Ruggero Chiesa’s Legacy

Written by Peyman Shirali

Translated by Mahta Mottaghi

Since many years ago, I had the intention of writing an article on the Italian maestro Ruggero Chiesa and his musical life; but his ingenuity and the immense legacy, which is impressive for not only me, but also almost everyone who knows him properly, made it hard for me to find out what am I even going to start my words with.

Chiesa, a remarkable and brilliant classical guitar player, teacher and editor, was born in Camogli, Italy. He started a couple of private lessons with Mario Canepa. Thenceforth, he continued his guitar education with Carlo Palladino in Genoa, Italy.

At 1956 and 1960, he participated in Academia Musicale Chigiana with having Alirio Diaz and Emilio Pujol back then, to teach him how to play Vihuela.

Subsequently, Chiesa were replaced as Alirio Diaz in tablature transcription courses until the year 1992, a year before his death.

After his carrier as a concert player came to an end as the result of hand problems, he began a new life devoting himself to training students. Moreover, he engaged with learning and contemplating about literature, lute and of course classical guitar. Eventually all his efforts led to revitalizing Italian guitar pieces were composed back in the 19th century.

Since 1963, he was a teacher at Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Music in Milan. Some of his best students are now known as the most outstanding international guitarist like Frederic Zigante and Emanuele Segre.

After 1965, Chiesa started a great collaboration with Edizioni Suvini Zerboni (an Italian music publishing house (ESZ) founded in Milan) by some revisions of ancient classical pieces, performing accurate philological analysis, and expanding this instrument’s repertoire. Furthermore, editing many songs from different composers and also writing some educational books are some of his other musical activities that should be mentioned.

Chiesa wrote three books on the basic methods of playing guitar. These books served as references for remarkable and famous Italian guitar teachers and players to start their work with. One can say that he established the standard Italian school.

Nowadays, many musicians believe in his edits so they generally use his edits in master-classes and concerts all over the world.

“Any guitarist,”Chiesa once said, “that uses my editing knowledge, is literally my student.”

In this article, I also tend to discuss about some edits from the greatest teachers of guitar history like Andres Segovia, Alirio Diaz, Emilio Pujol, John Duarte, etc. All these celebrated musicians are certainly notable for improvements of guitar skills that were brought about in these decades, but what made Ruggero Chiesa different and special is that he has left an impact on other players’ knowledge.

Here are some points seen in his edits:

-Correct transcription of the notation

– Fingering both right and left hand in the sheet music

– Putting some ossias for bars

– His unique “timbre” for each bar

– Creating better and more accurate harmonic melody for the notes

– Using an artistic and a masterful way for the bass notes and rests.

Another overt trait that his edits have, is that they demonstrate a good articulation.

This Italian guitarist truly had a great knowledge of guitar structure and his editions has recovered guitar and its classical composers.

I, personally, have studied about more that 350 pieces edited by him and, indeed, I owe most of my knowledge and POV in music to him.

Chiesa spent several years of his life studying and figuring out etudes and repertoires and he even published his erudition in a weekly magazine. Those articles became so popular that almost all of his fans and the guitar teachers read his words, which later made a great impact on guitarists’ musical life.

One of his favorite students, Frederic Zigante, took advantage of most of Chiesa’s edits and reprinted it. Sadly, Zigante’s fingering and anything that refers to editing a music sheet, have a lower merit and quality.

Finally, I want to say that this article can be useful and helpful for this field’s researchers and students to get to know Chiesa and his efforts better.

I also recommend people to follow his best transcripts and edits for Sor, Giuliani, Tarrega, Aguado and Paganini’s songs.

“Everything he had tried to edit, believe it or not, became a masterpiece.”



Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
Your email is never shared.

About Davoud Pirnia, the founder of “Golha” radio program

Davoud Pirnia, writer and musicologist was the founder of “Golha” (Flowers of Persian Song and Music) programs on Tehran Radio (1956-1966). He received his early education from his father, Hassan Pirnia (Moshir al-Douleh), and several tutors of the time (Taraghi, interview, July 1989) and continued his studies at Saint Louis School in Tehran and then in Switzerland and graduated in law. While studying law, Pirnia got acquainted with European classical music. Upon returning to Iran, he was employed by the Ministry of Justice and founded the Lawyers’ Guild. Then he was transferred to the Ministry of Finance and established the Department of Statistics in this ministry. Later, he became the head of the state inspection office at the Prime Ministry; he was, then, promoted to the position of the Deputy Prime Minister (Navab Safa, interview, August 1999)

Rouhollah Khaleghi Artistic Center established in Washington DC

Golnoush Khaleghi (1941-2021), a Washington-based Persian musician and the daughter of the contemporary Persian (Iranian) composer and theoretician Rouhollah Khaleghi (1906-1965) founded a musical center called RKAC to keep the name and the work of her father alive.

From Past Days…

The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (I)

Today, percussion instruments have such a high place in music that are an essential element of orchestras. This has attracted many people to this type of instrument with roots as old as the first humans. A historical study of music, shows that humans used the sound of these instruments to defend themselves against wild animals and, over time, for alerting each other, signaling their readiness and encouraging people for war, ritual ceremonies, dances, etc. in a manner that is still clearly visible in music and some ritual ceremonies.

Payam Taghadossi: Talented Iranian-Austrian Cellist

Payam Taghadossi (born in 1989) started his musical education at the age of 4 years with Monika Scherbaum in Bregenz (Austria). At the Conservatory Feldkirch he joined the class of Imke Frank and Martin Merker. Later he studied in Zurich (Switzerland) with Thomas Grossenbacher and Christian Proske, where he 2011 graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance. Two years later as the student of Rafael Rosenfeld he received his Master of Arts in Music Performance diploma and later graduated as a Master of Arts in spezialized Music Performance in 2016 from the Hochschule für Musik Basel FHNW.

A Note on the Occasion of Houshang Zarif’s Demise

No introduction is needed when talking about the position of the late Houshang Zarif (1938-2020) in the Iranian music. His character and personality are so well-known among musicians that his name per se is a symbol and role model for the Iranian youth. “Becoming Houshang Zarif” is the dream of many young people who enter the world of music in Iran and many of whom retire regretting the realisation of this dream.

Musical Sense or Technique?

One of the most popular terms used by Iranian instrumentalists is the existence or a lack of musical “sense”. Both musicians and fans of music consider having “sense” while playing music as an important principle to the extent that they use it vis-a-vis having technique.

Is the Iranian National Anthem a Copy? (I)

The alleged similarity between the Iranian and South Korean National Anthems has been a matter of discussion among musicians in Iran for several years. Earlier in 2021, the issue was taken to the media again with not only claims that the anthem is very similar to another song but also the suggestion that its musical content should draw more on the Iranian national music. Some even went to the extent to suggest replacing it with the song “O, Iran” composed by the late Rouhollah Khaleghi. Before delving more into the main issue, it would not go amiss to consider some technical characteristics of the song “O, Iran” composed in 1944.

Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (III)

Developments in Composing

Along with developments in the Iranian instruments, composition of the Iranian pieces developed as well. As a matter of fact, the developments of the two, mutually affected each other. In other words, instrumental developments led to developments in composition and vice versa.

The First Saba Student Music Festival Concluded in Tehran

Preparations for Saba Student Music Festival started in the summer of 2016; the Student Music Festival will be held annually by the students of music at Arts University. The first part of the closing ceremony of the Festival was dedicated to the celebration of the life, work and strives by Maestro Hossein Dehlavi to upgrade the level of music as an academic discipline. The name of the award-winning students and ensembles were announced at the second part of the ceremony.

Iranian Fallacies: Iranian Chords

Finding a way to harmonize the Iranian music has been the subject of controversy among Iranian musicians for a long time. Some believe in the creation of harmonies for Iranian music based on a method which is similar to the tierce harmony; while others have either selected or invented some other methods. There are also some musicians who do not basically agree with the harmonization of the Iranian music.

Principles of Violin Playing (X)

Creating sound continuity between two notes in the source and destination positions when left hand position changes and “two different finger numbers” are involved is called portamento. Portamento can be performed on single string or two neighboring strings and with hand moving on fingerboard either upward or downward.

Shaahin Mohajeri Wins UnTwelve Composition Competition

UnTwelve Non-profit Organization announced the results of its 2014/2015 composition competition on January 28, 2015. Shaahin Mohajeri, an Iranian Tonbak player, microtonalist, acoustician and composer, was awarded the second prize for his piece “Castle of Babak.”