The first volume of mandolin sonatas by Gabriele Leone has been a firm favourite of classical mandolin players for ages. Some of my fondest memories playing the mandolin are of some of these sonatas. Originally published in Paris in 1767, this music was known only through the until now thought only surviving copy (in F-Pn). I take great pride in adding to our knowledge and understanding of one of the most excellent volumes of mandolin music of the 18th century.
Opus number shenanigans
The first volume of mandolin sonatas by Leone has sometimes been referred to as “opus 1”. For example, the German editions by Grenzland Verlag and Vogt & Fritz use “opus 1”. However, as it turns out, there are no historical sources confirming this assumption. All prints or advertisements of music by Gabriele Leone before 1773 are without any trace of opus numbers, including the first edition of this first volume of mandolin sonatas.
The confusion is most likely caused by the opus numbers assigned by Bailleux upon the reprints of Leone’s mandolin music as of 1773. Such opus numbering corresponds to a practice by some Parish publishers to ease the overview of one composer’s oeuvre in their catalogue. These opus numbers should not be confused with opus numbers assigned by the composer. In fact, they are generally not by the chronology of creation – just by the chronology of printing by that particular publisher. When assigned to reprints as is the case over here, it’s obvious that opus numbers can be quite arbitrary.
Besides reprints, Bailleux also published a second volume of mandolin sonatas by Leone (1774). This volume is marked as “opus 2”. Likely this led some mandolin scholars to assume the first set of sonatas was opus 1. However, as Bailleux marks the mandolin method as opus 1, this assumption is certainly proved wrong. Bailleux didn’t reprint the first volume of mandolin sonatas, so no Bailleux opus number exists.
Bailleux’s opus numbering is flawed (not chronological, not exhaustive, sometimes combining two works in one, etc), Even though we have some idea about the chronology of Leone’s prints (through advertisements), any newer opus number list would still be based on quite a lot of assumptions. It seems the best solution is to use the titles of Leone’s works and use the distinguishing feature between “volume one” and “volume two” in case of the mandolin sonatas.
“Les signes pour la mandoline”
The publications by Gabriele Leone need to be split up between those before his mandolin method and those after. Before he launched his very popular mandolin method Methode Raisonnée Pour passer du Violon a la Mandoline (1768), Leone used the traditional articulation for bowed string instruments such as the violin:
- 30 Variations (1761) – unfortunately lost (would be an interesting subject as it was set for mandolin with violin accompaniment, assumption is violin articulation was used)
- Duo pour deux Violons qui peuvent se jouer sur la Mandoline et sur le pardessus (1762) – violin articulations (I-Nc, F-Pn)
- Six sonates de Mandoline et Basse, arrangées au mieux pour le Violon (1767): violin articulations (F-Pn)
(NB: I’m not counting Leone’s cantata print as this music was likely not mandolin-related, and also only has violin articulations.)
The milestone change comes with the publication of his mandolin method (1768, second edition preserved in D-KA, F-Pn, NL-DHgmi, US-SB). Here Leone includes certain signs for mandolin-specific articulation and fingering. He gives general instructions for the left and right hand and uses certain signs when deviating from those rules. For the left hand, this mainly consists of indicating the fingering by numbers (for the fingers of the left hand) or using curly lines to indicate playing two notes on one course of strings. (This last technique was sometimes indicated in the prints before his method with “si divide la corda”.) The right-hand deviations are mostly pointed out via “accent” signs ( ´ and ` ). For detailed information, be sure to consult Leone’s mandolin method (which is available through IMSLP).
Leone also explains why he requires these signs:
Leone, Methode (1768), p. 20:Observation importante
Sur la necessity des Signes pour la Mandoline
Il n’en est pas du Violon comme de la Mandoline avec le premier on peut exécuter un trait de plusieur manieres, C’est a dire avec differents Coups d’archet, au lieu que dans la mandoline les coups de plume doivent être fixes et determinés de maniere que l’écolier n’en puisse jamais Subsituer un à celui qui aura eté marqué, avec tout le raisonnement, et L’exactitude qu’exigent mes regles ainsi tout Les Auteurs qui travaillent pour la Mandoline. Sur tout à Naples ou cet instrument est le plus cultivé, devroient donc marquer de Signes convenus leur Musique, de même que celle du Violon dont on fait usage[.] Ils seroient Seurs, d’un côté qu’elle seroit toujours executée dans le vrai genre, de l’autre les écoliers ne seroient point exposés à prendre de mauvaises habitudes ni assujetés à avoir co[n]tinuellement recours aux Maitre pour la difficulté de certains passages fait p.r la Mand.ne[.] Car j’assure qu’il n’y en à qu’un très petit nombre qui puissent S’exécuter arbitrairement, du reste je conseille a ceux qui ne sont point en état de la bien marquer de ne s’en pas mêler, le remede seroit pire que le mal.
Si jus qui ci je ne me suis point avisé d’user de ce moyen avantageux, j aurai soins dans la Suite de ne le point obmettre dans toute la Musique que je donnerai pour la Mandoline.
Les amateurs qui voudroint l’exécuter avec le Violon n’auront qu’a faire abstraction des Signes et transposer a l’octave quelques Notes marquées par un P.
On trouvera dans l’ouvrage que je donnerai après celuis ci, des morceaux pour la Mandoline accordée de viverses manieres, avec des additions, et un abregé relatif à cette Methode et tous les mois un petit receuil de musique aisée, n’ayant pû me dispenser d’en entremêler ici de difficile pour faire voir l’entendue de cet instrument.
So we see that he doesn’t only insist firmly in using signs for the plectrum, he also announces that he would use them in the future. Though as far as we know he didn’t get a monthly subscription print set up, he did publish some other mandolin-related prints:
- Six Sonates A Violin Et Basse Del Sg.r Emanuele Barbella Avec un Sujet Varié En XXIV Manières Utile pour les amateurs de la Mandoline (1768) – more about this in my blog post and facsimile in second blog post (US-SB)
- Six Sonates pour la Mandoline, avec la Basse […] Oeuvre IIe (1774): no articulations except for violin articulations in Sonata III, second movement (GB-Lbl)
Interesting is that shortly after publishing the method, Leone uses the “signes” in the variation sequence. In contrast, in the Bailleux print of 1774, almost no articulations are used except in one movement (violin articulations).
The other prints known to me published after his method can be assumed to be reprints by Bailleux in 1773-4:
- Méthode Raisonnée Pour passer du Violon à la Mandoline […] (reprint by Bailleux of the second edition of 1768 as opus 1, 1773)
- Duo pour mandolines (likely reprint by Bailleux of the 1762 duos as opus 3, 1774)
- “Ah! vous dirai-je maman”, avec 30 variations en duo pour une Mandoline et un Violon, et un sujet varié de vingt-quartre manières (likely reprint by Bailleux of the 1761 and 1768 variation series as opus 4, 1776)
None of the Bailleux prints seem to have been preserved, except for the method (GB-Lbl, US-Wc) and the second volume of mandolin sonatas (GB-Lbl). In case of the method, the original copper plates were reused (with “signes”). The second volume of mandolin sonatas was a new print with almost no articulations applied. Likely the others were also based on the original copper plates with the original articulations.
Some further reflections may be voiced over the neglect of the first volume of Leone mandolin sonatas by Bailleux. Bailleux seems to have reprinted all of the other mandolin music by Leone. Why not this first volume of mandolin sonatas? Were the copper plates damaged (for example by the adaptations of the second edition)? Did the plates get lost? Or did something in either the music or the second edition make Bailleux hesitant to reprint it? Or was Leone adamant to print a new volume instead of reprinting the older one? Without further information, we might never know, but it’s certainly some food for thought.
A second edition?
During the research of the variation sequence La Pierre de Touche, I also stumbled upon a second preserved copy of Leone’s first volume of mandolin sonatas. It is part of one object where three Leone prints are bound together. In such a tangle of Leone prints, it is not surprising to find one of the mandolin sonata volumes. However, some things appeared out of the ordinary. Though based on the same copper plates, there were several and outright alterations. A detailed study has detected no less than 259 changes. The following categories can be distinguished:
- Change from bowing to plectrum style playing: 154 (59,46%)
- Removal of bowing articulations (bows, staccatissimo, staccato): 86 (33,20%)
- Adding in plectrum signs (bows, stripes, sign for two-note playing on one course): 68 (26,25%)
- Fingering: 55 (21,24%)
- Other: 50 (19,31%)
- Tremolo signs on the stem: 22 (8,49%)
- Accidentals: 12 (4,63%)
- Removed (usually manually added on the preserved version of 1st edition): 10
- Added: 2
- Dynamics: 7 (2,70%)
- Additional embellishment signs: 5 (1,93%)
- Changes of notes: 2 (0,77%)
- Changed octave
- Manual change of note in a chord in the 1st edition not present in the second edition
- Title page: 2 (0,77%)
- Changed subtitle from “Arrangées au mieux pour le Violon” to “Marquées des signed suivant la Nouvelle Methode”
- Addition after “Par M.r Leone de Naples” of “Maitre de Mand.ne de S.A.S. Monseigneur le duc de Chartres”
The changes are not distributed proportionally between the sonatas. As the overview below shows, sonatas I & II have the lowest amount of changes. Sonatas IV and VI are closer to the average; whereas sonata V is slightly above average. However, it’s sonata III that takes the top place with around 40% of the changes.
|Sonata I||17 (6,56%)||I-1||10|
|Sonata II||5 (1,93%)||II-1||5|
|Sonata III||104 (40,15%)||III-1||30|
|Sonata IV||39 (15,06%)||IV-1||20|
|Sonata V||52 (20,08%)||V-1||16|
|Sonata VI||40 (15,44%)||VI-1||9|
So, what can we conclude? First of all, the first edition was aimed at mandolin and violin (hence the violin articulations), and the second edition is aimed at the mandolin only. This is not very surprising as around 1768, together with the publication of mandolin methods, there is a big boom in mandolin prints. Some of these are also aimed solely at the mandolin, though the practice of printing for interchangeable mandolin/violin parts remained in place as well. More about this can be found in detail in my article about pre-1820s mandolin prints in Phoibos.
Preservation and condition
The item is located in exactly at the same place and volume as Leone’s variation sequence. It is located in the Music Library of the University of California, Santa Barbara (Call number Music Library, Cage MT608.L4.M4). This volume also has his method and the La Pierre de Touche variation sequence. Interestingly, this means that both the method, variation sequence and second edition of mandolin sonatas volume 1 were bound together, hence forming a volume of three prints all using Leone’s “signes”.
Alas, the volume proved too fragile for proper scanning. As I wasn’t able to travel at the time I found out about this Leone volume, I had Paul Statman acting as my stand-in. I owe him for visiting the library and taking pictures of all pages. This enabled me to properly look into all the contents of the volume. As with the variation sequence, I have undertaken the mission to share this with the mandolin community. At the bottom, you will find links to a quasi-facsimile edition and another edition which highlights the changes with the first edition.
Dating the second edition (1768-1774)
The usual way to date Leone’s prints is through advertisements. At the moment I’m not aware of such an advertisement, so we can only base ourselves on more circumstancial evidence.
The second edition obviously must be dated after the first edition (1767) and the publication of the method (1768). Ergo, the earliest possible date is 1768.
Also important when dating the volume is Leone’s royal privilege. Leone held this privilege to publish his method, other mandolin music and music by Barbella and was valid from 1768 until 1774. Likely the (re)prints by Bailleux were caused by the expiration of this privilege. Outside of the reprints by Bailleux, I have no knowledge of any French Leone prints after 1773. I assume hence that this second edition was still made under Leone’ privilege, hence at latest during 1774.
There are some reasons to assume the date may be closer to 1768 than 1774. All the prints by Leone who use his “signes” are from 1768. It makes a lot of commercial sense to publish the altered second edition as soon as possible after the publication of the method.
Circumstantial, but still valid, is the fact that this second edition was found bound together with two Leone prints from 1768 (the method and the variation sequence).
Until we find proof through secondary sources we need to put the date as 1768-1774, with a slight preference towards the lower end of the estimate.
Leone used violin articulations in his prints until the publication of his mandolin method. Some prints published shortly afterwards show the use the “signes” of his method, including this second edition of the first volume of mandolin sonatas. The only new print later on avoids the choice by not putting in articulations. The newly found edition is of huge importance to everyone interested in historically informed performance practice. Combining the information of the method with the “signes” used, it’s as though Leone is sitting at your shoulder giving instructions about fingering and plectrum usage in one of the most interesting mandolin sonata volumes of the 18th century.
Links to the editions
This is the link to the facsimile-like edition in PDF. I adjusted the photos to more closely fit a normal view though some parts will remain slightly out of focus. The only alteration is the inclusion of bar numbers (and my copyright).
This is the link to the edition which highlights changes when compared with the first edition:
You can download for free and even share without explicit permission for all non-commerical purposes. Excluded is the right to use these editions for commercial purposes. (Contact me for commercial use.) Please also consider supporting my research through the donate button.
Acknowledgements & thanks
This would not have been possible without the help of Paul Statman, who volunteered to go to Santa Barbara in my stead. I am of course also indebted to Kyra Folk-Farber and Temmo Korisheli and the rest of the staff of the Music Library of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Special thanks also go to Jean-Paul Bazin and Didier Leroux for their continuous research efforts into Gabriele Leone and all valuable feedback and information they provided me throughout the years. And of course, a huge thank you to my friends and family, especially my wife Kathelijn.