Wranitzky and Lehmann, Variations on “Ich bin liederlich” for violin or mandolin and guitar (Vienna, 1809)

During my research of late 18th and early 19th-century Viennese mandolin history, I stumbled upon a previously unknown violin/mandolin and guitar variation sequence. In this blog post, we will first look at the publication which contains this set I discovered. Next, we will discuss a violin variation sequence which I have traced as its origin. The included score gives an overview of both the original and the adaptation to help study the differences. The partbooks in the edition reflect the original edition they belonged to.

The mandolin/violin and guitar variation sequence on “Ich bin liederlich” in Lehmann’s guitar method

The variation sequence is part of a currently lesser-known guitar method which was available in at least Germany and Vienna in the early 19th century but continued to be distributed for over a century. The author of the method is Johann Traugott Lehmann (listed as born in 1782 in Fétis). As far as I can make out, the first version of Lehmann’s guitar method appeared in Dresden (Arnold) around 1806. This was to be followed quite soon by a new version published by Carl Gottlob Böhme in Leipzig and Merseburg in 1809. At least from 1811, Hofmeister seems to have taken over and published further editions. It must have been quite an essential and well-spread method as there even was a French translation. Most of the different versions of the method can be found in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München. Hofmeister published (reworked versions of) Lehmann’s guitar method until at least the beginning of the 20th century, so we should not underestimate its popularity and wide distribution.

Originally, the method was conceived as a two-volume contribution. The first volume starts with a general introduction to music theory in general, aiming at beginners. This is followed by a lot of chords to study and some exercises. Lehmann clearly judges that accompaniment is an important part of guitar playing and pays quite a lot of attention to it. The second volume is targeting more advanced players and contains music by Mozart, as well as some other variations and dances. I’ve had difficulty tracing preserved copies of this second volume in all of the different editions. This raises my suspicions that the second volume was only published in the early editions (and likely only a much more reduced number than volume one). Hofmeister likely only (re)published volume 1 as it had more chances of commercial success. Hence I can only state for sure that the variation sequence for mandolin is present in volume 2 of the Böhme edition of 1809 (again from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in München).

Title page of volume 2 of the guitar method by Lehmann (image courtesy of Google Books, item preserved in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in München)

Though Lehmann is now mainly known for his guitar method, he also published some other works. There are few researchers that have zoomed in on Lehmann, so I won’t claim my very limited overview based on my own research is comprehensive. But from my probe investigations, it’s clear Lehmann also published some vocal music with guitar accompaniment. An early example published by Breitkopf and Härtel in Leipzig seems to have been based on the opera Fanchon das Leyermädchen by Friedrich Heinrich Himmel (1765-1814).1 Hofmeister advertised another vocal-inspired volume advertised in 1805,2 with accompaniment for the guitar or piano. Other volumes were based on music by Salieri, such as Axur (see my earlier blog post to read about the mandolin aria in that opera) and Palmira. His publications are usually launched by publishers in current Germany rather than Vienna, though they were clearly available in Austria as well.

Lehmann also included piano parts in some of his works (such as adapting pieces by Mauro Giuliani for piano and guitar). He published a volume describing how to tune a piano called Gründliches, vollständiges und leichtfaßliches Stimmsystem, oder Anweisung wie ein Jeder Fortepiano- oder Klavierinstrumente auf die beste und leichteste Art, rein und richtig, in kurzer Zeit stimmen lernen kann : nebst allen zum Stimmen und Saitenaufziehen erforderlichen Regeln und Vortheilen, wie auch Anleitung sein Instrument in gutem Stande zu erhalten). I certainly hope a guitar scholar will compose a proper monograph on this interesting fore-front figure of the guitar in Germany and Austria, as he seems to be obscure today but quite well-known in his time.

The variations on “Ich bin liederlich”

I consider the variation sequence studied in this blog additional proof of the exchange of repertoire between the flute, violin and mandolin in Germany and Austria around 1800. It’s not too big a jump to try and play other of Lehmann’s variation sequences for violin or flute in the different versions of his method. They seem to be easily playable on mandolin – often even more so than the variation sequence specifically listed for mandolin. As this blog post studies the music unequivocally linked to the mandolin, I have not included these other variation sets, but they can be easily obtained.

The actual “mandolin” variation sequence can be found on pages 17-22 of volume two of the second edition (by Böhme, in 1809). The theme is called “Ich bin liederlich“. The melody part is assigned “Violino oder Mandolin”. This last spelling, without an “e” at the end, is sometimes encountered in Germany and Austria, though the spelling “mandoline” is found most often. The second part is as can be expected for “Guitarre”. The sequence theme uses 12 bars of the following sequence: 4:||:8:||:. This is repeated throughout the variations. The only exception is variation six, where the 4:||: is followed by 4|| with a da capo, so it still ends up in 12 bars. The original for violin (see below) actually proves that the 4|| is indeed another 8:||:. Likely this was condensed so variations 6 and 7 fit on one page.

Antecedents leading to the probable origin – variations by Anton Wranitzky

The theme «Ich bin liederlich, du bist liederlich» is encountered numerous times as inspiration for variation sequences. It really is one of the most popular themes, though not quite as popular as «Nel cor piu non mi sento» by Paisiello, but coming close. There are particular moments when it seems to reach higher popularity. One time seems to have been triggered around 1820 by the use of Wenzel Müller in his Singspiel Der Schatten von Faust’s Weib (Vienna, Theater in der Leopoldstadt, 1818). Possibly this caused Mauro Giuliani’s op. 97 for guitar, Raphael Dressler’s variation set op. 41 (one of whom is on this theme), and a quotation in Beethoven’s keyboard sonata nr. 31.

But the theme was used for variations for decades before 1820. Lehmann’s guitar method is one example (likely from 1809). but another composer in this earlier incarnation is Wenzel Matiegka (Václav Tomáš Matějka). His op. 2 is a variation set on the same theme for solo guitar. Op. 11 by Dotzauer for 2 celli seems to be another older set.

Some of the many sets from the early 19th century are difficult to date and/or anonymous, but there are dozens of other sequences based on the theme under discussion. It’s quite remarkable how often this theme was used for variation sequences – and for several decades as well.

Anton Wranitzky (image courtesy of Wikimedia)

The oldest set of variations on this theme that I have traced was composed by Anton Wranitzky (Antonín Vranický, 1761-1820). He was a half-brother to Paul Wranitzky (Pavel Vranický), who was a conductor at the Viennese imperial theatres in the 1790s. Anton also was taught by several well-known composers such as Mozart, Haydn and Albrechtsberger. Many of his music volumes were printed (initially) by the publisher André (famous for printing many of Mozart’s music posthumously).

The Variazioni per il Violino solo sopra la cazonetta “Ich bin liederlich Du bist liederlich” is difficult to date exactly. The composition is without an opus number, but this is not unusual at this time. Many publications didn’t proclaim any opus number at all, and those that appear are often assigned by publishers rather than composers. Even when opus numbers are assigned, both publishers and composers are often committing to assign them to minor contributions. This variation sequence, with its music printed on one double-sided piece of paper, can certainly be seen as a minor work which usually did not get a separate opus number.

The secondary sources I have traced so far seem to indicate a creation in the early 1790s. The earliest clear advert is by “Lauschischen Musikalien”. Laurenz Lausch’ publishing firm had an advert as early as 1791,3 by far the earliest secondary source I found on this particular work. Hofmeister advertised the same work in 1794.4 I found some traces by Artaria in 1796, followed by Breitkopf in Leipzig who joined in 1798. Breitkopf & Härtel even continued to spread the publication until quite late in the 19th century.5 It might be that a full comparison of all preserved versions of the prints might turn up a clearer chronology of the publishers involved. Right now, the preserved version I looked at (from the Öesterreichische Nationalbibliothek (A-Wn)) doesn’t mention a publisher on the front page. The plate number on the music only mentions the number “14”. The only distinguishing feature is the price mentioned on the title page, “20 kr” (kreuzer). This might mean the version in A-Wn is the Hofmeister edition, as Lausch adverted for “14 kr” and Hofmeister’s matches the “20 kr” on the title page.

The publication by Wranitzky is not targeting performances on solo violin. It clearly mentions that the theme can be played as accompaniment by a second violin or flute. Though Lehmann wrote a guitar accompaniment, it’s also possible to combine it with playing the theme as well. Hence this variation sequence becomes quite versatile, combining the Lehmann violin/mandolin version with either the guitar, flute/violin (theme), or all three together.

Differences between Wranitzky and Lehmann

The most obvious difference between Wranitzky and Lehmann is the number of variations. Lehmann omits four of twelve, ending up with eight variations. This in its own regard was what made me think Lehmann did not compose the variations, as sets usually are in a multiple of three, and even more often in multiples of six. Lehmann also changed the sequence in some cases. For reasons of clarity, an abbreviation will point out the variation number with a W followed by a roman numeral for Wranitzky’s sequence number, and an L with a number for Lehmann’s (for example, W X/L 7). A table below gives a clear overview of the variation sequences and differences.

The next difference is that Lehmann in certain cases has a slight variation of the principal voice (violin/mandolin). This seems to be not as apocryphal as thought at first, as I have seen the same alternatives in later versions for violin. The guitar accompaniment is of course only compatible with the newer version, and not with the original variations. This happens in themes W VIII/L 3 and W IX/L 8.

Next to that, there are plenty of articulations in Wranitzky which are not present in Lehmann. Many of these are violin-specific. Some articulations (such as pointing out the pizzicato notes in W x / L y) are present but not explained as in the original.

W T / L TThemaThema
W I / L 1Var. IVar. 1
W II / L 2Var. IIVar. 2
W IV / L 4Var. IVVar. 4
W V / L 5Var. VVar. 5
W VII / L 6Var. VIIVar. 6
W VIII / L 3Var. VIIIVar. 3
W IX / L 8Var. IXVar. 8
W X / L 7Var. XVar. 7
Comparison of Wraniztky’s and Lehmann’s variation sets

The fact that the original was violin-specific, means that some variations are not very idiomatic for mandolin. Though some are playable with some practice, some others are somewhat awkward on a mandolin, especially on a modern one. Variation 3 is playable on a period mandolin with low tension strings and shorter vibrating string length but becomes more difficult on modern instruments (and/or with short fingers). The original even includes some flageolets in certain variations, and one almost entirely made up of flageolets. That last variation was discarded by Lehmann, probably because it’s nearly impossible to play on a mandolin. Lehmann’s omission of some of the violin articulation might in fact also be a concession towards mandolin players.


From all the above, it seems obvious that Lehmann based himself upon a well-known violin variation sequence by Wranitzky. In the context of the exchange of repertory, finding additional proof that violin and flute repertoire was played on the mandolin, this variation set is quite valuable. On the musical side, these variations are clearly easier on a violin than on a mandolin. Some are even quite difficult on today’s longer string length. This should not discourage anyone from trying out the music, of course, and maybe checking some of the other variations sets by Lehmann for flute or violin. All in all, something to chew on for scholars and musicians alike.


Below are a score (combined editions of Wranitzky/Lehmann) as well as partbooks. These parts follow the sequence of their respective originals (guitar and violin/mandolin -> Lehmann; violin I and violin II/flute -> Wranitzky).


1 Allgemeine Muzikalische Zeitung 22/05/1805.

2 Wiener Zeitung 24/07/1805.

3 Wiener Zeitung 01/06/1791, 08/06/1791, 15/06/1791.

4 Wiener Zeitung 20/09/1794, 08/11/1794.

5 See for example Verzeichniss geschriebener und gedruckter Musikalien aller Gattungen, welche um 1. Juni 1836 und folgende Tagen, Vormittags von 9-11 Uhr und Nachmittags von 3-5 Uhr von Breitkopf & Härtel in ihrem Geschäftslocale zu Leipzig under Notariatshand gegen baare Zahlung in Preuss. Courant and den Meistbietenden verkauft werden sollen, Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1836, p. 108, and Verzeichniss des Musikalien-Verlags von Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Leipzig, 1860, p. 17. Whistling also mentions this print in the 1845 edition: C. F. Whistling’s Handbuch der musikalischen Literatur oder allgemeines systematisch-geordnetes Verzeichniss der in Deutschland und in den angrenzenden Ländern Gedruckten Musikalien auch musikalischen Schriften und Abbildungen mit Anzeige der Verleger und Preise, Leipzig, 1844, p. 58. This edition of Whistling mention it’s available at Böhme and Cranz in Hamburg, Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig.