Mauro Giuliani: Two Rondos for guitar and keyboard, op. 68, the complete preface

 New Tecla edition November 2008, TECLA 2557.

The complete preface by Brian Jeffery (this is actually a longer version than the one in the actual edition itself, because it had to be abbreviated in the edition for reasons of space.).

It is a great pleasure to make Giuliani’s Two Rondos op. 68 for guitar and piano now available in a new re-engraved edition. Full of life and musicality and (so it seems to me) of humour, they richly deserve many performances. David Starobin wrote about them in the magazine Classical Guitar that he wouldn’t be surprised if Beethoven had a hand in them somewhere.

I first published them in facsimile in 1986 with Tecla in volume 34 of the Complete Works of Giuliani, and now this new re-engraved edition will, I hope, make them available to a wider public.

They are full of delightful touches, many of them unusual for Giuliani, for example in Rondo 1 the syncopation at bars 50-51, and the wide striding arpeggios and modulations at bars 53-62 and 88-94. Then the beginning of Rondo 2 is very unusual and quite splendid, where the single bass line on the guitar gives an unexpected and striking opening to the piece. One might imagine, perhaps, such an instrumentation coming from the orchestra pit of an opera of the time, at the beginning of a new aria, followed by the thirds in bars 17-19 which bring us back to a more normal state of affairs. In bar 78 we have a sudden dramatic silence followed by singing high A’s on the guitar. Later there is a steadily growing build-up over twenty bars to the reprise of the rondo at bar 147, while the flourish of the last two bars is perhaps like a tenor ending his aria, or a violinist ending a movement, in triumph.

The Two Rondos were first published in about 1818/19 and probably composed in 1818 or shortly before. It so happens that Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia was first performed in 1816. It can only be a hypothesis, but I wonder whether in these rondos we see the influence of Rossini. Also, Mário Carreira has pointed out the similarities between Rondo 2 bars 117-122 and the first movement (allegro giusto) of Schubert’s 1816 sonata in g minor for violin and piano D 408.

Claudio Maccari and Paolo Pugliese, who have played this work, write (in a private email) that the guitar writing seems strongly influenced by the violin.

Tempo and performance

The original edition does not give any indication of tempo. Of course it is up to every performer to decide, but I myself would opt for a performance full of verve and exuberance, great lightness of touch, and not slow.

Original instruments

In 1818 neither the guitar nor the piano was the same as the instrument which it is today. The guitar was smaller and probably less tightly strung than today, with gut strings, and the piano had not yet undergone the development into the heavier instrument of today. Rather, the clear and impassioned tracery of the piano, and the soft yet crystal clear sound of the guitar, blended to make a combination in which both could be heard and in which, it seems to me, clarity was a principal merit.

Ideally these Two Rondos (in my opinion) are best played on instruments of the time or on replicas. A fortepiano would be fine. But if that isn’t possible, and if modern instruments are used, then both the guitarist and the pianist might aim at great lightness and clarity, the pianist without too great a volume.

The context of the Two Rondos op. 68

In 1818 Giuliani was at the height of his career in Vienna. He had arrived there in about 1806 and created a sensation with his first guitar concerto in 1808, then with a whole string of compositions such as his Sonata op. 15 and Grande Ouverture op. 61. It was one of the most active periods of his career.

The first known work for guitar and piano in which Giuliani was involved was the Grand Duo Concertant, which he composed jointly with the famous pianist Ignaz Moscheles. The two performed it together in Vienna in 1813, when Moscheles was just nineteen and Giuliani thirty-three. It is on a very large scale, with four brilliant movements. The late Peter Pieters, who made a particular study of works for guitar and piano in this period, wrote about the Grand Duo Concertant: “Undoubtedly this work is the longest and most virtuosic work for this medium during the nineteenth century.”

In about 1817/18 Giuliani and the pianist Hummel jointly composed the Grand Pot-Pourri National op. 93 for guitar and piano, again a very large-scale work, full of interest. The guitar here was a terz guitar, which is a smaller guitar tuned a minor third higher than a normal guitar, more brilliant and more easily heard than a normal guitar, perhaps a good choice when performing with a piano.

Then in about 1818 followed the Two Rondos op. 68, the present work. It is the only known work of Giuliani’s for guitar and piano where as far as we know it was he, and he alone, who composed both the guitar part and also the piano part.

The guitar in Giuliani’s work was not isolated from other instruments. He knew the voice and wrote for it, knew the violin and other strings, and wrote for them as well. Indeed, he played in the first performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, probably playing the violoncello. He composed a whole series of works for guitar with flute or violin, beginning in 1808 with his Serenade op. 19 (with violin and violoncello) and continuing without a break for many years. So it is a pity that we don’t have more music from him for guitar and piano, on a level with these fine Two Rondos.

Notes for performers

For the tempo, see above.

Rallentandos: it is of course up to every performer, but you may wish to add rallentandos when you return to the theme of each rondo, that is to say in Rondo 1 at bar 66, and in Rondo 2 at bars 97 and 145-6.

Claudio Maccari and Paolo Pugliese, who have played this work, suggest that embellishments should be played on the beat; that the theme may be varied when it returns; and that the tempo of each different section may be chosen according to the feeling of that particular section.

The original edition

The first edition was published in Vienna by Steiner with the title “2 Rondo für Piano-Forte und Guitare von Mauro Giuliani. 68tes Werk”. It was listed in Hofmeister’s Handbuch for 1819, and therefore was probably published in 1818 or the beginning of 1819 (see Thomas F. Heck, The Birth of the Classic Guitar, Yale University Ph.D. thesis, 1970, II, 77-78), and the work was no doubt composed in 1818 or shortly before. In 1986 I published the Steiner edition in facsimile in volume 34 of the Tecla edition of Giuliani’s Complete Works.

The opus number, 68, at first sight appears to be slightly out of line with the chronology of Giuliani’s works, since most (not all) of his opp. 50 to 71 were first published in the years c. 1814-1816. However, the order of Giuliani’s opus numbers is by no means strictly chronological, and the publication date of the Steiner edition is definitely 1818 or early 1819 because of the listing in the Handbuch. The actual composition of the work could have been in 1818 or shortly before.

The title “2 Rondo” in the original edition, by the way, does not have a final s and is a plural.

Editorial notes

Rondo 1, bar 106, guitar: the dot and slur at the end of the first group are added editorially.

Rondo 1, bar 137, guitar: the ornament is AB in the original, but that seems unlikely. Perhaps the manuscript had GA but Steiner’s engraver misread it as AB? Here we have put GA editorially.

Rondo 2, bar 17, guitar: in the original edition this phrase has dotted rhythm, but when it comes again at bar 114 it is not dotted. The musical sense suggests that it is better not dotted, so we have adopted the reading of bar 114 in both places.


For the 1986 edition the late Pieter Pieters and the pianist Maria Cogen were kind enough to read through the work for me, and I repeat here with pleasure my acknowledgment to them. For this present re-engraved edition I am also grateful to Mário Carreira, to Ilkka Virta, and to Richard Udell and Adelaide Roberts, who played through it while it was still in proof stage and made suggestions. Of course I remain responsible for the edition.

Brian Jeffery


Claudio Maccari and Paolo Pugliese wrote (in an email):

“We don’t see lots of influence by Rossini, and there is few bel’canto; we do see a guitar writing strongly influenced by the violin: they could be easily played by violin and fortepiano (especially the second Rondò).

In the section Notes for performers, we would add something we think could be useful for performers: (for example) embellishments should be played on the beat; you should add variations when the theme returns; choose the tempo upon the feeling of each different section.

We played 2 years ago with Malcolm Bilson the Moscheles and the Hummel duets; great pieces indeed! People often couldn’t realise which instrument was playing; fortepiano and 19th century guitar are really a beautiful ensemble.”


This work may be performed in a public concert without formalities, provided that the concert is not recorded and that the programme bears the words “From Giuliani’s Two Rondos op. 68, edited by Brian Jeffery (London, Tecla, 2008)”. All other rights, including all kinds of recording and broadcasting, are reserved.

First published in this form by Tecla Editions in 2008.

Copyright © by Brian Jeffery and Tecla Editions 2008. This is a new re-engraved edition and is copyright and protected by the law. Photocopying it or copying it electronically are prohibited without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Tecla main page.

Copyright 2008 by Tecla Editions. Errors and omissions excepted.