'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Friday, December 07, 2007

"The Divine Giuliani" - Beethoven

Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) was born near Bari and was an Italian guitar virtuoso and composer.
He studied the cello and counterpoint, but the six-string guitar became his principle instrument early in life.
Earlier the five string guitar, known as a 'French guitar' was popular, but the instrument lagged behind the more popular lute and mandora. Once the sixth string was added, bottom E, the 'modern' guitar could at last reach the rank that the mandora had held in the musical world.

There were many fine guitarists in Italy at the beginning of the 19th century (Agliati, Carulli, Gragnani, Nava, etc), but many moved north in order to make a living.
Public interest at the time lay with opera and the guitar was seen as an accompaniment instrument. Giuliani did in fact write many works for voice and guitar throughout his life.
At this stage Italy didn't reward the talented individuals who chose to play the guitar as a solo chamber instrument.
Also, the sound level of a classical guitar circa 1800 was diminutive compared to other contemporary instruments, therefore making it difficult to be heard in the typical Italian theatre.
There was also widespread political instability at the time causing many conservatories to close, and along with a lack of competent publishing houses, there were enough reasons for Giuliani, and many others, to leave.
He settled in Vienna in 1806 and quickly became famous as the greatest living guitarist and a notable composer.

In 1808 Giuliani gave the premiere of his guitar concerto, with full orchestra, to great public acclaim.
From then on he led the classical guitar movement in Vienna, teaching, performing and composing a huge number of works for the guitar.

Giuliani moved in elite circles, in 1813 he played the cello in the premiere of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, in the company of Hummel, Mayseder and Spohr.

Giuliani had two talented children, Michel, who became a 'professeur de chant' at the Paris Conservatoire, and Emilia, who was also a famous guitar virtuoso and composer.

'Esercizio' by Giuliani, track 20 on 'Virtuoso', is, as it says, an exercise, or study. But like all the best studies it has huge musical value and isn't purely concerned with the mechanical aspects of playing the guitar.

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