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.

Revisited: Anonymous, Sinfonia for mandolin (or oboe or flute?), violins and bass

Several years ago, I published about the discovery of an anonymous mandolin concerto in a library in Stockholm. Though I decided to revisit this piece, alas, it’s not because new material came to light (the provenance is still elusive). Even after 7 years, neither I nor any of my partners in crime of mandolin research were able to find out more. Anyone who would have some idea, please let me know, as it would be rather interesting to find out more.

However, I’m glad I finally found time to publish editions of the music. Back in 2012 when I first researched the manuscript, it seemed I was the first mandolin scholar to take a look. Even today, I haven’t seen other scholars or even musicians taking an interest. So I think it’s about time to bring this piece in the open. The urtext remains true to the original manuscript as much as possible, though I made some additions (corrections, missing accidentals, missing dynamics when compared to same phrase etc). The modern edition has a slightly more easy layout to read for modern musicians and includes parts as well as a score.

Enjoy! As ever, I share this for free. If you like my work, you can support me by making a donation.

In case you’re wondering about the music, you can get a good idea via the Youtube links below. I played the music with some mandolin and guitar students of the Antwerp conservatory and my usual guitar partner-in-crime Johan Dias. Obviously we played on mandolins and guitars (hence slightly adapted) and without realizing the full continuo (guitar just plays the basso). Though adapted and not perfectly executed it’s certainly a good impression of the musical possibilities of my find. (Thanks again Johan Corrales, Gerda Abts, Marte De Leeuw, Saar Wijns, Johan Dias and Sam Vertommen for taking some time to try out my discovery. Also thanks to Johan Framhout for recording and posting on Youtube.)

Historical mandolin sources at Yale University library (4/4): Divertimenti by Constantino Palesi (1775)


For once my new find is not an item thought lost which I discovered by a focused search. This time I caught hold of it by going through library catalogues and finding an item unknown to me. Coincidentally, the item was found in the same library as where I found the missing Six Duos by Pietro Denis. The volume is preserved in Yale University Library (Misc. Ms. 491). Yale bought the item from Colin Coleman with income from the Friedman fund.

Description of the source

As this volume of mandolin music was previously unknown, there is a lot of information to be looked at. Let’s first describe the volume itself. It’s quite a substantial collection of music as it entails no less than 53 pages (and quite a lot of music on it). As usual the paper is a slightly bigger size than the A4 or letter formats in use today.

The music pages are all in manuscript. The title and dedication pages are printed, a combination not often found. There are some typos in the title page which seem to suggest that the person typesetting wasn’t familiar with the language or subject and that this wasn’t proofread. It may also be a later addition or replacement of an earlier manuscript version, but from looking at the volume it seems to match the paper type quite well, and was likely originally bound together with the manuscript music.

Title page


Composte Per



The title page seems to indicate that the volume was composed by a certain Constantino Palesi, originally from Rome. This person so far is not known as a composer. Preliminary investigations have failed to find an archive listing him but not all archives are correct or preserved. (And as we’re prior to Napoleon, it’s parochial archives for events such as birth etc.)

The volume is placed in Aix (en-Provence) and dated 1775. I have found no conflicting facts, rather the opposite: the dedicatee indeed was in Aix in 1774-1775. More about that after the dedication page.

Dedication page


Godono gli vomini nel lasciare la memoria del loro
progresso in ogni genere, ma io godo molto più la-
sciando con questamia armonia la memoria dè segni
di benevolenza dell’E. V., e di mia riconoscenza.

Di V. E. Dmo, &
Romano, Maestro di Musica.

The dedicatee’s name and title (or rather of his father) is full of typos. The person in question is Algernon Percy (1750-1830), the son of the Duke of Northumberland. He was elected as MP for Northumberland from 1774 on. Lord Algernon became a Peer by inheriting the barony of Lovaine from his father in 1786 and left the Commons from that point. However, prior to the start of his political career he seems to have suffered from some illness and was sent to the south of France on doctor’s orders. He seems to have spent at least some time from 1773 in the south of France on. Even during the elections in 1774 he remained in the South of France and had to apply for election in writing and let his father manage the campaign. An interesting anecdote is that he met his later wife during this trip abroad (Susan Isabella Burrell), who was travelling alongside her father. Shortly afterwards, in 1775, they married.

Musical content

As announced on the title page, there are duets, aria’s and sonatas. However, the aria’s seem to be interspersed into the duets (not uncommon in mandolin duets). So in fact, there are six duets containing arias in themselves, followed by six single-movement sonatas.

The style is rather fashionable and I’m expecting these will be enjoyed by other mandolin players as much as I enjoyed them. Though not for beginners, the duets can be mastered by most advanced players. The sonatas are a bit more taxing but are lots of fun as well.

  • Duetto I
    • 2/4 in D major, Overtura. Allegretto Bizzarro 1/8+41:||:42:||:
    • 2/4 in G major, Allegro 1/8+38+3/8:||:1/8+45:||
    • 3/4 in C major, Cantabile Aria Pensa serbarmi ò Cara 79:||:
    • 3/8 in G major, Presto 1/8+67+3/8:||:
  • Duet II
    • 2/4 in C major, Grazioso 1/8+ 34+3/8:||:1/8+39+3/8:||:
    • 2/4 in F major, Cantabile. Aria Se Perde Liù signivole, La sua Fedel Campagnia 1/8+35+3/8:||:1/8+38+3/8:||:
    • 6/8 in C major, Presto 3/8+33+3/8:||:3/8+36+3/8:||:
  • Duet III
    • 2/4 in F major, Allegretto 38:||:47:||:
    • 2/4 in Bes major Larghetto. Vrania, e dove sei 1/8+11+3/8:||:1/8+18+3/8:||:
    • 3/4 in Bes major Allegretto. Ah, non sperargia mai 33:||:32:||:
    • 6/8 in F major, Presto. Il Parnasso, Ballo 1/8+40+7/8:||:1/8+57:||:
  • Duet IV
    • C in D major, Spiritoso 1/8+35+7/8:||:1/8+36+7/8:||:
    • 2/4 in A major, Larghetto Cantabile. Aria Deh tacete il vostro affanno 39:||:1/8+56:||:
    • 3/8 in D major, Presto 70:||:113:||:
  • Duet V
    • C in F major, Allegro 1/8+28+7/8:||:1/8+48:||:
    • C in C major, Andantino. Aria Se più Felice Oggetto 38:||:53:||:
    • 6/8 in F major, Allegretto 3/8+87+3/8:||:
  • Duet VI
    • C in C major, Allegro 27:||:29:||:
    • 2/4 in F major, Andantino. Duetto Vieni mio ben tra i fiori 45||
    • 6/8 in d minor, Allegro 47:||:
    • 2/4 in C major, Bizzarro 37:||:62:||:
  • Sonata I
    • 2/4 G major, Allegretto 33:||:41:||:
  • Sonata II
    • C C major, [No name] 1/8+27+7/8:||:1/8+33+7/8:||:
  • Sonata III
    • 2/4 A major, Allegro 1/8+62+3/8:||:1/8+65+3/8:||:
  • Sonata IV
    • 2/4 D major, [No name] 1/8+33+3/8:||:1/8+41+3/8:||:
  • Sonata V
    • C G major, Allegro 1/8+13+7/8:||:1/8+20+7/8:||:
  • Sonata VI
    • C D major, Allegro 1/4+41+7/8||


Again I have created editions of this work, available for free. Please note that my research and creating of these editions costs time, money and effort so if you like my work, donations are appreciated. Below you can find links towards the Urtext and modern editions of all duets (containing the aria’s as in the original) and sonatas.

Historical mandolin sources at Yale University library (3/4): Six Duos by Pietro Denis (1764)


In the course of my research into mandolin prints prior to 1850, I have tried to find some of the volumes thought lost. High on my list was the volume Six Duos Pour Deux Mandolines by Pietro Denis printed in Paris in 1764. It’s the first print in Paris to list the mandolin first on its title page. I have been able to find a copy in the music library of Yale University (M293 D395 D9++ Folio).

Mandolin duets

The genre of duets was one of the most popular in the Paris prints from 1760-1780. It may even be considered that some of the mandolin solo sonatas with bass were played with a viola or a second mandolin (see research by Didier Le Roux, and some pointers in the Leone Variations print (see blog post) and Barbella print by Verdone, and many other clues).

The volume by Denis is one of the earliest mandolin prints from Paris. Very few volumes predate Denis’ bundle. The first one is the duets bundle of Leone, but this one rather mentions the mandolin as an alternative to the violin at its title page. Denis is much bolder in his advertisement towards the mandolin (even though Leone’s duets might have been meant for mandolin). There is another volume of duets by Giacomo Merchi from ca. 1758, which predates both, but only later on re-marketed itself as mandolin duets. This volume was likely originally meant as mandolin duets, published as violin duets, and when the mandolin became popular in Paris, re marketed towards the mandolin.

The fact that it’s a unique item for its time, predating the popularity of mandolin duets and the numerous prints which were to follow, merits the attention of any mandolin scholar or player.

Pietro Denis

Pietro Denis (Pierre Denis) was active in Paris from at least 1760 until at least 1775, and most of that time he advertised as mandolin teacher and his mandolin prints. He even published a mandolin method in three parts (1768, 1769 & 1773). This method (or at least volume 1) was criticized by Leone and Denis altered some parts of his method in volume 2 (after Leone’s own method and its criticism was published). Denis’ music for mandolin contains both instrumental pieces as well as a huge collection of vocal pieces, mostly based on contemporary arias from the Comédie Italienne.

He also printed a few theoretical treatises, such as translations to French from volumes by Tartini and Fux. These translations and his attempt at a guide to musical composition come at the end of his output, and seem to indicate that he started to try to earn a living in other musical areas than the mandolin. That might well be prompted by a decline of interest in the mandolin. Some of his volumes got reprinted in the 1780s but it is unclear if Denis was still involved.

His output shows at the one end some musical education and understanding of musical composition and mandolin techniques. At the other end however, it’s also clear that this experience was limited and somewhat flawed (see contemporary and later criticism towards his translations, mandolin method etc). It has been suggested Denis background might be from the provinces and/or a lower class which might explain some of his limitations. Though this is no more than a likely hypothesis (still to be proven for sure), opposite this view the fact remains that Pietro Denis is one of the most important teachers and publishers for the mandolin in Paris in the 1760s and 1770s.

Prints by Pietro Denis

  • 1764: Six Duos
  • 1765: Six Sonates
  • 1767: likely contributed as editor and/or publisher to Dingli, Sei Sonate (1767 version)
  • 1768: Méthode volume I
  • 1769: Méthode volume II, Recueil volume I (vocal), likely editor and/or publisher to Dingli, Sei Sonate (1769 version – might be a simple reprint of 1767 but only 1769 version survived)
  • 1770: Recueil volumes II, III, IV (vocal)
  • 1771: Tartini, Traité des Agremens de Musique
  • 1773: Méthode volume III, Recueil volume V (vocal), Les IV Saisons volmue I (vocal), Fux (Gradus ad Parnassum)
  • 1774: Les IV Saisons volume II (vocal)
  • 1782: Reprint of Tartini, Traité
  • 1788: Reprint of Fux, Gradus

NB: Someone with the same last name (Denis) (re)printed some volumes in the 1740s in Paris, but these are not by Pietro Denis. One is still often wrongly attributes towards Pietro Denis, and can cause some confusion (Nouvelle methode pour apprende en peu de tems la musique et l’art de chanter).

Of this prolific output of prints, most are preserved. The missing items are marked with strikethrough. Dingli’s 1767 version of the Sei Sonate seems not to have survived, but it may well be the same set as printed in 1769. The 4th set of vocal tunes with mandolin accompaniment also seems to have been lost, as well as the first of the IV Saisons Européennes (there are no clues whether the 3rd and 4th volumes ever were printed). So far, the Six Duos, his first volume of music for mandolin, were also thought lost.

The Six Duos by Denis

The volume is preserved in the music library of Yale University (M293 D395 D9++ Folio) and consists of a title and dedication page, and 14 pages of music which consists of six sonatas of three movements in various keys and metrums. The title and dedication pages are worth considering in detail, so let’s first take a look at these:

Title page Pietro Denis, Six Duos

Qu’on peut exécuté avec le Violon
ou par dessus de Viole
Et les deux derniers sur la Vielle et Musette.

Ministre Plenipotentiaire de sa Majesté Sicilienne,
Aupres des Etats Géneraux.

Et mis au jour par M. Echaud,
Maître de Mandoline.

Gravé par Ceron.

Prix 6lt.

Chez l’Auteur, rue de Richelieu, au coin de la rue Faidau,
chez le Vin.
Et aux adresses de Musiques.

An interesting point is the fact that Echaud is mentioned, someone known from other sources but from whom no musical output survives. That he contributed (even if only as editor) is an interesting point. Apparently Denis wasn’t as accomplished yet to venture into printing on his own, as he would do later on. It’s of course also possible he included a teacher as a courtesy, but somewhat unlikely. It is quite possible that Denis wasn’t yet able to publish on his own and needed some further help (either financially, in organizing the print or musical).

The address of Denis mentioned as a potential sales point, the Rue de Richelieu, is only encountered in this print. Later on Denis’ volumes list the Rue Montmartre (porte cochere en face de rue Notre-Dame de Victoire), and also the Rue Poissoiniere (à la porte cochere en face de la croix de fer). All of these address are right in the city center and not too distant from each other. This point taken together with the many dedicatees show Pietro Denis knew how to maintain a standard of living and had connections in many circles (though not always the highest – if compared to for example Leone). In case of the dedication of the Six Duos he seems to have been in the circle of influence of a diplomat of some importance:

Dedication page, Pietro Denis, Six Duos

A Son Excéllence
Monseigneur le Comte Catanti
Ministre Plenipotentiaire de sa Majesté Siciliene
Auprès des Etats Généraux des Provinces Unies.


La connoissance, que vous avés d’un Instrument, qui vous a quelques-fois
délassé dans le cours de vos importantes et glorieuses occupations, et les bontés infinies,
dont vous m’avés comblé pendant mon séjour à Naples, sont mes titres pour oser
offrir un petit Ouvrage à Votre Excéllence. Puisse t-elle trouver dans ces
Duos, que j’ai retiré quelque fruit des Leçons et des Examples des grands Maîtres
d’Italie; et daigne-t-elle en agréer l’offre comme un témoignage public, quoique foible;
de mon immortelle reconnoissance, et du profond respect, avec lequel j’ai l’honneur d’être


De Votre Excéllence

Le très humble et très
obeissant Serviteur


Though not a very detailed dedication and not as florid in language as some contemporary dedications, it is an interesting one. It seems to suggest some contact between Denis and his dedicatee. More importantly, this seems to have been during his stay in Naples – a possible line of inquire into Denis’ background and stay in Naples. At least we can now date his travels before this print (1764), and unless he went back the references he makes in the mandolin method also predate the Six Duos.

The volume contains six duets of three movements. The last two are claimed to be suitable for musette or vielle à roue which actually shows up in the musical style. It’s of course meant as a commercial gesture to try and achieve more sales. But the music shows that the composer takes into consideration the specifics of these instruments (range, bourdon). Those not familiar with the musette or vielle à roue should certainly take some time to read up. Both instruments were part of the Paris late baroque – early classical music life and some prints were targeting them (sometimes both instruments).

The duets are not yet in the fully developed sonata form, and are a bit reminiscent of the baroque sonata form. Often there is a subdominant reprise which transforms to the tonica key at the point of the dominant modulation of the original exposition. Thought certain elements could be considered ‘Italian’ in style, the galant style of writing is not yet fully employed in these pieces. It’s certainly not a late-baroque French set of pieces but more something of a transient between the baroque and classical styles and something with Italian influences when this was still a novelty in  Paris.

Duetto I (p. 2-3)

  • 2/4 in F Allegro non tropo 1/8+25+3/8:||:1/8+20+3/8:||:
  • 2/4 in Bes Andante 1/8+ 15+3/8:||:1/8+25+3/8:||:
  • 3/8 in F Allegro 41:||:50:||:

Duetto II (p. 4-5)

  • 2/4 in D Allegro non tropo 1/8+16+3/8:||:1/8+25+3/8:||:
  • 3/4 in D Minuetto + Variasione Minuetto 8:||:16:||: Variasione 8:||:16:||:
  • 2/4 in D Baletto Presto 6:||: 4:||: (in d) 4:||:6:||Da capo

Duetto III (p. 6-7)

  • 2/4 in G Allegro 1/8+15+3/8:||:1/8+20:||:
  • 3/8 in C Andante 35
  • 2/4 in G Presto 1/4+7+1/4 DS :||:1/4+7+1/4 DS :||:14+1/4 DS :||:7+1/4 DS :||:7+1/4 DS :||

Duetto IV (p. 8-10)

  • 2/4 in A Tempo Giusto 1/8+23+3/8:||:1/8+29+3/8:||:
  • 3/8 in E Andantino Sempre piano 20:||:28:||
  • 6/8 in A Allegro assai 1/8+22+5/8:||:1/8+27+5/8:||:

Duetto V (p. 11-13)

  • C barré in C Allegro 1/4+16+3/4:||:1/4+28+3/4:||:
  • C barré in G Andante 3/8+11+2/4:||:2/4+17+2/4:||:
  • 3/8 in C All.° assai 1/8+40+2/8:||:1/8+64+2/8:||:

Duetto VI (p. 14-15)

  • 2/4 in C Allegro ma non tropo 1/8+19+3/8:||:1/8+21+3/8:||:
  • 2/4 in G Andantino 1/8+14+3/8:||:1/8+20+3/8:||:
  • 6/8 in C Giga 21:||:28:||:


As usual I have put in an effort to make this unknown part of the mandolin repertory available to the community. I’ve used my usual approach: an urtext edition and modern editions.

The urtext edition is true to the original and only puts in place some corrections (which are listed and often even visible in the score). Due to the bigger paper size I had to make one adjustment: the urtext editions are in landscape (so we could still put the same amount of bars on the staves without minimizing the size of the print too much). Rather than one big edition of the full set of duets, I’ve split them up per duet.

The modern edition is aimed at today’s players and has a more usable and modern layout and includes parts besides the score.

I’d like to express my thanks to Yale University Library (especially Suzanne Lovejoy) for the permission to create these editions.

As always these editions are free. If you would like to show appreciation for my research and the effort I put into the editions, you can contribute via the donate button.

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


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

Matteo Fiorito, Musica di Giulia Boccaccio

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divertimenti a mandolino

The music volume has a title on its cover:

Cover title

Musica di Giulia Boccaccio

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

Title page

a Mandolino
ad Uso di Madamigella Boccaccio
di Matteo Fiorito

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

Music in the book:

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

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

Price list

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

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


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

Historical mandolin sources at Yale University library (1/4): Introduction


As most readers will know, I pursue primary source research into mandolin history and have done so with a focus on mandolin related prints prior to 1850. During my research I occasionally stumble upon either new finds in libraries already researched by other mandolin scholars. Sometimes, I also have the privilege of being the first mandolin scholar to get a view on mandolin related sources from a library previously not visited by mandolin scholars. Yale University library is one such location which so far went under the radar, and that is totally undeserved as there are many astonishing sources I discovered at this beautiful institution.

Yale University Library

The library has a historical pedigree not to be sniffed at. It’s one of the few North-American university libraries with a rich history going back to the 17th century. However, it is not the distinguished history of the library which caused it its current pile of mandolin sources. In fact, it appears that most of the astonishing mandolin-related historical sources were only recently purchased (last 20-30 years), funded by donations. This does not diminish in any way the achievement of Yale University library to collect and preserve historical sources. Rather, it shows that there are still some interesting manuscripts and prints coming on the market and that it’s important for public institutions to attract enough funds to collect these.


List of mandolin related items in Yaler University library prior to 1850 (in chronological order):

AuthorTitlePlaceDateShelf markAcquisition
Santo LapisMiss Mayer, a new guittar book in 4 partsLondon1759M1621.3 L313 op.16++ FolioPurchased from J & J Lubrano with income from the Rose Jackson Fund.
Pietro DenisSix duos pour deux mandolinesParis1764M293 D395 D9++ FolioPurchased from Otto Haas with income from the Rose Jackson fund.
Gabriele LeoneMéthode raisonée pour passer du violon à la mandolineParis1768MT602 L583 M5 1773+ OversizePurchased from Lisa Cox with income from the Kirkpatrick Fund.
Pietro DenisSeconde partie de la methodeParis1769MT608 D395+ OversizeGift of the Friends of Music at Yale University, 1967.
Constantino PalesiDivertimenti di cammera per due mandoliniAix1775Misc. Ms. 491Purchased from Colin Coleman with income from the Friedman fund.
Cesare MussoliniSix new songs and six minuetsLondonca. 1790M1613.3 M989 N5+ Oversize[No acquisition history.]
Matteo Fiorilo (Fiorito?)Musica di Giulia Boccaccio – Divertimenti a mandolinoMorsarsco?1796Misc. Ms. 601Purchased from J & J Lubrano in 2009 with income from the Margaret Deakers Waith Fund.

Well-known items

The methods of Pietro Denis and Gabriele Leone are among the most well-known mandolin sources from the 18th century. Both are available through facsimile editions and are preserved in several other libraries (and Leone is even available on IMSLP). These two prints are hence not a new find, though they of course have merit. Everyone not familiar with them should certainly pursue to study them – these two are by far the most well-spread mandolin methods of the 18th century.

Lesser known but already known items

The volume by Mussolini is probably not very well known, but was already known by many mandolin scholars for a few decades. (It’s at the very least mentioned in a few mandolin history textbooks, for example, The Early Mandolin by James Tyler and Paul Sparks.)

The volume by Santo Lapis is a print I had already spotted in other libraries – and I already published a blog article on this item. (Most likely an update will follow when I have the time to issue an edition.)

New finds

The item by Fiorito is a manuscript with solo mandolin music, likely written for didactic purposes. I’ve published a blog article about it, listing its contents and some remarks. Likely I will later on update with urtext and modern editions (but at the moment these were not yet finished as I had many others with higher priority to finish – such as the editions of the sources listed below).

A second interesting item was already on the list of mandolin scholars: through advertisements we already knew Pietro Denis published a volume of duets in Paris in 1764. No preserved copy had been found until now. I have published a blog article on this item. It includes my urtext and modern editions of the music in question. It’s an interesting volume, and one of the early witnesses of the golden decades of the mandolin in Paris in the 1760s and 1770s.

The Divertimenti by Palesi are a find of a bigger magnitude than the volume by Denis. Both in quantity and quality this volume surpasses the duets of Denis. It also increases our knowledge about the mandolin in the South of France and adds some new composer to the ever increasing list of mandolin composers. This item also has its own blog post, and also includes urtext and modern editions.


Yale University library is a so far ignored treasure trove for mandolin scholars. Though some of the mandolin sources are known items, there are also some yet unknown sources which add to our knowledge of mandolin history as well as the historical repertory of the mandolin.