Giuliani: The Complete Studies for guitar. Detailed notes.

Mauro Giuliani:

The Complete Studies for guitar

The complete detailed notes on each work.

Opus 1.Studio per la chitarra (Studio for the guitar)

Giuliani’s Studio per la chitarra, opus 1, was first published in Vienna by Artaria and advertised there on 22 April 1812.  Despite its opus number, it was not his first published work: its plate number indicates that it was published together with his opp. 34 and 35 and before his op. 36.  It seems, therefore, either that the work existed in some unpublished form at an early date, or, more probably, that the opus number was reserved for what was considered a major work.  The publisher Artaria paid Giuliani the enormous sum for the time of 600 florins for it (Heck, The Birth, II, 4-5).

The date, 1812, is very close in time to Sor’s Studio which appeared in London in about 1815, and is not far away in time from Aguado’s Estudios of 1820.  The term studio at this time meant a collection of didactic pieces.  For a discussion of the exact meaning of the words studio, esercizio, study, etc., see an article which I wrote for the EGTA Journal in 1994.

Giuliani did not intend this work to be used by absolute beginners.  In his preface he wrote that it is for those who have already made a beginning: “for those who, already possessing the first elements, wish to perfect themselves without the assistance of a teacher.”


The layout of this present edition is largely the same as in Giuliani’s original.  For example, in Part Three the instructions about each example are printed immediately above the music in the original edition, and I have done the same here (rather than putting them only in the introduction).

Giuliani’s preface appears in the original edition in Italian, French, and German.  I have translated it into English here, from the Italian.

No tempo indications are given in parts 1 and 2.

Part One, for the right hand


The exercises in this Part One appear to be warming-up exercises, like the vocalises of a singer or the limbering-up exercises of an athlete.  The repeat signs show that each exercise is intended to be capable of being played several times; indeed, Giuliani writes about this Part One “Il segno di ripetizione può servire a piacimento” (the repeat sign can be considered as a piacere).  Thus dexterity is achieved.  It doesn’t matter that some exercises have patterns which one would seldom or never find in the real music of the time, such as nos. 5, or 32, or 60: the patterns serve for exercise, not for performance.  Athletes similarly limber up with exercises which are not necessarily exactly the same things as they do in their chosen sport.

In fact this Part One casts interesting light on Giuliani’s right hand fingering.  For example, it shows that he was quite ready to use the right hand ring finger (a) often, probably more ready than Sor would have been, who recommended that the right hand ring finger be used as far as possible only for the top note of four-note chords.

The exercises show technical progression.  Thus no. 1 consists only of chords and uses only the right hand thumb, index, and middle fingers; then come arpeggios and from no. 7 the ring finger (a) is introduced.  Then come various patterns more and more to increase agility, while the left hand at first stays always in the same two positions.  From no. 55 onwards the thumb is more exercised, while only after the first 100 exercises are any extra notes introduced in the left hand.

Among many other points of interest are the following.

In no. 17 Giuliani alternates thumb and index finger only, where he could easily have used other fingers as well.

In no. 95, notes on contiguous strings played downwards are played by m i, but when they are played upwards they are not played by i m as one might perhaps expect today, but by p i even on high strings (the ancient technique which Sor also would have prescribed).

In no. 96 we have a forerunner of what we today call tremolo, in no. 100 also reversed.

In no. 97 p and i play alternately on a single bass string (as Sor would also have recommended).


In no. 101 Giuliani shows willingness to use a where he could have used m.

In no. 109 the notes on the top string are played by m i only (no a).

In no. 112 the notation in the second bar is just a notational convention; it should be played simply as triplets.

In no. 114, in the middle of the first bar, the two chords in the upper part are the same, but it is prescribed to change the right hand fingering (from i and m to m and a).

The final chord of each exercise has a slash through it which probably means to arpeggiate the chord.  Possibly it means to play all five notes with the right hand thumb, but that is not certain.   (In the original edition the slash is absent in nos. 1-10 and 111-120, but I have restored it here.)


Part Two, for the left hand


Part Two consists of sixteen exercises for the left hand.  First come four exercises in C major, one each in thirds, sixths, octaves and tenths; then four more in thirds, sixths, octaves and tenths in each of G major, D major, and A major.  The exercises are by no means the same for all the keys, and sometimes they are quite musical, for example at the end of no. 5.

At the beginning of Part Two, Giuliani specifically writes (the original is in Italian, French and German): “In all the examples in this second part, the bass notes, that is to say the notes which have their stems pointing downwards, are plucked with the thumb, and all the other (upper) notes with the right hand index finger.” So Giuliani has composed this Part to give exercise in this technique of alternating the right hand thumb and index finger right up to the top strings.  To alter this and use other right hand fingers as some modern editions do, is fine for modern technique but it destroys the specific purpose for which Giuliani wrote this section.  Moreover, the alternation of thumb and index finger is easy, even up to the first and second strings, and in my own experience clear and brilliant.

The emphasis in Part Two is on the left hand, while the right hand is very simple, playing all the notes with the thumb and index finger only.


Part Three, ornaments etc.


The elements which Giuliani has chosen to spotlight here no doubt reflect something of his own style of playing.


The first, no. 1, is the holding or prolonging of notes which he calls “Della tenuta del tuono”, the holding of the sound (not quite the same thing as “sostenuto” which Giuliani could have used but chose not to, perhaps because it has stylistic implications; by “tenuta del suono” I think Giuliani merely meant giving notes their full value).

Then, no. 2, “dello smorzato” which I have translated as damping.  This is practically the same as staccato, although I have not used that word because Giuliani did not use it here but used it in no. 3, so that perhaps he did not mean the two to be quite the same: perhaps example 2 is for damped sounds, and example 3 for truly staccato ones.  Giuliani does not discuss the matter in enough detail for us to be sure.

The rest are ornaments.

In no. 1, Giuliani’s right hand fingering is certainly unusual in places, for example at bars 15 and 18 where we see three consecutive notes all plucked with the index finger, which would not be normal today.  But it is carefully notated and no doubt has its purpose.

In nos. 4 to 7 and 9 the original edition writes in every case appoggiatura, but some of the auxiliary notes are written as what we today would call acciaccaturas.  Because the detailed meaning of ornaments is a thorny part of performance practice, I have preferred to use Giuliani’s own terminology rather than risk confusing matters with modern terms which may or may not mean the same thing.  Anyone interested can read the necessary works on performance practice of the time.

In no. 4, the instructions are not one hundred per cent literal, because the o in bar 7 means that the finger here cannot fall like a hammer because it is an open string.

In no. 9 the ornament as Giuliani says is indeed the same as the ornament in no. 5 and performed the same way.  So why has he given it a separate piece?  Perhaps because this ornament was indeed very common, and indeed probably was often improvised without being written, so it was important enough to be given a new and separate piece.

No. 11, in the Italian text at its head in the original edition, is headed “Dello Strisciato”.  Giuliani spells out that the technique here is like portamento in singing, where the singer makes each intervening note distinct.  That is not the same as glissando, where the singer goes from the beginning note to the ending note without articulating each intervening note separately.  Glissando is not mentioned and is not the correct term to use here.  (It is true that the French text has “Du Glissé”, but on the one hand as Giuliani was Italian it is likely to be the Italian text which is the original, and also in French no obvious translation for strisciato presents itself other than glissé.)

Part Four, twelve progressive lessons


The work concludes with twelve progressive lessons, suitable for beginners, none of them seriously difficult.  The last one has a long final part or cadenza which serves to bring the whole work to an end.

Part Four in the original edition has no fingering at all.

Lesson 3: note that the first note of each group in the bass in bar 1 (and in subsequent groups later) is a quaver not a semiquaver (a 16th note not a 32nd note).

Lesson 3, bar 18: the third note is F natural in the original; one might be tempted to change it to a G, but a comparison with bars 21 and 26 shows that that would not necessarily be correct.  In this edition it has been left unchanged.

Lesson 9, last chord: the bass A shows that Giuliani intended the low F to be stopped with the left hand thumb.  This can easily be changed if desired.

Lesson 10, bar 21: the sharp on the last note is editorial.

Lesson 12: bar 15 is to be played at the 7th position.

Lesson 12: in bar 17 the last note is E in the first edition and D in a second edition which Artaria produced.  I have preferred to put F, on musical grounds.

Opus 48.  Esercizio per la chitarra, contenente 24 pezzi della maggiore difficoltà, diversi preludi, passaggi, ed assolo  (Exercise for the guitar, containing 24 pieces of the greatest difficulty, including various preludes, passaggi, and solo pieces).


Like op. 1, this work comes from that tremendous period in Giuliani’s life when he had just arrived in Vienna.  It is brilliant in every way: every piece is intensely musical, uses the resources of the instrument fully, and every note counts, nothing is wasted.  Consider, for example, the subtlety and beauty of no. 15.  The Esercizio was first published in Vienna in mid-1813.

It is extremely interesting that the original title-page says that the pieces are not merely exercises as solo pieces, but that they include “preludi, passaggi…”, that is to say, music which can be played as a prelude to something else, or as a “passage” from one item to another.  Passaggio is a technical term which is practically untranslatable, meaning a piece which shows some conspicuous or brilliant feature, modulation, or ornamentation or decoration.

The original edition gives quite a lot of position indications and some open strings, but no other fingering.  This is an economical type of fingering.  For example, the first note of no. 11 is marked “II”, which must mean that the note is to be stopped with the fourth finger on the fifth string, because otherwise there would be no purpose in the indication.

Usually in this music a dot on a note does not mean staccato, but rather not slurred.  It usually appears on a note which immediately precedes or follows a group of slurred notes and distinguishes it from them, to indicate that it is to be plucked separately and not slurred.  A fine example of its use is in op. 48 no. 4, where the distinction between slurred and unslurred notes is very carefully notated and is essential to the interpretation of the piece.  Sometimes the dot becomes a wedge, but whereas in some piano music of the time there is indeed a distinction between dot and wedge, in the case of this music of Giuliani there appears to be no difference in sense: rather, it seems that it was just a vagary of engravers’ practice.

The dynamics in opus 48 are interesting and very carefully notated, very practical and specific.  See for example the carefully marked crescendo and decrescendo in no. 2, and the sfs in no. 6 and in no. 7 bars 16-19.

No. 1 bar 13, the first sf has been added editorially.

No. 4 bar 14: an error in the slurring has been corrected.  (For details see the Tecla facsimile edition).

No. 5 bar 9: in the third group of notes, the second and sixth notes were A in the original edition and have here been altered to B.  In the fourth group of notes, the third and fifth notes (E) might be conjectured to be D as they are in the following bar, but E is in fact probably correct.

No. 5 the slash in the final chord may mean arpeggiated (cf. op. 1 Part One).

No. 6 is very like Op. 1, Part One, no. 17, which is specifically marked to be played with the right hand thumb and index finger only, so this piece also is probably intended to be played in that way.

No. 14, bars 7-8: this passage, going up to the very top of the compass and then down to the bass, reminds one of violin music.

No. 16 is very similar to a passage at the end of the guitar part of the first movement of Giuliani’s first concerto in A op. 30.

No. 17 bar 52: the last note is G in the original and is here changed to B.

No. 22 bar 3: the first two bass notes in the original are joined together with a beam across the beat.  One can see the purpose of this: given that the first of the two notes is marked sf, the idea is to group the two notes together.  This also occurs at bars 7-10, with an especially careful beaming at the end of bar 10.  Although this is against modern practice, I have decided to keep it because of its fine economy of purpose.  (The group in the bass from bar 3 to bar 4 is two separate notes in the original but I have beamed them together like the rest)

No. 24 bar 10: the words “col dito pollice” mean with the right hand thumb.  This is too obvious to apply to the bass notes.  Therefore it applies to the upper notes, that is to say in this bar play the C (the first upper note) with the right hand thumb and thereafter all the Cs in this bar, and similarly in the next bars.

In no. 24 the final bars are long drawn out, perhaps to bring this collection to an end as a whole.  This would give support to the idea of performing op. 48 as a whole.  These final bars are rather similar to, and in the same key as, the end of Giuliani’s Grande Ouverture, op. 61 of a few years later.

Opus 51.  XVIII Lecons Progressives  (Eighteen progressive lessons)


This collection of simple pieces was first published in Vienna probably early in 1814, that is to say just a few months after Giuliani’s much more advanced op. 48 of 1813.  So one can say that like Sor, Giuliani moved in his composition from the hard to the easier.  Still, some of the pieces here are quite pleasant, for example no. 5 or no. 7.


Op. 51 almost never rises above the first and second positions, except only for no. 18 which goes much higher.  It has almost no fingering or position indications, perhaps because most of the pieces are so easy.  No. 18, again exceptionally, begins in the 7th position.

Again it has interesting dynamics and careful placing of sf.

No. 2: the structure of this piece in the original edition seems to show that two bars are missing.  In order to remedy this, I have inserted two bars, which are the bars numbered 13-14 in this edition.  If anyone wishes to remove them, they can do so.

No. 9 bar 10 the first upper note was C in the original and is here changed to A.

No. 13 here also in the original edition the bars do not add up properly.  Everything is fine up to bar 16, and also from bar 37 to the end, but in between the number of bars does not seem to be correct.  However, no obvious error is present and no obvious solution presents itself.

No. 13 last bar: the spacing of the chord implies that Giuliani intended the low F in the final bar to be stopped with the left hand thumb.

No. 18 ends with a flourish, to bring the collection to an end.


Opus 98.  Studi Dilettevoli ossia Raccolta di vari Pezzi Originali  (Delightful studies, or, Collection of various original pieces)


This collection of eight easy pieces was first published in Vienna by Artaria and advertised in the Wiener Zeitung on 29 October 1817.  It was reviewed in the Wiener Zeitung für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode on 5 March 1818 as follows: “[Op. 98] enthält acht Uebungsstücke, die, ohne ausser­ordentliche Schwierigkeiten darzubieten, doch auch noch für Geübtere ein angenehmes Studium seyn werden.” (quoted from Heck, The Birth…, II, 110).  (“[Op. 98] contains eight exercise pieces, which, without offering any unusual difficulties, will still serve as a pleasant study even for more experienced players.”)

Op. 98 is a collection of eight easy pieces not much different from very many other easy pieces published by Giuliani in his lifetime, and they are included here in this present book not so much because of their musical nature as studies, but rather for the sake of completeness because they bear on their title-page the word “Studi”.


No. 2 bar 27: the first note after the chord is A in the original, apparently an error and altered here to G.

No. 7 the original from bar 36 writes out the first part again (complete with repeats).

No. 8, as in op. 48, here also in this much more modest collection, in the last piece, the final bars are long drawn out, perhaps to bring this collection to an end as a whole.

Opus 100.  Etudes instructives, faciles, et agréables … contenant un Recueil de Cadences, Caprices, Rondeaux, et Préludes  (Instructive, easy, and agreeable studies … containing a collection of cadences, caprices, rondos, and preludes)


This work contains 24 pieces.  The title calls the entire collection Etudes, or studies, but in fact the work is divided into three sections: Cadenze (cadences), Capricci e Rondo (caprices and rondos), and Preludi (preludes).  Nos. 1-9 are cadenze, nos. 10-14 capricci, nos. 15-16 rondos, and nos. 17-24 preludi.  The cadenze have a coherent harmonic structure as a group of pieces (see below), and so do the capricci.

However, apart from nos. 15 and 16 which are clearly rondos, there is often not a very clear distinction between the various pieces when considered as individual pieces.  Even the preludi nos. 17-24 are also called cadenze: Preludi ad uso cadenza servendosone avanti di cominciare un pezzo di Musica (preludes to be used as cadences, to be played before beginning a piece of music).  It is interesting and unusual in Giuliani’s music that the preludes nos. 17, 18, 20, and 21 have no barlines and are to be played a piacere.  Cadenze, capricci, and preludi are all unusual terms in Giuliani’s work.

The ambitious structure of this work, its divisions, and its unusual contents, all show that this was intended to be a major work.  The high rank of the dedicatee, Princess Menschikoff, and the elaborate nature of the original title-page, also show that this was regarded as an important work of Giuliani’s.

The work was first published in Vienna by Springer and advertised in the Wiener Zeitung on 8 January 1819.  It was reprinted by Artaria from the original plates but with a new plate number (4650) much later, in about 1833.

In the first section, Cadenze, nos. 1-9, it may be observed that all the pieces except one (No. 5) move from a major key to its relative minor: No. 1, C to a; No. 2, G to e; No. 3, D to b; No. 4, A to f sharp; No. 6, F to d; No. 7, B flat to g; No. 8, E flat to c; and no. 9, A flat to f.  No. 5 is entirely in E major.  So, on the face of it, it might seem that perhaps there has been an error of printing.  Heck suggested (The Birth…, II, 113), that it may be that the publisher “destroyed what must have been Giuliani’s original grouping by interchanging No. 5 with No. 9 in the first edition; that gesture has been carried through in the later and modern editions”.  So it is tempting to “restore” the original.  However, to do so would not be straightforward, for if we remove no. 5 in order to make a coherent group of eight Cadenze, where are we then going to put it?  Surely not among the Capricci, for they also have a coherent harmonic sequence: No. 10, C major; No. 11, A minor; No. 12, G major; No. 13, E minor; No. 14, D major.  If only the troublesome No. 5 were in B minor!  Then it would fit well into place.  But it is not.


So Heck’s hypothesis that nos. 5 and 9 were interchanged by the publisher does not work out neatly.  All one can say is that No. 5 does not fit well into the first group of Cadenze.  So it is best not to make any changes when editing the work, and none have been made in this edition.  However, anyone performing the Cadenze as a group may wish to omit No. 5.



No. 6, bars 29 and 30: the last note in each bar was F in the original and is here changed to D.

No. 23 has no tempo indication in the original.  [Allegro] is editorially suggested.

The last piece, No. 24, has a grand final flourish to bring the work as a whole to an end, as in opp. 1, 48, 51, and 98.

No. 24 bar 3: after the bass note, the first three notes in the original are CFA and have here been changed to FAC.  (Also in bar 4).

Opus 139.  24 Prime Lezioni, Parte prima  (24 First Lessons, Part 1)


The title-page states that this work consists of 24 pieces and is in four parts: 24 Prime Lezioni progressive per chitarra sola, divise in Quattro parti, per uso degli amatori che desiderano di perfezionarsi senza l’ajuto del Maestro” (“24 first progressive lessons for guitar solo, divided into four parts, for the use of those amateurs who wish to learn without the aid of a teacher”. However, even if there ever were a full 24 pieces in the work, only these six are known to have been published, by Ricordi in Milan in about 1840, that is some eleven years after the composer’s death.  The late date of publication must cause doubts regarding their authenticity, and the musical style also does not seem typical of Giuliani.  The opus number, 139, may in all likelihood have been assigned by the publisher and not by Giuliani.

No. 3 has no tempo indication in the original.

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Copyright 2002 by Tecla Editions. Errors and omissions excepted.