#58 Ernest Shand

The guitar has always been my true love, and although I have been having an affair with the mandolin in the past few years, I just can’t help myself and fell in love with the Portugues guitar. As I was busying looking for the method, A Complete Method for Portuguese Guitarra by Havelock on the interweb (anyone has a copy to share?), a short biography of the late romantic English guitarist, Ernest Shand, just pop out of nowhere – he was introduced in Strings, A Fiddler’s Magazine (October, 1895), as Shand has just been “appointed an examiner of the Guild of Violinists.” I like this bio a lot. It describes a young Shand while he was still alive. It mentioned about how he learned the instrument, pieces he studied, and his score collection, and his notable performances. He was also still writing his method.

GUITARISTS, at least those who can really be called such, may be counted on the fingers of one hand, and amongst contemporary artists, the subject of our sketch must surely take a high place as a performer and teacher of a beautiful instrument now rarely heard in our concert rooms.

I say heard advisedly, because the guitar as now played by the majority of students, principally young ladies, is treated as hardly anything more than a toy, as in most cases a few chords, as a rule tonic and dominant, are relegated to it as an accompaniment to an easy song.

Mr. Ernest Shand who was born in Hull on January 31st, 1868, us a guitarist of no mean order. At an early age he studied the violin, but discontinued it after six years of practice. In 1886 he adopted the stage as his profession, and it was during that period that he first took up the guitar. His father taught him the rudiments of the instrument, but beyond that he has never had a master; perseverance and assiduous practice have been the only ones.

Having previously studied harmony and laid down a method of practicing, he devoted four hours a day to the instruments, his profession occupying nearly all the rest of his time. Like many amateurs he tried to begin at the end instead of the beginning, and having found in a music shop Aguado’s Rondos, op. 1 (3 sonatas, about the most difficult compositions ever written for the guitar), yet not knowing at that time that anything easier was to be had, he determined to master these beautiful, but difficult compositions.

His thirst for more music grew apace, and finding that Messrs. Schott and Co. published a list, he soon added these to his store, thus extending his knowledge of the capabilities of the instrument.

About this time he met Mme. Pratten, and it was by her advice that he studied more closely tone and expression; for hitherto execution had been his sole aim.

Mr. Shand has studied the works of Giuliani, Aguado, Sor, Regondi, and all the classical masters, and advises every student of the guitar, who would play it as an instrument and not a toy, to do likewise. He has a large collection of music for the guitar, including Giuliani’s three concertos for guitar and string quartette, or piano, which are now out of print. He has composed a large number of compositions for the guitar, eleven of which will shortly be issued by Messrs. Schott and Co. His first “air varie,” and arrangement of “Songe d’amour,” are published by Messrs. Schott and Bosworth, respectively.

Mr. Shand is now writing a method for the guitar on entirely new lines for beginners, which he believes will be of very great help in removing those obstacles so formidable to young students.

He has played in public at the Winter Gardens, Buxton; Pavilion, Southport; and the Siciety of Artists’, Birmingham. The Birmingham Post, of May 27th, 1895, said:- “He is an artist who exhibits remarkable skill in his solos.”

Mr. Shand has just been appointed an examiner of the Guild of Violinists.

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