Historical mandolin sources at Yale University library (2/4): Matteo Fiorito, Musica di Giulia Boccaccio (1796)


One of the so far unknown items in Yaler university library is a manuscript by an unkown composer with the name of Matteo Fiorito. It is a substantial volume but mainly solo repertory from the late 18th century, and likely had didactic purposes. This blog post describes the content of the manuscript. I have not yet found the time to issue editions (though I have the permission to pursue such editions) but will create them when I find some time (some other editions with more priority needed finishing first). (See also the article about Yale University library, and the other important finds like Denis’ duets and Palesi’s Divertimenti).

Matteo Fiorito, Musica di Giulia Boccaccio

I’ve had a quick glimpse to find out more about the composer and the lady  who seems to have owned the booklet. Both so far have eluded me, but this type of research isn’t very easy as in the 18th century there are only a limited amount of archives. The only link to place the item is the name “Morsasco” under the addressee Giulia Boccaccio, in a letter included in the volume. This might imply that the lady at least at the time of the letter (1802) was living in Morsasco (Piedmont, Italy). This however doesn’t prove that the source is connected to Morsasco until we have proof the family of Giulia Boccaccio had a residence there.

Possibly Giulia Boccaccio is the person listed in the Italian archives with a birth in Mantova in 1738, married to Giuseppe Rossini and died in Mantova (1808). Without further confirmation this remains unsure. It would mean that the volume was created (and mandolin classes received) at the very end of her life, which is unusual (normally music education is for young ladies prior to marriage). As Morsasco and Mantova are not too distant this lead isn’t entirely impossible, but we’ll need further evidence before we can call the lead promising.

The online archives don’t show a very likely candidate for either Matteo Fiorito, though there is one Matteo Fiorito married to Santa Bagagiaro whose daughter died in Agrigento in 1841. As Agrigento is on Sicily, this seems a bit unlikely to be where we have to find Fiorito as the other sources are from the mainland.

The volume itself has a date on the cover. However, it is adapted. It first read 1766 and was later corrected to read 1796. The letter (from 1802) as well as music from after 1780 seems to imply that the corrected date is the right one for the creation of the volume.

The volume bears a some signs of didactic purposes. A lot of the music seems to be a rendering for solo mandolin of popular music, and the last page has a list of lessons and a receipt of selling strings. This would imply Matteo Fiorito was hired as a teacher and this volume was created to feature in his classes.

The name of the composer or teacher is only mentioned once. Matteo Fiorito is clearly written though the “t” is missing a stripe. However, as some other lines in the same handwriting have a distinctly different shape for the “l” and another “t” missed a stripe, we’ll assume the name is indeed “Fiorito”.

Divertimenti a mandolino

The music volume has a title on its cover:

Cover title

Musica di Giulia Boccaccio

Letter to Giulia Boccaccio, dated 1802 and addressed to her in Morsasco.

Title page

a Mandolino
ad Uso di Madamigella Boccaccio
di Matteo Fiorito

“di Matteo Fiorilo” seems to have been written at another time or in a different hand than the rest of the title page. It is the same hand than other parts in the book and the proof of the title page, so I would suggest that the top part might be written by someone else (Giulia Boccaccio herself, or someone in her household?).

Music in the book:

  • 1v
    • Corenta, 6/8 D major, 1/8+8||7+7/8||
  • 2r
    • Allemanda, 2/4 D major, 1/8+3+3/8:||:1/8+3+3/8:||:4:||:8||
  • 2v
    • Corenta, 6/8 D major, 2/8+7+4/8||:1/8+7+3/8:||
  • 3r
    • Corenta, 6/8 D major, 1/8+3+5/8:||:7+5/8:||:
  • 3v
    • Corenta, 6/8 A major, 3/8+7+3/8||3/8+7+3/8:||:
  • 4r
    • Corenta, 6/8 A major, 1/8+7+5/8||1/8+7+5/8:||:
  • 4v
    • Minuetto, 3/4 C major, 8:||:8:||:
    • Valtz, 3/8 G major, 1/8+7+2/8:||:1/8+7+2/8:||:
  • 5r
    • O dolce suon di Lira, Andante, 6/8 D major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:1/8+8+5/8:||:
  • 5v
    • 6/8 D major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:1/8+7+5/8:||:
    • Basso della Marcia, C barré D major, 1/8+7 [continues next page]
  • 6r
    • Marcia, C barré D major, 1/8+7+7/8:||:1/8+7+7/8:||:
    • [continued bass part] 7/8:||:1/8+7+7/8:||:
  • 6v
    • Sonata, 2/2 C major, 1/8+19+7/8:||:5 [continues on next page]
  • 7r
    • [continued Sonata] 22:||:
  • 7v
    • Amoroso, 3/8 G major, 12:||:19:||:
  • 8r
    • Rondó, 2/4 C major, 1/8+8 finis||24 da capo sine al finis
  • 8v
    • Forlana, 6/8 D major, 3/8+3+3/8:||:3/8+3+3/8:||:3/8+3+3/8:||:
    • La Perigoldine, 6/8 D major, 3/8+3+3/8:||:3/8+3+3/8:||:
  • 9r
    • Contradanza, 2/4 G major, 1/8+7+3/8:||: 1/8+7+3/8:||: 1/8+7+3/8:||: 1/8+7+3/8:||: Da Capo
  • 9v
    • Marcia, 2 barré G major, 1/8+5+7/8:||:13+7/8:||:
  • 10r
    • All°. Rondó, 2/4 D major, 43||
  • 10v
    • Minuetto, 3/4 D major, 8:||:10:||:
  • 11r
    • Allegretto, 2/4 F major, 8:||:8:||:25||
  • 11v
    • 6/8 D major [but only f sharp], 1/8+8+5/8:||:1/8+7+5/8:||: [music of whole movement scratched out, corrected next page]
  • 12r
    • 6/8 D major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:1/8+7+5/8:||: [corrected version of previous page]
    • Inglesa, 2/4 D major, 8:||:8:||:
  • 12v
    • Sinfonia, 2 barré D major, 24 [continues on next page]
  • 13r
    • [continued Sinfonia] 25||
  • 13v
    • Adagio, 3/4 G major, 13:||:6 [continues on next page]
  • 14r
    • [continued Adagio] 16:||:
  • 14v
    • Rondó, 6/8 D major, 1/8+8 finis||18 [continues on next page]
  • 15r
    • [continued Rondó] 24+5/8 Da Capo sine al finis
  • 15v
    • Valtz, 3/8 D major, 1/8+7+2/8:||:1/8+7+2/8:||:
  • 16r
    • La Fricassé, 2/4 G major, 1/8+7+3/8:||:1/8+15+3/8:||:
  • 16v
    • Aria a Trombe, 2/4 D major, 1/8+7+3/8:||:1/8+7+3/8:||:
    • La Buona Notte, 2/4 D major, 1/4+3+1/4:||:1/4+3+1/4:||:
  • 17r
    • La Capucin, 6/8 D major, 1/8+3+3/8:||:1/8+8:||:
    • Minuetto, 3/4 F major, 8:||:8:||:
  • 17v
    • Corenta, 6/8 A major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:1/8+7+5/8:||:
  • 18r
    • Corenta, 6/8 Bes major, 1/8+7+4/8:||:2/8+7+4/8:||:
  • 18v
    • 6/8 C major, 2/8+7+4/8:||:3/8+7+3/8:||:
    • Valtz, 3/8 D major, 1/8+7+2/8:||:1/8+7+2/8:||:
  • 19r
    • 6/8 D major, 3/8+7+3/8:||:3/8+7+3/8:||:
    • 6/8 G major, 1/8+3+5/8:||:1/8+3+5/8 Da Capo
  • 19v
    • 6/8 D major, 7+2/8||:5/8+7+2/8:||:
    • 6/8 G major, 1/8+7+3/8||:8va alta 8:||:
  • 20r
    • Corenta, 6/8 D major, 1/8+7+5/8||:1/8+7+5/8:||:
  • 20v
    • Divertimenti a Mandolino, Imo, And.te 6/8 D major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:1/8+14+3/8:||:
  • 21r
    • 2 Allegro, 2/4 D major, 8:||:8 finis:||:8:||:8:||: Da Capo sine al finis
  • 21v
    • 3 Allegretto del Sig. Pleijel, 2/4 D major, 8:||:16:||:
    • Preludio D major [no metrum, seems prelude to piece 4 on next page]
  • 22r
    • 4 All.o, 2/4 D major, 8:||:8:||:16||
  • 22v
    • 5 Minuetto, 3/4 D major, 8:||:8:||:
  • 23r
    • 6 Andantino, 6/8 A major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:1/8+21+5/8:||:
  • 23v
    • 7 Allegro, 2/4 C major, 8:||:8:||:8:||:8:||: Da Capo
  • 24r
    • 8 And.no, 6/8 G major, 8:||8:||:Flauto 11||
  • 24v
    • 9 And.te, 6/8 A major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:8 Finis:||:8:||:8:||: Da Capo
  • 25r
    • 10 Minuetto, 3/4 A mjor, 8:||:12:||:
  • 25v
    • All.o, 6/8 F major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:1/8+18+5/8:||:
  • 26r
    • Inglesa, 2/4 F major, 8:||:8:||:8:||:8:||:
  • 26v
    • Contradanza, 2/4 D major, 8:||:8:||:8:||:4 [continued on next page]
  • 27r
    • [continued Contradanza] 4:||:
    • Minuetto, 3/4 C major, 8:||:8:||:
  • 27v
    • Canzonetta (a coltivar le piante sol trovo il mio contonto veder a certo…), 6/8 G major, 1/8+7+4/8:||:2/8+7+4/8:||:
  • 28r
    • Allegro, 6/8 D major, 1/8+7+5/8:||:1/8+15+7/8:||:
  • 29v
    • Minuetto, 3/4 G major, 8:||:8:||:
  • 30r
    • Corenta, 6/8 D major, 3/8+7+3/8||3/8+7+3/8:||:
  • 30v
    • Andantino il Barbiere di Siviglia, 2/4 in G major, 8:||:8:||:
    • Allegro, 2/4 G major, 8:||:8:||:8:||:
  • 31r
    • Allegretto, 2/4 F major, 8:||:15:||:
  • 31v
    • Maestoso, 2/4 A major, 7+3/8:||:1/8+8:||:
    • Valtz, 3/8 D major, 1/8+7+2/8:||:1/8+7+2/8:||:
  • 32r
    • Corenta, 6/8 G major, 1/8+ 7+5/8||:8:||:
    • 6/8 C major, 1/8+7+5/8||:7+5/8:||: Da Capo
  • 32v
    • Dormi Dormi o bel Bambin, 2/4 G major, 1/4+4+1/4:||:1/4+6+1/4:||:

On the remaining pages there is a list of number preceded by “Lezioni” (so likely a list which was kept to track of the lessons. (Perhaps to keep track for payment, in that case it seems payment was per 20 lessons as 3 times 20 lessons are listed.) Under this list, on the same page, is a list of prices for strings which is likely an addition for strings received. Most teachers also sold instruments and strings, and to have this on a page which seems to have been there to keep track of payment of classes given, reinforces the feel that the booklet is for didactic purposes. The prices on the list were corrected here and there so seems to have been a hasty addition or receipt or something of the sort.

Price list

Corde Terze una Mado[unclear – Mandolino?] Soldi 5
Cantini N.o 3 Soldi 15
Seconde rochetti 8. Soldi 5
Più Cantini N.a 2 Soldi 10
Più un Cantino Soldi 5

The next page has a few words of the title page of the booklet. (“Divertimenti a Mandolino di Madamigella” is all which is listed.) Seems a proof of the title page.


The music is undoubtedly meant for someone learning to play the mandolin, and has quite a number of easy tunes. There is only one part which has a bass, all the rest is solo. The music seems to have been a collection of popular tunes used for didactic purposes (learning to play or learning how to better play the mandolin). The pieces don’t have the finished feel of real compositions for mandolin, though the occasional Sinfonia and Sonata are slightly better quality. The manuscript hence doesn’t have the most interesting or creative music for mandolin, but it’s one of the few sources which shed light on mandolin education in Italy in the late 18th century. Maybe when we will find out more about Giulia Boccaccio or Matteo Fiorito, we’ll progress further on the background of the how and why this manuscript was created. As I have so many more interesting volumes to process, I have given priority to deliver editions of others over this volume. I will normally revisit the volume, research and will issue editions once I finish with the other editions.