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Silvius Leopold Weiss (1684-1750)
Silvius Leopold Weiss is considered to be one of the greatest lutenist of all times. Weiss was born on October 12, 1686 in Breslau, Silesia. (Wroclaw, Poland) He learned the lute from his father, Johann Jakob. He was the leading lutenist of Bach's time. He was highly regarded as a composer. His compositions make up a major part of the lute's repertoire. He was responsible for leaving the largest, both qualitatively and quantitatively, number of compositions for the solo lute of any composer in history. 650 of Weiss' works have survived. The whole - the largest collection in lute music history. He became the highest paid musician of the court orchestra of Dresden. For his solo performances his early compositions use an eleven course lute. In 1719 he switched to a thirteen course lute. Weiss missed half of 1722 after a violinist had almost bit off his thumb, supposedly as an act of vengeance.
Weiss formed an acquaintence J.S Bach. It is speculated that the Bach Lute Suites may have been written for Weiss. Weiss' virtuosity is best described in this account by JF Reichardt of a competition between the Weiss and Bach in Dresden:
"Anyone who knows how difficult it is to play harmonic modulations and good counterpoints on the lute will be surprised and full of disbelief to hear from eyes-witnesses that Weiss, the great lute-player, challenged JS Bach, the great harpsichord and organ-player, by playing fantasies and fugues."
Weiss died on October 16 th 1750, leaving his widow, Marie-Elizabeth,
and 7 children. Only one of them, Johann Adolf Faustinusto followed
in his steps as a lute-player at the court of Dresden.
More Guitar Music By Weiss
More info on Weiss can be found at slweiss.com
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5 Lute Pieces Guitar Solo. By Sylvius Leopold Weiss. Arranged by E. Flower.