Madame Sidney Pratten (Catharina Josepha Pelzer)
Madame Sidney Pratten (born Catharina Josepha Pelzer, 1821 – 1895) was a German guitarist and composer. She married Robert Sidney Pratten, an accomplished flautist, and took on his name, as was the custom during the time.
Pratten’s father, Ferdinand Pelzer, was also an accomplished guitarist and was the editor of the famous nineteenth-century magazine Giulianiad, in honor of Mauro Giuliani. Pratten thus learned guitar at a very early age from her father and as young as seven years old played duets with another young guitarist who was almost her exact contemporary, Giulio Regondi.
Pratten lived most of her life in England and became a well-respected performer there. There she also composed many pieces for the guitar, mostly character pieces (or “songs without words”). Among these charming pieces are Sehnsucht and Weary, Sadness, Eventide, and Forgotten.
However, she also wrote a lengthy and valuable pedagogical volume called The Guitar School, which includes over 200 examples from other composers, progressive lessons, songs in various keys, diagrams of the fingerboard, and so on. Later she released a separate edition for a guitar tuned to E Major (with the third string tuned up to G#) called Instructions for the Guitar Tuned in E Major.
Songs without Words:
Eventide (Emily Shaw, guitar) (video)
Sadness (Annette Kruisbrink, guitar) (video)
Sehnsucht and Weary (PDF download)
Sehunsucht and Weary (Heike Matthiesen) (video)
Forgotten: Impromptu (PDF download)
Forgotten: Impromptu (Damien Kelly, guitar) (video)
Carnival de Venice:
Carnival de Venice (Heike Matthiesen, guitar) (video)
Spanish Dance (Heike Matthiesen, guitar) (video)
The Guitar School (PDF download)
“‘Delicate sweetness and sympathetic tones’: Madam Sidney Pratten and Her Guitar School (1859)” (article by Paul Cesarzyk on The Guitar School) (PDF download)