Index of guitar pages by Donald Sauter.

Guitar Music from the Library of Congress
(For Sale)



INTRODUCTION: Years ago I put up a web page listing the Guitar Music that I found at the Library of Congress. My area of interest was 19th century American arrangements for solo guitar, but also I copied the European editions I came across. I also accumulated a smattering of guitar duos and pieces for guitar and voice. All of the editions are public domain.

I figure it can't hurt to make the music available to anyone who sees something of interest.

A slight complication is that we don't know in advance the number of pages in each piece. But that is handled easily enough.

In a nutshell, you indicate the pieces you'd like. Take a guess at the total number of pages. Figure $.30 per page and remit payment to my PayPal account. I copy pieces from your list until your payment is exhausted. I mail the music to you. If you overpaid, I deposit the change in your PayPal account.

Make sense? You bet! Given that, here are the . . .



1. Check the address bar of your browser to make sure you are at (with or without the "www"), which is the active and up-to-date version of this page. If not, go there now.

2. Generate a list of the pieces you want. The best thing is to copy and paste from the lists on my page of Guitar Music in the Library of Congress.

It's helpful if you list the pieces in the same order they occur in my catalog.

3. Take a guess at the total number of pages of music in the pieces in your list. Don't worry about how far off your guess is. You either get as many complete pieces from your list that your payment covers, or you will get everything on your list plus a refund for any overpayment.

If you have no prior knowledge to go on, formulate your TOTAL PAGE GUESS by figuring 3 pages for individual American pieces, and 10 pages for European works.

So, if you must have everything on your list right now, you should intentionally guess high on the TOTAL PAGE GUESS. Otherwise, your order will be filled only as far as you have funded it, all right? The pieces you don't receive can be put on your next order.

4. Multiply the TOTAL PAGE GUESS by the PRICE PER PAGE, which is $.30 (30 cents) to calculate your TOTAL COST GUESS.

The price per page includes shipping for orders in the U.S.

5. Now you're ready to send me an email at with these three things:

6. Wait for a CONFIRMATION EMAIL indicating everything is in order. This is mainly for your benefit; without confirmation you might not be sure this offer is still in effect.

7. Deposit your TOTAL COST GUESS in my PAYPAL account, using my email address, . In PayPal, click the button for "This is a purchase of Goods." Also enter a short message in the "Email to recipient" box, so that I will receive a notification message from PayPal.

8. That's it. Sit back and wait for your music to arrive.


MINIMUM ORDER IS $20. That will cover at least 66 pages of music.

WHY YOU MIGHT RECEIVE MORE MUSIC THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR: For one thing, I'm not going to stop copying a piece in the middle because your payment is exhausted. Secondly, the PRICE PER PAGE quoted above is set for the WORST CASE scenario, where the pieces you request are scattered throughout my collection. That is very labor intensive for me. In the BEST CASE, where the pieces you request are filed together, the labor is greatly reduced and I will calculate the cost at $.26 per page. For the INTERMEDIATE CASE, somewhere between the best and worst, I will calculate the cost at $.28 per page.

But you don't have to worry about any of that. Just use $.30 per page to make your TOTAL COST GUESS, and I'll take it from there. You can trust me to be fair and generous, even.

PLEASE TRY TO GET EVERYTHING RIGHT ON THE FIRST SHOT. I have not priced the music to cover the time and effort involved in an email exchange about what to do. I also have a deathly allergy to making recommendations. Don't even ask about digital scans.

SAMPLE EMAIL ORDER: No need to be clever and original - just use the following as a template:

    Hi Don! 
    These are the pieces I want:

    Coupa//Theme and variations
    Coupa/Bellini/Gems of Norma no. 1
    Coupa/Bellini/Gems of Norma no. 2
    Fiset/Pergolese/Aria nina
    Fiset/Saint-saens/Romance sans paroles
    Fiset/Schubert/Hark! hark the lark
    Fiset/Schubert/Moment musical op94 no3
    Fogg/Mackie/Zig zag galop
    Frey/Mascagni/Intermezzo sinfonico from Cavalleria rusticana
    Haug/Foster/Old black joe
    Hayden CV//Reverie
    Obarrio/Waldman/The Little fishermaiden waltz
      Oehler/???/The Broken ring
      Oehler//Blue bells of scotland
      Oehler/Balfe/From Bohemian girl Then you'll remember me
      Oehler/Coffey/Robin adair
    Carcassi: SIX FANTAISIES sur la motifs des operas nouveaux
      Carcassi op33/Auber/La muette de Portici
      Carcassi op34/Rossini/Le comte ory
      Carcassi op35/Auber/La fiancee
      Carcassi op37/Auber/Fra diavalo
      Carcassi op38/Auber/Le dieu et la bayadere
    I guess there may be 92 pages total.  [The customer figured 3 pages 
    in each of 14 American editions, and 10 pages in each of the 5 Carcassi 
    Fantaisies.  He guessed right that the Oehler work, altogether, is just 
    a few pages.]  
    I will deposit 92 x .30 = $27.60 into your PayPal account.  
    I understand my payment will cover AT LEAST 92 pages but may not 
    cover all the works listed.  If I have overpaid, I will receive 
    change in my PayPal account.  

[   For foreign orders only:                                      ]
[                                                                 ]
[   I will also include $_____ (see below) for shipping costs.    ]
    9316 PEACH PIT DR
    COBBLER  GA  21567

When I receive both your order and notice of the PayPal deposit, you will receive the music in a few days.

SHIPPING FOR FOREIGN ORDERS: Here is the additional shipping cost which must be added into the total remittance to my PayPal account:

Canada: $5
Mexico: $9
Great Britain and Europe: $14
Japan: $14

Those shipping costs are based on an order of about 100 pages.

Foreign orders are limited to 200 pages.

About the copies

Painstaking care went into making copies of the music I found at the Library of Congress.

My requirements for the first-generation copies were that the music be jet black and razor sharp and make maximum utilization of letter-size (8.5 x 11 inches; approximately A4) pages with near-perfect margins. For convenience, letter-size pages win hands down in every way. They are easy to play from, easy to store, and very easy to make further copies from.

Letter-size pages are also easy to bind. Consider buying a plastic comb binding machine. They're wonderful. You'll be in complete control of the organization of your music. The plastic comb booklets function superbly for a performer.

Thus, for each and every copy, I had to consider and possibly reset the copier magnification. I also had to devise techniques to get perfect margins on the first-generation copy. This is a very difficult proposition because the paper size of the originals is always much larger than letter-size. Since the printed side is face down on the copy machine glass, you have to "work blind". Understand that even though the original paper size is large, the music itself could, in most cases, be copied at its original size or larger. Only in the rarest cases did it need to be reduced to less than 97% of its original size.

I also had to consider the exposure for each page of music depending on the darkness of the print, the discoloration of the paper and the amount of bleed-through of the ink from the other side. The library's Ricoh copiers made excellent, razor-sharp copies, and were the best I had ever seen at removing dark background while keeping the print matter intact.

Given all of these requirements, 100 copies per day was about the maximum rate at which I could crank them out. Copying the 3000+ pages of 19th century American guitar arrangements represented well over 40 full work days. But now that the back-breaking work is completed, the master copies could be copied in a few hours - and for less than half of the original copy cost!

Even though it's hardly ever actually necessary for readability, I often did restoration work on the music, such as fixing broken lines, filling in noteheads and beams, and removing background speckles. This makes an already good-looking piece of music look like a million bucks. Using another good copy machine, the 2nd-generation copies remain virtually indistinguishable from the 1st-generation masters, and in almost every respect "better than the original."

If you're waiting for the Library of Congress to put everything in its music collection on-line, I wouldn't hold my breath. I'm not sure there are enough electrons in the universe to digitize everything to a clarity equal to good, old-fashioned analog copies. I'd be happy to be proven wrong about that, but for now, here's a test. In the American Memories section of the LC website, fire up the 267k(!) JPEG image of the cover page to "Satanella, or Devil's Call Galop" by A. M. Schacht and arranged for guitar by Septimus Winner. Tell me who engraved it. On my copy, the credit line is crystal clear.

Note: Rereading this section in Oct 2005, many years after it first went up on the web, I still don't see electronic transfer of imagery being anywhere near as convenient, cheap and high quality as photocopies. I am, however, inclined to believe that we will sooner or later be playing much of our music off of computer screens, in spite of a step down in image quality. Along those lines, let me repeat the wish expressed in my guitar fingering notation page in case a sympathetic computer peripheral manufacturer happens by here. I would like a super thin, super lightweight, oversized, portrait-mode, folder-like, double-screen peripheral for playing music from JPG or PDF files. It would have foot-controlled page advance. I'm tired of turning my laptop on its side to view one undersized page of music at a time while playing the treasures of the Royal Copenhagen Library. Never mind that we will all have long since turned into dust by the time LC scans its collection.

Proposal - free guitar music!
(offer expired)

[NOTE (Oct 2005): The offer below has now expired! I have moved away from the Washington D.C. area and have no intentions of returning. But I am letting this stand because a) it's a pain in the neck rewriting or tossing something you went to the trouble to write, or b) maybe somebody else would be interested in acting as the LC guitar music archaeologist, or c) who knows, maybe one hare-brained idea will inspire another that might actually take wings and add a little happiness to this world.]

How would you like to be the Baron Bliss of the guitar world?

Who in tarnation is Baron Bliss?, you ask.

Baron Bliss is such a famous name in Belize that the locals are apt to get him confused with Christopher Columbus. All Baron Bliss did was bequeath his fortunes to Belize - with the stipulation that everything built or founded with his money would have his name on it.

So, how would you like to get yourself confused with Andres Segovia, Fernando Sor, Antonio Torres, Heitor Villa-Lobos and John Williams - all rolled into one? Read on.

As you've seen, the Library of Congress has a staggering collection of guitar music. It would keep an avid guitar player busy for a few lifetimes.

My "Guitar Music in the Library of Congress" page lists the music I have already retrieved. Another page of mine lists 125 pieces for guitar and piano - about a third of the known 19th C. works for this combination. There's tons more - arrangements and original music for solo guitar; music for guitar duo; and chamber music including guitar.

My big offer is to work full-time making public domain guitar music from the Library of Congress available to guitarists everywhere for "free". All I need is minimum wage and health insurance.

"Free" is in quotes because, as in the "free" deals on the back of cereal boxes, the customer pays postage and handling. In this case that means copying and postage costs, which works out to just a few cents per page.

Sound crazy? Who would bankroll such an endeavor? Well, for many people, a couple of hundred dollars a week is pocket change. A lot of people earn that much in two hours. Others could siphon it off their flow of incoming interest and dividends without missing a thing. Does it really matter exactly how many hundreds of thousands of dollars you are going to die with? For a very piddling sum, you could make a lot of guitarists very happy for a long time. You would be known and remembered as a great benefactor of the guitar.

Another reason for doing this, besides the prospect of thousands of happy guitar players and scholars, would be to ensure the survival of these guitar treasures. Over the years the Library of Congress, in general, and the music division, specifically, have been cranking up the security at a rate that makes you wonder when access will be completely denied. Maybe in a future of government cutbacks, a music division in the "nation's library" would be viewed as frivolous. (And who could argue?) And being located in Washington - right across the street from the Capitol - puts the library at greater than average risk of terrorist acts.

Stick "Baron" in front of your name.

Sound pretty good?

Contact Donald Sauter: send an email; view guestbook; sign guestbook.
Back to Donald Sauter's main page.