Eleuterio F. Tiscornia “Catalogo de su Archivo de Guitarra 1897-1945”

Published by Robert Coldwell on

Eleuterio F. Tiscornia (1879-1945) was a collector of guitar music in Buenos Aires, starting his collection in 1897. After his death in 1945 a catalog of his collection was published in 1948 by Ricordi Americana.

I first learned of the Tiscornia Collection many years ago and asked Matanya Ophee for photocopies of a few pages to help me locate the works of Ciebra. I never investigated the catalog further until I purchased a copy in 2021. I realized it was much more than just a list of pieces owned by a collector. There is a lot of information about where Tiscornia obtained most pieces and a lot of background information that he collected on the musicians. As I read through the catalog it became apparent that it was hard to decipher and really needed to be digitized for easier searching. Of course, the catalog is most valuable when the items listed can be accessed. With the collection sold to multiple purchasers finding who owns everything now is a challenge. I hope the work I have done will be beneficial to other researchers trying to locate music.

Regarding Tiscornia there is very little online regarding his music collecting. Below is the entry from Prat’s Diccionario de Guitarristas. The 4 volume series Annotations for the History of the Classical Guitar in Argentina 1822-2000 by Randy Osborne and Héctor García Martínez includes additional biographical information about Tiscornia.

Argentine amateur guitarist, professor and philologist. He was born in Gualeguaychú, province of Entre Ríos, in the second half of the last century. He studied teaching at the Normal School of Paraná and in 1897, while still a student, he was awarded for a beautiful poetic work. He occupied chairs of Castilian literature in different national establishments and in 1926 the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters admitted him to the Institute of Philology. He studied guitar with the famous concert guitarist Antonio Giménez Manjón, who died in 1919, and had as fellow students Dr. Domingo Machado, Dr. Tomás Vargas and Dr. Fernando Schweizer. Professor Eleuterio Tiscornia is the owner of an important archive of music of the classics of the guitar, such as Sor, Coste and others no less great, to which we have referred several times and quoted many others in this Dictionary. In his family, the guitar has been venerated for a long time, since the guitar that General Justo José de Urquiza gave to his girlfriend was given by Micaela Zamudio de Costa, mother-in-law of the general, to Don Gaspar Tiscornia, according to what we read in an old chronicle published by “Caras y Caretas”. The works published by Eleuterio Tiscornia reach a good number, “La lengua de Martín Fierro”, deserving the praising commentary of great world personalities, among them the professor of the University of Bordeaux, Mr. J. Bouzet, and the professor of Romance languages of Stanford University, California, Aurelio M. Espinosa.

Guitarrista aficionado, catedrático y filólogo argentino. Nació en Gualeguaychú, provincia de Entre Ríos, en la segunda mitad del siglo pasado. Cursó estudios del magisterio en la Escuela Normal del Paraná y en 1897, siendo aún estudiante, fué laureado por un hermoso trabajo poético. Ocupó cátedras de literatura castellana en distintos establecimientos nacionales y en 1926 la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras lo incorporó al Instituto de Filología. Hizo sus estudios guitarrísticos con el afamado concertista Antonio Giménez Manjón, muerto en 1919 y tuvo por condiscípulos a los doctores Domingo Machado, Tomás Vargas y Fernando Schweizer. El profesor Eleuterio Tiscornia es poseedor de un importante archivo de música de los clásicos de la guitarra, como Sor, Coste y otros no menos grandes, al cual hemos acudido algunas veces y citado otras muchas en este mismo Diccionario. En su familia, de larga data se rinde culto a la guitarra, pues la guitarra que el general Justo José de Urquiza regalara a su novia fué cedida por Micaela Zamudio de Costa, suegra del general, a don Gaspar Tiscornia, según leemos en una vieja crónica publicada por “Caras y Caretas”. Las obras publicadas por Eleuterio Tiscornia alcanzan a un buen número, mereciendo “La lengua de Martín Fierro”, el comentario elogioso de grandes personalidades mundiales, entre ellas el profesor de la Universidad de Burdeos, señor J. Bouzet, y el catedrático de lenguas romances de la Stanford University, de California, Aurelio M. Espinosa.

Domingo Prat. Diccionario de Guitarristas. Buenos Aires: Casa Romero y Fernandez, 1934, p. 322.

The printed catalog structure is somewhat confusing, with truncated titles, lots of symbols for repeated information and much side commentary. There is not much consistency on publisher details or plate numbers. Also note that Tiscornia converted the names of most musicians to Spanish rather than listing their names as they appeared on the music editions.

After discussing Spencer and the Tiscornia with Brian Jeffery I learned that Spencer did not want to pay what the Tiscornia family was asking for the entire collection so he purchased only a portion of it. Another portion was purchased by the book antiquarian Richard Macnutt. Whether the entire collection was only divided between these two is unknown. Spencer later purchased some Tiscornia items from Macnutt, at much increased prices. As Macnutt was an antiquarian and not specifically a guitar music collector, it seems that much of what he purchased is now in other hands. I discussed the Macnutt Tiscornia items with two librarians at the British Library and it is clear there was no Macnutt Tiscornia collection that was sold or given to the British Library. There may be items in the library sourced from Macnutt, as I’m sure he sold to many institutions and individuals, but there is no distinct “collection” of items from Tiscornia at the British Library.

I haven’t found any writings by Robert Spencer himself detailing what he purchased, although the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) has a copy of the Tiscornia catalog with pencil markings by Spencer next to each piece that I assume he purchased.

I used the RAM online catalog to determine the scope of Spencer’s holdings of Tiscornia items, which unexpectedly shows that much more came from Tiscornia than was listed in the catalog. The reasons for this are unclear. There are especially a lot of Manjon manuscripts at RAM that are not in the catalog. Due to the inconsistency of the catalog entries and shortening of titles it wasn’t always possible to match entries to the items in RAM. This was especially difficult for the Küffner items.

The list of items is too large to add inline to this post so I will make the Excel spreadsheet available. When the locations of items not in RAM can be determined the spreadsheet will be updated.


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