"Guitar Player" by Johannes Vermeer

La Rossignol (Duet for two guitars)

La Rossignol is a beautiful piece for two guitars from the renaissance era by an unknown composer. It is used in the video game named “Sid Meier’s Civilization III”, titled as “The nightingale”. Unfortunately, I don’t know who the performers are.

The background image of the video is Johannes Vermeer’s “Guitar Player”. Vermeer was a Dutch painter (1632 – December 1675) who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.

He was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime. He seems never to have been particularly wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings.

Vermeer worked slowly and with great care, using bright colours and sometimes expensive pigments, with a preference for lapis lazuli and Indian yellow. He is particularly renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work.

Vermeer portrayed the guitar only one time in his oeuvre, in the late Guitar Player. Vermeer’s compositional organization of this picture may be linked to his decision to depict a guitar player rather than a lute player. The guitar was just coming into vogue in the late 17th century as a popular instrument for solo accompaniment. The music it created was bolder than that of the lute, in large part because its chords produced a resonance not possible on lute which had begun to take on associations with an idealized past, a sophisticated era where music had been enjoyed and contemplated for the purity of its sounds. The bright and direct character of the Guitar Player thus, spoke more to the modern world of music represented by the guitar than to the conservative and contemplative traditions of the lute.

Here I found another version of the piece on youtube. Performers: Duo Accords Galants: Katja Fernholz-Bernecker, Andreas Koch. Performed on 11 string guitars – Georg Bolin Altgitarre / Altoguitar.

Sources

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