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DURING THE LATTER PART of the 18th Century Italy gave to the world many famous guitarists, amongst whom the name of Mauro Giuliani stands out preeminently. Born in Bologna in 1780 Giuliani's early life was devoted to he study of the violin and guitar, but after a few years the latter became his favorite instrument and received his undivided attention. Endowed with more than ordinary ability and aptitude for music study he soon formed a style of playing totally different from that in vogue in Italy up to that time. Excepting his rudimentary lessons Giuliani was entirely self-taught, yet he soon surpassed all previous masters of the guitar; in fact, he might be called the founder of a distinct and refined school of guitar playing. His style of composition also far outshone that of the most renowned of former writers and his works even to-day remain a living monument to his genius. Before he was twenty years of age he had given many concerts in his native land and his unerring, brilliant technic and powerful, sonorous tone won for him the reputation as the outstanding guitar virtuoso of Italy.
Now followed a continental tour that took him to Paris and other important musical centers and his name spread throughout the length and breadth of Europe. Towards the close of the year 1807 he reached Vienna, where he soon established himself as virtuoso, composer and teacher and there he associated with the leading musicians of the city who held him in highest esteem; he became the intimate friend of Haydn, Hummel, Diabelli, Moscheles and Mayseder and was a welcome visitor in the homes of the aristocracy. Amongst his pupils we find the two Polish virtuosi, J. N. Bobrowicz and F. Horetzky, the Archduchess of Austria, the Princess Hohenzollern, the Duke of Sermonetta and Count George of Waldstein. At this time Giuliani composed some duets for guitar and piano, which he frequently performed in public with Hummel or Moscheles at the piano. He also introduced in his concerts the terz guitar, a smaller instrument with shorter strings tuned a minor third higher than the regular guitar, producing a more brilliant tone. Some writers have given Giuliani credit for inventing this instrument, but it is a fact that it had been in use for some years previously; Giuliani, however, used it more extensively and wrote many pieces for terz guitar with accompaniment of string quartet, orchestra or piano.
Concerts and Soirees
In 1815 he was engaged with the violinist, Mayseder, the pianist, Hummel, and a violoncellist from the royal opera, in giving what they named the "Ducaten Conzerte"; also a series of six musical soirees in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Schoenbrunn in the presence of the royal family and the nobility. For these concerts Hummel wrote his Op. 62, Op. 63, and Op. 66, "Grand Serenades", for piano, guitar, violin and violoncello; also "The Sentinel, Op. 74", for voice with accompaniment of piano, guitar, violin and violoncello. After the departure of Hummel from Vienna, Moscheles joined Giuliani and Mayseder and these artists appeared together in all important cities of Germany.
In 1821 Giuliani left Vienna to return to his native land and for several years was busy giving recitals in Rome, Naples and other Italian music centers. Subsequently he traveled through Holland, Germany and Russia, and finally reached St. Petersburg where his reception was so flattering that he stayed there for a number of years.
In 1833 he visited London, where his playing aroused much enthusiasm. Here it was that he met for the first time his most distinguished and only rival, Ferdinand Sor who was well known to the London public. The playing of these two artists was of a different style and soon each had numerous adherents amongst the English musical public, whose interest in the guitar was never greater than during this period.
In June 1836 he was again performing in London and later we find him returning to Vienna, the scene of his early triumphs where he lived until his death in 1840.
An English critic said of him "Giuliani's expression and tone in guitar playing are astonishing. He vocalized his adagios to a degree impossible to be imagined by those who never heard him, his melody in slow movements was no longer like the short, staccato of the piano, requiring a profusion of harmony to cover up the deficient sustension of the notes, but it was invested with a character, sustained and penetrating. In a word, he made the instrument sing."
Many Original Works
Giuliani was a prolific composer for his instrument and during his lifetime the Opus numbers of his published compositions reached 150 while more than one hundred remained in manuscript. It is a curious fact that his most difficult works were written during his early career, and were evidently intended for use in his own concerts. The others were undoubtedly written for his pupils and amateur players.
The "Grand Concertos for Guitar", Op. 36, Op. 70, and Op. 103, with accompaniment of full orchestra or string quartet, are unrivalled in guitar literature and their performance requires an artist of the first order.
There are numerous quartets, quintets and sextets for guitar and strings, duets for guitar and violin or flute. In these duets we find the rarest and choicest melodies and harmonies; and they display to every possible advantage the characteristics, capabilities and beauties of both instruments. The best known of the duets for guitar and violin (or flute) are Op. numbers 25, 52, 76, 77, 81, 85, 126 and 127. For two guitars, there are Op. numbers 35, 66, 116, 130 and 137; while for guitar and piano the Op. numbers 68, 104 and 113 are most effective. For guitar solo, Rondoletto, Op. 4; Grand Sonata, Op. 15; Sonata Eroica, Op. 150; and Grande Overture, Op. 61, all are written in the classic style and they would give grace to the program of any artist.
Lack of space prohibits listing of many more of his compositions that show the master guitarist and inspired composer.
Of great interest to the present day guitar student are Giuliani's technical studies and concert Etudes. These include "120 Right Hand Studies, Op. 1", interval studies in thirds, sixths, octaves, tenths, special studies in ornaments, and so on; "24 Arpeggio Studies, Op. 100"; "Papillon, Op. 30", thirty-two graded pieces for the student; "8 Graded Pieces, Op. 148"; "Etudes of Medium Difficulty, Op. 111"; "6 Preludes, Op. 83", exemplifying the art of modulation; and "25 Concert Etudes, Op. 48", for advanced players.