Ferdinando Carulli


Ferdinando Carulli (February 9, 1770 – February 17, 1841) was a prolific Italian composer for classical guitar. Similar to Carcassi, Carulli is mostly well-known for his pedagogical studies rather than his solo guitar works.

Carulli wrote a variety of works for solo classical guitar. His simple, yet profound studies are what give him a lasting legacy in the guitar world today.

Italian classical guitarist and composer Ferdinando Carulli
Ferdinando Carulli; image source: After Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Although Carulli received music theory and cello training at a young age, there were no guitar teachers in Naples. As a result, Carulli learned guitar through self-study and the advancement of the guitar as a concert instrument.

After successful concert tours throughout Europe, he settled down in Paris where he lived until his death.

You can find free sheet music for Ferdinando Carulli here.

Works for the Classical Guitar

École de guitare, Op.241

People often ask, did Ferdinando Carulli have a guitar method? The answer is yes! Carulli wrote over 400 compositions for the guitar, including his influential Méthode complète pour guitare ou lyre, Op.27. Teachers still reference this book in guitar pedagogy today!

This Ferdinando Carulli guitar method book went through several iterations, including an important one entitled École de guitare, Op.241 (Guitar School). You can find this collection on the IMSLP website here.

Alternatively, you can buy Carulli’s method book here:

Carulli’s Op.241 edition is very well organized. He jumps quickly from simple note reading studies to beautiful melodic and harmonic studies. Students and professionals alike can tell this is a thoughtful collection, written by a lifelong master of the craft!

The short studies in Op.241 are perfect for beginner guitarists. In fact, these studies are so effective I’ve even featured two of them on my album 20 Classical Guitar Etudes for Beginner and Intermediate Students.

Etude No.5: Andantino

You can also see one of my favorites, Etude No.5, Op.241: Andantino performed below:

Carulli’s Etude No.5, Op.241: Andantino played by Jonathan Richter

Etude No.19: Andantino

Another Carulli classic is Op.241 No.19: Andantino. This piece is excellent for analyzing form and learning about key modulations:

Carulli’s Etude No.19, Op.241 played by Jonathan Richter

Andante in D Major

Another Carulli piece with tremendous value is an unnumbered study from Op.241. I’ve given the simple title “Andante in D Major”.

This piece is full of melodic slurs, also called hammer-ons and pull-offs. This study can also be found in the popular Bridges – Guitar Repertoire and Etudes – Level 5 edition as Study No.3:

Carulli’s Op.241 – Andante in D Major played by Jonathan Richter

Guitar Concertos

Carulli was one of the first to compose a concerto featuring the guitar. This was done in an effort to ‘elevate’ the instrument for the concert stage, and the upper class. One of the most popular chamber orchestra compositions is his Concerto in A Major, Op.8a.

You can hear a superb recording of the concerto played by Pepe Romero here:

Concerto in A Major, Op.8a by Ferdinando Carulli