Barthélemy Trille Labarre, ‘Professeur de Guitare et Compositeur, Élève d’Haydn’, biography and catalogue of works

Kenneth Sparr

Published by The Lute Society Website:

The Journal of the Lute Society Volume LVI 2016

The intention of this article is to summarise the information about an important but sadly neglected French teacher and composer for the five-course guitar, Barthélemy Trille Labarre. Hopefully this will inspire further research on him and his work, and on a rather unexplored but fascinating period of guitar history. Trille Labarre was active in the most tumultuous place and time: France in the last two decades of the eighteenth century. !is was a transitional period for the guitar, slowly shifting from a five course to a six single string instrument, alongside developments in its notation. My interest in this rather unknown French guitarist and composer started many years ago during my research on the history of the guitar in Sweden. I found a small advertisement in an old Swedish newspaper, Dagligt Allehanda (Daily Miscellany), which in 1801 announced that the French bookshop, Librairie Françoise [sic], in Stockholm had Trille Labarre’s Nouvelle méthode pour la Guitare, Op. 7 for sale.

Many years ago I acquired a copy of this method from a French antiquarian bookseller, without knowing much about it. I was surprised and impressed by the scope, the care for details and thoroughness, compared with other guitar methods from the eighteenth century. When searching for references I soon realised that it was extremely rare: I could only find one other preserved copy of it, in the Czech Museum of Music, the Musical-Historical Department of the National Museum, Prague. Quite recently another copy, probably the first edition, appeared at an auction in France. The rarity of the method may be one of the reasons why this important source has been overlooked by most writers on the history of the guitar. Many of Trille Labarre’s other works have survived in very few or unique copies. I later acquired an incomplete, but as it seems unique, copy of the French music periodical, La muse lyrique, from the year 1787, which provides further information on Trille Labarre and his work

Barthelemy Trille Labarre Professeur de Guitarre et compositeur

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