1805 | 1883
Claude Antoine Jean George (know as Napoléon) Coste was a french guitarist and composer. The son of an officer in the imperial army, Coste, according to tradition, at an early age learnt to play the guitar from his mother. In 1830 he moved to Paris, where his first guitar compositions were published that year. He became a pupil and friend of Fernando Sor – with whom he also appeared in concert – and seems to have been involved in the early-music revival instigated by Fétis. Coste suffered from the general decline in guitar interest in the 1830s and 40s, and although winning second prize in 1856 in a Brussels competition for guitar compositions organized by the Russian nobleman Nikolai Makaroff, for many years he maintained his work as a civil servant. He nevertheless persevered with teaching and composing throughout his life. Coste composed primarily for guitar. He reissued several of Sor's compositions, including a revised edition (c1851) of his guitar method. Coste was also the first to make transcriptions for ‘modern’ guitar of music for baroque guitar written in tablature: several compositions by Robert de Visée (1686) are included both in the c1851 Méthode and in his later Le livre d'or du guitariste op.52. Coste's writing for guitar was influenced by Sor, but his style shows more Romantic characteristics both harmonically and in formal structure and in the use of descriptive titles and programmatic features. Coste wrote primarily for a guitar with an added seventh string, and is one of the most important guitar composers of the Romantic era.