Classical Period Music for Guitar – Free Sheet Music and TABs

The Classical Period spans roughly from 1750 to the early 1820s. This period marked a significant shift from the elaborate, complex structures of the Baroque period. Instead, it favored a more streamlined, straightforward approach to musical composition.

The guitar became increasingly prominent during the Classical era. However, it was not yet the six-stringed instrument we know today, but a smaller, five-course guitar. Its music was marked by the same stylistic changes that influenced the broader classical music of the time (see below).

Below you’ll find PDF sheet music and TABs for guitar music from the Classical Period
See also the full library of over 1000 pieces of sheet music for guitar.

Beginner-Level Sheet Music for Guitar from the Classical Period

Early-Intermediate Guitar Sheet Music from the Classical Period

Intermediate Sheet Music and TABS from the Classical Period

Advanced Guitar Sheet Music from the Classical Period

Guitar Composers of the Classical Period

Three significant composers who contributed to guitar music in this era were Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani, and Luigi Legnani.

Fernando Sor, a Spanish virtuoso, was known for his methodical approach to guitar music. His comprehensive studies are still used in modern classical guitar pedagogy. In 1945, Andres Segovia published an edition of 20 Sor studies, which have now become some of his most popular.

Sor’s compositions for guitar ranged from simple etudes to advanced concert pieces. His “Methode Pour la Guitare” is not just a technical handbook, but champions music as an art form.

Mauro Giuliani, an Italian cellist and self-taught guitarist, was revered for his intricate guitar concertos and chamber works.

He was particularly skilled at infusing his compositions with the lyrical qualities of Italian operatic music (with which his contemporary audience was obsessed).
Said to have been admired by Beethoven, Giuliani’s reputation as the greatest living guitar virtuoso was solidified in 1808 with the premier of his Guitar Concerto in A major, Op. 30.

Luigi Legnani, another Italian composer, was also a noted opera singer and violinist. His works for guitar were particularly known for their technical difficulty and melodious qualities, showcasing the guitar’s versatility and expressiveness.

Non-Guitar Composers of the Classical Period

Other notable composers of the time included Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Joseph Haydn. While they did not focus primarily on composing for guitar, each left an indelible mark on the music world.

Mozart composed from the age of five, and is known for his prodigious output. He wrote over 800 works that contributed significantly to many forms of classical music, including symphony, opera, solo concerto, and chamber music. His Requiem remained unfinished at his death at 35.

Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, was the inspiration for one of Sor’s most famous guitar compositions. His Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 9, was published in 1821.

Beethoven straddled both the Classical and Romantic eras. He was a crucial figure in the transition between the two periods. His compositions were characterized by their emotional depth and the introduction of personal expression in music.

Haydn, often referred to as the “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet,” played a pivotal role in the development of both these forms. His contributions to musical form have earned him a place as a central figure of the Classical period.

Musical Trends in the Classical Period

In comparison to the preceding Baroque period, the Classical era was marked by a move away from polyphonic texture towards homophony. This was where a single melody line was supported by a harmonic accompaniment.

The music became less ornate, with a clear, tuneful melody and a regular rhythm. Phrases became measured and regular. And as instruments developed, composers chose to indicate a wider breadth of dynamics.

This shift is evident in both the mainstream classical music and the guitar music of the time.

The Classical era also saw the development of the sonata form. This was a large-scale musical structure used widely in symphonies, sonatas, and string quartets.  With its emphasis on thematic development and dramatic musical argument, Sonata Form was a key innovation of the period. It influenced the evolution of Western classical music in the centuries that followed.



Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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