Nothing to Fret about Classical Guitarists Have No Beethoven or Brahms, but Their Repertoire Is Rapidly Expanding

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St. Louis Classical Guitar Society president William Ash doesn't like the word "cult," but he doesn't shy away from explaining why guitar lovers are a breed apart from other classical music lovers.

"We're always a little bit on the fringe in the more traditional music world," says Ash, who is getting ready for the Society's season-opening program on Saturday at the Ethical Society.

"There are no orchestra positions for guitarists, guitarists don't play in marching bands, and we are always on the outside of the traditional music programs," he says. The guitar is a victim of its own independence and versatility. A very private instrument, it works best in intimate spaces. Concertos for guitar do exist, but the bulk of the instrument's rich repertoire stands to the side of the more familiar canon. While it wasn't uncommon for guitarists to plunder and transcribe works by the most familiar classical masters a indeed, a recent recording of a Schubert song cycle (Berlin Classics) uses guitar instead of piano, and very successfully a there is little repertoire by composers familiar from classic concert halls. "There is no Beethoven, no Brahms, no Mozart, but there are other composers a Guiliani, Sor, and many romantic composers," says Ash. "And more and more is being discovered all the time. …