa collection, though more usually numbered Suite 5. Originally in G.

Sarabande (Moscow MS) [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Weiss Grade 06
From the Moscow ‘Weiss’ Manuscript.

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