Napoléon Coste (1805 – 1883) was a French composer and guitarist. His first teacher was his mother, who was also an accomplished guitarist. Coste was already himself teaching as a teenager. By age 24 he moved to Paris where he began studying with the great Spanish composer and guitarist Fernando Sor.
Among Coste’s many original works for guitar were a set of 25 Etudes (Op.38). He also wrote several programmatic works with nature as their theme. These latter pieces include:
- La Source du Lyson (“The Lyson River Spring”) (Op.47)
- La Valée d’Ornans (“The Ornans Valley”) (Op.17)
- Les Bord du Rin (“The Banks of the Rhine”) (Op.18)
- Le Passage des Alpes (“The Trail in the Alps”) (Op.27)
- Les Soirées d’Auteuil (“Evenings in Auteuil”) (Op.23)
Hector Berlioz, another composer who wrote much programmatic nature music (and who played guitar), was a big inspiration for Coste.
Coste was unique in that he typically played a seven-stringed instrument. This guitar was designed by Lacôte and featured a “floating” seventh string.