Today’s #ThrowbackThursday post is a birthday tribute to Napoléon Coste who was born #OnThisDay in 1805 near Besançon, France.
He was first taught the guitar by his mother, herself an accomplished player. As a teenager he became a teacher of the instrument and appeared in three concerts in the Franche-Comté.
He moved to Paris in 1829 where he studied under Fernando Sor and, according to his own biography, quickly established himself as the leading French virtuoso guitarist. Despite injuring his left shoulder in 1863 Coste continued to perform publicly until 1881. Around the time Coste was at his prime the demand for guitarists was in decline and, whilst he was financial stabile, he had to publish many of his works by himself rather than have publishers for his music.
Napoleon Coste was famous for his unique seven string guitar with a “floating” 7th string typically tuned to D or C called the Lacote Heptachord. Tonally this invention created more depth when played as the floating string would vibrate sympathetically even as the other strings were plucked
After his tutor’s death, Coste edited and republished Sor’s original method for guitar as Méthode complète pour la Guitare par Ferdinand Sor, rédigée et augmentée [refingered and expanded] de nombreux exemples et leçons par N. Coste. He is also known as one of the first composers to transcribe guitar music of the 17th century into modern musical notation.
Coste died at age 77, leaving a significant catalogue of original compositions.