Count Ludovico Roncalli (1654-1713), or simply Count Ludovico, was an Italian nobleman who published a collection of suites for five-course baroque guitar, Capricci armonici sopra la chitarra spagnola ("Harmonic caprices for the Spanish guitar"), in 1692. This was transcribed to modern notation and arranged for the six-string guitar by Oscar Chilesotti in 1881. The work, consisting of nine complete suites, each comprising several short movements, is a great favorite of guitar enthusiasts, and individual movements frequently appear in guitar method books. Frederic Noad, who wrote "The Baroque Guitar' and other popular instruction books, did not rate the Chilesotti transcription highly, pointing to many omitted embellishments and octave errors relating to the fourth and fifth strings. Another edition in modern notation was published by Bruno Henze, and released in 1955 by VEB Friedrich Hofmeister, out of Leipzig. Noad did not comment on whether this edition had corrected the deficiencies of the Chilesotti version.
The original is available in a facsimile edition edited by Paolo Paolini (Florence 1982). A passacaglia from Roncalli's work was made famous in Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances.
Unlike much of the music of the later Baroque era, Roncalli's dance movements retain the flavor of actual dance music; for example his Gigues inspire the mental image of people dancing a spirited jig. However, the dancelike quality varies depending on the movement and the performer.
2004 saw the release of probably the first ever recording devoted exclusively to Roncalli's work, on the Italian label Tactus. It features Giacomo Parimbelli performing the complete suites except for V, VI, and IX, on a 19th century instrument.
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