John W. Duarte

Variations on an American Folk Song (Colorado Trail) Op. 28 for Guitar

  • Editor: Richard Alexander Vaughan
  • Publisher: Ut Orpheus
  • Code: CH 359
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  • € 10.95


I am very grateful to Andrea Schiavina and Ut Orpheus Edizioni for their interest in my father’s unpublished works. I hope that these new pieces will pique the interest of guitarists the world over and contribute to an overview of the work of one of the guitar’s most prolific composers.
My thanks go to Brian Roberts, of Wayne State University, who has offered to oversee the technical and musical aspects concerned with presenting this music and to all the individual editors who have generously given of their time. Any mistakes in the transmission of their ideas are entirely mine.
The genesis of this piece is rather amusing. In 1958 the tune “Colorado Trail” was the subject of a composition competition in Guitar Review magazine. The tune had been selected by the poet and writer Carl Sandburg from his The American Songbag and the first prize was $200. Vladimir Bobri, the editor of Guitar Review, had urged my father to enter, but, after sketching the beginning of a couple of variations, he became extremely reluctant (not particularly liking the tune) and laid low, hoping he would be forgotten. In the end, he received a telegram from Bobri telling him that they were holding open the competition deadline and his entry was expected. The music was completed in three days and posted off. His entry won the first prize, 6/7 votes, with Segovia heading the judging committee.

(Christopher Duarte)
John Duarte was born on 2 October 1919 in Sheffield, England and died in London on 23 December 2004. He was 100% British despite his name having Portuguese overtones. His father was Scottish and his mother, who was born in Philadelphia, USA, was English!
He was educated at Manchester Central High School (1931-35) and Manchester University Faculty of Technology (1936-40). He worked as a professional chemist until 1969, then abandoned chemistry in favour of full-time music. His only formal musical education was lessons with Terence Usher (1934-36) in jazz-guitar playing; the rest was by self-instruction. His many friendships with great artists included one of 39 years with Andrés Segovia and an enforcedly shorter one with Ida Presti, who died at the age of 42.
He was the composer of nearly 150 works for the guitar and lute (many commissioned with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain and other sources, official and private, both domestic and overseas). Many have been published and nearly half have been commercially recorded. He was also the author of very many arrangements (several also recorded) and didactic works.
As the writer of countless articles he was a regular contributor to Soundboard, interviewer and reviewer of books, music, concerts and recordings of many kinds in Gramophone, Music Teacher and Classical Guitar, and author of numerous concert-programme notes and about 250 liner notes for records and CDs of various kinds, including those for the complete reissue of Julian Bream’s recordings for RCA (28 compact discs). He received a GRAMMY Award for his annotation to the reissue of Segovia’s recordings of 1927-39. His Appalachian Dreams op. 121 formed the centrepiece of the 2001 GRAMMY Award-winning album Dreams of a World by Sharon Isbin. The Joan Baez Suite op. 144 was also the centrepiece of her 2010 GRAMMY Award-winning album, Journey to the New World. He contributed regularly to Music in Education, Guitar Review, Guitar International, Music & Musicians, Records and Recording, and Performance and was a contributor to the revised edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
As a teacher he prepared many students for successful careers, and he was Director of the Cannington International Guitar Summer School and Festival (1974-93), Course Director of the Bath International Guitar Festival (1994-95) and the Oatridge International Guitar Summer School and Festival (near Edinburgh, Scotland). He worked as a teacher, lecturer and adjudicator in 29 countries outside the United Kingdom.
At the Convention of the Guitar Foundation of America in October 1999 he received an Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Author: John W. Duarte (1919-2004)

Editor: Richard Alexander Vaughan

Publication Date: 6/28/2021

Pages: pp. 16

Size: 230x310 mm

Binding: Saddle stitching

ISMN: 979-0-2153-2723-8

Code: CH 359