Anonymous, Alemãda


My next blog post is about a manuscript from the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid (shelf mark MP/3180/20) which is also digitally available though when last checked gave a blank page:


The manuscript consists of 11 parts written in ink on 13 pages of 22 x 32 cm.

The parts are: flute, 1st and 2nd clarinet, 1st and 2nd horn, oboe, 1st and 2nd violins, mandolin, bass and bassoon.

The library dates the manuscript as “circa 1780”. Personally I find that rather, both the musical style and the extensive orchestra would suggest this is probably an insertion for an opera (probably an opéra-ballet) from France in the early 19th century, up to anything like the 1820s.

We assume it’s French based on the French annotations and descriptions of the instruments. It also fits stylistically with the genre of an opéra-ballet.

Sadly the library doesn’t list any acquisition history.


The piece is a rather boorish dance which might be either used evocatively in an opera or as the place for a ballet scene.

Some fragments are in a different key for the same part, whereby the final version clearly was D major in 2/4 beat. The older version was in Es major. The mandolin part and some other parts are only written in the D major version and should be considered more recent additions.

The mandolin part is solo, not unison with other parts, though sometimes in parallel with other parts. The structure of the works seems to alternate between mandolin and flute as principal instrument to carry the melody.

The composer uses his extensive orchestra in alternating the ensembles.

1st section: clarinets, flute, oboe + violins

2nd section: flute solo + 1st clarinet + oboe + horns + violins + bass + bassoon

3rd section: mandolin solo + 1st clarinet + flute + violins

4th section: 1st clarinet + flute + oboe + horns + violins + bass + bassoon

5th section: mandolin + clarinets + violins

6th section: 1st clarinet + flute + oboe + horns + violins + bass + bassoon

7th section: flute solo + 1st clarinet + violins


Research on this piece is at the moment rather inconclusive. Further reserarch should first of all focus on identifying the composer and the pieces background. Once we retrieve that we might learn a great deal more about this piece and the role the mandolin played in it.

POSTSCRIPTUM (20170411): New sources have come to light, it seems likely that I have now found a score overview of the piece; further investigations are sure to follow.