Giuliani Dances of 1810 by Brian Jeffery

Dances of 1810 - Mauro Giuliani

Dances of 1810 – Mauro Giuliani

Written by guest blogger, Brian Jeffery

That book called Dances of 1810 by Giuliani that I published some years ago (TECLA 395): maybe I ought really to have given that book the following title: “The really easy pieces that Giuliani wrote for absolute beginners when he was a young man”, because that’s what they are.

It linked in to my own experience. I began on the lute, not on the guitar. Right from the start I remember that I was completely at home with the upper frets, up there around the seventh, ninth, twelfth frets, no problem.

And it looks as though Giuliani was as well, on the guitar. Excitingly, when I went looking for easy pieces by Giuliani, I could see that the easy pieces for the guitar that he published when he was a young virtuoso just arrived in Vienna, were many of them up there at the ninth, tenth, twelfth fret, no problem. He just added lots of open bass strings to those high-up melodies.

So I thought I would publish a book of Giuliani’s easy pieces not the way that he wrote them when later on perhaps he was just doing what the Viennese publishers told him to do, but the way that he obviously chose for himself out of the fire of his virtuoso beginning. And I did: it’s the book called Dances of 1810.

What was special about that music was that Vienna was already crazy about dancing. It is recorded that the young people on the Vienna dance-floors kept shouting: “Schneller! schneller!” – faster, faster! So if you want to try esay guitar music the way that Giuliani first thought of it, you can play these pieces – just throw your inhibitions away first.

It is actually easier to play up there at the high frets, in one way, because the frets are not so far apart as they are down there at the lower frets, you don’t have to stretch the hand so much.

You can hear Gohar Vardanyan play the Tarantella from Dances of 1810 on YouTube. Remember: the Tarantella is the dance that you just can’t stop dancing . . . And you can also hear her play some great (and suprising) waltzes also from Dances of 1810.

`Brian Jeffery

4 thoughts on “Giuliani Dances of 1810 by Brian Jeffery

  1. Hi Brian, I just bought this book and am really enjoying the pieces. It’s a great collection!

    One question technical question (I’ve wondered this for awhile and never been able to find out): Can you tell me what the dynamic marking “pf” means? An example is measure 5 of Monferrine No. 1. I’ve seen this a lot in guitar music of that era. Apparently it’s not the same as “sf”.


  2. Thank you for writing! I’m delighted that you like the book. I thought it was really interesting to see how Giuliani had made these pieces, evidently for beginners. About pf, I could make a guess, but I’m going to the British Library this next Thursday and I will see if I can find anything more authoritative about what exactly it might have meant at that time, and I will put a note on this blog that evening.


  3. I looked when I was at the British Library today, but I’m sorry, I didn’t find a clear answer to what “pf” means. The New Grove Dictionary, second edition, 2001, under “Tempo and expression marks”, mentions that at that period there were many different markings, and that to try to apply a precise definition to some of them can sometimes be “extremely hazardous”. Whereas the actual notes of the music are precise, these expression marks are subjective.

    So, if I were playing this music in concert or recording it, first I would get to know the music backwards and inside out, at various different speeds, then I would try to think myself into what the composer might have meant at the point where the “pf” is found, and then try it various ways until, I hope, I would come up with an answer. My guess is that “pf” may mean an emphasis at that point, something along the lines of sf but perhaps less strong.

    Sorry that’s the best I can come up with!

    Brian Jeffery


  4. Thanks, Brian. I appreciate your trying to find that information. Yes, my guess is that the pf is like a slight emphasis, so I’m glad to see that your thinking is along the same lines. It just seems odd that this marking was used constantly in the guitar music of that time period, and the meaning of it has apparently been completely lost.


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