1870 Manuel de Soto y Solares
1870 Manuel de Soto y Solares
Make: Manuel Soto y Solares
Model: Flamenco Guitar
Model Year: c. 1885
Top: German Spruce
Back & Sides: Spanish Cypress
Finish: French polish
Condition: Used - Excellent
This guitar by Manuel de Soto y Solares has a particularly interesting history. Manuel de Soto y Solares (Sevilla 1839-1906) had a close relationship with Antonio de Torres, whose workshop was a few doors from his on the Calle Cerrageria. According to Jose Ramirez III, if Torres made a guitar that didn't meet his expectations, he would sell it to Manuel who would sell it under his label (Romanillos and Winspear 1995: 189). While I don't doubt that Torres made guitars for Manuel de Soto y Solares, this story is probably a romantic interpretation of common transactions between makers. Makers constantly buy or trade with one another, and it is common when established shops have more orders than they can fill to subcontract or buy guitars from other makers, and sell them under their own label. In the 1860s, Manuel de Soto and Solares whose father and both grandfathers were all luthiers was the more established shop. In 1865, as Romanillos and Winspeare document, Torres gave up his shop at 32 Calle Cerrageria, and went to live with his common-law wife. He likely needed to build “bread and butter” guitars more than ever during these couple of years that he was without a workshop (ibid 190). The intriguing possibility is that there maybe a good number of Antonio de Torres built during his years in Sevilla that may bear a Manuel de Soto y Solares’ label.
Manuel’s work was influenced heavily by Torres and he seems to have enthusiastically adopted Torres style of construction. When Torres when into “retirement” and moved back to Almeria in 1870, those seeking a Torres style guitar turned to Manuel de Soto y Solares, and he drew important clients such as Juan Breva (1844-1918) who is known to have used a Manuel de Soto y Solares guitar made between 1870 and 1890. While this guitar is not dated, it is a Torres style guitar with his headstock and rosette. Its proportions seem to follow that of FE 20 made in 1864. It has five fan braces, and 650 mm scale.
What makes this particular guitar interesting is that we know its history. The guitar originally belonged to Jose Bona Fernandez who lived on the calle Socorro near the plaza de San Roman. He had three siblings, Rafaela, Maria, and Antonio. When he died, his younger brother, Antonio Bona Fernandez, inherited the guitar. In 1972, Antonio age 48, died and it passed to his nephew, Miguel Mata Pinilla. According to Miguel, his uncle Pepe Bona Fernandez was a member of the Trio ABC, which stood for Abuelo, Bona, and Carlos. Pepe Bona Fernandez played guitar, another Bandurria, and other laud. They were a popular musical group in Sevilla that played pieces such as “El sitio de Zaragosa, El bolero de Ravel. The Trio was good enough to have performed for King Alfonso XIII. This was probably in 1929 when Alfonso XIII came to Sevilla to open an exhibition.
I have been able to trace the Trio ABC activities from the 1930 to 1950 in a local newspaper from Sevilla. They are first mentioned July 1, 1930 as one of the groups playing at the opening of the Casino “Agrupacion Cultural Recreativa” in the Barrio de Aguila, where they and the Egea Orchestra played music all night. Six weeks later, they performed at the “fin de fiestas” during the semana Andaluza along with the great flamenco cantor, Manuel Centano (B. Sevilla 1885-1961).
In 1937, we the Trio ABC on a flamenco program titled “Luces de Espana” playing before a distinguished audience of consular representatives from Germany, Italy, and Portugal with among other the flamenco dancer Carmelita Cruz, guitarists Antonio Hernandez (1889-1962?), and Antonio Moreno (1890-1937), other performers included el Nino de Fregenal (1911-1982), Antonio Salas, the Hermanos Al Keus, and Melena (1872-1956).
On April 25, 1939, the Trio ABC played at a fiesta in the Barrio of Santa Cruz for Dona Carmen Polo, wife of the dictator, Franco. They served up sevillanas, farrucas, tangos, fandagueillos, and a variety of other flamenco pieces. The very popular bull fighter, the matador, Rafael Gomez (El Gallo) was in attendance and danced sevillanas with the women of the Manolo Real’s flamenco troupe.
In 1940, the Trio ABC played in the San Fernando Theatre at an event organized by the Agrupacion Artistica, with included a Comedy “Puebla de las Mujeres” staring Manuel Ballesteros and Anita Rodriguez. The Trio ABC accompanied the popular flamenco Troupe Andaluz, and the singer Mari Mencho at the fin de fiesta closing ceremonies.
In 1942, they were playing regularly at the Venta La Alegria a night club on Carretera Carmona, appearing with the flamenco troupe Andaluz. The following year they were one of house acts, at the the Gran Casino Terraza, again with the Andaluz flamenco troupe, and the Mundial Jazz Orchestra. During the year they appeared with guest stars such as the Hermanos Dorados, Hermanas Dreyer, and Josefina Garcia. In 1944, the Trio ABC was still playing at the Terraza Gran Casino performing with the Conchita Verdu, Rosita Hernandez flamenco group that included Manolita Gutier, Conchita Verdu, Nati Guitier, and with the orchestra Mundial Jazz. Guest performers included the singers, Isabilita Fernandez and Olgra Viana. During 1949 and 1950, the Trio ABC were a regular act at the Andulcia de Noche (Bar Citrone) that presented typical Andulcian fiestas appearing with the La Gitanilla Remedio flamenco troupe, appearing with the Trio de Oro.