Interview: Stephen Mattingly in the shed and the pub

Steve MattinglyI seem to have known Stephen Mattingly for years.

We first met at the GB Summer school (which Gilbert Biberian and I directed many years ago) and Stephen regularly keeps cropping up at guitar festivals.
He is a member of the Tantalus Guitar Quartet who recorded my “Blue Nose Ballads” on Debut.

At GFA 2013 Louisville, he and the Tantalus Quartet gave the first performance of my piece “Spectral Dreams” for Guitar Quartet and Guitar Orchestra. Steve was instrumental in getting me over to the USA and also provided some very fine home-brewed beer.
So it was a pleasure to have him come over to the shed and also talk about his latest projects over a pint, after a rather distressing encounter with a less than sympathetic bus driver who refused to let his luggage off (it was destined for the wrong stop only half a mile away!).

Stephen has performed as soloist on notable concert series including the International Guitar Institute, Tennessee State University, Valdosta State University, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Following a concert at Carnegie Hall in 2010, the New York Times noted Stephen’s “unfazed” performance in a challenging program of 20th and 21st century works with the Grawemeyer Players. As recipient of the prestigious Theodore Presser Award, he recorded the complete guitar chamber works by Franz Schubert, which are available internationally in new critical editions through Chanterelle Verlag.

He enjoys a vibrant teaching career as Assistant Professor of Guitar at the University of Louisville, directing classical guitar studies and teaching music theory courses. A strong proponent for public music education, Stephen is Director of the University of Louisville’s Community Music Program where he fosters the development of diverse educational programs in music, instituting unique learning opportunities for music enthusiasts from all areas of society.

In addition to his performing and teaching engagements, Stephen is the Director of the University of Louisville Guitar Festival and Competition. Alongside this role, Stephen is President of the Louisville Guitar Society, which hosts a concert series and advocates for guitar education through outreach programs and civic initiatives. From 2007-10 Stephen worked for the Guitar Foundation of America as Development Director and Convention Manager.

Here he is playing a bit of Ponce and an extract of “Illusions” by Xi Fu Hang.

John Williams Queen Elizabeth Hall July 1989

selftaughtgirl has this to say about this wonderful concert, which most of the known guitar world in the UK at the time attended:

“John Williams gave a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (UK) on 19th July 1989 which was broadcast live on the radio. I was at the concert so a friend pressed the record button for me. I remember JW limping onto the stage as he had hurt himself playing tennis and also him reading the Ponce from the score. I last heard him only a couple of weeks ago playing two concertos at the RFH (the main hall next door to the QEH) and still on fine form.
Villa-Lobos: 5 Preludes
Ponce: Variations and fugue on “La Folia”
Brouwer:Elogio de la Danza, Berceuse, Danza Characteristica
Barrios: La Ultima Cancion, Cueca, Aconquija, Choro de Saudade, Waltzes Op 8 Nos 3 & 4
Piazzolla: Verano Portena (as encore)”


This is a marvellous record of a great performance. Thank you, selftaughtgirl!

A few years earlier, the newly reformed “John Williams and Friends”, of which I was a part, toured the UK, Ireland and Italy. Unlike this concert, there were quite a few hi jinx on stage (including Brian Gulland, taking a break from his bassoon duties,dressed as a chef and making an omelette while JW and I played some duets!).

Gabriel Estarellas: studio concert playing Anon, Sor, Ponce, & Dodgson

Continuing our exploration of “historic” and rare guitar performances courtesy of selftaughtgirl, a radio broadcast from the 1980s of a studio concert by Gabriel Estarellas:
Anon.: Six Renaissance Dances
Sor: Variations on “Marlborough S’en Va T’en Guerre”, Op. 28
Ponce: Estrellita
Dodgson: Partita No 3 (first broadcast performance)


Ponce’s Secret Weiss – a list

While looking for information on Manuel Maria Ponce (1882-1948), I came across this illuminating article by Peter Kun Frary, Professor of Music at the University of Hawaii, Leeward. It charts the history of Ponce’s Baroque, Classical and Romantic pastiches written for Andres Segovia when he was in France.
Segovia would refer to these pieces as their little joke, and probably found a willing collaborator in Ponce who helped him fill out his concert programmes in a Kreisleresque manner.
One of the earliest pieces was attributed to Sylvius Leopold Weiss who was not very well known generally at the time, but conveniently shared a birth year with J.S.Bach who was Segovia’s first choice.
Apparently the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska heard the first performance and went backstage to say that Segovia’s attribution of the piece to Bach had been rumbled, at which point Segovia and Ponce admitted that it was by Weiss!

The inside story on this issue is available in print, in the words of Andres Segovia himself. See: Miguel Alcázar, (Ed.) The Segovia-Ponce Letters, translated by Peter Segal.

However, also see this discussion on the subject.

The pieces are certainly charming enough, and those which come clean – the Sonata Clasica and Sonata Romantica are substantial works.

Peter Kun Frary lists the following as Ponce’s “secret” compositions:
Balletto (Weiss)
Prelude (Weiss) (also for guitar and harpsichord)
Suite Antigua (A.Scarlatti)
Suite en La Mineur (Weiss)

This article is certainly worth a read and throws light on the different (some pirated) editions of Ponce’s pastiches as well as dates and circumstances of their composition.

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