Mauro Giuliani – Dances of 1810 for guitar, the complete Preface by Brian Jeffery

These Dances of 1810 are five sets of dances for guitar, 62 dances in all, most of them easy, by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). All of them were first published in Vienna in 1810 or thereabouts. They are actual dance music, from the Vienna which was just as crazy about dancing then as it was later in the time of Strauss and Lehar. And they are full of life: this composer was a young man of 29, who had just burst onto the Vienna music scene.


They were the first easy pieces which Giuliani published in Vienna. Giuliani wrote them to be easy in the sense that most of the time you only have to play a single melodic line and the occasional open bass, as you can see from the many open bass strings, A, E, D, again and again. The melodic lines often sing out high up on the strings, which means that the frets are closer together there, so that you don’t have to stretch the hand as much as you would if they were close to the first position. But a word of warning: the definition of easy in the sense of being in or near the first position is not the definition which applies here.

The five sets

All these dances are full of life. We know that many dancers at the time, especially younger ones, liked to dance fast. “Schneller! schneller!” (faster! faster!) called the young people to the musicians (said a contemporary writer).

Take the 12 Monferrine op. 12, for example. They have very many effervescent details: for example, no. 5 which is all low but then a couple of higher snatches vary it; or no. 6 with its drone bass, or the glissandos in no. 9.

Or the 12 Waltzes op. 21, again a collection full of lively details, for example the octaves in no. 3; no. 4 with its inspired low passage at the beginning (especially if you observe the repeat), then contrasting with the snatches of higher notes in the second section. Or no. 5 with its weird bars 5-7, or the glissandos in no. 11. All these things add up to interest and fun for the performer and for the listener.

In the 12 Neue Wald-Ländler op. 23 you can practically hear the slapping of the Lederhosen, and the Ecossaises op. 33 are again full of life.

The 14 Balli Nazionali op. 24 come from exactly the same period but they are of a rather different nature, from several different countries and not so easy and evidently something of a more varied collection. But the Tarantella (no. 14) alone makes this collection worthwhile. Goethe was enthusiastic about the frenzied energy of this dance, and Emma Hamilton herself danced it. It doesn’t have a written-out ending but seems to go on and on.


Following on from no. 12 of the 12 Waltzes op. 21 is a long and vigorous coda, with a crescendo at the end. The same thing is found in the Auswahl der beliebtesten Deutschen vom Apollo-Saal which Giuliani published for two guitars in 1812, which also end following on from no. 12 with a huge coda and a crescendo. We may guess that this is how a set of dances finished in an actual dance hall of the time, full of energy and bringing the set to an end. The 12 Neue Wald-Ländler op. 23 also have a distinctive final piece suggesting something of the same.

No. 1 of the 12 Neue Wald-Ländler ends with an incomplete bar, surely because no. 2 must have been intended to follow on immediately. (I am grateful to Alexander V. Trukhin for pointing this out.) This would mean that the set can be thought of as a continuous work, twelve dances to be played and danced as a set, or like a set of variations, rather than just as twelve individual dances.

The dances

The monferrina is an Italian folk dance, probably from Monferrato which is an area in Piedmont not far from Turin. We can imagine, perhaps, fine local costume. So Giuliani, who was Italian, would have known it well; but we also know that it was commonly danced in Vienna at this time, and Hummel wrote a set of variations on it for cello and piano, op. 54. A Vienna dance teacher in 1838 gave a tempo for the monferrina of dotted crotchet (dotted quarter-note) = 60-64. But then, he considered that dances were danced far too fast, so the figure which he gives is most probably on the slow side compared with the reality of the dance floor.

The Ländler (here Wald-Ländler) was a predecessor of the waltz, in triple time, very popular in Vienna at that date. The waltz, derived from it, was growing fast in popularity. The ecossaise was also commonly danced in Vienna at that time.

In the 14 Balli Nazionali Giuliani gives many more national dances, most of them with Italian titles, although there are also the fandango which is Spanish and not too fast, an ecossaise, and La Miledi which is no doubt the English My Lady. La Tirolese is a song or dance of the Tirol in which it seems that we hear yodelling. But the gem of this collection is the tarantella, commonly danced with guitar and tambourine accompaniment. The 14 Balli Nazionali, unlike the others in this book, probably contain not so much dances from the ordinary life of Vienna at that time, but rather Giuliani’s recollection of dances, especially Italian ones, which he knew.

And it’s clear from the vivacity of this music that Giuliani was enthusiastic about dances. And because he wrote down for example the dances from the Apollo-Saal, it is clear that he was writing with actual dances in mind. Because of the folk nature of some of them, we can imagine in some of them at least, colourful costumes and perhaps the carnival atmosphere in the picture on the cover of this edition.

Dancing in Vienna

In Vienna at that time you could dance at society balls, in taverns, in dance-halls, even in the open air (as in the picture which is on the cover of this edition). Just a couple of years earlier than these dances, in 1808, the Apollo-Saal had opened, a specially built dance-hall which could hold thousands of people. Johann Strauss in 1810, by the way, was six years old.

The division into simple basses and melodic upper parts in these collections of Giuliani is no accident. The typical dance band in Vienna at that time consisted of two violins and a double bass (again as you can see on the cover of this edition), and surely Giuliani was arranging that sound for the guitar. Where a piece has a series of thirds, then surely we can imagine two violins; and where it has simple bass notes, we can hear the double bass, perhaps bowed, perhaps plucked.


This book is a tribute to the late Ruggero Chiesa. Once in the course of a memorable meal which we had in an excellent Milan restaurant, he spoke (among other things) about the quality of these early dances of Giuliani, and indeed he published the 12 Monferrine op. 12 and the 12 Ecossaises op. 33 in his series with Suvini Zerboni. Now here are more dances of this same kind, and I hope he would be pleased.

All these dances come from Volumes 2, 3 and 4 of the Complete Works of Giuliani in facsimile, which I published with Tecla and which are available from Tecla together with all Giuliani’s other music.

This edition maintains all the features of the original editions such as the direction of note-stems etc. No fingering has been added.

Further information about dance in Vienna at this time can be found in the book Der Ländler in Wien (Vienna, 1976) by Reingard Witzmann (in German). It contains a wealth of information about the dances themselves, dance-halls etc, and many pictures.

“Schneller! schneller!”, and the tempo for the monferrina, come from Paul Bruno Bartholomay’s book Die Tanzkunst of 1838 (cited by Hannelore Unfried in her article “Von einer Polizei-Tanzuhr. Erlaubte Höchstgeschwindigkeiten für den Biedermeierlichen Gesellschaftstanz”, in Musikwissenschaftliche Perspektiven aus Wien, Brünn, 1994).

The picture on the cover shows dancers in the Brigittenau in Vienna in about the year 1820, that is close to the time of the dances in this book. It is called “Wien zu sehen von der Brigittenau zur Zeit der Kirchweihe” and is by Balthasar Wigand. I am grateful to the Wien Museum for permission to use it here.

I am also grateful to Hannelore Unfried, who specialises in historical dance especially from Vienna of this period, for valuable suggestions during the preparation of this edition.

The music in this book was engraved by Alexander V. Trukhin.

Brian Jeffery


12 Monferrine op. 12

The keys of the twelve pieces are carefully varied to make a set: E, A, D, G, C, F, d, D, A, D, G, C. All the pieces start on the second beat of the bar, and all the pieces are in the form ABB.
No. 9: I start on the second string, at the tenth fret, with the second finger, which is surely what Giuliani intended. The passages at bars 2-4, 6-8, and 14-16 could also be well performed high up on the strings.
No. 9: in his Studio per la chitarra of 1812, Giuliani describes the ornament which is here in bars 6, 12 and 14 as strisciato. He writes: “si striscia fino alla nota di melodia, facendo risuonare tutti gl’intervalli, a guisa dell’abbellimento, che nel canto si chiama portamento di voce” (‘the left hand finger slides up to the melody note, sounding all the intervals on the way, in the same way as in the portamento in singing’). Also no doubt the downward ornament in bars 1, 5 and 13 is also a glissando (and not an ornament performed by pulling the finger away).
No. 9 bar 1: the second bass note is G sharp. However, when this passage comes again at bars 5 and 13, the second bass note is E. Personally I think it is fine the way it is.

12 Waltzes op. 21

The grand ending of no. 12 seems to tell us that this set was designed to be played as a whole, as a set of twelve dances to be played together.
All the pieces are in the form AABB (plus the coda in the case of no. 12).
No. 4: make sure to hold the A singing throughout bars 1-7.
No. 11 bar 4: the slur might be understood as phrasing, in which case it is in order. But as an indication of right hand fingering, it can apply only to the first two notes.
No. 11 bar 9: the B is well played on the fourth string, and so on in the other similar passages (bars 11 and 13).

12 Neue Wald-Ländler op. 23

In nos. 3, 6 and 7, the second half ends in a different key from the first half. In these three pieces, players may wish to add “Fine” at the end of the first half and “D.C. al Fine” at the end of the second half, in order to return to the “home” key.
No. 5: in bars 1 and 5, one might think that the third note should be G. But it comes twice, which shows that the A is most probably intentional.
No. 7 is like a violin on two strings.
No. 12: what does the sign mean in the second half? Most likely it means what we call vibrato. So as a suggestion, all the second part of this piece could be played high up on the strings, with the first note of this section, E, played on the third string.
No. 12: again as in op. 21, this last dance, no. 12 in this set, is written to make a climax at the end, implying that this set also was intended to be played as a set.
No. 12: I have added [Fine] and [D.C. al Fine] in no. 12 because the quaver (eighth note) in the final bar implies them.

14 Balli Nazionali op. 24

No. 3: “alla Savojarda” means in the Savoyan style. Bars 9-12: the bass here would probably have been played using the left hand thumb to stop notes in the bass.
No. 4: Rena means “sand” in Italian.
No. 6: La Galoppato: the galop was a well-known dance. “A due corde” probably means to play all the upper notes of all this section on the second and third strings, that is to say beginning by playing the first note, D, on the third string at the seventh fret.
No. 7: bars 2 and 6: one would expect a sharp on the Fs, but the original doesn’t put one (twice). Players should decide for themselves whether or not to play F sharp.
No. 13 is the same piece as no. 4 in op. 33 in this book. It follows the same pattern as alternate pieces in op. 33, in that the first half is in A, the second half in the relative minor C.
No. 14: You might accelerate this tarantella as it goes on! The Ricordi Enciclopedia della Musica of 1964 says that the tarantella is “iniziata lentamente e a poco a poco accelerata fino al parossismo” (‘is started slowly and then accelerated to the point of paroxysm’).
How to end a tarantella? This one seems to be in perpetual motion, moto perpetuo, and has no final bar. Some composers of the 19th century and after did indeed consider the tarantella as an example of perpetual motion. In this piece, every four-bar section begins with an A chord, so when the time comes to end the piece, unless you decide just to fade out (which might be an option), it could be done by playing a simple A chord to end.
At bars 4 and 8, the D sharp in the bass against the E in the melody, especially as it comes twice, is no doubt intentional in this wild dance.

12 Ecossaises op. 33
The twelve dances are arranged in order, not just as individual pieces. As can be seen, nos. 1, 3, etc., begin and end in A major and have no D.C., while nos. 2, 4, etc., end their second half in C and then have a D.C. al Fine so that the entire piece ends again in A. Whether this arrangement has anything to do with the dance, or whether rather it is an elegant way to arrange the pieces for publication, I don’t know.
No. 12 is all in A and rounds off the set with a flourish, which seems to show, again, that the entire set was conceived as a whole.

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Copyright 2006 by Tecla Editions. Errors and omissions excepted.