The mandolin in München ca. 1840-60 part 1: Pierre Moralt, Le rêve d’un bal (München, ca. 1855)

I’m studying a sizeable number of manuscripts I recently retrieved. One of these is so exciting I couldn’t wait to publish about it and I have rushed getting out a blog post and edition. (Hence some other ongoing work will be taking longer.) It’s unlikely anything in the current mandolin literature and extremely interesting, both in a scholarly and musical way. The background story of this piece is also quite fascinating, so this blog post goes on a bit. 😉

The manuscripts title pages

Two manuscripts are preserved, one containing the piano part, the other the mandolin part.1 Both have the exact same title (the mandolin part gives a slight extra on the first name of Cramer).

Le rêve d’un bal,
Morceau de Salon
pour la
composé et dédié
J(oh). B. Cramer
par son ami
Pièrre Moralt

Johann Baptist Cramer (1811-1860) and the revival of “old instruments” in München

Johann Baptist Cramer (1811-1860, sometimes spelled Crammer or Kramer) was a mandolin player active in München (and should not be confused with the keyboard player, composer and publisher based in London which was also active at the same time). He should also not be confused with Ern(e)st Krähmer, the oboe player / composer active in Vienna who composed music a few decades earlier. The manuscripts distinguish between the names quite clearly, also helping by often quoting the first name as well.

The usual mandolin history reference publications don’t seem to mention Johann Cramer at all.2 This is not entirely surprising, as most regarded the period between 1820-1860 the dark ages of mandolin history. I’ve detailed why this is not exactly true as a sideline in a paper which is pending publication.3

Though Cramer did not get much attention in the usual mandolin reference materials, digging into secondary sources such as newspapers quickly reveals some background. Cramer appears as mandolin player as early as 1840, and continued as late as 1859.4 His main position was as a timpani player (“Pauker”) in the royal court chapel. This orchestra grew in importance around the mid-19th century under Lachner (and even ended up attracting Wagner and Richard Strauss later on in the 19th century).

Cramer’s mandolin activities take a turn in 1843, when he is one of the founding fathers of a new ensemble, aiming to revive what they claim to be old, forgotten musical instruments.5 The other members are Wilhelm Moralt (1815-1874), Gustav Pordesch (1817-1870) and Karl Feldhaus (before 1839 – after 1879), each also a regular member of the royal court chapel in München. The ensemble and their claim of reviving old instruments clearly appeals to audiences, as there is a steady stream of concerts throughout the years, all within Bayern and most in München itself. Though there is a pause following the revolution of 1848, activities are restored in 1852 and lasted at least until 1859.

Over the years, the musicians and their instruments changed. The exact list can be consulted in endnote 4. To give a broad idea, in the first years, it’s almost always a quartet consisting of philomel, viola d’amore, mandolin and mandora. In the later years, the ensemble extends to two viola d’amore, corno inglese, viola da gamba, mandolin and mandora. Occasionally, the zither also makes an appearance. The only constant in the musicians and instruments is Johann Cramer and his mandolin. As Cramer’s activities predate the ensemble and he constantly takes part, we can assume he was the major force of the ensemble.

The claim of reviving old instruments does not extend to recreating old music. The ensemble seems to have played original compositions as well as adaptations of contemporary works. All of this fits with the inquisitive mind of the 19th century, but which did not put historical accuracy as a top priority. This likely also includes the instruments themselves. The philomel is probably a 19th century invention rather than an old revived instrument, and the mandoras of Tiefenbrunner are new creations rather than following old models (see below).

Cramer’s mandolin method (München, ca. 1854)

Cramer is the author of an unusual mandolin method, Anweisung die Mandoline von selbst zu erlernen nebst einigen Uebungsstücken. Nach Bortolazzis Methode für die sechs-saitige Mandoline eingerichtet (link to D-Mbs 4 320). This was featured in a paper by Silvia Cicic, Alcuni elementi per una datazione del primo(?) metodo per mandolino milanese. It was first presented during the symposium Il mandolino a Milano e in Lombardia nei secoli XVIII e XIX held at Milan Conservatory (12-15/5/2022). The method is usually dated “circa 1860”, but one secondary source already mentions the method in 1854.6 As the title states, it is essentially based on Bortolazzi’s method (links to D-Mbs 4 2190), but has been adapted to fit the Milanese/Lombard type. It doesn’t reuse the plates of the original print by Bortolazzi, and I doubt they got approval from Breitkopf & Härtel, who were still selling the original method.

A second source of information on the method is obtained by looking into the publisher. The method was published in München by Georg Tiefenbrunner (1812-1880), a well-known München based luthier. Early on, he studied in Landshut, München and Augsburg. Upon marrying a München shopkeeper’s daughter, Tiefenbrunner obtained a license to sell his instruments. Eventually, he took over the family’s business in 1842, essentially the start of his own luthier’s workshop in München.

Tiefenbrunner showcased six (Milanese/Lombard) mandolins and a couple of mandoras in 1854.7 Besides this, Tiefenbrunner is mentioned a number of times around 1855 claiming to bring the mandolin and mandora to a new level.8 Likely Tiefenbrunner’s publication of the mandolin method was linked to his attempts to create a market for his mandolins and mandoras. Hence the dating of 1854 (or shortly before) seems to be confirmed, even if through circumstantial evidence. In a sense, this is an example of history repeating itself, as the mandolin method by Leone was also sold by a Paris luthier, Levinville. (In fact, the drawing of a mandolin in the method shows an example fitting Levinville’s instruments as well.)

Most surviving instruments by Tiefenbrunner are zithers, though a number of guitars and violins have turned up. Even some mandoras were preserved. Currently, I don’t know any surviving mandolins by Tiefenbrunner, but we can hope one might still surface. Tiefenbrunner had some links to the royal court,9 and might well have been involved in the creativity for “old forgotten instruments” to be revived. Most likely the mandora used was build or maintained by him, possibly the mandolin, but it doesn’t seem to far a jump to assume he might even have provided the philomel or viola d’amore.

Cramer’s mandolin

We know very little about the exact design of Cramer’s mandolin or his contemporaries during the mid-19th century in München. As far as I know, no instruments survived from that period and region. The method also doesn’t contain any pictures and neither do I know of any paintings or other documentary evidence we can link to Cramer.

At least we know for certain the plectrum material Cramer used. In contrast to Bortolazzi, who mentions either a quill or a wooden plectrum, Cramer describes using tortoiseshell. Though there are no further details, this at least gives some insight.

From both the manuscripts and his method, we know that Cramer must have played a Milanese inspired instrument of six strings or courses mainly tuned in quarts (g-b-e’-a’-d”-g”). Both the single-string version as well as the double course instrument still existed in München at the time.10 It is very hard to prove either way what Cramer used, though it might be presumed he already moved to an evolved version with single strings as well as a raised and extended fingerboard. Some mandolin historians have started to use the term Lombard mandolin for this evolved type (usually linked to Carlo Albertini and contemporary later 19th century luthiers, see image below).

Historically speaking, both the terms Milanese and Lombard were used without distinction, so it can sometimes be somewhat confusing, though having more specific terminology can be useful. The method and manuscripts linked to Cramer only use the generic term “Mandoline”, and the one time the method uses a more specific term, Cramer just copied Bortolazzi in using “Mailänder” (Milanese).

This makes it all harder to state anything with certainty, but most likely Cramer already played on an evolved version of the Milanese type. The general way of evolution – which is also present in Tiefenbrunner’s other instruments – is to use single strings instead of courses, as well as a raised and extended fingerboard. Some mandolin historians have started to use the term Lombard mandolin for this type. Historically speaking, both terms were used without distinction, so it can be somewhat confusing. The method and manuscripts only use the generic term “Mandoline”, and the one time the method uses a more specific term, Cramer follow Bortolazzi in using “Mailänder” (Milanese).

We are further surrounded by some unkown variables in the area of tuning pegs and strings used. Nothing seems mentioned clearly in the Cramer method. Bortolazzi gives some details but that information is mostly linked to his preferred mandolin type. We know from early 19th century sources that both full metal and full gut strings sets were used on Milanese/Lombard mandolins. Unless further information comes forward, we won’t know what Cramer used. Similarly, we won’t know what types of tuning pegs were used. It could well be the typical wooden tuning pegs similar to the lute and violin, but Tiefenbrunner already used mechanical tuners on quite a number of instruments (for example zither, but also on mandora).

The catalist for the Milanese/Lombard mandolin popularity in München 1840-1860

A further question about the mandolin in München around 1850 is: why does the mandolin turn up, and why the Milanese/Lombard type? As can be expected, the interest for the (Milanese) mandolin did not appear out of thin air. There is an obvious suspect: Pietro Vimercati. This paragon of the mandolin famously went on quite a lot of concert tours in the decades between 1820 and 1850. And indeed, we can prove he was in München and gave concerts (confirmed in 1820, 1822, 1828, 1834, 1835 and 1841).11 München was an upcoming city after the Napoleonic wars, and it seems to have been favoring Vimercati. In some cases he stayed and played quite a series of public concerts before moving on.

There are other musicians who played mandolin in München in the decades before Cramer, but none come close to Vimercati. Other mandolin players mentioned in adverts are Fridzeri (1804), a certain “Bongiorny” (1837) and (Antonio) Reggi (1839) (for details, see endnote 11). Fridzeri is well-known from his antecedents in France in the 18th century. The name Reggi is also known, as the Reggi brothers toured elsewhere in Europe. As far as I know Bortolazzi never made it to München, but a music shop in the city lists several works by him and von Call in 1822 (Bortolazzi’s method, variations op. 8, sonate op. 9, von Call’s op. 8 and 108).12

The conclusion is obvious: the interest in the Milanese/Lombard mandolin in München was most likely instigated by Vimercati. At the moment, we can’t prove Cramer and Vimercati met, but it’s not a big leap of faith to suspect they might have been in touch. It could help explain why certain music linked to Vimercati turned up in mandolin manuscripts linked to München.13 Obviously, it could also have been obtained in any number of ways, but at the moment, this is as plausible as (or even more likely than) any other explanation we have.

Pierre (Peter) Moralt

The composer, Pierre (or Peter) Moralt, was known as violin player of considerable standing. We should not confuse him with Wilhelm Moralt, the philomel player who was another founder of the München ensemble reviving old instruments. In fact, there are quite a lot of musicians in the Moralt family, and a number of them worked or trained in München.

Besides Peter’s activities as a musician at the court, he also went on a number of concert trips. Very little of his music seems to have been preserved. I know of only a small salon piece for piano dedicated to the Princess of Thurn and Taxis, and a concert piece for violin and orchestra (concertino in as) which can be linked to a concert of 1847.

On at least one concert, on 5/11/1845, Peter Moralt played as well as Cramer (and the old instrument revival ensemble). This at least proves that besides being colleagues of the same generation at the royal court chapel, their paths seem to have crossed on other occasions as well. The title page even suggests a genuine friendship between them.

The music

The piano part is 19 pages (including the title page), all in landscape orientation. The mandolin part is 8 pages (including the title page), all in portrait orientation. The mandolin part is written in the same hand as most of the Krähmer manuscripts. The piano part, however, is written in a different hand. I’m inclined to think this might be an autograph, but there is no way to prove this until other material by Moralt becomes available. The mandolin part lacks the dynamics which are provided in the piano part. It contains fingering, but some of this was also added and altered in pencil by a later hand. The mandolin part has a few mistakes which seem to be copyist mistakes, and suggest to me the mandolin part was copied from a score.

The title of “dream of a ball” of course is a very romantic idea and quite a few mid-19th century salon pieces used such fantastical titles. For example, the already mentioned print by Moralt for pianoforte, was titled L’impression des voyages dans les alpes bernoises. Morceau de salon pour le piano. Other pieces by the old instrument revival group were also called “rêve”. The dream world held a strange fascination during the romantic era, inspiring literature, painting as well as composers. Combining it with a ball makes it only the more interesting as an inspiration for a salon piece.

With 460 unique bars, the piece is quite sizeable. None of the other early piano-mandolin pieces are of such a scale. Hummel’s Grande Sonata comes the closest, but falls short by quite a margin. The piece also is extraordinary in other respects. As it doesn’t follow standard sonata constraints, the composer switches through several musical atmospheres and themes. This of course fits with both the salon background as well as the idea of a dream with potentially capricious shifts.

The piece starts with an Andante con moto in C metrum and the key of g minor, an introduction starting with pianoforte solo, which leads to the mandolin part starting after 20 bars. This movement gives way to L[‘]istesso [tempo] in 12/8. All of this these first 46 bars are introductionary, and use a lot of passage work, and lead to the next movement, Thema Allegretto in 3/8 and G major. After the intial theme in the mandolin, the piano plays a contrasting theme. This leads to Var. 1, again with mandolin, and an almost reprise of the piano theme, but which now leads to the next movement.

Next up is a Siciliano. Andantino in C major and 6/8, with a lot of embellishments in the mandolin part. This sicilian interjection is rather short-lived and next up is an Rondo Allegro vivace in 2/4 in G major. Though the Rondo returns some thematic material, it’s certainly not a tradition rondo movement. Its end feels much like the development part of a sonata, and marks a buildup towards the final movement, a Prestissimo in the same key and metrum.

It seems this piece might have fit well in the ensemble reviving old instruments, were it not that it is written for piano and mandolin. I have found no concert adverts or reviews that mention this piece being played. However, it might just not have been mentioned. The fact that the instrumentation is for piano and mandolin does not mean it can’t have been part of the ensemble’s repertoire. The piano part could theoretically be a reduction of the other parts. In fact, there are “tutti” and “solo” indications that might be interpreted as evidence for such a theory. It seems at least a plausible explanation for these indications.

The composition itself is also of a total different style than most early mandolin-keyboard repertoire. Very different is the aestethic: It bears influences by the early romantic ideas of abstrac instrumental music. The opening by the piano already set the tone, but the chromatic lines and harmonic progressions here and there also show that mandolin literature has finally got a piece which fits the early romantic period. The composition also shows the craftsmanship of a well-trained musician. It might not be of the level of some of the more famous contemporary composers, but it’s certainly not of third rank quality. Personally, I’m extatic that we have such a beautiful, sizeable and high quality piece from a period and place that wasn’t yet on the map of mandolin history.

The mandolin part shows a high level of virtuosity, mostly in scales, some trills or grace notes, occasionally using other techniques. The technical degree is high enough to conclude it can only have been meant for a professional mandolin player. The piece is a true testimony to the level of mandolin playing by Cramer, and proves him a true successor to Vimercati.


As usual, I’ve included a modern critical edition of the music:
Mandolin part
Piano part
Audio from edition software


1 Piano part: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München, Mus.N. 122,1014-1. Mandolin part: id., Mus.N. 122,1014-2. Both were part of the private collection Gitarristische Sammlung Fritz Walter und Gabriele Wiedemann which was donated to the BSB. As can be glimpsed from this post, there are other manuscripts from the same collection which I am currently investigating.

2 No entry about Cramer could be found in the usual reference works (such as Philp J. Bone, Philip, The Guitar & Mandolin, London, 1914; Konrad Wölki, Geschichte der Mandoline, 2nd edition, Hamburg, 1974; Robert Janssens, Geschiedenis van de mandoline, Antwerpen, 1982; Paul R. Sparks, The Classical Mandolin, Oxford, 1995.)

3 The article is pending publication. Pieter Van Tichelen, About the Pieces for Mandolin and Orchestra by Ernst Krähmer. The Transition From the Classical to the Early Romantic Era in Mandolin Repertory in Austria, in Il mandolino a Milano e Lombardia, Milan, 2024?, p. ?. Of particular interest are the chapters Traditional Mandolin History’s View: the Dark Age and Secondary Sources: 1800-1850. I will update the reference when published.
Summarizing: though the performances in public concerts decrease, and though there is an even bigger reduction of musical sources, the mandolin did still appear in public concerts held at important venues, and the abundance of secondary sources proves its continued activity.


ConcertMusicians & instrumentsReferences
Privat Musikverein 27/04/1840Mandoline (Cramer)MT 1/05/1840, nr. 121, p. 495
Ernst Mascheck, grosse Saale des Frohsinns 15/05/1840Mandoline (Cramer)MT 13/05/1840, nr. 133, p. 553
MTP 13/05/1840, nr. 134, p. 544
Privat Musikverein 16/11/1840Mandoline (Cramer)BNZ 19/11/1840, nr. 184, p. 747
Konzert des hrn. Jos. Braun im Museum 02/04/1844Philomela (Moralt), Viola d’amour (Pordesch), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Feldhaus)BV 01/04/1844, nr. 53, p. 211
BV 05/04/1844, nr. 55, p. 219
Gesellschaft Zufriendenheit im Zweibrücken-Saale 9/03/1844Philomela (Moralt), Viola d’amour (Pordesch), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Feldhaus)MT 14/03/1844, nr. 74, p. 373
im Salon Ihrer kais. Hoh. der Prinzessin Luitpold etc 6/03/1845Viole d’amour, Mandoline, Mandora etc. (mentioned are Feldhaus, Kramer [sic], Moralt and Pordesch)BV 07/03/1845, nr. 38, p. 163
in den Appartements I. Maj. der Königin, 7/06/1845Viole d’amour (Feldhaus), Philomele (Wilh. Moralt), Mandora (Pordesch), Mandoline (Kramer [sic])MT 10/06/1845, nr. 158, p. 709
BV 10/06/1845, nr. 92, p. 389
Carl Rohn musikalisch-declamatorische Abendunterhaltung 11/08/1845Philomela (Moralt), Viola d’amour (Pordesch), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Feldhaus)MPZ 13/08/1845, nr. 190, p. 760
I. kgl. H. Prinzessin Amalie von Sachsen in die Appartement I. M. der Königin 28/10/1845?Philomele (Moralt), Viol d’Amour (Pordesch), Mandoline (Kramer), Mandora (Niest)BV 28/10/1845, nr. 301, p. 1211
Vorlesung verbunden mit einer musikalischen Academie, Grossen Museumssaale 5/11/1845Philomele (Moralt), Mandoline (Cramer), Viole d’amour (Portesch [sic]), Mandora (Niest)KHNT (before and for) 05/11/1845
BV 02/11/1845, nr. 175, p. 733
BV 05/11/1845, nr. 309, p. 1247
MT 29/10/1845, nr. 300, p. 1351
MT 05/11/1845, nr. 307, p. 1381
Soirée Musicale gegeben von den Mitgliedern der kgl. Hofkapelle im grossen Saale des Museums 2/03/1846Philomela (Moralt), Viola d’amour (Pordesch), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Niest)KHNT (before and for) 02/03/1846
BLBt 28/02/1846, nr. 26, p. 204
BLB 18/02/1846, nr. 49, p. 201
BE 01/03/1846, nr. 26, p. 211
BE 04/03/1846, nr. 27, p. 219
Abend-Unterhaltung (for Fanny Fleckenstein, previously member of the royal court chapel) 27/04/1846Instruments not listed, but lists Moralt, Pordesch, Cramer and NiestKHNT (before and for) 27/04/1846
Privat Musikverein 14/12/1852Zither (Stahl), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Niest);
Tenor (Hieber), Mandoline (Cramer), Guitarre (Niest)
NN 21/12/1852, nr. 356, p. 4247
MT 16/12/1852, nr. 349, p. 1402
Privat Musikverein, grosse Concert zur Feier des Namensfestes J.M. der Königin Marie 17/09/1853Tenor (Hieber), Mandoline (Crammer [sic]), English-horn (Feytertag), Mandora (Hieber), Tamburin und Castagnetten (Ludwig Mayer)NN 23/09/1853, nr. 266, p. 3227
Festtag silberen Hochzeit am herzoglichen Hoflager zu Possenhofen am StarnbergerseeTenor (Hieber), Mandoline (Crammer [sic]), English-horn (Feytertag), Mandora, Tamburin und Castagnetten (Ludwig & Max Mayer )BLBt 25/09/1853, nr. 231, p. 3
Abendunterhaltung Museum, 29/12/1853Gamba (Mayer), Zither (Stahl), Mandoline (Crammer [sic]), Mandora (Hieber)
2 Viola d’amour (Glosner, Stahl), Corno inglese (Feyertag), Gamba (Mayer), Mandoline (Crammer [sic]), Mandora (Hieber)
Tenor (Hieber), Mandoline (Crammer [sic]), English-horn (Feytertag), Ludwig & Max Mayer (Mandora, Tamburin und Castagnetten)
MZ supp. 2/01/1854, nr. 1, 1/01/1854
Privat Musikverein 13/02/1854Zither (Stahl), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Mayer);
Tenor (Hieber), Corno inglese (Feyertag), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Mayer);
2 Viola d’amour (Glosner, Stahl), Corno inglese (Feyertag), Gamba (Mayer), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Hieber)
MZ 19/02/1854, nr. 43, p. 387
Bernlochner-Saale Landshut, 14/09/1856Mandoline (Cramer) (joined by Feyertag, Hieber, Mayer, Stahl, Thoms)KNB 10/09/1856, nr. 249, p. 998
KNB 12/09/1856, nr. 251, p. 1006
KNB 16/09/1856, nr. 255, p. 1023
Regensburg, 19/09/18562 Viola d’amour (Thoms, Stahl), Gamba (Mayer), Corno Inglese (Feyertag), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Hieber)APZ 22/09/1856, nr. 216, p. 864
Ansbach 29/09/18562 Viola d’amour (Thoms, Stahl), Gamba (Mayer), Corno Inglese (Feyertag), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Hieber)AM 28/09/1856, nr. 231, p. 923
Philharmonischer Verein im kgl. Odeon 07/12/1857?2 Viola d’amour (Thoms, Stahl), Gamba (Mayer), Corno Inglese (Feyertag), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Hieber)TA 07/12/1857, nr. 347, p. 2562
Privat Musik Verein 06/04/1859 (25jährig Jubiläum)2 Viola d’amour (Thoms, Stahl), Gamba (Mayer), Corno Inglese (Feyertag), Mandoline (Cramer), Mandora (Hieber)BK 9/04/1859, nr. 98, p. 662
Appearances of Cramer on the mandolin in Bayern

Legend of the newspapers
AM: Ansbacher Morgenblatt
APZ: Ansbacher Postzeitung
BE: Bayerische Eilbode
BK: Bayerische Kurier
BLB: Bayerische Landbote
BLBt: Bayerische Landbötin
BNZ: Bayerische National-Zeitung
BV: Bayerische Volksfreund
KHNT: Königliche Hof- und National-Theater (separate posters of events)
KNB: Kurier für Niederbayern
MPZ: Münchener politische Zeitung
MT: Münchener Tagblatt
MTP: Münchener Tagpost
MZ: Neue Münchener Zeitung
NN: Neueste Nachtrichten aus dem Gebiete dem Politik
RZ: Regensberger Zeitung
TA: Münchner Tages-Anzeiger

One scholar already did extensive research (though mainly in the direction of the mandora), but the list above seems to be slightly more extensive, especially with regards to Cramer and his mandolin concerts.
See Sebastian Kirsch, Die Mandora im neuen Quartett für alte Instrumente, in Phoibos, XIX, 2021, p. 29-49.

5 Kirsch, id. p. 35.

6 Karl Emil Von Schafhäutl, IV. Über musikalische Instrumente, in Bericht der Beurtheilungs-Commission bei der allgemeinen deutschen Industrie-Ausstellung zu München 1854, vol. 6, München, 1854, p. 132.

7 Karl Emil Von Schafhäutl, id. p. 131-133.

8 See for example: Algemeine Zeitung München, supplement to 09/12/1854, nr. 343.

9 Kirsch, id., p. 30.

10 For example: Schafthäutl, id., p. 132-133.


ConcertMusicians and instrumentsReferences
ein öffentlichen Concert, 07/09/1804Violine, Mandoline (Fridzeri)KSM 02/09/1804, nr. 207
königliches Hof-Theater am Isarthor 3/1/1820englischen Mandola (Vimercati)BNZ 30/12/1819, nr. 310, p. 1124
BNZ 31/12/1820, nr. 311, p. 1128
MPZ 31/12/1819, nr. 310, p. 1438
zwei Konzerte im März in Münchenenglischen Mandola (Vimercati)JdZ 1820, vol. 1, p. 25
Fremden-Anzeige bey Karl Albert seel. Frau Wittwe, Gastgeberinn zum schwarzen Adler (not a concert, just a notice of where foreigners stayed)Hr. Vimercati, Tonkünstler von MaylandMPZ 10/04/1822, nr. 82, p. 254
grossen Saale des Museums, 20/04/1822englischen Mandoline (Vimercati) pianoforte (Schoberlechner)MPZ 17/04/1822, nr. 92, p. 504
DS 11/05/1822, nr. 57, p. 228
grossen Saale des Museums, 20/04/1822Pianoforte (Schoberlechner), engl.ischen Mandoline (Vimercati);
Guitarre (Emmerich), Mandoline (Vimercati)
AMZ 18/05/1822, nr. 40, p. 320
MPZ 20/04/1822, nr. 95, p. 516
MPZ 26/04/1822, nr. 100, p. 540
KHNT 20/04/1822
Hoftheater Isarthore 29/04/1822 (musikalische Akademie nach der vorhergehende Posse in 1 Akte “die schöne Schusterin”)beide Tonkünstler (Schoberlechner, Vimercati)MPZ 26/04/1822, nr. 100, p. 540
MPZ 9/5/1822, nr. 111, p. 596
vor dem Anfange und nach dem Ende des Schauspiels, 28/05/1828Mandoline (Vimercati)EOS 31/05/1828, nr. 87, p. 352
k. Hof- und Nationaltheater, “07 May” [likely a mistake for ‘Juni’) 07/06/1828 (during the pause between two one-act performances); some sources seem to link to 06/06/1828 (two performances?)Mandoline (Vimercati)EOS 04/06/1828, nr. 89, p. 360
Fl 04/06/1828, nr. 110, p. 446
Fl 05/06/1828, nr. 111, p. 450
Fl 06/06/1828, nr. 112, p. 454
Fl 08/06/1828, nr. 113, p. 458
BV 03/06/1828, nr. 89, p. 373
BV 05/06/1828, nr. 90, p. 378
BV 06/06/1828, nr. 91, p. 382
BV 10/06/1828, nr. 93, p. 389
06/06/1828, nr. 155, p. 627
EOS 13/06/1828, nr. 94, p. 380
Odeon-Saale, 27/10/1834lombardischen Mandoline (Vimercati)BNZ 26/10/1834, nr. 291, p. 1177
MT 25/10/1834, nr. 295, p. 1182
KHNT (for and before) 27/10/1834
Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater, 4/11/1834Mandoline (Vimercati) (mandolin aria during Don Giovanni)KHNT (for and before) 4/11/1834
Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater, 19/11/1834Mandoline (Vimercait) (between two pantomime acts)KHNT (for and before) 19/11/1834
Stadttheater 21/10/1835Pianoforte (Schoberlechner), Mandoline (Vimercati)AZB 20/10/1835, nr. 293, p. 1176
AZB 23/10/1835, nr. 296, p. 1188
Stadttheater?, 27/10/1835Mandoline (Vimercati)AZB 26/10/1835, nr. 299, p. 1200
Saale zum goldnen Adler, 30/10/1835Lombardischen Mandoline (Vimercati)AZB 27/10/1835, nr. 300, p. 1204
Stadttheater 21/10/1835Lombardischen Mandoline (Vimercati)AZB 20/10/1835, nr. 293, p. 1176
AZB 23/10/1835 nr. 296, p. 1188
AZB 26/10/1835, nr. 299, p. 1200
Stadtheater 30/10/1835Lombardischen Mandoline (Vimercati)AZB 27/10/1835, nr. 300, p. 1204
Stadtheater 01/11/1835Lombardischen Mandoline (Vimercati)AZB 01/11/1835, nr. 305, p. 1224
OdeonSaale, 10/06/1837Mandoline (Bongiorny?)BL 04/06/1837, nr. 155, p. 673
BL 05/06/1837, nr. 156, p. 680
PraterSaale, 18/06/1839Mandoline (Antonio Reggi) Tenor (Paolo Terecini), Guitarre (Giovanni Poevintesta)NTfMB 18/06/1839, nr. 166, p. 681
Fremdenanzeige im goldenen Hirsch (not a concert, just a notice of where foreigners stayed)Hr. de VimercatiBPA 18/08/1841, nr. 64, p. 647
Mandolin related appearances in München 1800-1840

Legend of the newspapers
AMZ: Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung
AZB: Allgemeine Zeitung von und für Bayern
BL: Bayerische Landbote
BNZ: Bayerische National-Zeitung
BPA: königlich Bayerischer Polizen-Anzeiger
BV: Bayerische Volksfreund
DS: Der Sammler
EOS: EOS, Münchener Blätter für Poesie, Literatur und Kunst
Fl: Flora
JdZ: Jahrbuch der Zeitgeschichte
KHNT: Königliche Hof- und National-Theater (separate posters of events)
KSM: Kurpfalzbaierische Staatszeitung von München
MPZ: Münchener politische Zeitung
MT: Münchener Tagsblatt
TfM: Tagsblatt für München
NTfMB: Neues Tagblaat für München und Bayern

12 Verzeichniss von Musikalien welche in der Musik und Instrumenten-Handlung bey Falter und Sohn in München In der Residenz-Schwabinger-Strasse Nro. 33. zu haben sind, p. 42-43, München, 1822.

13 Some further manuscripts that came to light in regards to the Krähmer pieces, from the same collection and in the same hand as the mandolin part of Rêve by Moralt, list Vimercati as their composer. There is even a small piece of variations by Vimercati in the collection, based on the Don Giovanni mandolin aria, which we know he played in München in 1834. This leads to the conclusion that someone in München must have had access to certain music by Vimercati, potentially originals. (NB: of course I will write additional blog posts including more details, when the study of these manuscripts is finished.)

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.

The mandolin in public venues in Vienna in the 1780s and 1790s

The theme of this post is something close to my heart: the mandolin and its use in opera. I’ve been going to operas for years, and besides many live events, have also enjoyed the genre via streaming, video or audio media. I’ve of course also enjoyed it greatly when invited to play the mandolin part in opera productions in Brussels, Ghent or Antwerp.

This second take-out from my presentation paper for the conservatory in Milan, the focus is the mandolin in the Viennese public venues in the 1780s and 1790s. This of course involves a lot of operas, but also other genres.

The mandolin has been used in cantatas and operas at least since the late 17th century. The use of the mandolin sometimes is just an exotic flavour (often for biblical or eastern atmospheres). At some point, the mandolin also started to be used for “serenades”, most often in comic operas, where mostly a male lead tries to seduce a female character in the opera. Such vocal pieces in which the mandolin plays a role are not often a major role in mandolin reference works or recordings. At least the ensemble Artemandolino has shed some light on the mandolin and vocal combinations with the excellent collaboration with Nuria Rial.

In sharp contrast, many mandolin scholars have often turned their attention to Austria and Vienna. Clearly, the Viennese school’s paragons like Beethoven and Mozart’s use of the mandolin triggered a lot of interest. This is sometimes followed by information about the manuscripts and prints of (instrumental) mandolin music in the libraries of Vienna and Prague. A lot of that repertoire was not meant for the public stage but was used in Hausmusik.

Hence, I have always wondered why no one noticed the huge amount of mandolin arias in operas played in public venues in Vienna in the 1780s and 1790s. This major omission is something I have tried to rectify more than once. In fact, in the early days of my blog, I already posted a small contribution about the mandolin aria by Paisiello, but there is much more to tell, even about that particular serenade and the opera it belongs to. Of course, the focus here is only on mandolin parts in music played in public venues in Vienna and only during a very limited timeframe (1780s & 1790s). The sheer amount of works and number of performances of some of them tell a tale of an instrument stepping into the limelight during some decades and places highlighted in music history.

Location, location, location

Let’s, first of all, take some time to review some of the locations where the works described below were played. Most, and especially those listed as “the big guns” were mostly played in the imperial theatres: the k.k. [kaiserlich und königlich] Theater am Kärntnertor, and the k.k. Theater an der Burg. We should also mark these locations as places of interest for slightly more recent mandolin activity, with traces of employment of Bartholomeo Bortolazzi at the Burgtheater around 1800. A few decades later, Pietro Vimercati would play many concerts at both locations, and Ernst Krähmer would be employed as an oboe player at the Burgtheater. There are traces of mandolin activity at many other locations in Vienna. But these two locations are all the more important since these two are closely linked to very famous performances of music by the Viennese school, but also to the Viennese court. This already sets the scene of the importance and popularity of some of these pieces.

Karl Wenzel Zajicek, k.k. Theater am Kärntnertor (image courtesy of Wikimedia)
Robert Raschka, Michaelerplatz (with the old Burgtheater) (image courtesy: Wikimedia)

The big guns: Mozart, Paisiello, Martín y Soler and Koželuch

Vienna obviously took to the mandolin sometime around 1780 (see my previous article about the imported mandolin prints). It is hence not a huge surprise that the mandolin also turned up in the opera venues in Vienna. Most mandolin scholars are well aware of the mandolin accompaniment in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Prague, 1787, Vienna, 1788) of the canzonetta «Deh, vieni alla finestra» . The opera is one of the most played operas today, and the comic scene of the Don disguised as his servant Leporello singing a serenade to try and seduce a chambermaid is a classic. However, Mozart’s opera was not the first in Prague or Vienna to include the mandolin. Though popular in Prague from the premiere onwards, the opera initially didn’t do too well in Vienna. However, due to its current status, we have to include it as one of the important mandolin arias. In the next paragraphs, we will look at some of the very popular other works performed in Vienna with mandolin arias.

A first and quite important other work is Giovanni Paisiello’s (1740-1816) opera Il barbiere di Siviglio (St. Petersburg, 1782), and its mandolin aria «Saper bramate». Though it was a triumph all over Europe, its Viennese ascendancy was extraordinary. The opera was performed almost every season in Vienna from 1783 until 1804 (at least 62 times between 1783-1792).1 At this time, most operas were only played for one season, and only a limited amount of times during the season. Though repeats of successful operas were usual, performing an opera almost every season for 20 years is extremely unusual and testimony to how Vienna was besotted by the work. The mandolin aria «Saper bramate» might well have been a factor in popularizing the mandolin in Austria and Vienna. It is sung as a serenade by count Almaviva to his love Rosina while pretending to be a pauper called Lindoro. However, some secondary sources that predate the opera seem to indicate the instrument was already on the rise before the Viennese premiere of Paisiello’s work.

While Paisiello’s contribution to mandolin literature is encountered in most reference works, the next opera is less mentioned, if at all. Antonio Salieri originally composed Tarara as a French opera (Paris, 1787) but quite soon created a Viennese (Italian) version as Axur, Re d’Ormus (Vienna, 1788, Italian lyrics by Lorenzo Da Ponte). This particular opera also scored quite high in its day, with 51 performances in Vienna.2 Its mandolin aria «Nato io son nello stato Romano» is less convincing than Paisiello’s contribution but nonetheless an important milestone in mandolin history. The aria is sung by Biscroma, and it is the first in this row which is not a love serenade. At one end it is a moment of reminiscence of Biscroma’s own fate and how he ended up as a slave to Axur. However, he interjects a reminiscence of Atars saving his life. This notice enrages Axur, who declares to want to kill Atar. This was what Biscroma had planned all along, as Axur had plans to seduce Aspasia (the wife of Atar, whom Axur had abducted and taken to his harem.

Salieri was quite an important figure in his time. He was the director of the imperial opera house in Vienna and often conducted premieres of many important pieces of music history. The opera Axur, Re d’Ormus rose to international success. As an interesting aside, von Call’s mandolin and guitar variations op. 25 are based on a theme from Axur.

There is another opera that is mentioned even less in mandolin histories and which was probably more important than the previously mentioned works by Mozart, Paisiello and Salieri. The composer was Vicente Martín y Soler (1754-1806), who had moved to Vienna in the mid-1780s. His opera buffa Una cosa rara (Vienna, 1786) was performed 55 times from 1786 until 1791.3 The work contains a cavatina with mandolin accompaniment («Non farmi più languire») as well as an aria where the mandolin joins the orchestral accompaniment («Viva viva la Regina»). The cavatina is another example of the serenade-style mandolin aria. This one is sung by the Principe (Don Giovanni, the son of the Spanish Queen), in a shameful act to try and seduce Lilla, who is about to marry Lubino. The latter is enraged and storms off together with Tita, who is also suspicious of the Principe (or others) trying to seduce his own wife-to-be Ghita. A theatrical cloak-and-dagger scene follows, where both the husbands-to-be fight the Principe, while another seducer, the Gran Scudiere (Corrado) tries to kidnap Lilla who manages to escape. One of the following duets of Ghita and Lilla, where they calm down their future husbands, was clearly much enjoyed by Emperor Joseph II as he asked for a repeat. The aria where the mandolin joins the orchestra is a scene celebrating the Queen’s judgement after she berates the Gran Scudiere (who takes all the blame so the Principe gets off scot-free).

Though obscure today, it was a very well-known opera during its time. For example, it was so popular that a repeat of Mozart’s Figaro was abandoned. The opera is also credited with popularizing the waltz. That such a claim is made seems odd, but it seems there might be some truth to it. For example, only one year afterwards, Mozart jumped on the same wagon by including a waltz in Don Giovanni. Mozart’s biggest compliment to this opera by Martín y Soler however is quoting a melody in the finale of Don Giovanni O quanto un is bel giubilo»).

Una cosa rara is one of several operas where Martín y Soler and Lorenzo Da Ponte collaborated. Though Da Ponte also collaborated with Mozart and Salieri, it seems that the works with Martín y Soler advanced his career the most.

The popularity of Una cosa rara was so high it even triggered a sequel. This was not in the form of its original, but as a Singspiel, and by another composer: Benedikt Schack’s Der Fall ist noch weit seltner. Obviously, this work also has its own mandolin aria. (See the chapter below where we dive into the German operas and Singspiele.)

Another very popular work performed in Viennese public venues that used the mandolin is part of a different genre – though also played in the same public venues. As the 1790s saw a revival of the genre of the ballet in Vienna, Leopold Koželuch (1747-1818) provided music for a scenario by the choreographer Antonio Muzzarelli (1744-1821) called La ritrovata figlia di Ottone II (P XXIV:1, 1794). This scenario was based on an idea by Muzzarelli that had already been used previously for ballet productions in Genoa, Florence, and Trieste.4 The production was one of the most successful of its day and received at least 40 performances between 1794 and 1796. One other factor that proves its success is the high amount of preserved manuscript copies (original score but also adaptations), while most ballet music of that time did not survive at all.5 To quote John A. Rice:

For its historical importance as well as its intrinsic beauties, Kozeluch’s score for La ritrovata figlia deserves to be ranked among the major compositions written for Vienna in the 1790s.6

Though the ballet discussed above clearly was very popular at its time, it’s currently quite obscure, up to the point that most mandolin histories don’t mention it at all. Koželuch returned to the mandolin in another work which is sometimes mentioned in mandolin histories. It’s the so-called “quadruple concerto” (Sinfonia Concertante, P II:1). Though this work seems to catch the eye of some mandolin scholars, it did not enjoy much attention or popularity when it was created in 1798.7 The unlikely soloist combination of trumpet, mandolin, double bass and piano has caused scholars to frown. The mandolin is indeed used as one of four soloists throughout the work. The unusual combination however works quite well and the work is a nice example of instrumental Viennese music from the late 18th century.

As Koželuch was appointed Kammer Kapellmeister and Hofmusik Compositor in 1792,8 it was assumed this work was created for a specific event at the imperial court or closely linked to it. A description in Gallerie menschenfreundlicher Handlungen und Gesinnungen (1800) confirms this with a description of a performance of the piece during a benefit concert in 1798:

Schöne Wirkungen der Tonkunft und ihrer Gönner!
Den 22. und 23. December 1798 wurde von der Wiener Tonkünstler – Gesellschaft, zum Bessten ihrer Wittwen und Waisen, die gewohtnlich grosse musikalische Akademie abgehalten. […] Nach derselben Endigung wurde eint neues grsses Concert auf vier nachstehende Instrumente von der Erfindung des Herrn Kozeluch, k.k. Kompositor- und Kammer-Kapellmeisters, aufgeführet, wobey Herr Anton Leyber, k.k. Kompositor, das Piano-Forte, Herr Zahradnuzek, k.k. Hoftrompeter, das Mandolin, beyde Mitglieder dieser Gesellschaft, Herr Weydinger, Mitglied des k.k. Hoftheater-Orchesters, die organisirte Trompete blies, und Herr Pischelberger den Kontrebass spielte. […] Die angeborne Milde, die landesmütterliche liebe gegen Wittwen und Waisen, auch die besondere Beschussung der Tonkunft veranlassten Ihre Majestät, die Caiserinn, die gesellschaft mit der Kantate allerhuldreichest zu begnadigen. Se. Maj. beehrten nicht allein mit allerhöchstdero Gegenwart diese Akademie, sondern beschenkten auch die Gesellschaft mit einer Gnadengabe. Auch Se. Königl. Hochheit der Herzog Albert, vermehrte gütigst die Einnahme; auch einige des hohen Adels als vorzügliche Beschützer der Tonkunst, und als Schätzer den Menschheit haben zur Vermehrung der Einnahme beygetragen, so wie der Herr ViceDirector der k.k. Hoftheater, Freyherr v. Braun, welcher die Gesellschaft nicht allein mit dem Benöthigten unterstüzte, sondern auch mit einem Geschenke sich freygebig bezeigte.9

Another reference work mentions a certain “Szaharadniczek” as a mandolin player in 1792,10 likely the person is meant as the court trumpeter “Zahradnuzek” mentioned above. Professional musicians at that time often were able to play several instruments at a high level, and there are some other mandolin players also proficient in wind instruments. We should however discount the idea that Szaharadniczek played both the mandolin and trumpet in the quadruple concerto. Both the score and the account above rule that out.

The lesser heroes: Cimarosa, Righini, Da Ponte/Anfossi, Guglielmi

There are several other works performed in public venues in Vienna in the 1780s and 1790s that include a mandolin part. These other Singspiel, opera and pasticcio works did not reach the same apex of popularity. But they all add up to a regular appearance of the mandolin in the public theatres in Vienna during the 1780s and 1790s.

It might seem odd to rank Domenico Cimarosa as a “lesser” hero. He was quite successful as an opera composer in his day, and certainly, Il Matrimonio Segreto (Vienna, 1792), an opera created for and in Vienna, celebrated triumphs in the imperial capital. This opera has no links to the mandolin though – at least, not directly. There is one indirect link in the form of an early 19th-century manuscript in the Moravské zemské muzeum in Brno (A 24380). It contains a setting of «È vero che in casa io son la padrona», one of the arias of Fidalma confessing her love for Paolino, here set for the singer, mandolin and bass. However, this one arrangement could well be just an arrangement of a popular aria – there is no evidence that this was ever used as an insert in a performance of the opera. It seems more likely to have come from a private library rather than from a performance in a theatre.

Cimarosa did write several other operas with a mandolin aria, and at least two of these were performed in Vienna in the late 18th century. As they never reached the same extraordinary popularity as the operas mentioned above, we have to rank these and Cimarosa to a lesser status. First of all, the aria «Ah mon Frere Io vó marito» in Il pittore Parigino (1781, Rome) has an exquisite mandolin solo. It is sung by Cintia expressing her wish to get married. It hence does not fit the serenading sort of mandolin aria from above but comes close. At this point in the opera, Cintia tries to get her cousin Eurilla to give up her engagement to the Barone (who Cintia wants to marry). Her objective is to make Eurilla marry the painter Monsieur di Crotignac instead, who Eurilla actually loves. In the end, Eurilla decides to marry her lover, the painter – paving the way for a possible marriage of Cintia with the baron (and for Cintia to receive the inheritance from Eurilla’s father which was conditional to marrying the baron).

In I due Baroni di Rocca Azzurra (Rome, 1783), also by Cimarosa and also played in Vienna, the plot is constituted around the arrival of the future wife (Madama Laura) for the nephew (Totaro) of the baron of Rocca Azzurra (Don Demofonte). Franchetto, the manservant, tries to outwit the barons in attempting to introduce his sister Sandra as the would-be bride. In the finale of the first act, the mandolin has a solo introducing the ensemble of Madama Laura and Sandra «L’astuta volpe» in the finale of the first act, and continues to accompany this small ensemble in the finale. Again, the use of the mandolin is not in the form of a mandolin serenade, though quite an interesting contribution to the repertoire.

I have yet to retrieve a copy of Righini’s L’incontro inaspettato to confirm this opera really has a mandolin part. But from looking at the libretto, it seems self-evident the mandolin played a part. In the first act, Lindoro, who has an unrequited love for Irene, sings a canzonetta accompanied by the mandolin. This is referred to both in the lyrics as well as a theatre direction annotation in the libretto:

Spunta l’alba, e spunta il sole
Dopo l’ombre, e il Ciel turbato,
Ma per questo suentarato
Mai non spunta un di seren.

(accompagnandosi la sudetta canzone col Mandolino.)

(Aurora Cardone Rosina Lindoro)
Com’è grato quel cantare
Cosi dolce sul mattino,
E quel suon di mandolin
Rallegrar fa questo sen.
Ma per questo suentarato
Mai non spunta un di seren.

Another famous name that might surprise in the second-raking works and composers, is Lorenzo Da Ponte. Famously working as a librettist with Mozart, Salieri and Martín y Soler, he also embarked to produce a pasticcio. This kind of work assembles popular arias into a new piece. Da Ponte’s incarnation is called L’Ape Musicale (first version: Vienna, 1789). Though he reworked it a number of times, the original version of 1789 for Vienna contains an interesting contribution with mandolin accompaniment.

L’Ape Musicale seems meant as a “meta-opera” with a lot of quotes from and about popular arias. The Austrian Emperor enjoyed such musical jokes immensely. The work premiered before the imperial court, so there is no doubt about the intended audience. Some of the operas mentioned above are featured in this work, like Axur, Re d’Ormus and Una cosa rara. The scenery of the opera is a group commenting on and singing favourite pieces. A desire to sing in French eventually triggers the inclusion of «Amour nous parle sans cesse» by Pasquale Anfossi (1727-1797), to be sung by “Donna Zuccherina”. There is a manuscript which contains this aria (and which suggests it was used at a carnival in Firenze, 1787). This manuscript lacks a mandolin part though. I certainly hope future research will unearth the origins and exact mandolin part. It seems this particular song might be a nice addition to the mandolin songs and arias. I’ll quote from the libretto of L’Ape Musicale:

Amour nous parle sans cesse
Des dames, & des beautes.
Il dit que leurs tendresse
Engendre la gajete;
Elles sont les etincelles
Du plaisir des nos coeurs
A quoi bon sans elles
Talent, richesses, honneurs?
Mesdames je me decide
A vous cherir toujours
Et pour vous plaire mon guide
Sera le Dieu d’amour.

Before we jump into the world of the German opera and Austrian Singspiel, there is one Italian opera left to discuss. La Quakera spiritosa (alternative spellings common, Napels, 1783) is an opera by Pietro Alessandro Guglielmi (1728-1804). The theme of American Quaker women turns up several times in late 18th-century European plays and operas. Apparently, Quaker women were thought to be very free – usually, the main recurring theme is that they were able to choose who to marry. This idea, combined with gun-wielding Americans, produces quite fantastical scenes which had no relation to reality. But it is also quite apparent how this might be used as a backdrop in a comedy, for example for gender role-switching. In this opera, Vertunna and Tognino indeed often behave as though they were man and woman instead of the other way around.

The mandolin turns up at a point where the libretto refers to a guitar, sung by Tognino towards Cardellina (his lover at that point, before the arrival of Vertunna, the Quakera spiritosa).

Al suon del Chitarrino
Dal bosco all Città
Il povero Tognino
Così cantando và
Cardella d’amore
Quel becco tiranno
Mi pizzica il core
Gran pene mi dà
Il dolce momento
Che dite ti sento
Mio sposo, mio cuore,
Deh quando verrà?
E sempre ci davo
Col nfirinchiti nfrà.

Interestingly enough, before reaching Vienna, the opera was also already played at the Esterházy court (with an aria insert composed by Haydn (HobXXIVb.12)). The Viennese version was redacted by none other than Lorenzo Da Ponte, changing quite a lot, almost turning it into another pasticcio.

The Mandolin in the German opera and Austrian Singspiel: Schack, Weigl and Süssmayr

Though Italian opera enjoyed huge success, dramatic performances in the German language are also common. First of all, Italian operas were also sometimes performed in German translations. A prime example is Una cosa rara (as “Der seltene Fall”) by Martín y Soler. (This particular piece was so popular in translated version that there was even some competition between different groups performing it, even in different versions.) Salieri’s Axur, re d’Ormus was also performed in a German version (as “Axur, König von Ormus”). Of course, also Mozart’s Don Giovanni (as “Don Juan”) was presented in a German version, but as its original Italian version, didn’t achieve much initial success in Vienna. I have not found references to a German version of Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Seviglia but the original play by Beaumarchais already circulated in several German translations, so it might well have been performed in German as any of the other popular Italian operas.

However, besides German translations of Italian operas, some Singspiele were originally written in the language and also employed the mandolin in their music. Alas, as most of these are even more obscure than most of the works mentioned above, it is not straightforward to study these sources. I have yet to request access to each of the scores of the items mentioned here. As gaining access to study these scores takes time (and usually also quite a bit of money), these are still on the to-do list. Nevertheless, I have acquired enough reliable evidence to state that the works mentioned below contain a mandolin part.

A first example can be seen as an extension of the Italian operas: Benedikt Schack’s Der Fall is noch weit seltner is effectively a sequel to Martín y Soler’s Una cosa rara. Interestingly, the libretto was by Emanuel Schikaneder, who would collaborate with Mozart a year later on Die Zauberflöte. I have little doubt this opera will prove to contain yet another example of the serenading mandolin arias.

Weigl’s Das Petermännchen is the next item on the list. He was a chapel master of the imperial theatres and later of the court orchestra. Weigl composed music on a libretto by Schikaneder in another case (and had close relations with Beethoven). Without looking at the score, it’s quite hard to guess at the role of the mandolin in this opera.

Finally, there is also yet another, this time by a student of Mozart, Franz Xaver Süssmayr. His opera Soliman der Zweite is listed as using the mandolin. Again, I’m clueless as to the exact role, but it could both be to give an exotic air, or in a serenading scene.

Contemporary publications of Viennese mandolin arias

A remarkable trace of these mandolin arias is kept in the form of adverts by “Lauschischen Musikalien”. This publishing firm was run by Laurenz Lausch (1737/1738-1794) and advertised regularly about available opera scores and adaptations. The list of items linked to mandolin arias also distributed by Lausch is impressive: Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Siviglia;11 Cimarosa’s Il pittore parigino;12 Martín y Soler’s Una cosa rara;13 Mozart’s Don Giovanni;14 Lorenzo Da Ponte’s (1749-1838) L’Ape Musicale (containing Pasquale Anfossi’s (1727-1797) «Amour nous parle sans cesse», in German «Amor schenkt uns die Schönen»)15 and Joseph Weigl’s (1766-1846) Das Petermännchen.16 In a few cases, the opera arias are listed in detail, and in that instance, the mandolin arias usually contain the phrase «con/col mandolino».17 This infers not only that Lausch included the mandolin part, but also that there was a commercial basis for these to be sold. As can be expected, Mozart’s Don Giovanni was printed in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Härtel (1801) and this publication includes the mandolin part. It already was printed years before, as a separate piece, in Speyer’s Anthologie (1788).18

First performance in ViennaComposerTitle (and original performance if not in Vienna)
1783Giovanni PaisielloIl Barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile (St. Petersburg, 1782)
1785Domenico CimarosaIl pittore parigino (Rome, 1781)
1785Vincenzo RighiniL’incontro inaspettato
1786Vicente Martín y SolerUna cosa rara, ossia Bellezza ed onestà
1788Antonio SalieriAxur, re d’Ormus (Vienna, 1788) – based on a French version for Paris, 1787, Tarare)
1788Wolfgang Amadeus MozartIl dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni (Prague, 1787, KV527)
1789Lorenzo Da Ponte (ed.), Pasquale AnfossiIl pasticcio, ovvero l’ape musicale
1789Domenico CimarosaI due baroni di Rocca Azzurra (Rome, 1783)
1790Benedikt SchackDer Fall ist noch weit seltner, oder Die geplagten Ehemänner
1790Pietro Alessandro GuglielmiLa Quakera spiritosa (Napels, 1783)
1794Joseph WeiglDas Petermännchen
1794Leopold Koželuch(ballet) La ritrovata figlia di Ottone II (P XXIV:1)
1798Leopold KoželuchSinfonia Concertante (“Quadruple concerto”) (P II:1)
1799Franz Xaver SüssmayrSolimann der Zweite oder die Drei Sultaninnen
Table 1 – Non-exhaustive overview of music containing a mandolin part performed in public venues 1783-1799


1 John Platoff, Mozart and his Rivals. Opera in Vienna in Mozart’s Time, «Current Musicology», LI (1993), p. 108.

2 Ibidem.

3 Ibidem.

4 See John A. Rice, Muzzarelli, Kozeluch, and La ritrovata figlia di Ottone II (1794). Viennese Ballet Reborn in the Spirit of Noverre, online (30/05/2022).

5 Ibidem, pp. 22-23 & 44.

6 Ibidem, p. 44.

7 A-Wgm, shelfmark VII 15407, Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (hereafter A-Wn), shelfmark Mus.Hs.11072.

8 Milan Poštolka, Kozeluch, Leopold, Oxford Music Online, online (01/06/2022)

9 Friedrich Anton Gaheis, Gallerie menschenfreundlicher Handlungen und Gesinnungen. Ein Denkmal für edle Familien, Vienna, Anton Doll, 1800, p. 46-47.

10 Joseph Marx von Liechtenstern, Statistisch-geographische Beschreibung des Erzherzogthums Oestreich unter der Ens, Klagenfurth und Laybach, Ignaz Edlen von Kleinmaier, 1792, p. 193.

11 WZ (Weiner Zeitung) 06/08/1785, 21/01/1786, 25/01/1786, 08/02/1786, 15/02/1786.

12 WZ 21/01/1786, 25/01/1786, 08/02/1786, 15/02/1786.

13 WZ 27/01/1787, 22/08/1787, 01/09/1787, 19/09/1787, 26/09/1787.

14 WZ 07/06/1788.

15 WZ 21/03/1789, 28/03/1789. L’Ape Musicale was a pasticcio by Lorenzo Da Ponte, first performed in the Burgtheater in 1789.

16 WZ 13/08/1794.

17 For example, WZ 27/01/1787, 01/09/1787, 19/09/1787, 26/09/1787, 07/06/1788, 21/03/1789.

18 Musikalische Anthologie für Kenner und Liebhaber. Der musikal. Realzeitung praktischen Theils, vol. 1, Vienna, Speyer, 1788, p. 25-30.

Imported mandolin prints in Austria and Germany 1782-1836


This article is the first of three outtakes from an article I’m preparing, following my presentation at the Conservatorio di Musica “Giuseppe Verdi” di Milano. My contribution became too large, so some side topics are launched as blog articles instead. All of these will focus on Austrian mandolin history. In this instance, the subject is mandolin prints imported to Austria (and Germany) in the 1780s and afterwards.

The difference between Austria and Western Europe

Strange enough, Austria and most of the rest of Western Europe reacted somewhat differently to the arrival of the Neapolitan mandolin in the 1750s. Whereas the instrument became very popular in the 1760s and 1770s in lots of Western European countries, there are hardly any sources in Austria during these decades. This difference in numbers is present in both the musical sources and all other, secondary sources. Though there are a few sources from before 1780, the inequality in numbers with the rest of Europe is staggering. Hence, it is most likely there was a proper discrepancy between Austria and the rest of Europe. As of the 1780s, however, the mandolin became quite popular in Austria. In the rest of this article, we will zoom in on one of the activities linked to this great rise in popularity: the import of mandolin prints from elsewhere.

The development of mandolin print imports in Austria and Germany

The list at the end of the article gives an overview of all prints which seem to have been imported with references to the sources. From this overview, it’s quite clear that music publishers in Austria and Germany started to import mandolin prints in the early 1780s. This was likely caused by a sudden rise in popularity not yet covered by local production. The first company seems to have been Artaria. Artaria advertised selling sonatas and duets for mandolin as early as 1782:

«Duetten und Sonaten für Violin, Flaut, Viola, Violoncell, Clarinet, Fagot, Horn und Mandolin.»

Wiener Zeitung 28/12/1782, 01/01/1783

There is at least one other non-descript advert by madame Schweigl from about the same time:

«6 Sonaten auf das Mandolin»

Das Weinerblättchen, 03/03/1785

Later on, the Artaria and other adverts or references list actual titles of the prints. In most cases, it’s quite easy to link the original title published elsewhere with the German and Austrian references, which the table below shows.

Artaria catalogue, Vienna, Artaria, 1784, p. 61.

Some volumes are listed more than once, and some extraordinary often. The volume most encountered is the mandolin method by Fouchetti. The methods by Denis and Leone are also encountered, with Denis mentioned only occasionally and Leone more often. But Fouchetti is available from the 1780s until the 1820s and is mentioned most. There are several possible factors that could help explain this preference. First of all, Sieber, the publisher of Fouchetti in Paris, seems to have been quite active to set up distribution elsewhere in Europe. But we need to also consider that the Milanese mandolin type was more in favour in Austria than elsewhere in Europe (proven easily by the prevalence of this type in music sources compared to elsewhere). Fouchetti’s method is the only Paris mandolin tutor which targeted not only the Neapolitan but also the Milanese type. It seems an uncanny coincidence that this method was the favourite amongst the imported volumes in Austria and Germany.

In terms of composers, we find a good grasp of those active in France. Among the most known composers, Denis, Fouchetti and Leone make a clear appearance. Fouchetti is only mentioned for his mandolin method (1770-1771a), but Denis has outside of his method (1768a, 1769c, 1773a) also his volumes of vocal music (1769a, 1770a and 1773a). Leone is mainly mentioned for his method (1768b), but Artaria also distributed two variation sets (1776a). These were published in Paris in 1776, but are possibly reprints from earlier publications (see 1761a and 1768c).

Johann Michael Götz, Verzeichnis von Musicalien welche bey Johann Michael Götz, Musicalienverleger und Handler in Mannheim zu haben seynd, Mannheim, 1784, p. 48.

Lesser known Paris contributors are Bürckhoffer and Mazzuchelli, Bürkhoffer was mainly active as a harpist and to my knowledge only contributed once to the mandolin repertoire with his opus 5 (1769b) for mandolin and violin. Mazzuchelli, though not well-known to mandolin players, was quite active and published several volumes in Paris. One of these is the vocal album for two mandolins (1776c).

Outside of Paris, two other publishing centres appear. First of all, Lyon, with certainty for the two Cauciello volumes (1776b and ca. 1777a) and the Demachi trios (ca. 1780a). Most likely the Leone volume of variations was a Paris reprint (1776a) based for one part on an original printed in Lyon (1761a ). Besides Lyon, another printing center emerged in the form of Burchard Hummel, in Leiden (the Netherlands). Though only of the mandolin contributions reached Austria and Germany, it’s the elegant Concerto a Violino Cconcertante ò Mandoline by Johann Andreas Kauchlitz Colizzi (1773a). The Netherlands was under French cultural influence, with many mandolin players active in France coming over for concerts (see article on Dutch mandolin history). Colizzi’s other mandolin print, mandolin duets based on vocal themes, was also based on music from French operas.

In terms of the type of music, most of it is a mix of the typical output found in France in the 1760s and 1770s. Besides the mandolin methods, there are duets, variations and some volumes based on vocal music. Compared to the output in France in the 1760s and 1770s, we seem to be missing out on the genre of the mandolin sonata volumes. Also, the amount of duet volumes seems to be limited. It’s interesting to see Bürckhoffer’s opus 5 and Leone’s variations mentioned, as it seems these were meant as duets with a violin. Most of the mandolin repertoire found in Vienna and Prague from before 1800 contains chamber music where the mandolin is accompanied by bowed string instruments. This is in stark contrast to the rest of Europe, where the mandolin duet was very popular.

Though the majority of these prints were advertised or listed in the 1780s, there are a number of references in the early decades of the 19th century as well. Some even come up as late as the third or even fourth decade. Though it’s common for reference works to copy from earlier works, these references are from trustworthy sources so I have no reason to doubt them unless evidence to the contrary would surface. This means that many of these imported prints remained available even well into the 19th century. This is strikingly similar to the situation of the mandolin prints in Vienna and Leipzig. These sometimes remained available for several decades, and some were reprinted as well. (NB: these mandolin prints from Vienna and Leipzig will be discussed in another upcoming blog article.)

In conclusion, I think it is safe to say that the mandolin somehow reached a previously not encountered popularity in Austria and Germany as of 1780. This resulted in a rising market for music, and the availability of volumes that could be imported was fulfilling that demand. Though these volumes remained available, they were soon joined by local output from Austrian and German provenance.

Table 1: Prints imported in Austria and Germany

The following table lists all traces of mandolin prints from elsewhere that suggest they were available in Austria and Germany. Each row first starts by describing the original print. The first column lists the year of the original publication, accompanied by a letter in superscript, for easy cross-reference. This is followed by the place and publisher(s), the composer, preservation location(s) and title. The last column contains references to the sources that contain a reference to this print. In most cases, the link is straightforward and easily confirmed. There is one case which is slightly complicated. It is likely that the volume 1776a was a reprint of older originals (1761a and 1768c), hence both of these are also present in the table.

YearPlace & PublisherComposerTitleRedistribution in Austria & Germany
1761a (see also 1776a)Lyon, Le GouxGabriele Leone30 Variations en dispute à deux Violons, qui peuvent se jouer sur le Pardessus, la Mandoline et la HarpeArtaria 1784
Artaria 1788 (probably included in 1776a)
1768aParis, DenisPietro DenisMéthode pour apprendre à jouer de la Mandoline sans Maître avec six CapricesGerber 1812
1768bParis, LeoneGabriele LeoneMéthode Raisonnée Pour passer du Violon à la Mandoline et de L’archet a la plume ou le moyen seur de Jouër sans maître en peu de temps par des Signes de Convention assortis à des exemples de Musique facileArtaria 1784
Götz 1784
Artaria 1788
Gerber 1790
Forkel 1792
Blankenburg 1797
1768c (see also 1776a)Paris, LeoneGabriele Leone (for the variations)Six sonates à Violon & Basse, avec un sujet varié en 24 manières, utiles pour les amateurs de MandolineArtaria 1784
Artaria 1788 (probably included in 1776a)
1769aParis, DenisPietro DenisReceuil de douze petits Airs de chants connus, des pluz à la mode, avec deux differens accompagnemens de Mandoline, pour ceux qui voudront s’accompagnerGerber 1812
1769bParis, Bureau d’abonnement musicaleJ. G. BürckhofferSei duetti Per il Mandolino e Violino opera VAlmanach 1784
1769cParis, DenisPietro DenisSeconde partie de la Méthode pour apprendre à jouer de la Mandoline sans Maître avec des Variations sur douze petits airs de la Comédie Italienne, et six Menuets pour danser, six Allemandes, et un Prélude d’arpegio sur chaque ton de MusiqueGerber 1812
1770aParis, DenisPietro DenisSecond receuil de petits Airs de chants les plus à la mode, avec accompagnement de Mandoline, et les Folies d’Espagne avec des Variations facilesGerber 1812
1770bParis, DenisPietro DenisTroisième receuil de petits Airs de chants les plus nouveaux de la Commédie Italienne avec accompagnement de MandolineGerber 1812
1770-1771aParis, SieberGiovanni FouchettiMéthode pour apprendre facilement á jouer de la Mandoline á 4 et á 6 Cordes. Dans la quelle on explique les differents coups de plume nécessaires pour cet Instrument. On y a joint six Serenades et six petites SonatesArtaria 1784
Götz 1784
Gerber 1790
Forkel 1792
Gruber 1792
Blankenburg 1797
Koch 1802
Whistling 1817
Seyfried 1826
Whistling 1828
1773aParis, DenisPietro DenisTroisième et dernière Partie de la Méthode Pour apprendre à Jouer de la Mandoline Sans Maître, Contenant la manière facile de s’accompagner soi même en Chantant et de broder Les Passages d’un Air; De plus le cinquième Receuil de petits airs de la Comédie Italienne avec l’accompag.[nemen]t de Mandoline, Et d’autres Airs à deux Mandolines avec des VariationsA-Wn
Gerber 1812 (Méthode Paris 1792)
1773aLeiden & The Hague, HummelJohann Andreas Kauchlitz ColizziConcerto a Violino Concertante ò Mandolino, Due Violini di Ripieno, Violetta, Due Corni ad Libitum, e BassoAnzeige 1786
Whistling 1817
1776a (see also 1761a and 1768c)Paris, BailleuxGabriele, Leone“Ah! vous dirai-je maman”, avec 30 variations en duo pour une Mandoline et un Violon, et un sujet varié de vingt-quatre manières
(see also 1761a and 1768c)
Artaria 1784
Artaria 1788 (probably based on 1761a and 1768c)
1776bLyon, GuéraProspero CaucielloSei Duetti per due Violini, o vero Mandolini op. IIGötz 1784
1776cParis, Mazzuchelli, Le MarchandMazzuchelliReceuil des plus agreable ariettes et airs tirées de La Colonie, d’Iphigenie, et d’Orphée, arangées pour deux MandolinesGerber 1812
ca. 1777aLyon, GuéraProspero CaucielloSei Duetti per due Violini, o vero Mandolini op. IIIBreitkopf & Härtel 1780
Götz 1784
ca. 1780aLyon, GuéraGiuseppe Demachi3 Trios pour 2 mandolines et basse. Oeuvre 13Götz 1784
Breitkopf & Härtel 1836

Annex I – References

A-WnVienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
Almanach 1784Musikalischer Almanach für Deutschland auf das Jahr 1784, Leipzig, Schwickerischen Verlag, 1784.
Anzeige 1786Anzeige aller Kunstwerke der Rostischen Kunsthandlung zu Leipzig, Leipzig, Rost, 1786.
Artaria 1784Artaria. [Verlagskatalog], Vienna, Artaria, 1784.
Artaria 1788Verzeichniss von Musikalien welche bei Artaria Compagnie, Kunst – Kupferstich – Landkarten – Musikalien – Händlern und Verlegern in Wien auf dem Kohlmarkt der Michaeler Kirche gegenüber zu haben sind, Vienna, Artaria, 1788.
Blankenburg 1797Litterarische Zusätze zu Johann George Sulzers allgemeiner Theorie der schönen Künste, in einzeln, nach alphabetischer Ordnung der Kunstwörter auf einander folgenden, Artikeln abgehandelt, Leipzig, 1797.
Breitkopf & Härtel 1780Magazin des Buch- und Kunst-Handels, welches zum Besten der Wissenschaften und Künste von den dahin gehörigen Neuigkeiten Nachricht giebt, Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1780.
Breitkopf & Härtel 1836Verzeichniss 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.
Forkel 1792Johann Nicolaus Forkel, Allgemeine Litteratur der Musik oder Anleitung zur Kenntniss musikalischer Bücher, welche von den ältesten bis auf die neusten Zeiten bey den Griechen, Römern und den meisten neuern europäischen Nationen sind geschrieben worden. Systematisch geordnet, und nach Veranlassung mit Anmerkungen und Urtheilen begleitet, Leipzig, Schwickertschen Verlage, 1792.
Gerber 1790Ernst Ludwig Gerber, Historisch-Biographisches Lexicon der Tonkünstler, welches Nachrichten von dem Leben und Werken musikalischer Schriftsteller, berühmter Componisten, Sänger, Meister auf Instrumenten, Dilettanten, Orgel- und Instrumentenmacher, enthält, voll. 1-2, Leipzig, Breitkopf, 1790-1792.
Gerber 1812Ernst Ludwig Gerber, Neues historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler, welches Nachrichten von dem Leben und den Werken musikalischer Schriftsteller, berühmter Komponisten, Sänger, Meister auf Instrumenten, kunstvoller Dilettanten,Musikverleger, auch Orgel- und Instrumentenmacher, voll. 1-4, Leipzig, A. Kühnel, 1812-1813.
Götz 1784Johann Michael Götz, Verzeichnis von Musicalien welche bey Johann Michael Götz, Musicalienverleger und Handler in Mannheim zu haben seynd, Mannheim, 1784
Gruber 1792Johann Siegmund Gruber, Litteratur der Musik, oder systematische Anleitung zur Kenntnis der vorzüglichen musikalischen Bücher, für Liebhaber der musikalischen-Litteratur bestimmt, 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1792.
Koch 1802Heinrich Christoph Koch, Musikalisches Lexikon, welches die theoretische und praktische Tonkunst, encyclopädisch bearbeitet, alle alten und neuen Kunstwörter erklärt, und die alten und neuen Instrumente beschrieben, enthält, Frankfurt am Main, August Hermann jr., 1802.
Seyfried 1826Ignaz von Seyfried, J. G. Albrechtsberger’s Sämmtliche Schriften über Generalbass, Harmonie-Lehre, und Tonfesskunst zum Selbstunterrichte Systematisch geordnet, mit zahlreichen, aus dessen mündlichen Mittheilungen geschöpften Erläuterungs-beyspielen, und einer kurzen Anleitung zum Partitur-spiel, nebst Beschreibung aller bis jetzt gebräuchlichen Instrumente, vol. 3, Vienna, Anton Strauss, 1826.
WBDas Wienerblättchen
Whistling 1817Carl Friedrich Whistling, Handbuch der musikalische Litteratur oder allgemeines systematisch geordnetes Verzeichniss der bis zum Ende des Jahres 1815 gedruckten Musikalien, auch musikalischen Schriften und Abbildungen mit Anzeige der Verleger und Preise, Leipzig, Anton Meysel, 1817.
Whistling 1828Carl Friedrich Whistling, Handbuch der musikalische Litteratur oder allgemeines systematisch geordnetes Verzeichniss gedruckter Musikalien, auch musikalischer Schriften und Abbildungen mit Anzeige der Verleger und Preise, Leipzig, Whistling, 1828.
WZWiener Zeitung

F. V. Gelli’s Marcia, Andante sostenuto & Rondo for mandolin(s) and guitar(s) in La Lyre d’Orphée (Vienna, 1811)

My latest discovery are Marcia, Andante sostenuto and Rondo for trio of mandolin(s) and guitar(s). The pieces were written by F. V. Gelli, a known author of music for guitar, and though in a slightly old-fashioned style, fitting salon music of early 19th-century Vienna.


The music has been preserved in at least two libraries. The first library, where I originally spotted the item, is the Národní Muzeum in Prague (shelfmark Kinsky P 138). I have since also seen it at the library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna (shelfmark VI 15244 /1 (Q 6586)). Covid-19 meant I had to postpone my research into this item for 2 years. But all’s well that ends well.

Context of the print

In the late 18th century, vocal music was still considered to be more important, and most concerts had performances of both vocal and instrumental pieces. Often, instrumental music also still links to vocal music. For example, variation sequences were often based on a vocal theme, and there are plenty of mandolin arias in operas from the 1780s and 1790s. Many of the mandolin virtuosi in the late 18th and early 19th century performed in theatres that were mainly playing operas, sometimes playing in between the acts. Another interesting point is that Gabriele Leone published a cantata, and a small song by his hand has also survived. He also famously had a go at becoming an opera impresario working for Felice Giardini. Some of the mandolin players such as Gervasio and Vimercati were married to singers. This helps to explain why vocal music was found together with instrumental music in La Lyre d’Orphée.

In the early decades of the 19th century, the parlour guitar became very popular in Vienna. Thousands of guitar volumes were printed. The mandolin followed in its wake. The mandolin-guitar duet is most often found in the mandolin prints in Vienna and Leipzig in the 1800s and 1810s. Most common are variations (Zucconi, Bortolazzi, von Call, Aichelbourg), one is a potpourri (a suite of several popular themes, Aichelbourg’s op. 1). Another type of print often found in guitar prints are inspired by country dances such as the waltz or ländler. This only survives in the print of Bortolazzi in London (arranged for keyboard, XII Favorite Waltzes & Trios For the Piano Forte As Performed by the Author on the Mandolino).

Less found are sonatas, such as von Call’s op. 108, and the notturno, such as Aichelbourg’s op. 3. There are also a few keyboard sonatas, already seen in the prints in Florence in the 1790s (Panerai, Bolaffi) and Beethoven’s pieces as well as a few prints (Bortolazzi, Hummel, Neuling).

The periodical

The mandolin and guitar music is part of a series published by “J. G. Liverati” and “F. V. Gelli” as announced on the title page. The mandolin music is found in number 2 from the series, plate number 694 (printed at the Bureau d’Industrie in Vienna). Each part of the series has the same title page but has the volume number filled in by hand:

La Lyre d’Orphée, vol. 2, Prague, Národní Muzeum, shelfmark Kinsky P 138, p. 17r. Image licensed by the Národní Muzeum.

The series can be dated by an advert from 1811 in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung:

La Lyre d’Orphée, Ouvrage périodique contenant de la musique vocale et des pieces pour la Guitarre accomp. de Pianof. par Liverati N° 1. 2. 1 Thlr.

Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, 12/06/1811, nr. 24, p. 28

Based on the copper plates, it seems that the series had 8 items (or at least had 8 volumes planned). I have only been able to look at issues 1-4, but I think none of the other volumes had mandolin music, and at least the other volumes gave me a good idea of the rest of the series.

Giovani Liverati, image licensed through Alamy.

Giuseppe Liverati (1772-1846) was a singer, composer and vocal teacher originally from and taught in Bologna. After a period in Spain and a stay in Potsdam, Liverati became chapel master in Prague in 1799. He likely stayed in Vienna from 1805 until 1814 before moving to London, and was mainly active as vocal teacher though he also managed to stage some operas.

The print series title (see above) mentions that the ‘score of the vocal music is available through the author, Mr. Liverati, Kloster Gasse N.° 1119’. Though not mentioned, it should be assumed that Gelli also distributed some issues. This might have been complete volumes, but possibly also only the guitar music. Interestingly enough, the Kinsky collection in CZ-Pn I accessed had two versions of issue number 1, and the sequence of the two vocal pieces in the volume is not the same. This seems to suggest that before begin bound together, the pieces could be separated. Whether this was intended or not, it seems likely that both Liverati and Gelli sold a number of copies during their activities as music teachers in Vienna.

As mentioned on the title page, the instrumental music for guitar is by “F. V. Gelli”. This person was active in Vienna as guitar teacher and publisher of quite a number of guitar prints. He published several sets of variations for guitar and a number of guitar duets including some “suonatine notturne” for two guitars, as well as divertissements for flute or violin and guitar, and a serenade for violin and guitar. More impressive is that he also published a guitar method, the Neue gründliche, theoretisch-pracktische Guitarre Schule op. 3. Most of his music was published by Cappi in Vienna, and while most items are preserved in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, some items are also in the Národní Muzeum).


The vocal music is always printed as a score for the vocal part(s) and keyboard. The instrumental music is printed as separate parts, though there are cases of guitar solo music as well.

The volume containing the mandolin music is structured as follows:

  • Unnumbered title page (see above) p. 17 r&v (blanc) – number 2 from the Lyre d’Orphée series
  • Vocal music
    • Scêne de l’Opéra Enea in Cartagine par J. Liverati: p. 18r-21v (Recitativo, Aria (Ombra irata che m’erri d’intorno)
  • Instrumental music
    • Violino o Mandolino Imo: Marcia Allegretto, Andante Sostenuto, Rondo Allegretto p. 22r-v
    • Mandolino 2do o Chitarra 1ma: Marcia Allegretto, Andante Sostenuto, Rondo Allegretto p. 23r-v
    • Chitarra 2da: Marcia Allegretto, Andante Sostenuto, Rondo Allegretto p. 24r-v
  • Blanc pages (p. 25r-v)

The engraving is quite well-made and I have only found minor problems, no real mistakes, making the publication of quite high quality. The parts have some dynamic signs.

The first part looks like it was mainly conceived for mandolin rather than violin. It is certainly possible to play the music on a violin, but the writing is likely not idiomatic for violin. There are a few cases where the music is technically easier to perform on a mandolin, besides the fact that there are no long notes (or even any bow articulation).

F. V. Gelli, first page of the violin/mandolin part, La Lyre d’Orphée, vol. 2, Prague, Národní Muzeum, shelfmark Kinsky P 138, p. 22r. Image licensed by the Národní Muzeum.

The second part puts us for a bit of a puzzle: was this really meant for mandolin or was it written for guitar? There are a few chords and broken chords in the music which seem to suggest the guitar (see below), and a position marking in the Rondo also seems to reinforce this point. However, the music itself seems not be conceived with the guitar in mind as there are almost no places where the writing turns to idiomatic styles of guitar playing. Rather, it seems this was effectively written with both instruments in mind. With only leaving out a few notes on chords (and not even that often), it is possible to play this on a second mandolin. It is of course also possible to play it on guitar. I have made a list of all the cases where the writing is more suitable to guitar than mandolin:

  • At the end of the first phrase of the Marcia, there is a chord which is impossible on the mandolin but an easy chord on a guitar. However, by leaving out one note, it becomes quite easy to play this chord on a mandolin, and I don’t find this a blocking issue.
  • Some of the broken chords in the minore part of the Marcia and in the Andante make slightly more sense on a guitar than a mandolin. They are playable on mandolin though.
  • During the solo part of the Rondo, the composer uses a low e, but it is also present as a high e (open string) so just leaving out the bass note would not really make a huge difference.

The second guitar part has plenty of typical guitar chords and arpeggio techniques. The composer clearly was an able guitar player and composer and used this to a good effect in this third part.

As both the guitar and mandolin are a possibility for part 2, and the author clearly meant it that way, it is a matter of preference to choose how to play this trio music. Two mandolins and a guitar come closer to the galant style music of the late 18th century. An ensemble of a mandolin and two guitars also works quite well.

The music is unassuming entertainment, typical for the salons in Vienna in the early 19th century. Gelli’s style has some traits which feel a bit old-fashioned, and interestingly, Liverati also wrote in a somewhat older style. The form of the Marcia and Andante is an A-B-A, commonly encountered for such short movements as an alternative for the more elaborate forms such as a sonata. The rondo follows a proper rondo pattern.

All in all, this find is another treat: trios for two mandolin and guitar or mandolin and two guitars by an Italian guitar composer active in Vienna in the era of the parlour guitar. I am quite sure people will cherish the new arrival in our repertoire. As usual I have taken the time to provide a modern edition of the pieces and have included them in this blog post. I’ve included an export of the audio from my music editor software to give an impression of the music.


I’d like to express my thanks to Michal Lukeš and Adam Petrásek of the Národní Muzeum, Prague for supporting my research. I am also grateful for their permission to publish this article and the edition as well as providing me with a license to use two images from the original in their library.

The original French edition of Barbella violin duets by Leone

Compared to my last contributions, this time my post will be relatively small and only in the margins of mandolin history. I have (after looking for it for years) managed to retrieve a copy of the original French edition of the duets for two violins by Emanuele Barbella, as published by Gabriele Leone in Paris in 1766.

Discovery and preservation location

During my standard research in library catalogues, I stumbled upon an item in the Library of Congress, Washington DC (United States of America). It is listed in the catalogue as “Barbella, Emanuele; Sei Duetti per due violini composti del Sgr. D. Emanuele Barbella. Paris,
chez Mr. Leone” and is listed under shelf mark: M287.A2 B23.

This triggered my interest. We knew the London edition of Barbella duets by Leone, which is preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris (France) under shelf mark K-2390 and available online through Gallica. However, the title page of this London edition is (naturally) in English (Six Duets for Two Violins). Hence I assumed the item in US-Wc could be the original French edition, which turned out to be true.

Secondary sources and other Barbella prints in Paris

The French edition can be dated thanks to two adverts:

  • 25/08/1766, L’Avantcoureur, n. 34, p. 531: “Musique. Six Duos pour deux Violons, composés par Emmanuel Barbèlla de Naples; prix 7 liv. 4 s. chez le Sieur Léone, rue Saint Honoré, au Gagne-Petit, près Saint Roch, & aux adresses ordinaires.”
  • 30/08/1766, Catalogue des livres nouveaux, p. 93: “Titres des Livres, & Adresses des Librairies qui les vendent. Musique. D Art. 16. Duo (six) pour deux Violons, composés par Emmanuel Barbella de Naples. A Paris, chez Léone, rue S. Honoré, & aux Adresses ordinaires de Musique. Prix 7 l. 4 s.”

So far we have no knowledge of secondary sources to help date the second edition in London. At earliest, it might have from 1766. However, the adverts in France date from August and Leone’s known concert adverts in London are from March and April 1766 (Public Advertiser, adverts on 11/03/1766, 03/04/1766 & 11/04/1766). It is a pity we don’t have adverts of this London Barbella print, because it would certainly help build not only the timeline of Leone’s Barbella publications but also of Leone’s travels. At the moment, we can’t say more with certainty expect that it seems very unlikely the London edition was printed until after Leone’s publications of the first edition of the first set of mandolin sonatas (1767), his mandolin method (1768) and second edition of his sonatas (1768 or after).

Theoretically speaking, it could be possible that Leone published first in London, and reprinted in France. The flow of evidence does not bear out this theory. First of all, Leone applied for a royal privilege in France to print (amongst other things) music by Barbella. Secondly, it seems counter-intuitive to first use an English frontispiece with dedication, and then move to an Italian one without dedication. Third point, so far mandolin scholars have always assumed Leone’s London version of his method to be from much later than his French version. Until fresh evidence emerges, I will assume the French edition is the original, and the London one the second edition.

Royal privilege of Leone

Gabriele Leone seems to have been the first to publish music by Emanuele Barbella in Paris. The style gallant and the genre of violin duets became very popular in the second part of the 1760s, and Leone was quick to take advantage with his Barbella duets set printed in 1766. In 1768, he published a set of Barbella violin sonatas, to which he joined his own set of 24 mandolin variations (La Pierre de Touche). (See my blog posts about La Pierre de Touche (1) and La Pierre de Touche (2).)

Normally, any printed music in Paris has to be covered by a royal privilege (A. P. D. R. at the bottom of so many prints mean “avec privilège du Roi”). There are several ways of operating when publishing music. In most cases, a publishing firm operated a big set of volumes under a general privilege. The composer usually got a number of copies to sell as renumeration; and the publisher had the big bulk of copies and the original copper plates.

Leone did publish some music in France in the early 1760s, under known publishing firms (mainly La Chevardière – the 30 Variations en dispute, the Cantate and the Six Duo). However, his activities as of 1766 are under his own name rather than that of an established publishing firm, though mostly the printing and distribution seems to still have been done through traditional publishing firms. His new status as publisher seems to includes his Barbella duets and sonatas, but also his own first set of mandolin sonatas (two editions) and his mandolin method.

Following the legalities, this meant that Leone had to have a royal privilege granted. And indeed, in the ledger, there is an entry for Leone:

“10 juillet 1768. P.[rivilège] G.[enerale] pour 6 ans, du 1 juin, au Sr Leone, pour la Methode nouvelle pour jouer de la Mandoline, avec des exemples de musique pour cet instrument et une suite de pieces, ensemble les ceuvres de musique de Barbella.”.

Ms. Fr. 21962 (F-Pn)

However, this is a bit out of place, as the privilege is entered in 1768, but Leone started publishing in 1766. Furthermore, there are other people who printed music by Barbella. How does this fit together?

Chronology of Barbella prints in Paris:

  • 1766 Leone, Sei Duetti per due Violini (7 liv. 4 s.) Not in RISM
  • 1767 Le Roy, Sei Duetti per due Violini (6 liv.) RISM A/I B 888
  • 1768 Le Roy, 6 Duos très facile pour 2 Violons (6 liv.) RISM A/I B 887
  • 1768 Leone, Six sonates à violon et basse (avec un sujet varié en 24 manières, utiles pour les amateurs de la mandoline) (9 liv.) Not in RISM
  • 1772-3; Bailleux / Verdone, Six duos pour deux violins ou deux mandolines avec une basse ad libitum lorsqu’on voudra en faire des trios, mais il faudra exécuter la basse sur un alto RISM A/I B 884
  • 1773, Bouin, Six Duos pour deux violons, oeuvre III (7 liv. 4 s.) RISM A/I B 889
  • 1774, Bérault, Sei Duo per violino e violincello, opus IV(7 liv. 4 s.) RISM A/I B 895

From the list above, we can see clearly that though Barbella started first, Le Roy was quick to jump on the same wagon. Interestingly though, after 1768, there are no more Barbella prints, until 1772. This leads me to the assumption that Leone’s privilege, though entered in 1768, was somehow backdated to cover his activities as of 1766, and ended some time in 1771. Besides the sudden new Barbella prints, 1772 also sees reeditions of Leone’s own mandolins prints by Bailleux: the mandolin method, the duets and a volume of variations (likely a reprint comprised of both the 30 Variations en dispute and the Pierre de Touche variations). The first set of mandolin sonatas was not reprinted, but in my blog post about the second edition of this first set I have mentioned potential reasons. Instead, a new, second set of sonatas was issued by Bailleux.

Comparison of the editions

There are no changes to the copper plates of the music pages, hence we will focus on the title page only.

Original edition, Paris, 1766Later edition, London, s.d.
Per Due Violini
Composti dal
Stampati alle Spese di Gabriele Leone
Prix 7lt. 4s.
Chez M.r Leone l’Editeur près la porte S.t Martin
Mr. Martin Pintre ruë neuve S.t Martin vis à vis L’Enseigne des bons Enfans,
M.mme Vendôme Graveuse rüe S.t Honoré vis à vis le Palais Royal chez M.r Oblé l’Escalier à gauche S’adresser au Portier. Et aux adresses Ordinaires de Musique.
for two
To the Honorable
Composed by
Sig.r Emanuele Barbella
LONDON Printed and Sold by GABRIEL LEONE Price 10s6d
Comparison of the title pages of the original Paris and later London editions by Leone of Barbella duets

A first notable difference is the language. What might seem out of place, but is not entirely uncommon, is a title page in Italian (except for the information about price and where the print can be bought). The fact that the title page is in Italian could well be explained by the type of contract Leone and Barbella might have had. If Leone was to pay Barbella with a number of copies, it would make more sense to present him with an edition that was as Italian as possible.

The second difference is that in the English edition, Leone includes a dedication (though without a dedication page) to the “Hon. Thomas Shirley”. Though the name is common, it seems that especially with the honorific of “honorable”, this might be the same Honorable Thomas Shirley, Esquire, acting as Senior Grand Warden in meetings of the Freemasons in 1764 and 1765. (See James Anderson & John Entick, The Constitutions of the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, London, 1777, p. 293, 297-8, 301, 307.) It is highly unusual for a print to change dedication (even if from none to include one), so Leone must have received substantial aid from either Thomas Shirley in person (or, if indeed one and the same as the Freemason named, potentially from the Masons as a group).

I have another remark to add: the engraving is particularly elaborate in the case of the titles of the pieces on the music pages. This type of elegant and decorative writing is not regularly encountered in French editions, for example, never on the rest of Leone’s publications in France, including his Barbella sonatas. Likely the first edition was meant to impress Barbella, and to help ensure continued aid.

The music

The duets are very much in the famous style gallant, though way more elaborate and sophisticated as usually encountered. Barbella’s originality and capabilities as composer show clearly in avoiding to filling the duets volume with the typical stereotypes of “close harmony” of lesser composers. The works are quite divers in style and seem to be of a somewhat more serious nature than usual.

The title page mentions only the violin, and there are several passages that seem to be idiomatically best suited to the violin. However, due to the many links of both Barbella and Leone to the mandolin on top of the proven interchange of repertory with the violin, it is of course interesting to ask if it would be suitable to play this music on the mandolin. Quite a few pieces can be played on the mandolin, but there are also some pieces where the writing seems idiomatic for violin. Happily, the contemporary mandolin methods published in Paris contain some hints on how to overcome such difficulties (such as “De la Maniere de jouer la blanche” in the Leone method, p. 17). And even Barbella himself left some clues: in the case of low long notes which are combined with a melody on a higher string, the first bar of the first duet seems to hold the answer to this in the second voice. Barbella does in the second voice what I personally would do on the mandolin when playing the long notes on the first voice (though potentially on an a rather than f in the first voice and keeping an f in the second voice).


Looking at a preserved copy of the original French edition of the Barbella duets published by Barbella raises some thoughts. It seems Leone published the duets for Barbella (hence the Italian title page and luxurious edition) and later on ensured a royal privilege to safeguard his commercial interests as Barbella publisher in Paris. After moving to England, he took several copper plates of his publications with him, and reprinted the duets.

The mandolin in the Netherlands (ca. 1750 – ca. 1850)

Charles Van Beveren, The Duet (ca. 1830-50, Rijksmuseum, SK-C-1671)

During my research about mandolin prints prior to 1850, I found some adverts for mandolin prints in journals from the Netherlands. Soon an image emerged of an interesting and previously unwritten part of mandolin history.

Through the adverts, we can learn both about some well-known mandolin players who visited the Netherlands, but also about a number of previously unknown artists. We will also analyze the amount of concerts and other contributing musicians as well as adverts for prints, instruments and strings.

The article is written as a narrative overview of the activities in chronological order, split into periods with a focus on specific persons of interest. The details of the adverts and concerts and details about referenced literature can be found in the appendices below the main text.

This article has become quite long. Introductions to Netherland’s music history, or the known mandolin players’ backgrounds, would have made it even more so. I decided early on to not include all of these and just point out good reference works. People interested in the Netherland’s music history, especially for the period 1750-1795, should consult the excellent work by Rudolf Rasch (Rasch, Rudolf (2018); Rasch, Rudolf (online, 2018), which is an older version available online). (Please note: most of this material is only available in Dutch.) For introductions to some of the mandolin players known from other activity, such as in France, I would recommend the work by James Tyler and Paul Sparks (Tyler, James & Sparks, Paul (1989)).

The first period (1759-1765): Merchi & Rossi

It’s hard to find Dutch mandolin sources predating 1750. A likely candidate is Willem de Fesch (°1687-+1761), who printed a volume of songs (XX Canzonette, ca. 1735), with mandolin mentioned as one of the alternatives for the soprano voice (violin, flute or mandolin). However, we need to question whether this really related to the Netherlands, as de Fesch printed the volume in London. Also, the mandolin is likely only mentioned for commercial purposes, rather than proving a direct link between this music and the mandolin.

Hence I consider the first proper mandolin activity in the Netherlands an advert from 1759. In a first period, from 1759 until 1765, we can trace at least 13 concerts through adverts. Additionally, there is at least one French mandolin print also distributed in the Netherlands and a Dutch print by one of the mandolin protagonists.

The main actor in this first period is none other than the well-known pioneer of plucked string instruments: Giacomo Merchi (Brescia, °18/08/1726-?). Known to have travelled Europe performing on concerts with his brother Giuseppe Bernardo Merchi (Brescia, °28/11/1723-+22/03/1793) in the 1750s, he later settled in Paris where he published dozens of music prints (mainly for guitar, including an important tutor). There are a number of London prints as well, and besides the mandolin, guitar and colascioncino (a smaller for of colascione), he is also noted to have performed on “liutino moderno”, an instrument of his own invention. (See Public Advertiser 27/04/1769, Bath Chronicle 1/12/1774 & 9/1/1777.)

Giacomo Merchi visited the Netherlands annually early on in his career, from 1759 until 1765. His first concert seems to have been on 29/03/1759 in the Manège venue in Amsterdam, one of the most important Dutch concert halls at that time. Most adverts only mention the last name of Merchi, but the advert for this first concert mentions an initial “G”. The prints of Merchi linked to the Netherlands we will discuss later also mention the first name Giacomo on their title pages. It seems plausible enough to conclude that all sources related to Merchi in the Netherlands refer to Giacomo only.

Amsterdam Manege venue. View of the main building of the stables, with the venue above the ground floor, hence the “bovenzaal” (upper hall), which hosted at least 5 mandolin concerts (1759-1774). This venue famously hosted several concerts of the Mozart family in 1766.

So far I have traced at least 11 Dutch concerts by Merchi, mostly in well-known venues in Amsterdam (Doelen (2), Manège (2), Keizerskroon (1)) and The Hague (Theatre Français (3), Doelen (1)), but there are two late adverts from Utrecht as well (Aalmoezenierskamer Brigittenstraat (1) & Concertzaal Vreeburg (1)). Most concerts mention all three of Merchi’s instruments (colascioncino, guitar and mandolin), but the guitar is neglected in two and colascioncino and mandolin in one advert each. I have still entered the concert on 13/11/1764 which seems not to have featured the mandolin in my source overviews. It might well have been an oversight of the advert as Merchi seems to use the mandolin very consistently. After all, the mandolin’s popularity was still rising, both in the Netherlands as elsewhere in Europe (as can be easily seen from the rise in mandolin prints in France at this time). Apparently Merchi returned for at least one concert in 1765 (Arnhem, Stadsmuziekcollege), but as I have not seen the actual source or details about concert I have not (yet) put that one in my source overviews. (See Rasch, Rudolf (2013), Concertleven, p. 43.)

Though Merchi is listed as organizer in most of his concerts (bar one organized by Magalli on 08/02/1763), he did enlist some partners for ticket sales. Johann Julius Hummel’s music shop is mentioned on all Amsterdam concerts as ticket booth. Henri Chalon, a known organizer of concerts, is also listed as a contact for tickets in the advert of the first concert by Merchi (29/03/1759, in the Manège).

Other musicians participating in these concerts are almost always vocal artists: Mad. Lepri (Dionisia Lepri), Mad. Mellini (Eugenia Mellini). Mademoiselle Baptiste (Rose-Albertine-Françoise Anselme), Madame Baptiste (Françoise Gravillon), Mr. Magalli (organization, singing), mevr. Linders (singing). Only Michel Esser (Carl Michael Esser, singing, violin, viola) is listed to play violin and viola, but he also sang during the concert. All of these are well-known artists and concert organizers in the Netherlands, only madame Linders is unfamiliar.

It can be assumed there were some other musicians. The adverts mention “concert” and “solo” performances, which suggests some pieces were accompanied. Also, Henri Chalon, mentioned for ticket sales of the first concert by Merchi in 1759, is known to have directed an orchestra. One concert in the Theatre Français in the Hague mentions “Mademoiselle Baptiste will sing several Italian arias; accompanied by several instruments and the entire orchestra”. Though this does not prove Merchi himself also played with the orchestra, it at least proves that there were other musicians present as well. I think it very likely that Merchi usually was joined by some local musicians for accompaniment.

Giacomo Merchi is of course also well-known for publishing music. The question hence is: did Merchi print for mandolin and did he publish anything in the Netherlands? Regarding the mandolin prints, I already pointed out the three prints by Merchi in an article (see Van Tichelen, Pieter (2020)):

  • Sei Duetti op. 2, ca. 1758, F-Pn shelf mark VM7 882, available online through Gallica
  • Sei Trio op. 9 (originally opus 5), ca. 1761-4, GB-Lbl shelf mark Music Collections g.105
  • Six Duos op. 15 (not preserved).

Opus 2 and 9 were initially targeted at the violin (and pardessus-de-viole, a soprano type of viola da gamba). Though certainly playable on violin, these prints were likely originally composed for mandolin. When the mandolin became enormously popular in Paris in the later 1760s, opus 2 and 9 were remarketed as mandolin music, making the circle whole. This remarketing can both be seen in catalogues as well as on the title pages of the volumes (see illustrations below).

Part of Merchi’s catalogue as it appears in op. 35 (the mandolin is in fact already mentioned as of the mid-1760s)
Merchi, Sei Trio, op. 9, Paris, ca. 1761-4, title page of violin I & II parts as in GB-Lbl, Music Collections g.105. Reproduced with permission and under license from the British Library. Please note the earlier opus number 5 (later changed to 9, see below) and the lack of mentioning the mandolin (compared to below).
Merchi, Sei Trio, op. 9, Paris, ca. 1761-4, title page of basso part as in GB-Lbl, Music Collections g.105. Reproduced with permission and under license from the British Library. Please note the changed opus number (opus 9 instead of 5) and the addition of “ò Due Mandolini”

Besides the (later re-)introduction of the mandolin in the title pages and catalogues, there is an interesting link to the Netherlands on the title page of opus 9. Though published in Paris, the title page states that this print was also available through Burchard Hummel in The Hague. It is quite striking to spot such a mandolin trio sonata print turn up in the Netherlands, right at the same time its composer was playing concerts over there. Merchi clearly didn’t only visit the Netherlands for playing concerts but seems to have aimed at selling music prints as well.

There is another print by Merchi linked to the Netherlands, the XII Ariette e IV Duetti, op. 17 (originally op. 10), Amsterdam/The Hague, ca. 1760. (I like to thank Damian Martin Gil for informing me about this print.) The volume is vocal in origin but also aims to be versatile enough to be playable on violin, flute, harpsichord or guitar with bass. The songs have a melody line in soprano clef (with lyrics), then a (figured) bass, and underneath a guitar part in (ottava basso) soprano clef. The duets have two melody lines in soprano clef (with lyrics) and a (figured) bass.

Merchi, XII Ariette e IV Duetti, op. 17, ca. 1760. Note that this print is by Hummel, and though here still called opus 10, it was later renumbered to opus 17. (D-Mbs – 4 2018.2402)

This volume showcases some of the vocal music which could have featured in Merchi’s Dutch concerts. It also shows that Merchi tried to include the Netherlands in his publishing activities. Alas, the mandolin is not mentioned on the title page. However, the print still predates the time when Merchi actively started to (re)market prints towards the mandolin, so it’s not a clear cut case. The volume is preserved at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München (D-Mbs, 2018.2402, available online). The music seems to be by Merchi himself, but he clearly reused some lyrics from popular opera arias and songs.

  • La destra ti chiedo
  • Penso agli affanni miei
  • Se tu provasti al cor
  • A’ innamorarse presto se fa
  • Da questo ciel tu parti
  • Ste pur su le vostre mia siora
  • Ah che nel dirti addio
  • Ch’io mai vi possa lasciar d’amare
  • Lusinghiero m’ingannasti
  • Ecco quel fiero istante
  • Quell’occhio furbetto
  • Bella Chechina mia
  • Due vezzosette nere pupille
  • Mia Fillide ben mio
  • Se viver non poss’io
  • Ecco giunto il giorno amaro

The reason Merchi abandoned his annual trips to the Netherlands is not clear. Maybe the prints like opus 9 and opus 17 didn’t sell well enough, or the commercial prospects were better in France and England. Perhaps the concert venues were looking for fresh talent? In any case, we have no evidence for Merchi coming to the Netherlands after 1765. However, as can be spotted from the huge amount of concerts in the rest of the 1760s and 1770s, the instrument was certainly still popular.

In 1765, a certain Madame Rossi held two concerts (in the Concertzaal in Rotterdam as well as the Manège in Amsterdam). In one advert, she is claimed to be from Venice. Not much more information is available about madame Rossi, except that she played with a Madame Severini (singing) and one advert also claims a madame Tessarini directed. Women performing during a public concert (with the exception of singing) are quite rare, so, alas, a woman directing musicians seems improbable. I think this might be a mistake, and likely meant Carlo Tessarini, known as a violin player from other Dutch concerts. The concert by Rossi in Amsterdam again lists Hummel for buying tickets.

From the dates of the concerts it is clear that Merchi and Rossi only stayed in the Netherlands for a limited time. As Merchi was likely based in Paris a short trip to the Netherlands was possible, though travel time should not be underestimated. Useful information about the duration of such a journey can be learnt from the Mozart family grand concert trip passing through France, the Austrian Netherlands and United Provinces. For example, one trip without too much stops from Brussels to Paris is known to have taken the Mozarts from 15/11/1763 until their arrival on 18/11/1763. The duration to travel from Brussels to Amsterdam can be estimated based on Duten’s “Guide” (L. Dutens, Itinéraire des Routes Les Plus Fréquentées de l’Europe, Paris, 1783). Dutens assesses 40 hours not counting stops. Likely with stops this too amounted to 3-4 days. The total trip from Paris to Amsterdam or vice versa would hence likely have taken about a week, depending on the amount of stops for mealtimes, resting, sleep etc. the travelling musician would take. Often, musicians would stop along the way for a concert as well, so it might be interesting to look for concert adverts in the Austrian Netherlands (current Belgium) by Merchi as well as some of the other mandolin players travelling between France and the Netherlands.

A typical “diligence”. Image courtesy of Wikimedia & Pearson Scott Foresman

Travelling could sometimes take longer than expected. For example, the coach could break down (cfr. the Mozart family’s concert trip got delayed for a day due to a broken carriage wheel on 9/07/1763). Sometimes, musicians would have to wait for a substantial amount of time before they were allowed to hold concerts – most often when this involved holding a private concert at the court of a nobleman (for example, the Mozart family was kept in limbo in Brussels for several weeks before they could hold a concert before Prince Charles of Lorraine). Besides such external factors, musicians also could fall ill, forcing them to delay concerts (eg. the many illnesses of the Mozart children during the concert trip).

At the time of writing this article, I have found only very sparse evidence of any mandolin player performing at the court of the Prince of Orange. There is an advert from 25/11/1766 by Rossignol and his troupe (see below). But as many other mandolin players passed through The Hague and gave concerts, there might well have been other private concerts for the Prince of Orange and his court. Maybe further research will show if Merchi or any of the other mandolin players managed to arrange such a concert.

The amount of concerts in the 1750s and early 1760s listed in adverts is limited, so the frequent and high amount of mandolin concerts is interesting. Hence these early mandolin concerts by Merchi and Rossi are certainly not a footnote but should be considered important events in the music history of the Netherlands of that particular period. The musicians participating in Merchi’s concerts also bear witness to their importance. The fact that Merchi also ended up in the good graces of the Hummel brothers for selling and even publishing his music is also testimony to his success. Most likely this was once more partially caused by the interest in the new style galant which is so closely linked with the mandolin’s popularity in the late 18th century. (See Van Tichelen, Pieter (2020))

Second period (1766-1770): Rossignol’s troupe; Mazzuchelli & Leone

Inn De Keizerskroon drawn by J.M.A. Rieke (1886), image courtesy of Stadsarchief Amsterdam. This venue hosted at least 7 mandolin concerts (1764-1768)

After Merchi and Rossi, we need to turn our attention to a phenomenon by the name of Joseph Rossignol(o) (de Malt(h)a). As he claims to have held a concert in Versailles in an advert (Oprechte Haarlemsche Courant, 02/11/1765, n. 44, p. 2) he likely came to the Netherlands from France. As I have no indications whether Rossignol’s early concerts in 1765 included mandolin players, I have not included these in this study.

At some point during the later part of 1766 (at latest starting with adverts on 02/08/1766), Rossignol’s adverts mention a troupe of four musicians. Mostly it is claimed they are from Italy, sometimes Venice is specified. One advert claims the troupe consisted of five Venetian musicians. This fifth Venetian musician is likely Mademoiselle Nicolini who sang several Venetian airs during this concert (12/11/1766 in the Doelen, The Hague). She is not encountered again, and subsequent adverts only mention four musicians. The joint venture of Rossignol and his four musicians seems to have lasted quite long, as we are sure they worked together from 1766-1770 and there is even a late advert from 1786 in the Netherlands.

The names and instruments are often not specified, but from the details listed over the many adverts, a clear image emerges. Rossignol and his troupe played no less than 21 identified concerts involving the mandolin. That seems to be the largest amount of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands by any artist or ensemble from 1750 until 1850. Rossignol covered quite a lot of the available venues: Amsterdam (Keizerskroon (5), Nieuw Malta (3), Manège (1)), Groningen (Wapen van Stad & Lande (4)), Rotterdam (Doelen 3), Haarlem (Prinsenhof (1)), The Hague (Doelen, (1)), Zwolle (Hof van Holland (1)), Utrecht (Muziekcollege (1)).

The instruments of the four Italians (when mentioned) are always the same: “mandoline”/”mandelin”, “mandole”/”mandola”/”mandolo” and “tambour de bas organisé”/”tambour de basque met orgel”. The “mandoline” most likely was the Neapolitan mandolin. The “mandole” can’t be identified with certainty. It could have referred to either a form of six-course mandolin, or a deeper tuned instrument (as the mandole is often mentioned as accompaniment in the adverts). The tambour de bas(que) usually refers to the percussion instrument tambourine.

The first musician of interest to us in Rossignol’s troupe is the “mandelin”/”mandoline”/”mandolino” player, who is singled out most by mentioning a name in the adverts. The names found for this musician are “Gaëtani”, but also “Nicola”, “Nicolas”, “Nicolai” and “Nicolaas”. It is only through the later adverts we have some confirmation this might be one and the same person: “Nicolas Cajetani”. This Gaetani/Cajetani could be the same person active in Paris (for example, see Récréations de la Campagne, vol. 3, Paris, 1764 and a bundle of minuets from 1768). Another alternative spelling can be found in an advert in Hamburg (Reichspostreuter, 11/02/1769, n. 24, p. 4), where Rossignol advertises and a “Gädani” will play mandolin. Some Danish adverts also mention a “Gedani” as mandolin player with Rossignol.

The second person of interest is easier to identify as there are less spelling alternatives. Similar to Nicolas Cajetani/Gaetani, he’s both referred to by first and last name, though. The name is Severino (/Severina) Peres (/Perez, /Peris). He is mentioned as the musician on the “mandole” (also called “mandola” or “mandolo”). Severino Peres is also mentioned as singer (during concerts on 28/07/1770 (aria “do Etti Venesiani”), 31/07/1770, 01/08/1770, 02/08/1770), but always also as player of the mandole.

Joseph Rossignol himself is not listed as playing mandolin, but should be considered an important figure as he had two permanent mandolin players in his troupe and gave an enormous amount concerts in several countries. His own talent was a strange art of singing, at the one end imitating bird song, at the other vocalizations. At least one advert present him playing the “violin without strings” (concert on 26/11/1766). Though we can’t be sure, this sounds like Rossignol might have held a violin, literally without strings, whilst imitated violin playing with his voice.

The information about Rossignol’s contribution to the concerts seems to imply that entertainment was likely more important to him than musical value, which isn’t entirely unusual at this time. Some of the adverts are also carefully phrased to highlight “instruments never before heard” when the troupe first played at a venue. However, we should not consider these circus acts, though, as they were held in proper concert venues. Interestingly, Rossignol is listed in Leopold Mozart’s notebook from the concert trip when the Mozarts visited the Netherlands in 1766 (Leopold Mozart calls him “der Stockfisch”, likely meant as a pejorative nickname).

Other musicians which might be part of the troupe are rarely mentioned: a Sr. Bragioni is mentioned to sing an aria by Masanti, followed by a duet by Menegheti (Giovanni Menegheti, °ca. 1730-+1794) and a trio, (concert on 20/09/1766). A certain Monsr. Tessalino is also mentioned to accompany Gaëtani during his solo on the mandolino (concert on 19/11/1766). We could assume that these represent the remaining two musicians of the four people in Rossignol’s troupe, but they are so infrequently mentioned it remains uncertain.

There are only two additional musicians who joined the troupe: Sr. J(o)ubert (violin, 04/08/1766 and 31/07/1786) and the already mentioned Mademoiselle Nicolini (singing, on 12/11/1766). We can’t rule out that Rossignol hired local musicians, but with his own set of musicians, he might have made due.

There is only one concert where Hummel is listed as ticket sales point (Manège, 06/08/1766). All other concerts in Amsterdam do not mention Hummel as point of sale for tickets, which is odd, as almost all other Amsterdam mandolin concerts use Hummel as a ticket booth (until the shop closed). Puzzling is that this one concert which mentions Hummel is also the only concert which seems to have been without Rossignol, only mentioning the troupe of 4 Italian musicians. Could this mean that Rossignol was actively barred from performing in the Manège and by Hummel? There is too little evidence to go on, so it remains speculation, but it’s certainly interesting.

Rossignol and his troupe are so far the only mandolin players who we can claim to have performed at the court of the Prince of Orange. An advert from 25/11/1766 states that they “had the honour to let themselves hear before Majesties, Princes and Nobility of England, as well as his Majesty the Prince of Orange”. As Rossignol and his troupe had passed through The Hague earlier on in November 1766 (concert in the Doelen on 12/11/1766), this claim might be true.

After his first successful tour in the Netherlands in (1765-)1766-1767, Rossignol and the troupe seem to first have went south (some indications place him and his group in Liège in April 1767). Later they moved to Germany (cfr. advert in Hamburg in 1769) and Denmark (concerts in 1769-70) before returning to the Netherlands for a second tour (1770). I’ve identified a quite late concert in Utrecht in 1786 by Rossignol, again mentioning four Italian musicians (and mandolin and mandole as instruments).

The concerts by Rossignol and his troupe stand out by their low ticket price. The usual price found in mandolin concert adverts is around 2 gulden. Many of Rossignol’s concerts list prices lower than 2 gulden, even in important cities like Amsterdam. Sometimes the price is further differentiated into a second or third category, the last only costing a ‘sestehalf’ (5.5 stuivers, slightly over a quart gulden). This could be in line with the already postulated idea that Rossignol focused on entertainment value and wanted to attract a wide audience.

The only two mandolin concerts in the years 1766-70 not by Rossignol are by two important pioneers of the mandolin known from their activities elsewhere: Mazzuchelli and Leone. Gabriele Leone hardly requires any introductions as the paragon of the mandolin in the 18th century, mostly known from his activities in France and Great Britain. Mazzuchelli might be less known, but is also one of the mandolin players active in Paris (mandolin volumes printed from 1769 until 1783). The current information suggests both Mazzuchelli and Leone visited the Netherlands for one concert only.

Mazzuchelli’s concert is jointly organized by himself, Sr. De Hey and Sr. Bach. Besides Mazzuchelli on mandolin (even specified “Napolitaansche Mandolin”), De Hey (singing and violin), and Bach (harpsichord), a Sr. Boffeli also joined (singing). It is interesting to see that Mazzuchelli played a concert with De Hey, a famous local violin player and concert organizer. As several Bach family members played in concerts in the Netherlands, it can be tricky to identify the right person mentioned in the adverts of Mazzuchelli’s concert. Fortunately, this has been investigated before by musicologists, and the currently still upheld conclusion is that it was likely Johann Michael Bach. This is someone from a Bach family unrelated to Johann Sebastian Bach. (See van Hasselt, Luc (1979) and Rasch, Rudolf (2000), p. 42-3.) Johann Michael Bach published some harpsichord music through Johann Julius Hummel in Amsterdam in December 1767 and Siegfried Markordt in Augustus 1769.

Gabriele Leone is joined by Madame Paradis (singing) and Monsr. & Madame Sirmen (Ludovico Sirmen & Maddalena Laura Lombardini (°1745-+1818)), playing a concerto for two violins. Lombardini is known to have been a student of Tartini, and one of the few women achieving some status as a concert performer, let alone composer, in the 18th century. The Sirmen couple were quite famous performers, so this is again a concert with first rank professional musicians. The Sirmens already played a number of times before in the weeks before the concert with Leone.

Third period (1772-1774): Zaniboni & Fridzeri

Hotel Les armes d’Amsterdam, image courtesy of Stadsarchief Amsterdam. This venue hosted at least 13 mandolin concerts (1772-1778)

During the next period (1772-1774) the person in the spotlight is none other than Giuseppe Zaniboni. This is an interesting development, as we previously had not that much more information besides Zaniboni’s activities in Russia. Zaniboni played some sort of six-course mandolin type (see adverts on 03/11/1772, 01/01/1773 and 03/07/1773: “(a)mandolino a douze cordes”), and gave at least 9 identified concerts in the Netherlands. Because of this density and the spread of the concerts, Zaniboni likely used the Netherlands as his (semi-)permanent base during these years.

Important to note is that the concerts by Zaniboni in Amsterdam are again listing Hummel’s music shop as ticket booth. There is one extraordinary counterexample, when for a concert organized by Benozzi on 14/12/1773, the ticket booth is handled by Siegfried Markordt (a direct competitor of Hummel). All consequent concerts in Amsterdam by Fridzeri and Zaniboni again have ticket sales through Hummel. Compared to the period of activity by Rossignol, the ticket prices also stabilize again to their normal level of ca. 2 gulden. Most concerts by Zaniboni were played in the venue Armes d’Amsterdam (6). He also played at some other venues, but always in Amsterdam (Damplein (1), Rondeel (1), Manège (1)).

Zaniboni is more often participating in concerts than organizing them himself (only 3 out of 9 concerts have Zaniboni listed as organizer). The other concerts are organized by some famed musicians of that time. The other musicians, either organizing and/or participating in the concerts are: Benossi (organization, cello, (2)), J. J. Casaer (singing, (1)), Cecilia de Salvagni (organization, singer, (2 of which 1 cancelled), Sr. Golvin (organization, (1)), Sr. Heneberg (clarinet, (1)), Georg Anton Kreusser (organization, composition, (1)), Madame Neytz (singing, (2)), Ignazio Raimondi (violin, (1)), Ramm (organization, oboe, (1)), Georg Frederik Richter (organization, harpsichord, (1)), Ernst Schick (violin, (1)) and Carel Vermeulen (organization, violin, (1)). One minor interesting thing is that the advert from 01/01/1773 mentions that tickets can also be found in “la Ville de Lyon”. This concert was cancelled through an advert the next day, without giving a reason.

The other mandolin player active during the early 1770s, is Alessandro Maria Antonio Fridzeri (°16/01/1741-+1825). Fridzeri is another example of a mandolin player mainly known by his activities in France (known from concerts and to have published a volume of mandolin sonatas in ca. 1771). He also enjoyed some notoriety because of his blindness, and the music notation system he developed due to his condition. Fridzeri gave at least 3 concerts in the Netherlands. He is one of the few mandolin players consistently playing both mandolin and violin during concerts. The concert adverts mention the mandolin for two of the three concerts. As the third one (for the concert on 14/02/1774) doesn’t specify the instruments used, it should be assumed the mandolin and violin were again used. Fridzeri’s adverts don’t mention other participating musicians and only himself as organizer (spelled “Frizeri” or “Friseri”).

Anonymous mandolin, ca. 1770s, likely Vinaccia family, Rijksmuseum, BK-NM-5492
Acquired by the museum in 1882, no antecedents.

The adverts seem to suggest that both Zaniboni and Fridzeri were also still accompanied by other musicians. One of Zaniboni adverts has the phrase “concertos & solos […] entr’autres un solo avec la basse” (concert on 06/11/1772), and one of Fridzeri’s adverts “en Simphonie et seul” (concert on 13/01/1774).

Another thing of note during this time is the appearance of a Dutch mandolin print from 1773. Burchard Hummel published a concerto by Johann Andreas Kauchlitz Colizzi (°ca. 1742 – +15/08/1808) in The Hague. Though this work was known by mandolin scholars for a while (S-Smf; RISM A/I CC 3365a), we lacked an advert to date this work until now (‘s Gravenhaagsche Courant, 08/03/1773). The mandolin is mentioned only as an alternative to the “violino concertante”. However, this is often encountered – during the first phase of mandolin printing the mandolin is often either not mentioned or as an alternative. (See Van Tichelen, Pieter (2020).)

G.A.K. Colizzi, Concerto a Violino Concertante ò Mandolino, The Hague, 1773 (S-Sfm)

Fourth period (1775-1778): Gervasio & Cifolelli

The next period is focused around one of the more well-known mandolin players of the 18th century: Giovanni Battista Gervasio. It feels to me he is often overlooked because he is overshadowed by the other main actors. But through his activities in several countries, playing in concerts and publishing mandolin prints (including the first known mandolin method in 1767), Gervasio proved to be a leading figure of the mandolin.

Gervasio is known to have been active in London until the early 1770s, where he was already performing together with his wife (a singer). Around 1775, Gervasio travelled towards the Netherlands, where he played in at least 9 concerts until 1777. The first performance which can be traced through adverts is from 28/11/1775, when he played in the Stadmuziekzaal in Utrecht. Due to the high amount of concerts in a relatively short period, it seems Gervasio and his wife were primarily based in the Netherlands for several years, though some gaps might be explained by concert trips elsewhere.

Gervasio performs at several different locations, though Amsterdam is frequented much more: Amsterdam (Armes d’Amsterdam (5)), Rotterdam (Concertzaal (2)), Haarlem (Concertzaal (1)) and Utrecht (Stadsmuziekzaal (1)). Gervasio’s instrument is usually called “mandoline” in the adverts, but spelling variants turn up sometimes “mandeline”, “mandolino”, “mandolina” or “mandolini”. Gervasio is more often organizer of his concerts (5 out of 9 concerts) than Zaniboni was, but he also joins in concerts of others (Fleuri & Fani, Fani, Zentgraaf, Casaer).

Obviously, the ranks of participating musicians is fronted by Gervasio’s wife, who is mentioned in the adverts of almost all of his concerts. Her repertory is never further specified than ‘Italian arias’. The style of her repertory can perhaps be approached through the London prints by Gervasio (Gervasio, Airs, ca. 1768; Straube, Three sonatas […] likewise a choice collection of […] songs, 1768 (two “cantoncina” by Gervasio)), or the barcaroles in manuscript (S-Skma 153:28). (NB: as I have acquired publishing rights, I might yet publish these here, but there wasn’t enough time to include them in this article.) None of this preserved vocal music by Gervasio is linked directly to the Netherlands, but as Gervasio likely came from England to the Netherlands, he might well have played from his book of Airs, or even sold some copies in the Netherlands.

Quite often the Gervasio couple is joined by other musicians specified in the adverts: Agazzi (cello (1)), J. J. Casaer (organization (1)), Cirri (cello (1)), Mr. Fani (organization, violin, double bass, hunting horn (2)), Mad. Fleuri (organization, singing (1)), Mr. Hallemans (singing (1)), Mr. J. Ruloffs (violin (1)), Mad. Schroter (singing (1)), Mr. Schroter (“le jeune”, violin (1)), Mr. Spandow (composition, hunting horn (2)), Ximenez (direction, viola, violin (1)) and J. C. Zentgraaf (organization (1)). These are once more musicians known through several other concerts in the Netherlands of quite a high standing.

As with many other mandolin players mentioned so far, the Gervasios seem to have been joined by more than the people mentioned in the adverts. The concert on 16/04/1776 mentions that Gervasio will play on the mandolin, but also that a symphony by Haydn will be executed (based on the description this looks like Symphony n. 8, The Evening, with the famous last movement “The Tempest“). Even in concerts organized by themselves, it seems they were joined by several musicians. For example, on 10/12/1776, they advertise the performance of choirs (of Sacchini and Gluck). Though there are other musicians announced, these seem hardly sufficient to perform a “grand choeur a plusieurs voix”. Another example is the concert held at the Concertzaal in Rotterdam (on 11/03/1777), where only the Gervasio couple is mentioned, but the announcement mentions singing of a cantata, including choruses.

A rather important discovery is that one of the known Gervasio prints was in fact printed in the Netherlands. The volume Sei Duetti op. 5 by Gervasio (I-TSmt, RUS-Mrg) was known for years. I had questioned the date and location of provenance so far suggested several times (for example see Van Tichelen, Pieter (2020), p. 184), but it was a hint from Ugo Orlandi which sent me on the right trail. The advert of this print was published in the Amsterdamsche Courant on 23/11/1775 and the volume was apparently published by Siegfried Markordt in Amsterdam.

Giovanni Battista Gervasio, Sei Duetti, op. 5, Amsterdam, 1775.

Around the same time, Hummel produced another print by Colizzi, his Airs Choisis (1776, D-F). Again, this work was previously known but the precise date was unknown (adverted in ‘s Gravenhaagsche Courant, 22/01/1776). This publication is a collection of vocal works arranged into violin/mandolin duets. It is preserved in the University Library J. C. Senckenberg of Frankfurt (D-F, Mus. pr. Q 57/41, also available online.) The arias are from:

  • François-André Danican Philidor, Tom Jones (Comédie Italienne, 1765)
  • Johann Paul Aegidius Martini, Henri IV, ou la Bataille d’Ivry (Opéra Comique, 1774)
  • André Ernest Modeste Grétry, Zemire et Azor (Comédie Italienne, 1771)
  • Charles-Simon Favart, La Rosière de Salency (Château de Fontainebleau, 1769)
  • Pierre Vachon, Sara ou la Fermière Ecossaise (Comédie Italienne, 1773)
  • Nicolas Dezéde, L’erreur d’un moment ou la Suite de Julie (Opéra-Comique, 1773)
  • André Ernest Modeste Grétry, Le Magnifique (Comédie Italienne, 1773)

Only a few excerpts remain unidentified, such as the “Ombres Chinoises”, but there are also an “Air du Sr. Colizzi” (“Serin je voudrois”) and a “Minuetto de Fantuccini Italiani”.

G.A.K. Colizzi, Airs Choisis, The Hague, 1776 (D-F, Mus. pr. Q 57/41)

Just after the era of Gervasio, on 10/03/1778, Giovanni Cifolelli also played at a concert the Netherlands. Cifolelli is lesser known than most mandolin players who were active in France. This is probably due to the lack of mandolin music he left, where most other players published several volumes in Paris. However, Cifolelli successfully performed on and taught the mandolin before embarking on a career as opera composer. (There are some claims that he also wrote a mandolin method, but these come from quite late sources without any contemporary adverts or other proof to back up this claim.)

Cifolelli’s concert includes music from his last opera (called La Probité Villageoise in the advert, usually called by the name Perrin et Lucette, created Comédie Italienne, 1774). Cifolelli’s son participated by playing on the mandolin. Another work mentioned is a duo from Orphée et Eurydice by Gluck (possibly Vieni, appaga il tuo consorte / Viens, suis un époux?). The tickets for the concert are sold both at Hummel in Amsterdam as well as via Cifolelli (and Polet in Paris). There are some tertiary works that mention Cifolelli played in Maastricht before coming to Amsterdam. As I have not been able to look into the secondary sources confirming concerts in Maastricht (let alone the mandolin as part of them) this is not withheld in the lists of concerts.

Fifth period (1786, 1792, 1802): Ricciardi, Cifolelli

Huis ten Bosch, Amsterdam, (anonymous after Jan van der Heyden), 1771, Museum Amsterdam, A 11821

Alas, after decades of continuous concerts, with on average several concerts per year, suddenly the mandolin concerts grind to a halt. The decline of interest in the mandolin in the 1780s is also seen elsewhere, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. The unrest in the 1780s, 1790s and early 1800s doesn’t explain the low amount of mandolin concerts, so there likely was either less interest in mandolin concerts in the Netherlands, or the mandolin players didn’t travel to the Netherlands. The concerts that were still organized in these troubled decades simply don’t involve the mandolin as often as before. One reason for the diminished interested is that the mandolin could no longer ride the wave of the style galant.

The news is not all bad though, as it seems there were still occasional concerts which involved the mandolin. One is from a known figure from before: Rossignol and his troupe return for at least one time (1786), in the Muziekcollege in Utrecht. Again Rossignol tries to entice the audience in the advert by claiming that the “mandoline, mandole and tambour de bas organisé” are “instrument never heard here before”. The concert is also joined by seigneur Joubert (violin), known to have played with Rossignol before (on 04/08/1766).

A concert on 25/04/1792 mentions another earlier encountered name: Cifolelli. However, at such a late date it can be questioned whether this was Giovanni Cifolelli or one of his sons. After all, during the concert in the Netherlands in 1778, one of the sons is also announced to play mandolin. In the advert in 1792, Cifolelli is announced to perform a sonata and variations at the Rotterdamschen Schouwburg between two operas (Grétry, Le Magnifique (Comédie Italienne, 1773) & d’Aleyrac, L’amant statue (Comédie Italienne, 1785)).

One mandolin player never before encountered is a certain Ricciardi. He is noted to play at least twice: in 1786 and 1802, both in Amsterdam. Both concerts are organized by Ricciardi. The advert for the second concert also gives an initial “N.”. That is interesting, as there are notices of a Nicola Ricciardi having played double bass in the Felix Meritis archive (on 31/10/1788 & 01/11/1788). Likely Ricciardi was hence a versatile musician, who took to the mandolin during concerts he organized, but was professional enough to make money playing other instruments as well.

Ricciardi also sung during his concerts, extending his talents beyond the mandolin and (likely) double bass (see above). Remarkable is that Ricciardi is joined by so many participating professional musicians: Mr. Agazzi (viola d’amore, piano forte), Mad. Baillet (singing), Mad. Clairville (singing), Monsr. Deyris (singing), Mr. Klyt (“le fils”, clarinet), Mad. Lobé (singing), Monsr. Mançeau (singing), Mr. Muller (violin), Mr. Rauppe (cello), Sr. Tenducci (composition, clarinet, oboe, piano forte), Mr. Seeburger (hunting horn), Mr. Soligni (singing).

I have traced one more concert advert which mentions Ricciardi together with a certain Duprat (13/03/1800, Amsterdamsche Courant, n. 31, p. 2), for a concert on 14/03/1800). The advert only states they will hold a “vocal and instrumental concert” without specifying it further. Though I consider it likely Ricciardi played mandolin, we have only two other concert adverts linked to mandolin playing, which is too little evidence to claim the concert in 1800 as a mandolin concert.

Potentially Ricciardi, Cifolelli , Folchini (see below), or even another, unknown musician, could be the “Italiaansche Comique Zanger” (loosely translated: Italian singer of comic operas) playing on mandolin on 13/07/1792 at Huis ten Bosch in Amsterdam.

With 5 concerts from 1786 until 1802, and none between 1778 and 1786, it is clear that the mandolin is not doing well, though not entirely disappearing from the stage. More uplifting news can be read in other adverts during the 1780s and 1790s. These decades saw a continuous stream of print adverts from Hummel. These are not directly related to the mandolin, but quite a lot of them now mention Hummel sells “all kinds of instruments” as well as “best Italian strings” for “violin, viola, cello, contrabass, harp and mandolin” (later also including “lute, guitar, piano forte, harpsichord, cittern”). Though the adverts only refer to selling mandolins in the most general sense, there is some confirmation to be found elsewhere. There are several adverts from 1822, when Hummel’s shop closed. These clearly mention mandolins as part of the stock to be sold. The adverts by Hummel are joined by adverts from Antonie Van Parys in 1783, who announces selling mandolins in his shop in the Warmoesstraat in Amsterdam. So, even though the concerts of travelling musicians have dwindled, we have proof there were local people buying mandolins and strings.

There is also even an advert from a teacher, François Darme. However, the advert is less than convincing that this person really was much at home on the mandolin. He claims to teach “vocal and instrument music, the violin and flageolet [NB: type of flute] and the art of plucking the two types of guitars, the Spanish or the mandolin, the cittern or the English guitar: he observes that these are the two instruments that ally best with the voice”. Teaching adverts are rare – so Darme likely had moved to The Hague close to the date of the adverts and hoped to establish himself through these adverts.

Sixth period (1804, 1807): Folchini

Gebroeders Van Lier, stadsgezicht Den Haag, 1837 with the Schouwburg which hosted at least 3 mandolin concerts (1807). (The Theatre Français previously played in a venue in the Casuariestraat.) Image copied from

At the end of the Batavian Republic and during the Napoleonic Kingdom, we so far traced only 4 mandolin concerts through adverts. The first is a concert by someone called “Faschini” mentioned in an advert in 1804 in Leeuwarden. I consider it likely this to be one and the some person as Folchini, who held three concerts in The Hague in 1807. This person, or one of them if they are indeed two separate musicians, could also have been the anonymous mandolin player of the concert in 1792. (Faschini is claimed to be an Italian singer in the advert.)

The three 1807 concerts are at the Theatre Français in The Hague, played by Folchini together with a certain Varini. Varini played an instrument of his own invention, the “fer harmonique”, which seems to have been a set of steel tubes arranged in a semi-circle and which he played with a bow. The advert for the concerts in 1807 also stated: “Folchini excels in the treatment of an instrument, of real Italian taste, but since some years more or less neglected, namely the mandolin. The clarity of presentation, even of the most difficult pieces, on an instrument of such small make, are rightly admired by the public.” This statements seem to confirm that the mandolin was indeed less popular than in its heyday of the 1760s and 1770s.

The three Folchini/Varini concerts are always directly followed by an opera (at least once Aline Reine de Golconde (Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny, created Salles des Machines, 1766), at least once Euphrosine ou le tyran corrigé (Étienne-Nicolas Méhul, created Salle Favart, 1790)). Potentially the ensemble of the Théâtre Français participated during the concert of Folchini and Varini, but the advert never makes this clear. The Theatre Français already operated in the Schouwburg (later Koninklijke Schouwburg) in The Hague in 1807 (see picture).

Seventh period (1818, 1838-1842): Reggi, Pochintesta, Comorelli

The Schuttershof (St. Sebastiaan) in Middelburg, host to at least 2 mandolin concerts (1818). Image courtesy of Zeeuws Archief, Zeeuws Genootschap, Zelandia Illustrata, deel II, nr. 479. Not to be confused with the Schuttershof in Middelburg where Rossignol played in 1766 (Kloveniers
, at the end of the Langeviele).

After 1815, the Netherlands enters a new era with a new kingdom established, to be ruled by the line of Orange-Nassau as sovereign ruler. It’s interesting to see that not too much after the end of the Napoleonic era, in 1818, there seems to have been at least 2 concerts in Middelburg, by Michel Booy and Comorelli. The former seems to have made music by beating on his chin; and Comorelli on the guitar and mandolin. Comorelli is discussed further below, as he also returns in 1840 & 1841 for concerts. The only other advert worthy of note from early on in this period are those connected to the clearance of Hummel’s shop in 1822. These adverts list mandolins to be sold, confirming in full that Hummel not only sold mandolin strings but also instruments.

Around 1840, there is suddenly a new revival of the mandolin. It starts with an announcement for a concert in Leiden (on 28/05/1838), where two sets of Italian brothers by the names of Reggi and Pochintesta will play the mandolin. This group of musicians then moved to Rotterdam (two concerts in the Vauxhall Doele). Both the adverts in Leiden and Rotterdam mention the brothers Reggi to have been “honorary mandolinists” of Marie Louise, duchess of Parma. This is an interesting development as I had no previous knowledge of the Reggi brothers and their service to Marie Louise. From the explicit mention of the title of Marie Louise as duchess of Parma, it could be assumed that their employ was from after her break with Napoleon. Most likely their passage at her court would hence be from between 1816 and 1838.

This boastful title linked to the duchess of Parma is also found in an advert in Breda, where alternative spelling is encountered, listing the brothers as “Peggi”. For a concert by Pochintesta in 1841, there is another mandolin player mentioned by a certain “Puggi”. Though a bit less obvious, I think this might well be another variant of the Reggis’ last name. I have not that much more information about the Reggis than what is put in the adverts, but at least we have now identified another pair of mandolin musicians travelling abroad for concerts around the mid-19th century.

Zaal de Duizend Kolommen, Amsterdam, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, G. Postma, ca. 1830. This venue hosted at least three mandolin concerts, but likely many more.

The Pochintesta brothers are as enigmatic as the Reggis. After their first collaborations with the Reggis, they seem to have gone on without them (except perhaps for a brief new collaboration in 1841 already mentioned above). Both the Reggis’ and Pochintestas’ concerts are in important venues such as the Vauxhall Doele in Rotterdam, the Theatre Français in Breda and the Zaal de Duizend Kolommen in Amsterdam. The concerts by the Pochintestas in De Duizend Kolommen likely exceeded the three concerts I listed. The adverts mention “and afterwards all evenings” and are in fact usually post factum (first concert each time already held before the advert). When filling in the days in between the stated three starting dates, 28/03/1841-13/04/1841, it would mean they could have played up to 17 times. But as we have only the vaguest of mentions, I have only entered the start date of these concerts as listed in the advert. The Pochintestas are joined quite a number of times by a certain Zelas, a guitar player from Naples, and a singer called Dunot.

The other person of interest in this period is Comorelli, who returns to our attention after his concerts with Booy in 1818. In one advert in 1841 (08/01/1841), Comorelli is given the initial “D.”. In yet another advert, his provenance is stated as well “first mandolin of Verona” (concert on 30/05/1841). His last name is sometimes spelled differently: Comorelli is used most often, but Comarelli or Commarelli is also encountered. Comorelli gave 9 concerts in 1840 and 1841, mostly together with some singers. Sometimes these are just noted as “singers from Tirol”, but often the name “Von Rammstaetter” turns up. There appears to have been a father (Adolf) and a woman. I’ve not found a lot more information about the Von Rammstaetters except for a marriage announcement for a certain Adolf Von Rammstaetter with C. J. Meere in Utrecht on 06/10/1841 (advert Opregte Haarlemsche Courant on 12/10/1841, n. 122, p.3). They seem to have enjoyed some success in Warffum, Zuidhorn, Grijpskerk and Leeuwarden. Comorelli is later on encountered a last time during a concert in 1841 in Groningen with a singer called Theodor, but also with a guitar player called “Zella”. Most likely this is the same as the guitar player called “Zelas” who joined the Pochintestas in 1841.

Charles Van Beveren, The Duet (ca. 1830-50, Rijksmuseum, SK-C-1671)

Another interesting source to consider is a beautiful painting by Charles van Beveren, The Duet, from ca. 1830-1850. Van Beveren had settled in Amsterdam during the time when this composition was created. As he also spent some time in Rome and elsewhere, we can’t rule out he found inspiration abroad rather than in the Netherlands. Even if that were the case, it is a nice painting featuring the mandolin from someone mainly living and working in the Netherlands.

The mandolin in question is painted in quite a lot of detail, and seems to be a contemporary one. Previously, mandolins often have more elaborate decorations such as inly in the fingerboard, a more extensive rosette, and a scratch plate in tortoiseshell (see the 18th century Vinaccia from the Rijksmuseum below). The mandolin in the painting already features the simpler multiple wooden purflings around the sound hole as rosette and a wooden inlay scratch plate. The instrument misses the typical inlay at the bottom of the soundboard (often a pattern in mother-of-pearl is found in 18th century mandolins, and early 19th century instruments sometimes have that pattern in wooden inlay). At the other end, the instrument in the painting still seems to have bone or ivory bindings and inlay in the head. The fact that the instrument doesn’t yet have a raised fingerboard can’t easily be used to date it, as there are still some late 19th century examples of this.

There are a number of exquisite mandolins preserved in the Rijksmuseum and other musea in the Netherlands. However, none of these have antecedents proving they were used locally. Even if these might not have been used in the Netherlands, they are still representative of the type of mandolins used in the late 18th and early 19th century. Let’s first of all look at an early 19th century specimen, not dissimilar to the one in the painting by van Beveren.

Anonymous mandolin, early 19th century, Rijksmuseum BK-NM-5148.
Acquired by the museum in 1881, no antecedents.

As a contrast, below you can view a nicely decorated 18th century mandolin (earlier shown in this article when discussing the third period). Though anonymous this instrument is most likely from the Vinaccia family from Naples, around the 1770s. The level of decoration in this instrument is on the higher side, but a lot of the 18th century mandolins have extensive inlays in mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell and bone or ivory, and lots of purfling.

Anonymous mandolin, ca. 1770s, likely Vinaccia family, Rijksmuseum, BK-NM-5492
Acquired by the museum in 1882, no antecedents

I currently have no knowledge of local Dutch production of mandolins during the late 18th or early 19th century. None of the adverts that mention mandolins are for sale mention their origin, so it’s not known whether these were imported or locally produced. But we know that Amsterdam was a luthier center, and luthiers in other countries also produced mandolins in the 18th and 19th century (for example, Portugal and France). So it is not impossible that some day we’ll find proof of local Dutch mandolin production from 1750-1850, but currently we don’t have it.


Several known mandolin players visited the Netherlands for concerts – Merchi, Gervasio and Zaniboni visited quite a number of times; Fridzeri, Mazzuchelli, Cifolelli and Leone visited only a limited amount of times. Previously unknown artists also show up, most frequent the two mandolin players who joined the troupe of Joseph Rossignol of Malta: Nicolas Cajetani (also often called Gaëtani) and Severino Peres. The large amount of concerts from 1759 until 1779 combined with high-profile venues and contributing musicians confirm the success story of the mandolin in the Netherlands. Corroboration can also be spotted in adverts for buying mandolins and strings, as well as a small number of prints linked to the mandolin activity. After 1779, the popularity is clearly on its way back. Though activity is much reduced in the early 19th century, some previously unknown mandolin musicians still held concerts during the Batavian Republic, Bonaparte Kingdom and the subsequent Kingdom of the House of Orange. The adverts from concerts of mandolin players Ricciardi, Folchini, Commarelli and brothers Reggi and Pochintesta show that even in decline, the mandolin still held its own in the Netherlands.


Journals consulted

For this investigation, I ignored the journal adverts with references to the mandolin in other countries (such as translated articles from journals abroad). Also not listed are the many references to the mandolin in literature or adverts of volumes of literation. There are 134 adverts in total, from 17 different journals. Besides journals I had direct access to, I also included adverts via the work of Rasch who had access to a number of journals I couldn’t consult (Rasch, Rudolf (2018 online)) and crosschecked my own finds with his. The vast majority is published in Amsterdam (80 adverts in 4 journals), followed in second line by The Hague (16 adverts in 4 journals) and Rotterdam (13 adverts in 1 journals). Less important but still significant are Haarlem (9 adverts in 1 journals), Groningen (6 adverts in 1 journal), Middelburg (5 adverts in 1 journal) and Utrecht (4 adverts in 1 journal). Occasional references are found in journals from Leeuwarden (3 adverts in 2 journals), Breda (2 adverts in 1 journal) and Leiden (2 adverts in 1 journal).

PlaceJournalAmount of advertsAdverts
AmsterdamAlgemeen Handelsblad329/03/1841, 01/04/1841, 14/04/1841
AmsterdamAmsterdamsche Courant6327/03/1759, 29/03/1759, 12/01/1760, 22/01/1760, 24/01/1760, 09/01/1762, 14/01/1762, 01/02/1763, 08/02/1763, 27/03/1764, 15/10/1765, 02/08/1766, 05/08/1766, 16/08/1766, 19/08/1766, 23/08/1766, 06/09/1766, 11/09/1766, 13/09/1766, 16/09/1766, 20/09/1766, 25/09/1766, 27/09/1766, 05/03/1768, 08/03/1768, 10/03/1768, 07/04/1770, 03/11/1772, 05/11/1772, 02/01/1773, 04/03/1773, 06/03/1773, 03/07/1773, 18/11/1773, 20/11/1773, 14/12/1773, 25/12/1773, 12/02/1774, 12/02/1774, 17/02/1774, 23/11/1775, 16/12/1775, 27/02/1776, 29/02/1776, 16/04/1776, 30/11/1776, 03/12/1776, 08/04/1777, 07/03/1778, 29/05/1783, 19/07/1783, 10/08/1784, 16/03/1786, 19/08/1786, 21/08/1786, 25/11/1786, 11/02/1792, 24/03/1792, 09/06/1792, 04/09/1792, 31/01/1793, 29/05/1794, 20/03/1802
AmsterdamDiemer- of Watergraafsmeersche Courant204/06/1782, 05/06/1782
AmsterdamGazette d’Amsterdam601/01/1773, 09/03/1773, 16/11/1773, 23/11/1773, 24/12/1773, 28/12/1773
BredaBredasche Courant230/10/1838, 31/10/1838
GroningenGroninger courant627/07/1770, 31/07/1770, 01/12/1840, 25/12/1840, 08/01/1841, 28/05/1841
HaarlemOpregte Haarlemsche Courant902/08/1766, 28/08/1770, 01/02/1774, 05/02/1774, 04/02/1777, 23/02/1792, 16/06/1792, 10/09/1822, 12/09/1822
LeeuwardenBataafsche Leeuwarder Courant224/03/1804, 27/03/1804
LeeuwardenLeeuwarder Courant112/03/1841
LeidenLeydsche Courant213/07/1792, 28/05/1838
MiddelburgMiddelburgsche Courant501/01/1767, 03/01/1767, 07/02/1807, 14/02/1807, 15/03/1842
RotterdamRotterdamsche Courant1331/08/1765, 18/11/1766, 25/11/1766, 02/12/1766, 04/12/1766, 04/04/1770, 08/03/1777, 15/03/1777, 18/03/1777, 05/05/1791, 05/02/1792, 24/04/1792, 16/08/1838
The HagueKoninklijke Courant321/07/1807, 22/07/1807, 24/07/1807
The HagueNederlandsche Staatscourant122/01/1839
The HagueNieuwe Haagse Nederlandse Courant212/10/1798, 19/10/1798
The Hague‘s Gravenhaagsche Courant1016/04/1759, 28/04/1760, 23/02/1761, 03/02/1762, 26/03/1764, 10/11/1766, 08/03/1773, 05/01/1774, 22/01/1776, 04/02/1793
UtrechtUtrechtsche Courant430/04/1764, 27/11/1775, 18/12/1775, 31/07/1786
Distribution of mandolin adverts in Dutch journals 1859-1842

Categories of mandolin adverts

Almost all adverts are concert announcements (105). One advert could be seen as a primitive sort of concert review, but nothing as established as the reviews in proper musical journals known from abroad such as the Musikalische Zeitung or Journal de Musique. One other advert announced the cancellation of a concert. Other categories of adverts consists of print adverts (3), adverts for selling instruments (4) or strings/instruments (18). Even a music professor advertises teaching the mandolin (2), which is not commonly found in adverts.

Concert announcements10527/03/1759, 29/03/1759, 16/04/1759, 12/01/1760, 22/01/1760, 24/01/1760, 28/04/1760, 23/02/1761, 09/01/1762, 14/01/1762, 03/02/1762, 01/02/1763, 08/02/1763, 26/03/1764, 27/03/1764, 30/04/1764, 31/08/1765, 15/10/1765, 02/08/1766, 02/08/1766, 05/08/1766, 16/08/1766, 19/08/1766, 23/08/1766, 06/09/1766, 11/09/1766, 13/09/1766, 16/09/1766, 20/09/1766, 25/09/1766, 27/09/1766, 10/11/1766, 18/11/1766, 25/11/1766, 02/12/1766, 04/12/1766, 01/01/1767, 03/01/1767, 05/03/1768, 08/03/1768, 10/03/1768, 04/04/1770, 07/04/1770, 27/07/1770, 31/07/1770, 28/08/1770, 03/11/1772, 05/11/1772, 01/01/1773, 04/03/1773, 06/03/1773, 09/03/1773, 03/07/1773, 16/11/1773, 18/11/1773, 20/11/1773, 23/11/1773, 14/12/1773, 24/12/1773, 25/12/1773, 28/12/1773, 05/01/1774, 01/02/1774, 05/02/1774, 12/02/1774, 12/02/1774, 17/02/1774, 27/11/1775, 16/12/1775, 18/12/1775, 27/02/1776, 29/02/1776, 16/04/1776, 30/11/1776, 03/12/1776, 04/02/1777, 08/03/1777, 15/03/1777, 18/03/1777, 08/04/1777, 07/03/1778, 16/03/1786, 31/07/1786, 24/04/1792, 13/07/1792, 20/03/1802, 24/03/1804, 27/03/1804, 07/02/1807, 14/02/1807, 21/07/1807, 22/07/1807, 24/07/1807, 28/05/1838, 16/08/1838, 30/10/1838, 31/10/1838, 25/12/1840, 08/01/1841, 12/03/1841, 29/03/1841, 01/04/1841, 14/04/1841, 28/05/1841, 15/03/1842
Concert reviews101/12/1840
Concert cancellation102/01/1773
Mandolin strings for sale1804/06/1782, 05/06/1782, 29/05/1783, 10/08/1784, 19/08/1786, 21/08/1786, 25/11/1786, 05/02/1792, 11/02/1792, 23/02/1792, 24/03/1792, 05/05/1792, 09/06/1792, 16/06/1792, 04/09/1792, 31/01/1793, 04/02/1793, 29/05/1794
Mandolins for sale419/07/1783, 10/09/1822, 12/09/1822, 22/01/1839
Mandolin prints for sale308/03/1773, 23/11/1775, 22/01/1776
Teaching212/10/1798, 19/10/1798
Distribution of Dutch mandolin adverts 1759-1842 per category

Mandolin concerts

Place and venues of concerts

The next item under investigation is the place and venue of the concerts. In terms of location, there is a clear preference for Amsterdam (38 concerts in 10 venues). On the second row are Rotterdam with 10 concerts in 4 venues and The Hague who has 9 concerts in 2 venues. Of third importance are Groningen with 5 concerts in 2 venues, Leeuwarden with 4 concerts in 2 venues and Middelburg again with 4 concerts in 2 venues. Decreasing further in quantity are Haarlem with 3 concerts in 2 venues, Utrecht with 3 concerts in 3 venues. Of minor importance are Grijpskerk (2 concerts in 2 venues), Warffum (2 concerts in 1 venue), Breda (1 concert), Leiden (1 concert) and Zwolle (1 concert).

PlaceVenueAmountConcert dates
AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam1306/11/1772, 05/01/1773, 09/03/1773, 19/11/1773, 23/11/1773, 14/12/1773, 14/02/1774, 19/12/1775, 01/03/1776, 16/04/1776, 10/12/1776, 08/04/1777, 10/03/1778
AmsterdamDoelen224/01/1760, 08/02/1763
AmsterdamHuis Ten Bosch113/07/1792
AmsterdamKeizerskroon728/03/1764, 06/09/1766, 13/09/1766, 17/09/1766, 20/09/1766, 27/09/1766, 10/03/1768
Amsterdam Manège529/03/1759, 14/01/1762, 16/10/1765, 06/08/1766, 17/02/1774
AmsterdamNieuw Maltha316/08/1766, 20/08/1766, 23/08/1766
AmsterdamRondeel228/12/1773, 20/03/1786
AmsterdamThéâtre Français124/03/1802
AmsterdamZaal De Duizend Kolommen328/03/1841, 01/04/1841, 13/04/1841
BredaTheatre Français131/10/1838
GrijpskerkDe Boer128/12/1840
GroningenWapen van Stad & Lande428/07/1770, 31/07/1770, 01/08/1770, 02/08/1770
HaarlemPrinsenhof204/08/1766, 05/02/1774
LeeuwardenDrie Romersi313/03/1841, 14/03/1841, 15/03/1841
LeidenKoffijhuis De Twee Kolommen128/05/1838
MiddelburgSchuttershof303/01/1767, 10/02/1818, 16/02/1818
RotterdamConcertzaal431/08/1765, 07/04/1770, 11/03/1777, 20/03/1777
RotterdamDoelen319/11/1766, 26/11/1766, 05/12/1766
RotterdamVauxhall Doele216/08/1838, 18/08/1838
The HagueDoelen223/04/1759, 12/11/1766
The HagueTheatre Français701/05/1760, 25/02/1761, 10/02/1762, 13/01/1774, 11/07/1807, 22/07/1807, 24/07/1807
UtrechtAalmoezenierskamer Brigittenstraat130/04/1764
Warffum?230/11/1840, 05/12/1840
ZwolleHof van Holland128/08/1770
Amount of concerts per place and venue

Concerts: chronological overview 1759-1842 (84)

As in the text above, I have listed the concerts and adverts in their separate periods.

Amount of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands 1759-1842

First period: 1759-1765 (12)

29/03/1759MerchiAmsterdamManège27/03/1759 29/03/1759f 2Chalon (tickets), Hummel (tickets), Lepri (singing), Merchi (organization, “mandollino”, guitar, colascioncino)
23/04/1759MerchiThe HagueOude Doelen16/04/1759Merchi (organization, “mandoline”, guitar, colascioncino)
24/01/1760MerchiAmsterdamOude Doelen12/01/1760 22/01/1760 24/01/1760f 2Hummel (tickets), Mellini (singing), Merchi (organization, “mandolino”, guitar, colascioncino), Terradeglias (composition)
01/05/1760MerchiThe Hague Theatre Français, Casuariestraat28/04/1760Davel (tickets), Mellini (singing), Merchi (organization, “mandolina”, guitar, colascioncino)
25/02/1761MerchiThe HagueTheatre Français, Casuariestraat 23/02/1761same as comédieMademoiselle Baptiste (singing), Merchi (organization, “mandolino”, guitar, colascioncino), Tavel (tickets)
14/01/1762MerchiAmsterdamManège09/01/1762 14/01/1762f 2Hummel (tickets), Magalli (singing), Merchi (organization, “mandollino”, guitar, colascioncino)
10/02/1762Merchi The Hague Theatre Français, Casuariestraat 03/02/1762same as comédie Merchi (organization, “mandolino”, guitar, colascioncino), Madame Baptiste (singing)
08/02/1763MerchiAmsterdamOude Doelen01/02/1763 08/02/1763f 2 Hummel (tickets), Magalli (organization), Mellini (singing), Merchi (“mandolino”)
28/03/1764 MerchiAmsterdamKeizerskroon26/03/1764 27/03/1764f 2 Esser (singing, violin, viola), Hummel (tickets), Merchi (organization, “mandolino”, guitar, colascioncino)
30/04/1764Merchi UtrechtAalmoezenierskamer Brigittenstraat30/04/1764een daalderLinders (singing), Merchi (organization, “mandolino”, guitar, colascioncino), Winter (tickets)
13/11/1764[Merchi]UtrechtConcertzaal Vreeburg12/11/1764f 2Gorgy (tickets), Kirchner (tickets), Mr. Maggiore (singing), Ms. Maggiore (singing), “Merci” ([Merchi], colascioncino, guitar), Winter (tickets)
31/08/1765RossiRotterdamConcertzaal31/08/1765Rossi (organization, “mandoline”), Severini (singing), “Signora Tessarini”([Carlo Tessarini or relation?] direction)
16/10/1765RossiAmsterdamManège15/10/1765f 2Hummel (tickets), Rossi (“mandoline”), Severini (singing)
Overview of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands 1759-1765

Second period: 1766-1770 (22)

04/08/1766Rossignol & troupeHaarlemPrinsenhof02/08/1766f 1-104 Italians (“mandoline”, “mandole”, “tambour de bas organisé”), Jubert ([Joubert] violin), Rossignol (organization, singing), Starck (tickets)
06/08/1766Rossignol’s troupe [without Rossignol?]AmsterdamManège02/08/1766, 05/08/1766f 2Hummel (tickets), 4 Italians (“mandoline”, “mandole”, “tambour de bas organisé”)
16/08/1766Rossignol & troupe [Cajetani]AmsterdamNieuw Maltha16/08/17664 Italians (organization, “madoline” (Nicolas), “mandolo”, “tambour de bas organisé”), Bouillon (tickets), Rossignol (organization, singing)
20/08/1766Rossignol & troupe [Cajetani]AmsterdamNieuw Maltha19/08/1766f 14 Italians (organization, “mandoline” (Nicolas), “mandolo”, “tambour de bas organisé”), Bouillon (tickets), Rossignol (organization, singing)
23/08/1766Rossignol & troupe [Cajetani]Amsterdam Nieuw Maltha 23/08/1766f 1 4 Italians (organization, “mandoline” (Nicolas), “mandole”, “tambour de bas organisé”), Bouillon (tickets), Rossignol (organization, singing)
06/09/1766Rossignol & troupeAmsterdamKeizerskroon06/09/1766f 1 Rossignol (organization, singing), 4 Italians (mandoline, mandole), Bouillon (tickets)
13/09/1766Rossignol & troupeAmsterdamKeizerskroon11/09/1766, 13/09/1766f 1 4 Italians (“tambour de bas organisé”), Bouillon (tickets), Rossignol (organization, singing)
17/09/1766Rossignol & troupeAmsterdamKeizerskroon16/09/1766f 1 4 Italians (“tambour de bas organisé”), Bouillon (tickets), Rossignol (organization, singing)
20/09/1766Rossignol & troupe AmsterdamKeizerskroon20/09/1766f 1 4 Italians (singing (Severino, Bragioni) “mandoline” (Nicola), “mandole”, “tambour de bas organisé”), Giustinelli (composition), Menegheti (composition), Rossignol (singing)
27/09/1766Rossignol & troupe AmsterdamKeizerskroon25/09/1766, 27/09/1766f 1 4 Italians (“mandoline” (Nicolai)), Bouillon (tickets), Rossignol (organization)
12/11/1766Rossignol & troupe The HagueDoelen10/11/1766daalder5 Venetians (organization, “tambour de bas organisé”, “mandoline”), Nicolini (singing), Rossignol (singing)
19/11/1766Rossignol & troupe RotterdamDoelen18/11/176630 stuivers4 Venetians (organization, “mandolino” (Gaëtani), accompaniment (Tessalino)), Refour (tickets), Rossignol
26/11/1766Rossignol & troupe RotterdamDoelen25/11/176630 stuivers4 Venetians (“tambour de basque met orgel”, “mandolino” (Gaëtani)), Rossignol (singing)
05/12/1766Rossignol & troupe RotterdamDoelen02/12/1766, 04/12/1766Reissue of previous concert, hence: [4 Venetians (“tambour de basque met orgel,” “mandolino” (Gaëtani)), Rossignol (singing)]
03/01/1767Rossignol & troupe MiddelburgSchuttershof01/01/1767, 03/01/1767first place: 1/2 daalder; second place: 1/4 daalderCourtois (tickets), Rossignol (organization, singing), Rossingol’s company (“mandelin”)
10/03/1768MazzuchelliAmsterdamKeizerskroon05/03/1768, 08/03/1768, 10/03/176830 stuiversBach (organization, harpsichord), Boffeli (singing), De Hey (organization, violin), Mazzuchelli (organisation, “Napolitaansche mandolin”), Wyers (tickets)
07/04/1770LeoneRotterdamConcertzaal04/04/1770, 07/04/1770Leone de Naples (“mandaline”, composition), Paradis (singing), Mr. Sirmen (violin), Mad. Sirmen (violin)
28/07/1770Rossignol & troupe GroningenWapen van Stad & Lande27/07/1770first place: f 1; second place: 10 stuiversRossignol’s company (organization, “mandoline” (Cajetani), “mandole” (Peres), singing (Peres)), Rossignol (organization, singing)
31/07/1770Rossignol & troupe GroningenWapen van Stad & Lande31/07/1770first place: f 1; second place: 10 stuivers; third place: een sestehalf (5,5 stuivers)Rossignol’s company (organization, “mandoline” (Nicolaas Cajetani), “mandole” (Severino Peres), singing (Severino Peres)), Rossignol (organization, singing, “viool zonder snaren”)
01/08/1770Rossignol & troupe Groningen Wapen van Stad & Lande 31/07/1770 first place: f 1; second place: 10 stuivers; third place: een sestehalf (5,5 stuivers) Rossignol’s company (organization, “mandoline” (Nicolaas Cajetani), “mandole” (Severino Peres), singing (Severino Peres)), Rossignol (organization, singing, “viool zonder snaren”)
02/08/1770Rossignol & troupe Groningen Wapen van Stad & Lande 31/07/1770 first place: f 1; second place: 10 stuivers; third place: een sestehalf (5,5 stuivers) Rossignol’s company (organization, “mandoline” (Nicolaas Cajetani), “mandole” (Severino Peres), singing (Severino Peres)), Rossignol (organization, singing, “viool zonder snaren”)
28/08/1770Rossignol & troupe ZwolleHof van Holland28/08/1770f 1-10Rossignol’s company (organization, “mandoline” (Nicolaas Cajetani), “mandola” (Severino Peris), singing (Nicolass Cajetani, Severino Peris)), Rossignol (organization, singing)
Overview of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands 1766-1770

Third period: 1771-1774 (12)

06/11/1772ZaniboniAmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam03/11/1772, 05/11/1772f 2Hummel (tickets), Zaniboni (organization, “amandolino a douze cordes”)
05/01/1773 (cancelled)Zaniboni Amsterdam Armes d’Amsterdam 01/01/1773, 02/01/177340 stuiversde Salvagni (organization, singing), Hummel (tickets), Zaniboni (“mandoline à douze cordes”)
09/03/1773Zaniboni AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam04/03/1773, 06/03/1773, 09/03/1773f 2de Salvagni (singing), Hummel (tickets), Ramm (organization, oboe), Zaniboni (organization, “mandolino”)
06/07/1773Zaniboni AmsterdamDamplein03/07/1773f 2Hummel (tickets), Zaniboni (organization, “amandolino à douze cordes”)
19/11/1773Zaniboni AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam16/11/1773, 18/11/177340 stuiversBenozzi (cello), Casaer (singing), Hummel (tickets), Kreusser (organization, composition), Raimondi (violin), Richter (organization, harpsichord), Zaniboni (“mandoline”)
23/11/1773Zaniboni AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam20/11/1773, 23/11/1773f 2Hummel (tickets), Raimondi (violin), Richter (harpsichord), Zaniboni (organization, “mandolino”)
14/12/1773Zaniboni AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam14/12/1773f 2Benozzi (organization, cello, singing), Markordt (tickets), Raimondi (violin), Zaniboni (“mandoline”)
28/12/1773ZaniboniAmsterdamRondeel24/12/1773, 25/12/1773, 28/12/1773f 2Hummel (tickets), Vermeulen (violin), Zaniboni (“mandolino”)
13/01/1774FridzeriThe HagueTheatre Français05/01/1774Friseri ([Fridzeri] organization, composition, violin, “mandoline”), Demonçel (tickets)
05/02/1774FridzeriHaarlemPrinsenhof01/02/1774, 05/02/1774 f 1-10Cloribus (tickets), Frizeri ([Fridzeri] organization, violin, “mandoline”)
14/02/1774FridzeriAmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam12/02/1774f 2Frizeri ([Fridzeri] organization), Hummel (tickets)
17/02/1774ZaniboniAmsterdamManège12/02/1774, 17/02/1774f 2Golvin (organization, bassoon), Heneberg (clarinet), Hummel (tickets), Neytz (singing), Schick (violin), Zaniboni (“mandolino”)
Overview of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands 1771-1774

Fourth period: 1775-1778 (10)

28/11/1775GervasioUtrechtStadsmuziekzaal27/11/1775f 2 Mr. Gervasio (“mandolina”), Mad. Gervasio (singing), Haanebrink (tickets), Ximenez (direction, violin, viola)
19/12/1775Gervasio AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam16/12/1775, 18/12/1775f 2 Cirri (cello), Mr. Gervasio (organization, “mandolino”), Mad. Gervasio (organization, singing), Hummel (tickets)
01/03/1776Gervasio AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam27/02/1776, 29/02/1776f 2 Casaer (organization, singing), Mr. Gervasio (“mandoline), Mad. Gervasio (singing), Hummel (tickets)
16/04/1776Gervasio AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam16/04/1776f 2 Fani (organization, violin, viola, double bass), Mr. Gervasio (“mandoline”), Mad. Gervasio (singing), Haydn (composition), Hummel (tickets)
10/12/1776Gervasio AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam30/11/1776, 03/12/1776f 2 Agazzi (cello), Mr. Gervasio (organization, “mandoline”), Mad. Gervasio (organization, singing), Gluck (composition), Hummel (tickets), Sacchini (composition), Mad. Schroter (singing), Mr. Schroter (“le jeune”, violin)
08/02/1777Gervasio HaarlemConcertzaal04/02/1777f 1-10Mr. Gervasio (organization, “mandeline”), Mad. Gervasio (organization, singing), Siegers (tickets)
11/03/1777Gervasio RotterdamConcertzaal08/03/177730 stuiversMr. Gervasio (organization, “mandoline”), Mad. Gervasio (organization, singing), Spandow ([Spandau], hunting horn), Zentgraaff (tickets)
20/03/1777Gervasio RotterdamConcertzaal15/03/1777, 18/03/1777 Mr. Gervasio (“mandoline”), Mad. Gervasio (singing), Zentgraaff (tickets, organization)
08/04/1777Gervasio AmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam08/04/1777f 2 Fani (organization, violin, double bass, hunting horn), Fleuri (organization, singing), Mr. Gervasio (“mandolini”), Gluck (composition), Hallemans (singing), Hummel (tickets), Ruloffs (violin), Spandau (composition), Thibaut (tickets)
10/03/1778CifolelliAmsterdamArmes d’Amsterdam07/03/1778f 2 Cifolelli (organization, tickets), Cifolelli (“fils ainé”, “mandoline”), Cifolelli (“petit Cifolelli agé de 7 ans”, singing), Hummel (tickets), Polet (tickets)
Overview of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands 1775-1778

Fifth period: 1786, 1792, 1802 (5)

20/03/1786RicciardiAmsterdamRondeel16/03/1786f 2Agazzi (viola d’amore), Clairville (singing), Rauppe (cello), Ricciardi (organization, “mandoline”), Seeburger (hunting horn), Sacchini (composition), Soligni (singing), Schmitt (tickets), Tenducci (composition)
31/07/1786Rossignol [&etc]UtrechtMuziekcollege31/07/1786f 2 4 Venetians (organization, “mandoline”, “mandole”, “tambour de bas organisé”), Joubert (violin), Rossignol (singing), Schwitzer (tickets)
13/07/1792“Italiaansche Comique Zanger”AmsterdamHuis ten Bosch13/07/179212 stuiversBoekhof (organization), “Italiaansche comique zanger” (singing, mandolin, guitar)
25/04/1792CifolelliRotterdamSchouwburg24/04/1792Boullet (singing), Bussard (singing), Cifolelli (mandolin, composition) d’Aleyrac (composition), du Bocage (singing), “Fransche Operisten uit ‘s Hage” (organization, opera), Gretry (composition), St. Amans (singing), St. Ralier (singing)
24/03/1802RicciardiAmsterdamThéâtre Français20/03/1802f 2Baillet (singing), Deyris (singing), Guerin (tickets), Klyt (“le fils”, clarinet), Lobé (singing), Mançeau (singing), Muller (violin), Ricciardi (organization, “mandolino”), Ricciardi (“fils agé de neuf ans”, forte piano)
Overview of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands 1779-1802

Sixth period: 1804, 1807

27/03/1804FolchiniLeeuwardenDoelen24/03/1804, 27/03/1804f 1“Faschini” ([Folchini] singing, “mandoline”)
11/07/1807Folchini The HagueTheatre Français21/07/1807Cimarosa (composition), da Capua (composition), Folchini (mandolin, singing), Monsigny (composition), “Theatre Français de La Haye” (opera), Varini (“fer harmonique”, singing)
22/07/1807Folchini The Hague Theatre Français 21/07/1807 Cimarosa (composition), da Capua (composition), Folchini (mandolin, singing), Monsigny (composition), “Theatre Français de La Haye” (opera), Varini (“fer harmonique”, singing)
24/07/1807Folchini The Hague Theatre Français 24/07/1807Cimarosa (composition), da Capua (composition), Folchini (mandolin, singing), Méhul (composition), “Theatre Français de La Haye” (opera), Varini (“fer harmonique”, singing)
Overview of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands 1802-1807

Seventh period: 1818, 1838-1842 (17)

10/02/1818Booy & ComorelliMiddelburgSchuttershof07/02/1818f 1Booy (organization, chin patting), Commarelli ([Comorelli] organization, guitar, mandolin)
16/02/1818Booy & ComorelliMiddelburgSchuttershof14/02/1818f 1Booy (organization, chin patting, guitar), Comorelli (organization, guitar, mandolin)
28/05/1838Reggi & PochintestaLeidenKoffijhuis De Twee Kolommen28/05/1838f 1-10Reggi (brothers, “mandolinisten”), Pochintesta (brothers, “mandolinisten”)
16/08/1838Reggi & Pochintesta RotterdamVauxhall Doele 16/08/1838f 1-10 Reggi (brothers, “mandoline”), Pochintesta (brothers, “mandoline”), “groot orkest”, Hutschenruyter (direction)
18/08/1838Reggi & Pochintesta Rotterdam Vauxhall Doele 16/08/1838 f 1-10 Reggi (brothers, “mandoline”), Pochintesta (brothers, “mandoline”), “groot orkest”, Hutschenruyter (direction)
31/10/1838Peggi (Reggi?)BredaTheatre Français30/10/1838, 31/10/1838f 1-25Alexandre (direction), Bellini (composition), Blum (singing), Decourrcy (composition), Mulheim (violin), Peggi ([Reggi] brothers, “mandolinistes”), Rossini (composition), Strauss (composition), Vial (composition),
30/11/1840ComorelliWarffum?01/12/1840Comorelli (guitar, mandolin), Mr. Von Raumstaetter (singing), Ms. Von Raumstaetter (singing)
05/12/1840ComorelliWarffum?01/12/1840 Comorelli (guitar, mandolin), Mr. Von Raumstaetter (singing), Ms. Von Raumstaetter (singing)
27/12/1840ComorelliZuidhornWedw. Ossetjuk25/12/184049 cents Comorelli (guitar, mandolin), Mr. Von Rammstaetter ([Von Raumstaetter] singing), Ms. Von Rammstaetter ([Von Raumstaetter] singing)
28/12/1840ComorelliGrijpskerkJ. De Boer25/12/1840 49 cents Comorelli (guitar, mandolin), Mr. Von Rammstaetter ([Von Raumstaetter] singing), Ms. Von Rammstaetter ([Von Raumstaetter] singing)
09/01/1841ComorelliGrijpskerk?08/01/1841similar to earlier concerts, hence: [Comorelli (guitar, mandolin), Mr. Von Rammstaetter ([Von Raumstaetter] singing), Ms. Von Rammstaetter ([Von Raumstaetter] singing)]
13/03/1841[Comorelli]LeeuwardenDrie Romersi12/03/1841“Tiroler zangers” ([Von Raumstaetter], singing), [Comorelli], guitar, mandolin)
14/03/1841[Comorelli] Leeuwarden Drie Romersi 12/03/1841 “Tiroler zangers” ([Von Raumstaetter], singing), [Comorelli], guitar, mandolin)
15/03/1841[Comorelli] Leeuwarden Drie Romersi 12/03/1841 “Tiroler zangers” ([Von Raumstaetter], singing), [Comorelli], guitar, mandolin)
28/03/1841PochintestaAmsterdamZaal de Duizend Kolommen29/03/1841vrijDunot (singing), Pochintesta (“madolinist”), Zelas (guitar)
01/04/1841Pochintesta & PuggiAmsterdam Zaal de Duizend Kolommen 01/04/1841vrijDunot (singing), Pochintesta (“madoliniste”), Puggi ([Reggi], “madoliniste”), Zelas (guitar)
13/04/1841PochintestaAmsterdam Zaal de Duizend Kolommen 14/04/1841vrijDunot (singing), Pochintesta (brothers, “madolinistes”), Zelas (guitar)
30/05/1841ComorelliGroningenConcertzaal28/05/184149 centsComarelli ([Comorelli] “mandoline”), Theodor (singing), Zellas ([Zelas], guitar),
15/03/1842PochintestaMiddelburgConcertzaal15/03/184275 centsPochintesta (brothers, organization, “mandoline”, guitar)
Overview of mandolin concerts in the Netherlands 1838-1842


Mandolin players – the usual suspects

Several of the musicians playing the mandolin in the Netherlands are well-known paragons of the mandolin elsewhere. This chapter aims to take a look at these musicians and what we know of them, and why they might have been active in the Netherlands.

PersonAmountConcert dates
Cifolelli210/03/1778, 25/04/1792
Fridzeri313/01/1774, 05/02/1774, 14/02/1774
Gervasio928/11/1775, 19/12/1775, 01/03/1776, 16/04/1776, 10/12/1776, 08/02/1777, 11/03/1777, 20/03/1777, 08/04/1777
Merchi1129/03/1759, 23/04/1759, 24/01/1760, 01/05/1760, 25/02/1761, 14/01/1762, 10/02/1762, 08/02/1763, 28/03/1764, 30/04/1764, 13/11/1764
Zaniboni906/11/1772, 05/01/1773 (cancelled), 09/03/1773, 06/07/1773, 19/11/1773, 23/11/1773, 14/12/1773, 28/12/1773, 17/02/1774
Amount of concerts by well-known mandolin players

Mandolin players – unknown factors

PersonAmountConcert dates
Comorelli1110/02/1818, 16/02/1818, 30/11/1840, 05/12/1840, 27/12/1840, 28//12/1840, 09/01/1841, 13/03/1841, 14/03/1841, 15/03/1841, 30/05/1841
Folchini427/03/1804, 11/07/1807, 22/07/1807, 24/07/1807
“Italiaansche Comique Zanger”113/07/1792
Pochintesta (brothers, sometimes togethers with Reggi brothers)728/05/1838, 16/08/1838, 18/08/1838, 28/03/1841, 01/04/1841, 13/04/1841, 15/03/1842
Reggi (brothers, sometimes together with Pochintesta brothers)528/05/1838, 16/08/1838, 18/08/1838, 31/10/1838, 01/04/1841
Ricciardi220/03/1786, 24/03/1802
Rossi231/08/1765, 16/10/1765
Rossignol & troupe (Nicolas Cajetani, Severino Peres)2104/08/1766, 06/08/1766, 16/08/1766, 20/08/1766, 23/08/1766, 06/09/1766, 13/09/1766, 17/09/1766, 20/09/1766, 27/09/1766, 31/07/1786
Amount of concerts by lesser known mandolin players

Other participants: musicians, organisers, ticket sellers

NameFunctionAmountConcert dates
AgazziCello, viola d’amore210/12/1776, 20/03/1786
BachOrganization, harpsichord110/03/1768
Baptiste (Mademoiselle)Singing125/02/1761
Baptiste (Madame)Singing110/02/1762
BenozziCello219/11/1773, 14/12/1773
BooyChin patting210/02/1818, 16/02/1818
BouillonTickets716/08/1766, 20/08/1766, 23/08/1766, 06/09/1766, 13/09/1766, 17/09/1766, 27/09/1766
Bragioni Singing120/09/1766
CasaerOrganization, singing219/11/1773, 01/03/1776
CimarosaComposition427/03/1804, 11/07/1807, 22/07/1807, 24/07/1807
da CapuaComposition311/07/1807, 22/07/1807, 24/07/1807
De HeyOrganization, violin110/03/1768
DunotSinging328/03/1841, 01/04/1841, 13/04/1841
EsserSinging, violin, viola128/03/1764
de SalvagniSinging205/01/1773, 09/03/1773
du BoccageSinging125/04/1792
FaniOrganization, violin, viola, double bass, hunting horn216/04/1776, 08/04/1777
FleuriOrganization, singing108/04/1777
Fransche operisten uit ‘s HageOrganization, opera125/04/1792
GluckComposition210/12/1776, 08/04/1777
GolvinOrganization, bassoon117/02/1774
HummelTickets2129/03/1759, 24/01/1760, 14/01/1762, 08/02/1763, 28/03/1764, 16/10/1765, 06/08/1766, 06/11/1772, 05/01/1773, 06/07/1773, 19/11/1773, 23/11/1773, 28/12/1773, 14/02/1774, 17/02/1774, 19/12/1775, 01/03/1776, 16/04/1776, 10/12/1776, 08/04/1777 , 10/03/1778
HutschenruyterDirection216/08/1838, 18/08/1838
JoubertViolin204/08/1766, 31/07/1786
Klyt (le fils)Clarinet124/03/1802
KreusserOrganization, composition119/11/1773
MagalliOrganization, singing214/01/1762, 08/02/1763
Maggiore (Mr.)Singing131/11/1764
Maggiore (Ms.)Singing131/11/1764
MelliniSinging324/01/1760, 01/05/1760, 08/02/1763
MonsignyComposition211/07/1807, 22/07/1807
RaimondiViolin319/11/1773, 23/11/1773, 14/12/1773
RammOrganization, oboe109/03/1770
RichterOrganization, harpsichord219/11/1773, 23/11/1773
SacchiniComposition210/12/1776, 20/03/1786
Mad. SchroterSinging110/12/1776
Mr. Schroter (le jeune)Violin110/12/1776
SeeburgerHunting horn120/03/1786
SeveriniSinging231/08/1765, 16/10/1765
Sirmen (Mr.)Violin107/04/1770
Sirmen (Mad.)Violin107/04/1770
SpandauComposition, hunting horn211/03/1777, 08/04/1777
St. AmansSinging125/04/1792
St. RalierSinging125/04/1792
Tessalino Accompaniment119/11/1766
VariniFer harmonique311/07/1807, 22/07/1807, 24/07/1807
Von Raumstaetter (Mr.)Singing830/11/1840, 05/12/1840, 27/12/1840, 28/12/1840, 09/01/1841, 13/03/1841, 14/03/1841, 15/03/1841
Von Raumstaetter (Ms.)Singing830/11/1840, 05/12/1840, 27/12/1840, 28/12/1840, 09/01/1841, 13/03/1841, 14/03/1841, 15/03/1841
WinterTickets230/04/1764, 31/11/1764
XimenezDirection, violin, viola128/11/1775
ZelasGuitar428/03/1841, 01/04/1841, 13/04/1841, 30/05/1841
ZentgraaffOrganization, tickets211/03/1777, 20/03/1777
Amount of concerts per participator


  • Rasch, Rudolf (2000), art. Johann Christian Bach in Eighteenth-Century Dutch Newspaper Announcements, in Tijdschrift van de Koninklijke Vereninging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (vol. 50, n. 1/2), p. 5-51.
  • Rasch, Rudolf (2018), online older version of Muziek in de Republiek, last accessed on 26/09/2021. (This online version includes a lot of documentation and sources not available in the physical more recent edition.)
  • Rasch, Rudolf (2018), Muziek in de Republiek: Muziek en maatschappij in de Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden 1572-1795, (Muziek uit de Republiek, n. 5) Utrecht.
  • Tyler, James & Sparks, Paul (1989), The Early Mandolin. The Mandolino and the Neapolitan Mandoline, (Early Music Series, n. 9) Oxford.
  • van Hasselt, Luc (1979), art. Bach op bezoek, in Mens en Melodie (n. 34), p. 33-40.
  • Van Tichelen, Pieter (2020), art. Tolerance between instrumental repertories or commercial tricks? Mandolin-related prints until the early 19th century, in Phoibos, vol. 18, p. 153-214.

The mandolin in Portugal (ca. 1770-1830)

The idea to write this article started when I stumbled upon some Portuguese sources during my research into mandolin(-related) prints prior to 1820 (see Van Tichelen (2020), p. 186-187). Portugal usually does not appear in the reference works on mandolin history. However, besides my own finds in past and present, recent decades also saw some Portuguese mandolin music published by others. This article is first of all an attempt to describe all the Portuguese sources known to me – combining my own contributions with the scattered discoveries by colleagues. Secondly, and certainly as important, this article sees to the publication of some Portuguese mandolin music previously unavailable. As the research is still ongoing and inconclusive in some areas, this article should not be the final word to be written about Portuguese mandolin history. I have included some annexes at the bottom of the article (library sigla, abbreviations, bibliography).

1. Portuguese mandolin production

1.1 Neapolitan mandolin by João Vieira Da Silva (late 18th century)

Mandolin by Joao Vieira da Silva, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Accession Number 1985.408) License purchased for use of this photograph on this blog post through Alamy.

To say that Portuguese mandolin production is a dark horse is an understatement. So far I have never seen any reference to a potential local production of mandolins. However, there is one surviving example, a stunning Neapolitan mandolin preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Accession Number 1985.408). Though there is a label, the date on it is not filled in (“Jao Vieira da Silva o fez/em Lisboa na Praci da Ale/gria. anno 17..”).

I haven’t found much about this builder – my archival research shows up a number of records under this name, but as the name is somewhat generic it could be there were multiple persons with the same name. So far none of these records seem to link them with a business as instrument builder. He also built a Portuguese guitar which survives in the Victoria & Albert Museum (Accession Number 208-1882) (same label, date also not filled in). Also exquisite in its details and ornamentation, it shows that this builder certainly had a high level of craftsmanship and I can only hope we will learn more about both him and the instruments he made. As a side note, to me it’s quite interesting to spot a possible link between Portuguese guit(t)ar and the mandolin, – as I have build a whole case around interchange of repertory with the English guit(t)ar in Great Britain (see Van Tichelen (2020), p. 182-185, 190-191). After all, at that time, both Portuguese and English “guit(t)ar” cittern types were still very close to each other – so close they are not easy to distinguish yet.

João Vieira Da Silva, Portuguese guit(t)ar, Victoria & Albert Museum Accession Number 208-1882.

2. Mandolin manuscripts

Some Portuguese mandolin music has already become available through excellent facsimile or modern editions in the past decades. All the same, there are some other important manuscripts that did not reach the attention of a wide audience yet, and some are important additions to the mandolin repertory. As usual I have included editions of sources where editions are not yet available.

2.1 Davide Perez, Variazioni per Mandolino (1773)

Front page of the facsimile edition of Davide Perez, Variazioni Per Mandolino (Ediçoes Colibri)

The first manuscript of note is by Davide Perez (1711-78), and contains 128 variations on a theme. The full title of the manuscript on its title page reads “Variazioni Per Mandolino Del Celebre David Perez Maestro Delle LL. RR. AA. La Serenissima Signora Principessa Del Brasile ed Infante di Portugallo. Lanno 1773”.

Davide Perez was a celebrated opera composer (originally taught at the Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto in Naples) when appointed ‘mestre de capela’ in Lisboa in 1752. After the Lisboa earthquake in 1755 his duties changed (as the theatres were damaged) from secular to church music. He remained at the Portuguese court for the rest of his life, and part of his courtly tasks was to teach music to the royal children. This is reflected in the title of the mandolin variations manuscript – mentioning both the princess of Brazil as well as the other princesses. More information about David Perez and his importance as opera and church composer can be found through (see Dottori & Jackson (2001)).

The source is now located in Lisboa (P-Ln M.M. 6002). A facsimile edition makes this most interesting source available (Cranmer 2011 – see Edições Colibri). The edition includes a CD (with all 128 varations played by José Grossinho and critical commentary by David Cranmer). As Cranmer remarks (Cranmer 2011, p. 18 & 32), this manuscript was likely not meant for the purpose of providing a concert piece to be played from beginning to end. Yet it is an interesting item, not in the least because of the eminent composer, but also because of the direct link to the royal court.

UPDATE: Girolamo Nonnini started as violin player in the royal court orchestra in 1773. It’s likely that his presence in Portugal either started or greatly increased the mandolin fashion. Is it a coincidence that Perez writes the variation sequence in the year Nonnini starts working at the court…? Or is Nonnini in fact the person who started the interest in the mandolin in Portugal? As we don’t have enough evidence we will likely never know for sure, but it is a good lead for further investigations.

2.2 Epifanio Loforte, Minuetti per due Mãdolini (after 1785)

Title page of Minuetti per due mãdolini by Epifanio Loforte (P-Ln M.M. 4810)

The next source of interest is the manuscript of Minuetti by Epifanio Loforte (1735-1809). It contains thirty minuets for two mandolins. Epifanio Loforte was part of the Portuguese royal chapel and known to play violin, French horn and hunting horn. Interestingly enough he is also mentioned as mestre de mandolino to Carlota Joaquina of Spain, the wife of the later king João VI of Portugal. The manuscript is preserved in Lisboa (P-Ln M.M. 4810, available online

Though the Portuguese library gives an indication of date of 1760-1790, I think we can safely assume it was created after the marriage of Carlota Joaquina and João VI in 1785.

What is more, I have been able to ascertain that Loforte at some point emigrated. In 1803, his son applies for a permit to join him:

REQUERIMENTO de Caetano Lino Loforte ao príncipe regente, solicitando ser despachado no posto de tenente para um dos regimentos de Cavalaria na América, em remuneração dos serviços do seu pai Epifânio Loforte, que foi músico da câmara real e mestre do príncipe regente.

AHU_CU_BRASIL-GERAL, cx. 35, D. 2821

However, it’s not quite clear whether this journey really ended in America (Brazil) as there is also a permit to travel to Angola:

OFÍCIO do [vice-rei do Estado do Brasil], D. Fernando José de Portugal [e Castro], ao [secretário de estado da Marinha e Ultramar], visconde de Anadia, [João Rodrigues de Sá e Melo Meneses e Souto Maior], sobre o cumprimento das ordens régias para facilitar a passagem do mestre da capela da Sé Caetano Lino Loforte para Angola.

Accessed through Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino

The minuets are hardly the most important compositions for mandolin, but apart from the music which is still quite entertaining, it again provides a direct link to the royal court.

Ava Editions has a modern edition of these minuets.

2.3 Epifanio Loforte, Duetti e dodeci Minuetti (after 1785)

Epifanio Loforte is also known for another manuscript with music for two mandolins. This source is preserved in another Lisboa library, the Biblioteca da Ajuda (P-La mus. Ms. 44-XI-21) which holds a lot of items from the former royal library. The manuscript contains of twelve minuets and six duets.

Flávio Pinho published a modern edition of this manuscript through Trekel in four volumes:

2.4 Aleixo Botelho de Ferreira, Sonatta per Mandolino Sollo e Basso (ca. 1780-1800)

Title page of Aleixo Botelho de Ferreira, Sonatta per Mandolino Sollo e Basso (P-Ln M.M. 2071)

A third manuscript which already was noted by a number of people is a sonata by Aleixo Botelho de Ferreira (fl. ca. 1790). The manuscript is preserved in Lisboa (P-Ln M.M. 2071, available online through The manuscript is dated by the library between 1780 and 1800. A modern edition is available through Ava Editions.

Little is known about the composer, but I was able to retrieve a birth certificate which might match (Socorro parish, Lisboa, 1753 – now in Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo). He seems to have been born to a family of nobility as his father Manuel António Botelho de Ferreira was listed a cavaleiro da Ordem de Cristo, and his grandfather sargento-mor cavaleiro da Ordem de Cristo.

There is one detail of note – the manuscript was at some point in the collection of Ernesto Vieira (1848-1915), as were the Tratenimenti manuscript (see 2.6), as well as two of the preserved mandolin prints (3.3 & 3.4). There is some doubt this possible link of shared previous ownership is more than coincidence, though, as Vieira was a fierce collector (more than 2000 items in P-Ln are linked to him).

A recording of this sonata is available on the CD “Les Galanteries” by ensemble Artemandolino:

I. Allegro moderato (Artemandolino, Les Galanteries)
II. Andante (Artemandolino, Les Galanteries)
III. Rondo allegro (Artemandolino, Les Galanteries)

2.5 Giuseppe Totti, Quartetto (1793)

First page of Giuseppe Totti, Quartetto (P-Ln F.C.R. 216//47)

An item which remained under the radar for quite a long while is the Quartetto by Giuseppe Totti († 1832). The manuscript dates from 1793 and is for two mandolins and two guitars (alternatively viola and guitar). It is preserved in LIsboa (P-Ln F.C.R. 216//47, available online I already published about finding this source on a previous blog article. Though Totti never reached the position of mestre de capela he did compose a lot of music for the royal chapel and followed the court when in exile in Brazil. He was awarded the position of music teacher to the royal children, with eminent predecessors like Davide Perez.

Reidar Edvardsen created a modern adaptation for two mandolins, mandola and guitar. His rendition inserts a slow movement, an adaptation from a duet for two sopranos and guitar accompaniment.

2.6 Anonymous, Tratenimenti (1780-1800)

Anonymous, Tratenimenti (P-Ln M.M. 4809//1-2), first page of mandolino primo partbook

Now onto an interesting and to my knowledge previously not known manuscript: the anonymous Tratenimenti (P-Ln M.M. 4809//1-2). Though often encountered, such a title is sometimes used to describe a bundle of music. Worth noting about this manuscript is that the duets were written for six-course instruments. It’s written as two partbooks of sixteen pages each.

The provenance is not clear. Vieira had the manuscript in his collection (as well as the Ferreira manuscript (2.3), and the prints by Portugal and Leite (3.3 & 3.4)), but his ownership can only be claimed until the mid-19th century at earliest. Some terms in the manuscript seem a bit odd (the use of terms like “marchia”, “menuè”, and, though in another hand, “dances angloises”), which might imply a French origin – though some terms seem to contradict this (“corenta”, “contradanza”, “rondo” or “allemanda”). Unfortunately, currently we have no further leads to follow up the origins of this manuscript.

The fifty small pieces in the manuscript are clearly meant as entertainment music and it seems likely this was written for private use. The pieces seem to be bundled around the music key used:

  • D major: nrs. 1-10
    • Marchia
    • Rondo
    • Menuè
    • Corenta
    • Cansonetta Adagio
    • Contradanza
    • Allegro Assai
    • Menuè
    • Contradanza
    • Allemanda
  • Bes major: nrs. 11-18
    • Marchia
    • Allegro Assai
    • Menue
    • Inglese
    • Rondo
    • Corenta
    • Menue
    • Corenta
  • A major: nrs. 19-26
    • Marchia
    • Rondo
    • Andante
    • Allegro assai
    • Menue
    • Allegro
    • Corenta
    • Rondo
  • G major: nrs. 27-34
    • Sinfonia
    • Pastorale Adagio
    • Allegro
    • Menue
    • Contradanza
    • Allemanda
    • Corenta
    • Vals
  • Es major: nrs. 35-40
    • Cantabile
    • Rondo Allegro
    • Menue
    • Corenta
    • Rondo
    • Allegro Assai
  • F major: nrs. 41-46
    • Allegro Con Spirito
    • Andante
    • (insert of unnumbered Dances Angloises in another hand, only mandolino I)
    • Allegro
    • Contradanza
    • Allegro
    • Corenta
  • C major: nrs. 47-50
    • Concerto
    • Adagio
    • Rondo Allegro
    • Adagio / Allegro

Most of the pieces are quite small – the average amount of bars per piece is 25. There are occasionally larger pieces of music, like a “sinfonia” or “concerto” which also use more extensive composing techniques like counterpoint. Usually the pieces consist of smaller units – which often have repeat signs. The composer uses Alberti bass accompaniments as well as chords in the mandolins, and the typical florid style in thirds or sixths between the two mandolins as often encountered in 18th century mandolin music.

Though there is a substantial amount of repertory for six-course mandolin from the Austrian empire around 1800, this large an amount of duets is certainly a welcome addition. Therefore I created a modern edition of the manuscript. There is a substantial number of omissions and mistakes, so the critical commentary section is somewhat long.

2.7 Vittorio Trento, ‘L’Acampamento osia Le quattr’ore di Stazione’ Sonata con Variazioni Per Mandolino, e Piano (ca. 1822) (F.C.R. 217//3)

Four manuscripts stand tall amongst the other Portuguese sources. Though I am aware that at least some other colleagues (for example Ugo Orlandi) have already spotted them, by and large the mandolin community seems unaware. I will be talking about all of them one at a time, but there some general things to discuss first that concern all four manuscripts (2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9).

UPDATE: after publishing this article, I was contacted by Patrícia Raquel, who is preparing for a master performance degree on these four pieces. I have also got in touch with her promotor, António De Sousa Vieira. I’m thrilled to learn that there are people at the Universidade de Aveiro actively researching the Portuguese mandolin sources like me, no doubt our joint forces will bear fruit.

All four are early-19th century mandolin-keyboard sonatas of high quality. They are very welcome as this particular genre is in high demand – yet there are only limited sources from this time and not all are of high quality. Outside of the Beethoven and Hummel pieces, the small sonatas by Panerai and Bolaffi, there are only a few other sources and mostly not of notable length or quality. I’m quite excited to be able to add four superb and extensive pieces.

Let’s first take a look at the background. We can establish with certainty who copied all four manuscripts: António Felizardo Porto (1796-1863). Porto’s signature is on the title page of all four manuscripts. Porto trained at the royal music seminary in Lisboa (at least since 1806) and joined the court when they left in exile following the Napoleonic wars in 1810. In 1812, he was admitted in the royal chapel, but seems to have retired in 1821 (apparently because ailments prevented him from continuing his position). Porto returned to Portugal in 1822, so quite short after the royal court moved back. He apparently fled Portugal in 1828, following the rise to power of Miguel I, seemingly to avoid persecution of his liberal views. (See Vieira Pacheco & Fernandes art. Porto, p. 2.) He only returned to Portugal together with the change of regime in 1835 to Maria II. He then had a career as professor of singing at the conservatory and impresario in Portugal and Brazil.

We also have a reference to a composer in the manuscript P-Ln F.C.R. 217//3, the title page contains the words “Del célebre Maestro Trento” (see below). This matches an important composer indeed: Vittorio Trento. (I will later on argue why I believe all four manuscripts might be all composed by him.) Trento trained at the Conservatorio dei Mendicanti in Venice and at first achieved some success as composer of ballets. His efforts to establish himself as a composer of operas only reached moderate success. Besides activities as composer he also worked sometimes as maestro al cembalo or maestro concertatore. Though Trento didn’t achieve success on a large scale, hence ranking him only as a of secondary importance in his generation, he remains a moderately successful composer of large-scale works. (See also Lanza (2001).) This quality shows certainly in the manuscript we can ascribe with certainty – but also in the other three. Without any evidence to prove otherwise, I forward the motion that all four were likely composed by Trento. Trento is the only composer mentioned, and all four are written in a similar style and copied by one and the same copyist.

Important to note is that though Trento made several visits to Portugal, only one period coincides with Porto’s presence. The earliest visit (1809) is during the time when Porto was still in training and unlikely to have been active as copyist. Also, the library dates the manuscript at earliest to 1820. The next period is from 1821-3, when he acted as music director at the opera in Lisboa, and that is the only period I have so far noticed when both Trento and Porto where simultaneously in Portugal. Trento does return to Portugal later in his life, but Porto went into exile in 1828, and only returned after the death of Trento (Trento † 1834, Porto’s return is in 1835). Hence the most likely date of this and the other manuscripts is circa 1822.

Further to the evidence mentioned above, there is one other circumstantial factor which leads me to believe 1822 is the most likely date of copying the manuscripts. Before 1822, Porto was either in training or employed as a singer in the royal chapel. When he got back from Brazil in 1822, he was retired from his position at the royal chapel, and likely looking for means to supplement his small pension. It seems the most likely moment in his career to accept the task of copying manuscripts.

Let’s take a look at the first item, the sonata ‘L’Acampamento osia Le quattr’ore di Stazione’ (P-Ln F.C.R. 217//3, accessible online: The sonata is quite substantial, with 213 bars.

Title page of P-Ln F.C.R. 217//3, Vittorio Trento, “L’Acampamento osia Le quattr’ore di Stazione Sonata con Variazioni Per Mandolino e Piano Del célebre Maestro Trento Cópia da Porto”
  • Allegro Marziale (D major): 42 bars
  • Largo Affectuoso (A major): 35 bars
  • Thema (D major): 8+8 bars
  • Var 1 (D major): 8+8 bars
  • Var 2 (D major): 8+8 bars
  • Var 3 (D major): 8+8 bars
  • Var 4 (D major): 8+8 bars
  • 7 bar transition
  • La Partenza Allegro Marziale (D major): 49 bars (almost identical repeat of Allegro Marziale followed by finale passage)

The piece doesn’t use much in the way of mandolin-specific techniques, but neither does the composer write impossible things. There is a high level of technical proficiency required for the rapid scales and broken chords, and these are making it less likely this written for entertainment of an amateur. It might have been conceived for a professional player, but it is unclear who that might have been.

At the end of each section of the Trento/Porto manuscripts, I have shared my modern edition. Also included is an audio rendition from the notation software. To me, all four of the Trento/Porto pieces deserve a prominent place in the mandolin repertory and hopefully it will soon be possible to admire them on the stage.

2.8 [Vittorio Trento], Sonata con Variazioni Per Mandolino e Piano Forte (ca. 1822) (F.C.R. 546)

Title page of P-Ln F.C.R. 546, [Vittorio Trento], Sonata Con Variazioni Per Mandolino e Piano-Forte, Copiada por Porto

The second mandolin-keyboard sonata is copied by the same hand, Felizardo Porto, and as argued, likely also by Vittorio Trento (P-Ln F.C.R. 546, accessible online: This piece is the largest of the four Trento/Porto manuscripts with 233 bars and consists of three movements. The first movement follows a sonata-like form, a siciliana middle movement, and a variation sequence as its final part.

  • Allegro Moderato (C major): sonata form (reexpostion does not simply repeat the exposition but still exposes new material): 104 bars
  • Siciliana Largheto (a minor): 41 bars
  • Thema Andantino (C major): 8+8 bars
  • Var. 1: 8 + 8 bars
  • Var. 2: 8 + 8 bars
  • Var. 3: 8 + 8 bars
  • Var. 4: 8 + 15 bars (finale)

The variations are quite virtuoso in style though mandolin-specific techniques are again absent. One exception are tremolo-like repeated notes in variation 4. The overall high level of technical skill required to perform this piece in tempo gives again an impression of being written for a professional player.

UPDATE: Patrícia Raquel pointed out to me, that though listed under the name of the copyist, and with a slight misspelling, Anna Torge already recorded this sonata on her album “Mandolino e Fortepiano” with Gerald Hambitzer. Below you can find links to Spotify for this album.

Here is the modern edition:

2.9 [Vittorio Trento], Sonata Per Mandolino e Piano Forte Con Variazioni (ca. 1822) (F.C.R. 547)

Title page of P-Ln F.C.R. 547, [Vittorio Trento], Sonata Per Mandolino e Piano-Forte, Copiada por Porto

The third installment by Trento/Porto is again preserved in Lisboa (P-Ln F.CR. 547, accessible online: This piece is only a sonata in the broadest of terms – it consists of a short prelude followed by a variation sequence.

  • Preludio (G major): 8 bars
  • Tema Allegretto (G major): 8+8 bars
  • Var. 1: 8 + 8 bars
  • Var. 2: 8 + 8 bars
  • Var. 3: 8 + 8 bars
  • Var. 4: 8 + 8 bars + Finale (14 bars)

This piece is the shortest of the four with 104 bars and only one substantial movement, but the music comes closer to being idiomatic for mandolin. Generally the same level of technical skill is required for scales and broken chords. But there are also some places where the treatment is more fitting for a mandolin or coming close to using mandolin-specific techniques. In variations 3 and 4 there are some bars which could be seen as a from of arpeggio technique and in variations 1 and 4 some repeated notes as written out tremolo.

2.10 [Vittorio Trento], Sonata Per Mandolino e Piano Forte (ca. 1822) (F.C.R. 548)

Title page of P-Ln F.C.R. 548, [Vittorio Trento], Sonata Per Mandolino e Piano-Forte, Copiada por Porto

The fourth and final sonata by Trento/Porto is back to the usual size (223 bars). Besides a first movement in sonata-form, there is very large second and final movement, a Polka. This genre became extremely popular a few decades later on (from 1840 onwards), but occasionally the style and form were used prior to that. The movement by Trento has some trademark characteristics in its rhythmical treatment. The music often returns to a basic theme, essentially making it into a rondo-like movement.

  • Andantino (A major): 93 bars (proper reexposition)
  • Allegro Polaca (A major): 130 bars

This sonata has almost no idiomatic treatment fitting the mandolin, though it is certainly possible to play the music on a mandolin.

3. Mandolin prints

The area of mandolin(-related) prints is where my interest for Portuguese sources started. When I conducted my investigations, I found advertisements of some Portuguese prints. Only a few of the prints have been preserved, but I have also listed those currently lost which are know through secondary sources. I have used colours in the titles to help establish whether the sources are lost (red) or preserved (green).

3.1 João da Mata de Freitas, Sonata nova para o Mandolino (1793) [lost]

This interesting piece is advertised in GdL but I have so far not found a preserved copy. The composer is also an enigma, so far I have not yet found any information. There is a second item advertised by the same composer (3.2).

“Na Real Fabrica, e Impresão de Musica no largo de Jesus se estampou ultimamente huma Sonata nova para o Mandolino, composta por João da Mata de Freitas.”

GdL (2/3/1793, 2nd supplement, p. 4)

3.2 João da Mata de Freitas, Sonata de dous Mandolinos (1793) [lost]

There is an advertisement of another item by the same composer as the previous item (3.1). Important to note here is the dedication to Carlota Joaquina, which links these Portuguese prints of instrumental mandolin music to the royal court.

“Na Cidade do Porto , em casa de Trausehe e Companhia, Negociantes Alemães, na rua das Flores, se acha huma Sonata de dous Mandolinos para o uso de S. A. R. a Senhora D. Carlota Joaquina, Princeza do Brazil, composta por João da Mata de Freitas. Item, huma Peça nova para Cravo  intitulada as Azeitonas novas com variaçóes, composta sobre o pregáo d’huma vendedeira de Lisboa, por Pedro Anselmo Marchal. Tambem se acha alli huma boa Collecção de Musica dos melhores Authores, o Jornal de Modinhas da Real Fabrica; e Impressão de Musica de Lisboa, para o qual se póde subscrever em todo o tempo.”

GdL, 16/3/1793, 2nd supplement, p. 4.

3.3 Marcos António [Portugal], Perdoar com condições (1793)

Marcos António [Portugal], Perdoar com condições (P-Ln M.P.P. 46//28 A), p. 5.

This item is advertised in the GdL:

“Na Real Fabricana Impressão de Musica no largo de Jesus se continúa a assignatura para o Jornal de Modinhas; e fahírão á luz os Numeros 1., 2., 3. e 4.: o Numero 2 se intitula a Doce união de Amor; e o Numero 4, Perdoar com condições, ambas com acompanhamento separado de dous mandolinos, compostas pór Marcos Antonio. Quem quizer mandar abrir ou eslampar Musica, Mappas de Geografia, Cartas maritimas, ou outras quaesquer Estampas; pode fallar com o Mestre da dita Fabrica.”

GdL, 31/8/1793, 2nd supplement, p. 4.

The composer “Marco Antonio” is Marcos Antonio Portugal, an important opera composer, though this piece predates his rise to fame. The music is a small vocal piece where two mandolins are added for accompaniment. The print is preserved in Lisboa (P-Ln M.P.P. 46//28 A, accessible online at: t was also at one point part of one and the same collection with some other sources listed here, collected by Vieira (as were 2.3, 2.6 and 3.4).

This publication comes a year after when Portugal left his home country to start on his stellar career as opera composer. The very same year of the publication of Perdoar com condições, Portugal already shows his craft with the opera Le confusioni della somiglianza (Firenze 1793, libretto by Cosimo Mazzini).

This publication is part of the Jornal de Modinhas, a print series of small vocal pieces. Originally, this print series was a partnership of Pedro Anselmo Marchal (ca. 1758-1821) and Francisco Domingos Milcent (†1797). Milcent was in Portugal to establish a printing business, and Marchal had set up a shop selling music. They put together a joint venture to start publishing music which resulted in the Jornal de Modinhas (1792-1796). After a few years, Marchal is removed from the title page (sometimes visible on existing copies), and Milcent continues the Jornal de modinhas. Marchal also still published music in Lisboa, after obtaining a royal charter in 1794 (see also 3.5 & 3.6). He left Portugal around 1797 though. For all details about Marchal, Milcent and their partnership, see Albuquerque (Albuquerque (1996), p. x-xv).

Portugal contributed some 9 pieces in the Jornal de Modinhas. A detailed analysis of the piece with mandolin accompaniment (and others) can be found in a thesis about the modinhas by Portugal (de Castro Procópio, Flávia (2019), p. 91-95).

Though the focus of this blog is on Portuguese sources, I can’t avoid talking about Portugal’s other mandolin music. In that first opera which launched his international career as opera composer, Le confusioni della somiglianza, he employs the mandolin in the aria Che bel diletto, il vivere alla moda between Costanza, Cleante and Rosignolo. Alas, as so many mandolin arias of the 1780s and 1790s, this music is quite forgotten (except, of course, for Mozart’s Deh, vieni alla finestra from Don Giovanni).

Though not directly related to the matter at hand, I think it’s interesting to note that the libretto print in 1804 mentions Giovanni Francesco Giuliani, known for his music for mandolin, as maestro direttore:

Primo Violiao [sic], e Direttore de l’Orchestra
Sig. Francesco Giuliani, all’ attual Servizio di
S.M. la Regina d’Erturia.”

Le confusioni della somiglianza, o siano, I due gobbi, 1804, p. 4. (US-Wc ML48 [S8399], online accessible:

Besides the aria in Le confusioni, Portugal used the mandolin at least once more. In some manuscripts who contain collections of opera arias, a cavatina by Portugal features the mandolin (Con la dolcezza, see B-Bc (12426) and CH-Gc R 257 (Ms. 10138)). I haven’t yet managed to identify the exact opera by Portugal. At least the facts suggest that Marcos António Portugal not only made use of the mandolin in his Portuguese mondinha, but also continued to use the instrument during his career as opera composer.

3.4 António da Silva Leite, Dialogo jocoserio, ente huma pastora e Anfrizio (1795)

António da Silva Leite, Dialogo jocoserio, ente huma pastora e Anfrizio (P-Ln M.P.P. 119//13 V.), p. 5.

So far I have not yet found an advertisement in GdL, but there is another mandolin entry in the Jornal de Modinhas. The absence of an advertisement is also why I originally missed out on this piece. My thanks go to Ugo Orlandi who pointed me towards this source.

The author is António da Silva Leite. It is again a small vocal piece with mandolin accompaniment (two mandolins). The item is preserved (P-Ln M.P.P. 119//13 V.) This item is also available online: It was also at one point part of one and the same collection with some other sources listed here, collected by Vieira (as were 2.3, 2.6 and 3.3).

António da Silva Leite (1759-1833) is also known for a number of publications for (Portuguese) guitar (for example, Estudo de Guitarra, Porto, 1796, a tutor for the Portuguese guitar) besides activities as organist, composer of religious works and also a few operas. Besides the currently mentioned modinha with mandolin accompaniment, he also published another six items in the Jornal de Modinhas. For more information about him and his music, check De Paula, art. LEITE.

3.5 Pedro Anselmo Marchal, Variações de Marlborough para Mandolino ou Flauta, com acompanhanmento de Violino e Basso (1794) [lost]

“Aria Il mio-Ben dell’Opera de Nina cantando pelo Caporaline, com acompanhamento de Cravo, arranjado por P. A. Marchal: e las Variações de Marlborough para Mandolino ou Flauta, com acompanhamento de Violino e Basso, as quaes obras se achão na Real Impressão de Musica de P. A. Marchal, no largo de Jesus.”

GdL, 1/11/1794, 2nd supplement, p. 2.

This item is not preserved. Marchal seems to have also published a piano version of the same. This print seems to also have perished, alas, but there is a Portuguese manuscript which might be a copy. Without enough proof to link it to Marchal for sure, it’s no more than a possibility. The Marlborough theme and variations on it was quite a fashion in the 18th century, so the manuscript might also simply be a copy of another version. The manuscript is preserved in Lisboa (P-Ln F.C.R. Co., accessible online:

3.6 Pedro Anselmo Marchal, Duetto (1794) [lost]

There is yet one other item published by Marchal, which also wasn’t preserved. It is an interesting item, so it is regrettable we don’t have a copy. This time we even have two advertisements:

“Duetto a dous Mandolinos, ou Violinos, tirado das obras de Pleyel, e huma Aria intitulada Amor Timido, com acompanhamento de Viola, ou Cravo, composta por José Forlivesi; e a Moda nova de Hei de amar, com acampanhamento de Viola, e Cravo, do mesmo Author : achão-se em casa de Pedro Anselmo Marchal, no largo de Jesus”.

GdL, 27/9/1794, 2nd supplement, p. 2.

Sahírão a luz: A segadilha da Cousa Rara com acompanhamento de Cravo, e a mesma com variações para Piano-forte, compotas por Pedro Anselmo Marchal – Hum dueto para dous Mandolinos ou Violinos, tirado das Obras de Pleyel – Huma Aria, intitulada Amor Timido, com acompanhamento de Viola, ou Cravo, composapor José Forlivesi – As Modas novas, Hei de amar, com acompanhamento de Viola e Cravo, do mesmo Author: Es Ingrata por costume, composta por Venancio Aloisi: Corra va-se embóra, composta por Manoel Telles – Como tambem seis Rondós para Cravo com acompanhamento de Flauta, compostos por Pedro Anselmo Marchal: vendem-se as ditas obras na Real Impressão de Musica no largo de Jesus.”

CME, 14/10/1794, nr. 41, p. 328.

4. Musicians

Alas, there are not much Portuguese sources which list mandolin players. In lots of other cities, late 18th-century mandolin professionals employed techniques like advertising concerts, publications and as a teacher. So far I have only been able to trace few such occurrences in Portugal.

4.1 Girolamo Nonnini

UPDATE: Thanks to Ugo Orlandi, I have now traced another mandolin player in Lisbon. He shared the insight that Nonnini was active in Portugal, and sure enough, I have even found an advertisement of a concert.

Hoje y do corrente mez se a de fazer hum concerto vocal e instrumental na Casa da Assemblea nova om beneficio das amigas Administradoras da Casa da Assemblea da Nações, no qual cantaraõ A. Férracuti, L. Bertucci, e D. Caporalini: e tocaráõa solo X. Pietragrua no rebecão, e J. Nonnini no mandolino.”

GdL 1794, nr. 53 (3/1/1794), p. 6.

I have also found some literature confirming Nonnini was active at the Portuguese royal court orchestra as violin player from 1773-1795 (see de Brito & Cymbron (2008), p. 465). Nonnini might well be part of the reason there was a sudden interest in the mandolin at the Portuguese royal court. Nonnini had a leave of absence during 1783-1787, during which he travelled to Naples, Paris, London (likely the occasion for the publication of his Six Italian Canzonets), Trieste and Madrid, afterwards returning to Lisboa.

Besides the usual traces in royal archives about payments (listed under the name “Jeronimo Nonnini”), Nonnini also shows up for less honourable reasons (being arrested in 1775 for fighting with his colleague Francisco Xavier de Figueiredo, and he was put in jail for some time in 1776). As mentioned above, it’s quite a coincidence that the first mandolin source (the Davide Perez variations) were created in the very year Nonnini started playing violin in the court orchestra.

4.2 Caetano de Cola

This is rather obscure – so far I have not found any further information about Caetano de Cola.

Caetano de Cola, Professor de Guitarra Franceza e Mandolino se propõe a dar lições: assiste na travessa das Mercês N.° 32.

GdL 1820, nr. 41, p. 4.

5 Written sources

5.1 Rodrigo Ferreira da Costa, Principios de musica, ou Exposição methodica das doutrinas da sua composição e execução (1820)

This source is a print by Rodrigo Ferreira da Costa (1776-1825), a lawyer and mathematician who also published a music tutor in two volumes (1820-1824). In the course of this theoretical treatise, he mentions the mandolin twice:

6. Practica-se a Musica nos instrumentos de diversa grandeza e  construcção, que o Engenho humano no decurso dos seculos tem inventado e aperfeiçoado. Distinguimos quatro classes de instrumentos musicos. I.a A dos polycordes, que comprehende duas ordens: os de tecla, como Orgão, Piano-forte, Cravo, &c.: e os ungulares, como Harpa, Psalterio, &c. II.a A dos instrumentos de braço, que tambem abraça duas ordens: os de arco, como Rebeça, Violeta, Rebecão pequeno e grande: e os ungulares, como Viola, Guitarra, Mandolino. III.a A dos instrumentos de sopro, que igualmente tem duas ordens: os digitaes, como Flauta, Clarineta, Oboé, Corne, Fagote, Serpentão, &c.: e os labiaes, como Clarim, Trompa, Trombão, &c. IV. a A dos instrumentos de percussão e estrondo, como Tambor, Tymbales, Pratos, Campainhas, &c. A Voz humana he o instrumento do canto loquaz e da declamação, o mais natural, antigo e geral, e um dos difficeis na afinação (II).

Rodrigo Ferreira da Costa, Principios de musica, p. 47.

149. Destinárão-se determinadas claves para as musicas das diversas vozes e instrumentos, segundo a elevação dos seus sons no teclado geral. A clave de G (a mais aguda) pertence aos instrumentos agudos, como Rebeca, Mandolino, Flauta, Oboé, Flautim, Clarim, e modernamente á voz de Tiple.

Rodrigo Ferreira da Costa, Principios de musica, p. 141.

5.2 Obras poeticas de D. Leonor d’Almeida Portugal Lorena e Lencastre, marqueza d’Alorna, condessa d’Assumar, e d’Oeynhausen, conhecida entre os poetas portuguezes pelo nome de Alcipe (1844)

This is a posthumous print of works by Leonor d’Almeida Portugal Lorena e Lencastre (1750-1839). The mandolin is mentioned once:

Segundo Levita.

Vós, tocadores famosos
Da guitarra e mandolino;
Vós, peritos no violino,
Vinde á festa figurar:
Com rusticos instrumentos
Atroai os arredores;
Vinde do campo, ó Pastores,
Vinde o prazer augmentar.

Obras poeticas de D. Leonor d’Almeida Portugal Lorena e Lencastre, p. 508-509.

6. Conclusions

Only a few decades ago, mandolin history and Portugal didn’t seem a great match. In the meantime, several sources have turned up which seem to suggest the Portuguese royal family not only were patrons to the mandolin but likely played the instrument as well. The peak of interest seems to be around 1770-1790. Musical sources in manuscript are supplemented by a number of other types of sources – like local mandolin production, an advertisement of a mandolin teacher, as well as references in a theoretical music treatise and in a poem. The musical sources also start to include prints as of the 1790s, reflecting an even more mature interest in the mandolin. Even after the turbulences of the Napoleonic wars, the mandolin still shows up in Portugal, with the highlight of four excellent mandolin-keyboard sonatas (likely composed) by Vittorio Trento around 1822. I hope that this article will help forward the investigations into early Portuguese mandolin history and spreading the knowledge mandolin scholars gained in the past decades.

7. Bibliography

  • Albuquerque, João Durães, Jornal de Modinhas, Ediçao Facsimilada, Lisboa, 1996.
  • de Brito, Manuel Carlos & Cymbron, Luísa (2008), Opera Orchestras in the 18th and 19th Centuries in Lisbon and Oporto, in The Opera Orchestra in 18th- and 19th- Century Europe, I: The Orchestra in Society, vol. 2, Berlin, 2008, p. 441-475.
  • Cranmer, David (2011), David Perez. Variazioni Per Mandolino. Edição Fac-similada e CD (Edições Musicais do CESEM, 2), Lisboa.
  • de Castro Procópio, Flávia, As modinhas de Marcos Portugal publicadas entre 1792 e 1801: Fundamentos para a interpretação com base na análise retórico-musical, figuras de linguagem, schematas e tópicas, unpublished master’s degree thesis, Manaus, 2019.
  • De Paula, Rodrigo T., art. LEITE, António da Silva, online at (last referenced at 27/04/2021).
  • Dottori, Mauricio & Jackson, Paul J. (2001) art. Perez, David, online through at (last referenced at 27/04/2021).
  • Lanza, Andrea (2001): art. Trento, Vittorio, online through at (last referenced at 27/04/2021).
  • Van Tichelen, Pieter (2020): art. Tolerance between instrumental repertories or commercial tricks? Mandolin-related prints until the early 19th century, in Phoibos, nr. 18, p. 153-214.
  • Vieira Pacheco, Alberto José & Fernandes, Cristina, art. PORTO, António Felizardo, online at (last referenced at 27/04/2021).
  • Vieira Pacheco, Alberto José & Fernandes, Cristina, art. TOTTI, Giuseppe di Foiano, online at (last referenced at 27/04/2021).

8 Abbreviations

8.1 Library sigla

  • P-Ln: Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisboa
  • P-La: Biblioteca do Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, Lisboa
  • B-Bc: Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, Bibliothèque – Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, Bibliotheek, Bruxelles; Brussel
  • CH-Gc: Conservatoire de Musique, Bibliothèque, Genève
  • US-Wc: The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

8.2 Journals consulted

  • GdL: Gazeta de Lisboa
  • CME: Correio mercantil e economico de Portugal


A huge thank you to the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal in Lisboa. Their immediate and heartfelt approval of my editions of the Tratentimenti and Trento/Porto manuscripts were quite motivating. Their support towards the Public Sector Information Directive also means a lot of their invaluable sources are available online which made my research a lot easier.

As ever, my thanks go towards my wife Kathelijn Van Oers and children Jonathan Van Tichelen and Nicolas Van Tichelen, who have to bear with me during long periods of research and writing articles.

Special thanks to Ugo Orlandi for pointing out the Silva da Leite print and his support and dialogue about some of the other sources.

Ernest Krähmer’s Rondo and Variations for mandolin and orchestra (Vienna, ca. 1820)


During my routine searches in library catalogues, I spotted something interesting in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München. Two manuscripts seemed to contain mandolin music with orchestral accompaniment which I never encountered before, even in the course of previous research of mandolin music in the same library. As it turned out, these manuscripts were part of a private collection (Gitarristische Sammlung Fritz Walter und Gabriele Wiedemann) not too long ago donated to the library. Most of this collection is focused on guitar repertory, but there are three mandolin-related exceptions. Two are the manuscripts for mandolin and orchestra with music by Krähmer of this article, the third is the well-known print of the Hummel mandolin-keyboard Grande Sonata (Vienna, 1810). The Covid-19 situation complicated research a bit, but I believe I have been able to gather enough of a basic level of information to no longer wait to share with the community. I have included a modern edition of the manuscripts and even some audio from my music notation software so you can have an impression (due to Covid-19, it’s bound to take a while before we’ll hear a live version). I have provided a lot more contextual information and a deeper level of analysis than usual – mainly because I believe this find really requires it.

Ernest Krähmer

Ernest Krähmer (1795-1837) is one of many lesser-known early 19th century Viennese composers. Initially, he received woodwind training in Annaburg in a military institute. He also trained for a while in Dresden, before moving to Vienna around 1814. As of 1815, he held a position as an oboe player at the “Hoftheater nächst der Burg”. This was one of the two major theaters in Vienna.

Though Krähmer started first as the second oboe player in 1815, he moved to the first oboe chair in 1819. In 1822, Krähmer also obtained an appointment as a musician in the Hofkapelle. To highlight his connections in the Viennese musical society, we need only glance at his marriage. In 1822, Ernest Krähmer married Caroline Schleicher (1794-1873, about the musical accomplishments of Caroline, see below). The witnesses were Franz Xaver Mozart (one of the surviving children of Wolfgang) and August Mittag, the bassoon player at the imperial court and bassoon teacher at the Vienna Conservatory. The Krähmers performed at concerts in Vienna but also travelled abroad to perform (to Poland, Russia, Hungary, Bohemia amongst others). Beethoven was also acquainted with the Krähmers and mentioned them at least twice in his written legacy (see Herold 2009). Another good indication of his importance is the huge amount of concert and print advertisements by Krähmer in German and Austrian newspapers.

Caroline Krähmer (née Schleicher) deserves some attention as well: Ernest’s wife was an exceptionally accomplished professional musician herself. At that time, women performing in public were still quite rare and frowned upon. Especially so because of the choice of her instruments: she is mainly known for playing the clarinet and violin, both instruments which were viewed as male instruments, causing several comments of her contemporaries (see Herold 2009). After the early demise of her husband, her abilities made it possible to supplement her small pension as a widow of a court musician by giving concerts and teaching (see Lorenz 2021 and Herold 2009). She remained active until quite late in her life and some of the surviving children were also musically active.

Caroline Krähmer
Ca. 1815, Diethelm Lavater, portrait of Caroline Schleicher. Image courtesy of Zentralbibliothek Zürich. Taken from the online version of Herold 2009.

Most of Ernest Krähmers works are for woodwind instruments, especially for the czakan, an instrument which is quite unknown today (a type of duct flute often in the shape of a walking stick). Some other works reflect the concerts with his wife (duets for oboe and clarinet). As far as I know, no research into Ernest Krähmer ever laid bare any mandolin music.

Dating the manuscripts

As both manuscripts are by the same hand, it can be assumed these were from one and the same period, and maybe even performed together. It is quite doubtful that the manuscripts date from the period before Krähmer moved to Vienna. Hence I would put the earliest date to 1814. Krähmers date of death (1837) is the only other sure milestone for dating the manuscripts.

Little can be learnt from the provenance of the collection. Most of the guitar manuscripts and prints from the vast collection are spread equally over the entire 19th century. So even the date of the other mandolin source in the collection (the Hummel Grande Sonata from 1810) is of little use to help date the manuscripts. In fact, the Hummel sonata was still readily available for quite a while after its publication (for example, present in the 1821 edition of Whistling’s Handbuch der Musikalische Literatur).

On the other hand, there is one crucial clue that can be glimpsed from the context in which the manuscripts were created. Vienna often lauded one sole mandolin player during the 1820s-30s: Pietro Vimercati (1779-1850). Vimercati started as a violin player (playing for a while at La Scala) before focusing on the mandolin around 1808 (see Aonzo 2001). Another important clue is that Pietro Vimercati played the Milanese/Lombard type of mandolin, and the manuscripts are also for that instrument (see following chapter). Furthermore, Vimercati’s first European tour not only brought him to Vienna. In fact, he returned to Vienna quite a lot during the 1820s. As already mentioned, Krähmer was employed as the first oboe at the Burgtheater but also performed elsewhere and had connections with musicians at the Kärtnertortheater and other venues.

Of course, this is circumstantial evidence, but it is enough to put forward the hypothesis that the music was most likely written for – or at the very least inspired by – Vimercati. The most likely date seems 1820-1830. Earliest date is 1820, around the time of the first European tour of Vimercati, and this is not unlikely as Krähmer became more occupied with his own concerts and publications from 1821 onwards. But we can’t rule out that Krähmer wrote for Vimercati later on, as he returned to Vienna in most of the years in the 1820s.

Noteworthy also is that Krähmer sometimes played Variations for oboe (and at least once an Adagio followed by Variations – see for example Wiener Zeitung, 1819, nr. 198, p. 792 or Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, 1819, nr. 38, p. 634.). There was also a Rondo for oboe announced (see Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, 1820, nr. 20, p. 336.). As it might be worthwhile to compare such oboe works with the mandolin works, I have tried to find variation manuscripts for oboe, and so far only found one (CZ-Pnm, shelfmark XLVI F 286). At least this one is not a duplicate of the mandolin variations, but it should not surprise us if someday an oboe version of the same manuscripts might be found. Re-use of repertory is quite natural, and there are other examples of interchange with the oboe (for example, see my post on the anonymous 18th-century sinfonia). But by the claim ‘composed for mandolin by Krähmer’ seems to imply it was originally intended for mandolin.

The Lombard mandolin

One item of the link between Vimercati and the manuscripts is the use of the six-course mandolin types (Milanese or Lombard), famously used by Pietro Vimercati. Though chords are rare in both the Rondo and Variations, those present show clearly the tuning of the six-course types.

We can’t be sure what type Vimercati used. We’re sure it was a six-course type, but not which exactly (Milanese with six double courses totalling 12 strings, or Lombard with six single strings). As both are tuned the same, it’s not possible to make a difference from preserved music alone. Alas, to my knowledge there are no pictures of Vimercati with his instrument or preserved instruments linked to him. There are some descriptions though, which seem to imply a Milanese rather than Lombard type – with one exception: 11 instead of 12 strings (see Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung from 22/4/1820). This usually means the top string is single (sometimes seen in Milanese mandolins in the 17th and 18th centuries).

Vienna in the early 19th century still had a taste for the Milanese/Lombard mandolin types, as can be proven through some musical sources as well as preserved instruments. It would lead to far to go into the detail of all of these, but it’s important to note that Vimercati might have found some amateurs of his chosen instrument in Vienna. Certainly, both the concert advertisements and lauding reviews in the Austrian newspapers confirm he found firm ground in Vienna.

There are two weird things about the mandolin types in relation to Krähmer and Vimercati. First of all, in the Krähmer manuscripts, there is a somewhat unusual spelling of the instrument’s name. Where most Viennese sources use either “mandoline” and/or “mandolino” (often interchangeable in one and the same source), Krähmer employs “mandolin”, without the “e” or “o” at the end. I have only seen this spelling once in a Viennese source, the Francesco Zucconi variations print (1801). Zucconi also has “mandolin” on the title page, but likely this is a copied mistake from the part name, where “MANDOLIN°” was used, with the “o” in superscript (most likely due to space issues during typesetting).

The other thing of note, this time regarding Vimercati, is that in the German and Austrian newspapers in the 1820s, the instrument he plays is described alternatively “english Mandola”, “lombardische Mandoline”, “lombardische Mandola”, or simply “Mandoline”. (See Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, Augsburgische Ordinari Postzeitung von Staats-, gelehrten, historisch- und Ökonomischen Neuigkeiten, Baierische National-Zeitung, Grazer Zeitung, Leipziger Zeitung, Österreichischer Beobachter, Wiener Theater-Zeitung, etc.). The Italian newspapers are not that different: “mandola inglese” appears quite a lot in the early period (1810s-1820s), later on it’s often “mandola” or “mandolino” (see L’Eco, Giornale Italiano, La voce della verità, etc.).

Did Vimercati’s “English mandola/mandolino” end up described as “mandolin” instead of the normal “mandoline”/”mandolino” by Krähmer? Maybe future research will find other Austrian sources with the terminology “mandolin” which will shed more light on the matter.

The manuscripts

Both manuscripts were part of the donation of the Gitarristische Sammlung Fritz Walter und Gabriele Wiedemann to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München:

  • Rondo: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Mus.N. 122,467 (RISM ID no.: 1001041735)
  • Variations: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Mus.N. 122,468 (RISM ID no.: 1001041738)

The manuscripts are in a landscape layout of 24,5 centimeters in height x 31 centimeters in width.

The Rondo manuscript consists of:

  • score: 44 pages (1 looks blank at first sight but has some pencil notices)
  • “mandolin” part: missing
  • violino Imo part: 4 pages (some corrective pieces on pages 2, 3 and 4)
  • violino IIdo part: 4 pages (some corrective pieces on pages 2, 3 and 4)
  • viola part: 4 pages (some corrective pieces on pages 2, 3 and 4)
  • basso part: 4 pages (some corrective pieces on pages 2, 3 and 4)
  • flauti part (both flutes): 4 pages (1 title page, 1 blank)
  • corni in G part (both horns): 4 pages (1 title page, 1 blank)

The Variations manuscript consists of:

  • score: 36 pages (one blank)
  • mandolin part, in another hand: 4 pages
  • violino Imo: 4 pages
  • violino IIdo: 4 pages
  • viola: 4 pages
  • basso: 4 pages
  • flauto: 2 pages
  • corni in G (both horns): 4 pages (one blank)

Most of the manuscript is written by one and the same hand. I am quite sure that the score of both pieces and most parts have been written by one and the same scribe. There are a few remarks though:

  • Quill hand “A”: score and most of the parts. Very trained hand, rarely any corrections (except for the extensive corrected places (sometimes almost a third of a page) in the parts of the Rondo), also very few mistakes or omissions.
  • Quill hand “B”: the mandolin part of the Variations looks to be in another hand.
  • Quill hand “A2”: the horn and flute parts of the Rondo have some differences, but not very striking. Rather than claiming another quill hand, I would suggest these parts were possibly written by the same hand A, but at a different time (earlier or later than the rest). Possibly this was caused by the same changes triggering the corrective places in the parts. A real specialist might be able to determine if A2 is indeed another hand or not, for now, I’ll maintain these parts were likely written later by the same hand. One important difference are the tempi of the Rondo movements: the first usually called Larghetto, is called Adagio; the second usually called Allegro is suddenly refined to Allegro moderato. As A2 is likely written later than the rest, I am inclined to take these new tempi seriously (and in my personal opinion, it does feel like a better fit with Adagio and Allegro moderato).
  • Pencil hand “C”: on both the Rondo and Variations manuscripts there are a few pencil markings (very few in the Variations, but quite a significant amount in the Rondo). These go way beyond the marks expected from a librarian – there are corrections and additions on the manuscripts (dynamics, corrections of the number of bars in a multiple bar rest, etc). There are also added titles on the parts and some small markings at the back of the last page of the Rondo.
  • Pencil hand “D”: likely from a librarian (possibly several hands), marking the folio numbers and the manuscript shelfmark

To further our knowledge of these manuscripts, it would make sense to compare them to holograph manuscripts (or at least written text) by Ernest Krähmer and Pietro Vimercati. That was not possible at the time of this article.

Pencil hand C is an interesting case. It adds a bit of information in the titles (see chapter Orchestration). Though rare, hand C has put in some additions (dynamics, corrections), which points towards someone present at a rehearsal or performance. It hence seems not to be the usual case, as with hand D, that pencil marks are made by the librarian archiving away the manuscripts.

In conclusion, I believe that the manuscripts are very well-made, likely by a professional musicians or music copyists (for hands A, B and C).

Structure and music form

The Rondo breaks down into the following items:

  • Larghetto/Adagio, C in G major
    • Tutti: 8 bars introduction G major
    • Solo: 8 bars (with tutti end phrase) + 8 bars D major + 7 bars transition (with melodic exchange between mandolin and flute 1)
    • Solo: Piu mosso in g minor, 7 bars, at then end a transition to Bes major + 10 bars Bes major (again melodic exchange between mandolin and flute 1)
    • Tutti: 2 bars transition & 2 bars dominant pedal D major chord leading up to the cadenza
    • Solo: barless cadenza for the mandolin without accompaniment (dominant pedal D major) (counted as one bar in the edition)
  • Rondo Allegro moderato, in G major
    • A theme
      • 8 bars (solo) + 8 bars (tutti) + 4 bars (solo) + 3 bars (tutti), g minor
      • variation of previous part: 4 bars D major (solo) + repeat of first 2 bars then alternative for 6 bars (including modulation to A major) + A major 4 bars (condensed theme, reduction of motives, repeated notes) + 2 bars buildup on dominant pedal A major towards theme B
    • B theme
      • B theme first part: 8 bars (tutti) + 12 bars (solo, tutti last bar) + 4 bars repeat of tutti start of episode 2 (solo) + 5 bars alternative (solo)
      • B theme second part: piu lento 2 bars (solo) + repeat in piano + 2 bars transition + 2 bars with motive reduction (with descending bass) + repeat with further melodic reduction + 2 bars (further reduction) + 3 bars dominant / tonic alteration + leading up to 4 bars D major dominant pedal with further dominant / tonic alteration to lead to theme A’
    • A’ theme (bar 141)
      • Start with theme A until bar 169 (shortly after the start of the varied part of theme A) + 6 transition bars (instead of modulation to A major, modulation to G major)
      • 8 bars (solo): alternative motive (starting on tonic pedal theme of 4 bars + 4 bars of mini-modulation to D major, but immediate return to G major afterwards) + 12 bars of a varied version of the previous motive (including mini-modulation to D major at the end) + tutti repeat of 4 bars of beginning + varied version 5 bars (condensed)
      • build-up to fine: 8 bars + repeat (7 bars, condensing starts in what would be bar 8 of repeat) + 4 bars dominant-tonic alteration + 4 bars harmonic alterations + 4 bars dominant-tonic alteration + 4 bars tonic pedal as finale.

The Rondo follows an A – B – A’ pattern. This might not look like a “rondo” in the strict sense, (for example like ABACADA). Though the term rondo was still sometimes used for a rondo with repeating refrains, there is also a tradition in the first Viennese school to simply use an A-B-A’ pattern with lots of different contrasting episodes in each theme. This was usually a standalone movement, and quite often a bravura piece, designated as such with titles like “rondo concertante” or “rondo brillante”. A good example of such a rondo is the Rondeau favori op. 11 by (1804) Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837). Another characteristic of the Rondo by Krähmer is the Larghetto/Adagio which preludes the actual Rondo. An introduction movement for a standalone rondo is not unusual in Vienna. Examples are the Adagio and Rondo by Mozart (1791) KV 617 or the Rondo Concertante by Schubert (1816) D 487.

The Rondo by Krähmer clearly shows some of the typical stylistic figures expected for its genre and time – such as the contrasting and surprising episodes. The fact that it is a rondo with a soloist also points in that direction. Also found in quite a lot of these pieces is a link to the opera buffa, and indeed, some places of the Rondo might well fit in a finale of an overture of an opera buffa. The finale, where the A’ theme starts to be different from the A theme, has a musical drive that invokes an opera buffa overture or aria finale. Equally, the build towards the cadenza in the introduction movement feels a bit operatic. These similarities can be expected, as they are usually employed in the genre of the standalone rondo concertante, and such techniques would have been very familiar to someone employed as an oboe player in the Austrian court opera.

The Variations breaks down into the following items:

  • Andantino, C in G major, 8 (tutti) + 45 (solo)
  • Thema Allegretto, C in G major, 8 (solo):||: 8 (solo) :|| 4 (tutti)
  • Var. 1, C in G major, 8 (solo):||: 8 (solo) :|| 4 (tutti)
  • Var. 2, C in G major, 8 (solo):||: 8 (solo) :|| 4 (tutti)
  • Var. 3, C in G major, 8 (solo):||: 8 (solo) :|| 4 (tutti)
  • Andante, C in g minor, 8 (solo):||: 8 (solo) :||
  • Var. 4, C in G major, 8 (solo):||: 8 (solo) :|| 9 (tutti)

As you can see, the variation sequence isn’t very surprising in form. It conforms quite well to the expected structure, by having a theme of 8 + 8 bars, which are varied in exactly the same amount of bars. Somewhat less usual is the addition of a tutti passage of 4 bars at the end of the theme and each variation. But this is easily explained as the way the composer orchestrated: outside of these tutti bars, the orchestration is thinned out to let the mandolin solo shine. This type of orchestration in “block” is somewhat crude, but not unusual for variation sequences. It balances the limitations in terms of volume of the mandolin versus the orchestra and still lets the orchestra take part. It’s also reminiscing of that other type of Viennese form, the rondo, to continuously have a certain refrain returning.

The Andantino introduction is less usual but there are several Viennese (or Viennese influenced) variations sequences which have such an introduction movement. For example, Hummel’s Variations for oboe and orchestra (1824), the Variations in Es for clarinet and piano by archduke Rudolph, Pecháček’s Introduction und Brilliant Variations op 28 for violin and piano (1845) and not surprisingly, Krähmer’s own oboe Variations (CZ-Pnm, shelfmark XLVI F 286).

This leaves us with the Andante movement in-between variations three and four. This is essentially another variation of 8 + 8 bars, but without the tutti phrase at the end, and in g minor. This slight modulation might explain why the tutti was not involved and this movement not officially called another variation. The tutti “rondo” motive in g minor somehow doesn’t work, nor does playing the motive unaltered in G major fit well.


Both pieces are written for practically the same ensemble, the only difference is that the Rondo has two separate flute parts. It can’t be ruled out that the flute part in the Variations was played with two flutes – standard wind sections of the late 18th, early 19th century and the orchestra at the Kärntnertortheater would seem to confirm this. The orchestration fits quite well with the most basic wind section of the symphonic orchestra, which already at the end of the 18th century consisted of two horns as well as two flutes or oboes.

  • Rondo: Mandoline, vl 1,2, vla, b, fl 1,2, cor 1,2
  • Variations: Mandoline, vl 1,2, vla, b, fl, cor 1,2

The mandolin part is clearly earmarked as soloist in both pieces. Though the mandolin part of both pieces is quite extensive and nice solo material, there are no idiomatic phrases. The ‘bravura’ of the solo part usually relies on scales, broken chords, trills and repeated notes. I deem it safe to say that there are enough technical challenges, and enough information from the context of the manuscripts, to assume these pieces were composed for or inspired by Vimercati.

In the case of the Variations, the orchestra is hardly more than accompaniment. There are a few cases where there is melodic exchange but mainly the orchestration is “in block”. Either the mandolin plays the solo part, reducing the rest to accompaniment, or the whole orchestra plays in tutti. This orchestration in blocks is even reflected in the structure (see chapter above).

The Rondo is much more interestingly orchestrated. There are several places where the tutti plays a role in the development of the music structure, and the orchestra also has more of a melodic role. Even during some of the solo passages, the mandolin has a melodic exchange, for example with the first violin and/or flute. The orchestration also varies more, sometimes having a different setting during the repeat of a similar or identical phrase, making the Rondo much more interestingly orchestrated.

One question comes naturally: how big was the orchestra? Let’s try and go through the information available. First of all, quite some information exists about the size of the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna. There is a print that has a sketch of the orchestra pit, and there are some payment lists. This implies a string section of six first violins, six second violins, four violas, four celli and four double basses, totaling 24 bowed string players (see Brown 1988 and Edge 1988). This should be seen as the maximum amount of players for the music in the manuscripts.

Picture by Franz Xaver Stöber, the orchestra pit in the Kärntnertortheater, Vienna, addendum of Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, nr. 109, 1821. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons. This sketch includes the stands for the full orchestra, including the full wind section (much larger than in Krähmer’s orchestration).

Alternatively, it could be that the music was played in chamber music style. This seems unlikely as hand C writes “Orchester” in the additional titles. As hand C had to have been present during rehearsals or performances, it seems reliable enough to conclude the music wasn’t meant to be played with the smallest possible ensemble of 7/8 players plus mandolin. It also would create a better balance the wind and string section. And on top of that, the indications “Tutti” and “Solo” might also be an argument against chamber ensemble. Usually the orchestration during the “Solo” phrases is thinned out so the mandolin can easily be heard. Important to note though is that hand C sometimes specifies even further to “kleines Orchester” (Rondo: all parts “kl. Orch.”; Variations: violin 1: “Orchester”). This likely means a reduced number of players as opposed to the full orchestra.

In the end, it’s anybody’s guess how many players then would have been involved, but likely less than the maximum number of the full Kärntnertortheater orchestra (29) and more than the minimum for a chamber music ensemble setting (8). In my personal opinion, about half sounds like a good starting point: three first violins, three second violins, two violas, two celli and one double bass plus the four wind instruments and mandolin (16). This even still allows for a concertino and ripieno group which seems intended by the markings of “Solo” and “Tutti”.

Yet another remark should be made about the orchestration: hand C mentions an alternative. This remark is written on the back of the last page of the score, but it’s not very readable. I currently make out only two words for sure: “Clavierbegleitung” (keyboard accompaniment) and “Larghetto” (the first movement of the Rondo). It’s not clear enough to base too much on, but it seems to imply that the piece was also played with keyboard accompaniment at the time of hand C. No keyboard part is attached to the manuscript, but most trained accompaniment keyboard players, such as are often found in orchestras like at the Burgtheater or Kärtnertortheater, would be able to play a reduction from the score at sight.


I’m grateful to have been granted a license to provide editions of these manuscripts by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München for both the Rondo (shelfmark Mus.N. 122,467) and Variations (shelfmark Mus.N. 122,468). Below you can find both the score and all parts. I kept the wind instruments combined as a pair (horns and flutes together), as in the original manuscripts. The score contains the editorial notes at the end. I’ve also included an (artificial) audio sample from my music notation software. I think that is useful for readers not very used to reading score, and as in the current situation, it might still take quite some time before we get an opportunity to listen to this forgotten mandolin music come alive with a live orchestra.




Aonzo, C.  (2001). art. “Vimercati, Pietro”, in: Grove Music Online. Retrieved 19.2.2021 (

Bone, P. J. (1914), The Guitar and Mandolin. Biographies of Celebrated Players and Composers, London, 1914.

Brown, C. (1988) art. “The orchestra in Beethoven’s Vienna”, in: Early Music Series, vol. 20, p. 4-20.

Edge, D. (1988) art. “Mozart’s Viennese Orchestras”, in: Early Music Series, vol. 20, p. 63-88.

Herold, A. (2009) art. “Krähmer, (Maria) Caroline, Karoline, Carolina, geb. Schleicher”, in: Europäische Instrumentalistinnen des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts. Retrieved 19.2.2021 (

Kornberger, M. (2019): art. “Krähmer, Familie”, in: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon online. Retrieved 19.2.2021 (

Lorenz, M. (2021): art. “The Late Years of Caroline Krähmer”, in: Musicological Trifles and Biographical Paralipomena. Retrieved 19.2.2021 (

Leone’s Six Sonates volume 1, second edition (1768-1774)


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[.] 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 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.

Section Section
Subsection Subsection
Title 2 (0,77%) Title 2
Sonata I 17 (6,56%) I-1 10
I-2 6
I-3 1
Sonata II 5 (1,93%) II-1 5
II-2 0
II-3 0
Sonata III 104 (40,15%) III-1 30
III-2 66
III-3 8
Sonata IV 39 (15,06%) IV-1 20
IV-2 4
IV-3 15
Sonata V 52 (20,08%) V-1 16
V-2 9
V-3 27
Sonata VI 40 (15,44%) VI-1 9
VI-2 13
VI-3 18
    Totals 259


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.