Mauro Giuliani was a classical era composer and one of the finest guitarists in the world. Prior to yesterday, I don’t think I’d ever heard of him; for whatever reason I have not thought much about the guitar as a classical musical instrument at all. Giuliani began his musical life on the cello, and was an accomplished player of that instrument. Wikipedia says he also probably played the violin. After listening to his Opus 25, his Sonata for Violin and Guitar, his proficiency on the violin certainly stands to reason. As with many of my new discoveries in the past couple of months, my awareness of Giuliani and this sonata comes from the Perlman collection I’m working my way through. The guitarist working with Perlman for the guitar works featured in the collection is John Williams.
The Giuliani sonata opens with a prelude, then it lays out a theme and several variations, finishing with minuet and rondo movements. The work is melodic and at times dramatic. The theme and variations movements are especially nice for me to listen to as I’m trying to gain a better understanding of the ways in which composers construct their works. Hearing multiple embellishments to melody lines gives me stepping stones to better understanding the story the music is telling. Learning to listen to musical stories is becoming important for me as I try to inject more musicality into the pieces I’m playing – as I’m working on the Seitz Concerto, for example, Teacher tells me to think about Cinderella. It’s an interesting and new way for me to approach music! This sonata for violin and guitar is a subtle and intricate work, to my ears well-suited to morning listening. Wikipedia reports that Giuliani often worked with themes and variations, and is especially known for transformations of themes from Rossini’s operas (talk about stories!).
Giuliani was born in Italy in 1781, moving often around that country as he grew up. In early adulthood he found his way to Austria – Vienna- the seat of classical music in Europe. An acquaintance of Beethoven and many others, he worked in the very best circles. He found success as a performer, touring all over Europe, and also published many works for the guitar and other instruments. The man spent the last decade of his fewer than fifty years in Rome and was quite prolific.
Thanks for reading.