The Center for the Study of Free-Reed Instruments presents
VIVA REGONDI - Music for Concertina and Guitar

Concertinas: Allan Atlas, Douglas Rogers, Guitar: Alexander Dunn with Elizabeth Bell - Soprano and Pianists Joanne Last and Jin-Ok Lee

Friday, March 17, 2006
7:30 PM
Elebash Recital Hall
The Graduate Center,
The City University of New York

Co-sponsored by The Barry S. Brook Center for Musical Research and Documentation; The Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs; The Button Box (Sunderland, MA)



"Les Oiseaux," Morceau de concert, Op. 12 (1851)

Remembrance, Solo for the Baritone Concertina (1872)

Douglas Rogers
Joanne Last

One of only two pieces for concertina to which Regondi assigned an opus number, Les Oiseaux became something of his "signature" piece. He performed the piece for the first time in June 1851, with The Musical World (21 June 1851) wasting no time in giving it a favorable review: "[it is] remarkable for the brilliancy of the passages. . .[and] will, without doubt, become a pièce de résistance for all performers on that favorite instrument." The "stars" of the piece are, as the title implies, our feathered friends, who alternately chirp (trills) and sing lyrically. Remembrance is one of three works that Regondi composed for unaccompanied baritone concertina. Its structure consists of an expansive introduction, a theme, and four variations, which combine to exploit fully both the chordal and the Contrapuntal capabilities of the guitar.


Ten Études
No. 1 in C major, Moderato
No. 4 in E major, Adagio cantabile

Deuxième Air varié pour la Guitarre, Op. 22 (1864)

Alexander Dunn

The Ten Études were not published during Regondi's lifetime; and indeed, even their existence remained unknown to most guitarists and scholars (outside a small circles of Russian and German aficionados) until Matanya Ophee publicized his rediscovery of an 1882 manuscript copy in the former Soviet Union in 1989 and set the stage for the publication of the entire set one year later. Though undated, they are, to judge from their harmonic style, probably late works. In all, they represent a summa of nineteenth-century composition for the guitar. Regondi first performed the Deuxième Air varié at the Hanover Square Rooms in May 1862; as well as any of his other pieces for the instrument, it illustrates his imaginative use of variation technique. Like Remembrance for the concertina, it begins with an extended introduction, this followed by a simple theme and a set of variations that range in style from almost strict part-writing to a stunning minor-key variation to the toccata-like finale that shows Regondi's virtuoso conception of the instrument. According to the review in The Musical World, the piece was encored.


Introduction et Caprice pour la Concertina
avec Accompangnement de Piano (1861)

Douglas Rogers
Joanne Last

Although there is no record of Regondi having performed, it comes from a very fertile period in which he composed and premiered other large works for both concertina and guitar. After a slow introduction that exploits the contrapuntal capabilities of the instrument, the remainder of the piece is indeed "capricious," as technical fireworks alternate with one of Regondi's typical cantabile melodies. The closing section consists of, as Douglas Rogers has called it, "non-stop knockabout!"



Les Concerts de societé (1854)
No. 61. Moritz Ganz (1806-1868)/arr. Regondi
No. 54. Ignaz Lachner (1807-1895)/arr. Regondi
"Überall du"/"Everywhere thou art"

Fabio Campana (1819-1882)/Regondi (1878)
Quando da te lontano: Romanza

Elizabeth Bell
Allan Atlas
Jin-Ok Lee

In 1845-1846, the London publisher Wessel & Co. issued a series of sixty-one songs entitled Les Concerts de societé. Almost entirely by minor German composers, the songs had obbligato parts for violin and were published with texts in both German and English. The series must have been a commercial success, for the decade that followed saw the obbligato parts adapted for cello, flute, horn, and clarinet, and in 1854, Regondi set about arranging a number of the songs for the concertina. In adapting the obbligato parts, Regondi took a different approach in each of the two pieces we perform this evening. In Ganz's "Lullaby," he remained more or less faithful to the violin's original single-line "whisper" (though there are some nicely voiced chords in the Introduction); in Lachner's "Everywhere thou art," on the other hand, he thickened the obbligato part with liberal doses of three- and four-note chords and streams of two-part writing.

Born in Livorno and educated in Bologna, Fabio Campana immigrated to London in 1850 and enjoyed a successful career as a voice teacher and composer of songs. Although the title page of Quando da te lontano states that the obbligato is for concertina or violin, it is so idiomatically appropriate for the concertina that it seems unlikely to be an adaptation; rather, we may speculate that
the song as we hear it this evening came about through a process of true collaboration between the two composers.


Rêverie. Nocturne pour la Guitarre, Op. 19 (1864)

Alexander Dunn

Nocturne-Rêverie (1871)
Transcribed for piano by Frédéric D'Alquen (1821-1887)

Jin-Ok Lee

The Rêverie, Op. 19, which may be the first work for guitar to utilize three-note tremolo technique, is probably Regondi's best-known work for the instrument. In its own day, its popularity was such that the pianist Frédéric D'Alquen-one of Regondi's closest friends-transcribed it for piano, and, in a shrewd "political" move, dedicated it to Arabella Goddard, the wife of J.W. Davison, chief music critic for both The Times and The Musical World. Indeed, the Musical World for 21 October 1871 was effusive in its praise for both Regondi's original composition and D'Alquen's transcription

This is a pianoforte adaptation of Giulio Regondi's Nocturne-Rêverie, Op. 19, one of the most melodious, charming, and ingenious effusions ever written for the guitar, of which Regondi is and has always been far and far away the most accomplished master. No amateur need be told what this truly admirable artist has in time been able to do, with the instrument of his predilection-or, rather, one of the instruments of his predilection, remembering as we do, that his mastery of the guitar is scarcely exceeded by his mastery of the concertina. But above all, Signor Regoni is a musician of the truest stamp. The pieces he writes for his two favorite instruments have the genuine ring in them. They are not merely successions of notes "ad libitum", but are real music, the offspring of atruly elegant and cultured mind. The nocturne before us, dedicated to Madame Arabella Goddard. . .is a highly finished and attractive piece. How Signor Regondi plays the Nocturne himself upon the instrument for which it was expressively composed, it would be superfluous to say-just as superfluous as to say that he play it in a manner which no one else, under any circumstances, could hope to rival. In its present shape, as carefully and effectively "transcribed" for the pianoforte by his friend M. Frederic D'Alquen, it is a boon for pianists who desire something combining expression with brilliancy for public performance, and who at the same time possess manual dexterity enough to master it with ease.

It is probably safe to say that this is the first time that the guitar and piano versions have been performed back to back since Regondi's lifetime.


Selections from Verdi's Operas Il Trovatore and La Traviata,
Bk. 4, for two treble concertinas and piano (1859)

Allan Atlas
Douglas Rogers
Jin-Ok Lee

From the Concertina Quartet (Regondi, Richard Blagrove, George Case, and Alfred B. Sedgwick) that received critical praise at its debut in 1844 to amateur duets in the home, concertina ensembles were very much in vogue in Victorian England, as witness the notice signed "J.J., East Temple-chambers, Whitefriars-street, E.C.," that appeared in The Musical Times on 1 April 1863: "An amateur, playing the Bass concertina, wishes to join some other Amateurs of the Concertina for the practice of concerted music." In fact, Regondi's arrangement of Verdi's operas was published with a part for the bass concertina, which, however, can be omitted on the grounds that it spends most of its time doubling the left hand of the piano part. Book 4 of the series offers five excerpts from La Traviata: Germont's "Di Provenza il mar" and "Dov'è il mio figlio. . .O quanto peni!," Violetta's "Addio del passato," and her (with Alfredo) "Parigi, o cara" and "Dio! Morir sò giovine."


All the concertinas and guitars heard this evening are "period instruments." Douglas Rogers plays Wheatstone No. 10389, a steel-reed treble that was apparently sold for the first time to one Mr. Hornblow on 29 July 1858 for £9.9.0 (Wheatstone sales ledger C1051, p. 32); his baritone concertina has brass reeds and was manufactured by George Case, No. 3168, circa 1860; both instruments are maintained by Steve Dickinson (Stowmarket, UK), the present-day proprieter of Wheatstone & Co. Allan Atlas plays Wheatstone, No. 18090, which has tapered steel reeds (and thus its "wispy" tone) and dates from May, 1866 (Wheatstone production ledger C1054, p. 134); the instrument was recently restored by Wim Wakker of Concertina Connections (Helmond, NL), and retuned from its original equal temperament to Thomas Young's "well temperament No. 1," as described in his "Outlines of Experiments and Inquiries Respecting Sound and Light"', Philosophical Transactions, 90 (1800). Alexander Dunn performs on a copy of a Georg Stauffer Viennese guitar from the 1820s (the copy by Gary Southwell , Nottingham, UK); Regondi himself owned such an instrument, which he apparently left to his doctor and pupil, T. Gaisford, M.D., on 15 April 1871; Stauffer is notable for having taught the luthier C.F. Martin, who began his own famous company in Philadelphia in the 1830s.

(Wheatstone's nine extant sales ledgers, one production book, and two salary books are preserved in the Wayne Archive, The Horniman Museum, London.)

GIULIO REGONDI (1822-1872)

Douglas Rogers

Had Giulio Regondi lived to a ripe old age-he died just short of his fiftieth birthday-he might have left his mark on the musical consciousness of our grandparents and even parents; we could have heard his pure and vigorous playing on early recordings or perhaps seen him on film. In fact, there was an old lady in the 1930s who had heard Regondi and remembered him as playing ". . .like a God!" And yet, for all this temporal proximity, his world of the Victorian concertina-and even guitar-seems very distant, perhaps irretrievably lost.

Regondi's career had begun at an age redolent of the nursery rather than of the concert room, and by the time he arrived in England at age eight in the summer of 1831, he was already an accomplished and internationally renowned performer. Not only was he admired by the celebrated guitarists Fernando Sor and Matteo Carcassi, but he soon acquired another fan in that devilish fiddler-guitarist Nicolò Paganini, who was touring England at the same time. So complete was Regondi's success in fashionable society that he remained for two or three more seasons, eventually settling in London. Within a few years he had appeared on the concert platform with, amongst others, Mendelssohn and the Schumanns-Clara and Robert (he played the concertina at the 1841 Leipzig concert at which the latter's "Spring" Symphony was premiered)-as well as with the virtuoso pianist Sigismund Thalberg and Luigi Lablache, the most famous basso of his generation. Indeed, during the course of his career, Regondi performed with, met, or at least heard most of the great musicians of the Romantic era, figures whose stature virtually places them-like him-into the far realms of mythology.

This subjective sense of historical remoteness, however, is not the whole story. With Regondi in particular it seems true to say, as his friend Mary Fauche put it in the obituary notice that appeared in The Musical World on 25 May 1872: "All he did has died with him."

To counter this notion we might perhaps set survival of a copious body of original compositions (including two concertos) and transcriptions for concertina (for which he also published two seminal method books), as well as five concert works and a set of ten études for guitar. We can also point to several portraits (but where is the bust from the 1859 Royal Academy exhibition?), some letters, vignettes of his early career (he never quite outgrew the child-prodigy reputation), and countless, always effusive reviews of his performances. Not only do many of the halls where he played still stand, but also some of the houses where he lodged, including the one near Hyde Park where he lived for the final nine years of his life; and, finally, there are entries for him in such standards reference works as Scholes, New Grove, and the Dictionary of National Biography..

But what is Regondi's true legacy that seems so removed, so impossible to fathom-the lost legacy to which Mary Fauche referred, and which prompted his friend Richard Hoffman to write: "His fame was too closely allied to his personality to endure after him. . ." ? It is quite simply the awesome power that he must have wielded over his two "unpromising" instruments, which often prompted the critics to bemoan the "waste" of such a talent! And though Regondi taught both concertina and guitar, he left no musical progeny. In fact, he was quickly forgotten even within the comparatively unbroken historical continuity of the guitar, as, without his living example, his published works, regarded as too difficult, remained dormant and became mere curiosities. He fared just as badly-in some ways worse-with concertinists: although many of his works were still available from Wheatstone's in the 1960s, few tried to play them, and his method books went unused, as the concertina largely turned its back on its "classical" heritage and eventually found a niche-after excursions in the Salvation Army, marching bands, and the music hall-in various folk traditions.

Thus it seems that the only way left for us to comprehend his performance and to pick up the broken threads is to take the Victorian critics at their word. They consistently compared him favorably with the Rubinis and Ernsts (that is, with the great singers and violinists) of the time, and we, then, must try to weigh in our imagination the ghost of his sound against that of our own great artists.

Giulio Regondi was a talented draughtsman and a fine linguist in French, Italian, and English. He was delicate and graceful, to judge from the portraits, with small hands (an advantage on the concertina), and always innocent and boyish in appearance. He was rather shy-even retiring-but had a wicked yet gentle sense of humor, and his features "beamed with good nature." He found devoted pupils and friends amongst the aristocracy; gave generously to the needy, and was esteemed by all who came into contact with him. No doubt the mystery of his past added to his attractions: Was he really born in 1822 in Geneva as he himself believed? Who was the shadowy Joseph Regondi who traveled everywhere and even performed with him-this so-called father, who robbed and deserted him, but who, when dying, begged him for charity, which the compassionate Giulio tendered? Three decades later, Giulio bore his own final, dreadful illness with patience and courage for twenty months, supported in turn by the kindness of friends and daily injections of morphia. He never married.

Introduced to the Wheatstone Patent Concertina at the age of nine or ten by the inventor of the instrument himself, Regondi appears to have mastered it completely by his early teens, and it seems incredible-and indeed tragic-that the unique musical microcosm that he created and perfected was lost and that his original and complex guitar textures such as the tremolo in his Rêverie Nocturne, a piece that bewitched his contemporaries, were utterly overlooked until relatively recently. Since the death of his friend and rival Richard Blagrove in 1895, there have been few who could play his two wonderfully extravagant concertos for concertina, while his unpublished guitar arrangements, including two of Thalberg's works and Rossini's Semiramide Overture, have simply disappeared. And in all hisperformances of these and other stupendously demanding works, he would throw off the most difficult passages with consummate ease and "immense execution," whilst his cantabile "breathed the true sentiment and poetry of music." In his hands, we are told, these "inconsequential" instruments became truly great.

As Mme Fauche wrote: "[his] performance can never be equaled. . .No other. . .great musician with the same scientific talent would be likely to devote year after year to the enormous amoung of practice which he bestowed on his fingers. And when will an individual arise possessing the taste and refinement which perfected this wondrous union of means to an end?"

(© Douglas Rogers, 2005)


(The bibliography is highly selective and focuses on publications since the 1980s; the discography lists only those items that are devoted either entirely or largely to Regondi.)


  • Amisich, Alessandro Boris. "Giulio Regondi," GuitArt, ii/8 (Oct/Dec 1997), 23-49.
  • Giulio Regondi (1822-1872): concertista e compositore del romanticismo- Documentazione (Milan, 1995).
  • "Giulio Regondi: Dieci studi ed una foto," Il Fronimo, xix/76 (July 1991), 38-45.
  • "Giulio Regondi: Compositore e concertista," Il Fronimo, xvi/62 (January 1988), 28-40.
  • "Giulio Regondi: La carriera concertistica negli anni '40," Il Fronimo, xv/58 (January 1987), 38-43.
  • "Giulio Regondi: Un bambino prodigio," Il Fronimo, xi/45 (October 1983), 32-34.
  • and Helmut C. Jacobs. "La prima tournée europea di Giulio Regondi: Nuovi elementi," GuitArt, viii/29 (Jan/Mar 2003), 32-37.
  • Atlas, Allan W. "A 41-Cent Emendation: A Textual Problem in Wheatstone's Publication of Giulio Regondi's Serenade for English Concertina and Piano," Early Music, 33/4 (2005), 609-17.
  • "Signor Alsepti and Regondi's 'Golden Exercise'," Concertina World: Newsletter of the International Concertina Association 426/supplement (2003), 1-8.
  • "Giulio Regondi: Two Newly Discovered Letters," The Free-Reed Journal, 4 (2002), 70-84 (also online at
  • "Collins, Count Fosco, and the Concertina, " Wilkie Collins Society Journal, new ser., 2 (1999), 56-60 (also online at
  • The Wheatstone English Concertina in Victorian England (Oxford, 1996).
  • Button, Stewart. The Guitar in England, 1899-1924. Outstanding Dissertations in Music from British Universities (New York, 1989).
  • Heck, Thomas F. "Regondi, Giulio," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, rev. ed., ed. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London, 2001), xxi, 122.
  • Jacobs, Helmuth C. Der junge Gitarren- und Concertinavirtuose Giulio Regondi: Eine kritische Dokumentation seiner Konzertreise durch Europa, 1840 und 1841 (Bochum, 2001).
  • "Regondi, Giulio," in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, rev. ed., ed. Ludwig Finscher (Kassel, 2005), Personenteil, xiii, cols. 1443-45.
  • Lawrence, Tom. "Giulio Regondi and the Concertina in Ireland," Concertina World: International Concertina Association Newsletter, 411 (July 1998), 21-25 (also online at articles/ Lawrence/pdf and
  • Regondi, Giulio. Selected Works for Guitar, ed. Ojiri Masahiro (Tokyo, 2004).
  • Ten Etudes for Guitar, ed. John Holmquist (Columbus, OH, 1990).
  • The Complete Works for Guitar, ed. Simon Wynberg (Monaco, 1981).
  • Rogers, Douglas. "Giulio Regondi: Guitarist, Concertinist or Melophonist? A Reconnaissance," Guitar Review, xci (Fall 1992), 1-9; xcii (Winter 1993), 14-21; xcvii (Spring 1994), 11-17.
  • Wollenberg, Susan. "Giulio Regondi at Oxford," Papers of the International Concertina Association, 3 (2006), forthcoming.


  • Giulio Regondi: Airs Variés, Rêverie, Etude No. 4; Johann Kaspar Mertz: Polonaises, Rondino, Ricardo Gallen. Naxos, 8.555285 (2005).
  • Giulio Regondi: Introduction & Caprice, Ten Etudes, Fête Villageoise, John Holmquist. Naxos, 8.554191 (2001).
  • Giulio Regondi: Guitar Works, Leif Christensen. Paula Records, no serial no. (1981).
  • Regondi: Complete Guitar Works, Masahiro Ojiri, guitar. Octavia Records, OVCL-00116 (2003).
  • The Great Regondi: Original Compositions by the 19th Century's Unparalleled Guitarist & Concertinist, The Giulio Regondi Guild, Douglas Rogers, concertina; David Starobin, guitar; Julie Lustman, piano; D'Anna Fortunato, mezzo-soprano. 2 CDs, Bridge Records, BCD 9039 and 9055 (1993- 1994).


ALLAN ATLAS is Distinguished Professor of Music at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The author of Renaissance Music (W.W. Norton, 1998), the standard undergraduate textbook on the subject, and many articles on fifteenth-century music and the operas of Puccini, he has lately focused his research on the concertina. Among his concertina-related publications: The Wheatstone English Concertina in Victorian England (Clarendon Press, 1996); "George Gissing's Concertina," Journal of Musicology, 17 (1999); Contemplating the Concertina: An Historically-Informed Tutor for the English Concertina (The Button Box, 2003); "A 41-Cent Emendation: A Textual Problem in Wheatstone's Publication of Giulio Regondi's Serenade for English Concertina and Piano," Early Music, 33 (2005); and the forthcoming "The Gendered Concertina in Victorian England: Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers, 1835-1870), which will appear in the Research Chronicle of the Royal Musical Association. He edits the Papers of the International Concertina Association, and performs with the NEW YORK VICTORIAN CONSORT, of which he is one of the co-founders.

ELIZABETH BELL was hailed by The Boston Herald as "delightful" for her portrayal of Flora in a recent New England Conservatory production of Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw. Among her operatic roles: Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, Marie in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment, Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Brigetta in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, and Poppea in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea, and as a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, she sang under the baton of Zubin Mehta and Esa-Pekka Salonen. She received the M.M. degree with honors from the New England Conservatory in 2005, having studied with Luretta Bybee, and is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York.

ALEXANDER DUNN has performed to critical acclaim throughout the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa, with major recitals at such venues as the Aspen Music Festival, the Darmstadt Ferienkurs für neue Musik, and the Salzburg Sommerakademie der Hochschule Mozarteum, as well as performances at Vancouver New Music, the International Guitar and Lute Institute, the Stetson International Guitar Workshop, and the Guitar Foundation of America International Conference. A specialist in the guitar repertories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (and an advocate of performing nineteenth century guitar music on period instruments), he premiered György Ligeti's Guitar Sonata, gave the first Canadian performance of Steve Reich's Nagoya Guitars with David Tanenbaum, and recently recorded early nineteenth-century arrangements for guitar of Beethoven's Serenades, Opp. 8 and 25, with members of the Lafayette Quartet. He holds the M.M. degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of California, San Diego. He currently heads the guitar programs at the University of Victoria and the Victoria Conservatory of Music in British Columbia, Canada.

JIN-OK LEE made her professional debut in her native Korea at age fifteen with a performance of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto. She followed this with a series of solo and chamber music recitals, and, upon winning the Taejon Philharmonic Orchestra's Concerto Competition, performed Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with that orchestra. Prior to emigrating from Korea, she received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees with honors from the University of Mok-Won. Once settled in the United States, Ms. Lee earned another Master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Among her notable performances are those at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli (outside Rome) in 2000 and a New York debut recital at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in 2001. She has taught piano at Hunter College of The City University of New York, and is currently completing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the CUNY Graduate Center.

DOUGLAS ROGERS AND JOANNE LAST form the CONCERTINA & PIANO DUO, under which name they have been performing together worldwide for about fifteen years. Their repertory extends from the vast body of original nineteenth-century music for the concertina (and includes works by Regondi, Richard Blagrove, Bernhard Molique, George Case, et al.) to modern works that they have commissioned and many of their own transcriptions and arrangements.

DOUGLAS has lectured and broadcast extensively, recorded two CDs (see the Discography), performed the Molique Concerto No. 1(composed for Regondi) with orchestra, and has wielded the concertina at the Proms. He also plays the guitar (on which he first discovered Regondi's music) and the Edwardian banjo, on which he performed at the 1996 Bath Guitar Festival. He was recently appointed an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

JOANNE accompanies choirs, singers, and instrumentalists throughout the UK while, at the same time, managing a successful career as an artist. She is an instinctive and talented colorist whose abstracts and landscapes hang in private and corporate venues throughout the world. She exhibits regularly at arts fairs and galleries, and published prints of her works are available from a number of major international retailers. Her website,, is well worth a visit; Douglas's website,, is under construction.