'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

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Captain Corelli Causes Chaos

Louis de Bernieres has a lot to answer for.
Only recently Robin finished reading 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', which is a fantastic book, and we also watched the film again, just before Robin went away.
This has partially caused the current mandolin mania...

Late last night I had an email from Robin, with what appeared to be, a simple request.
Could I find a particular book, (directions were issued to locate it within his vast library in the music room), and then look up how many concerti Hummel had composed for guitar and mandolin.
Also, whilst I was at it, did Giuliani compose anything for mandolin.

I found the book, 'The Guitar and Mandolin' by P.J.Bone, with great ease. It was exactly where Robin had said it would be.
I do like a man who knows his way around his own library.

I rather naively thought that I would be able to look up in the index, and find the answers to his questions.
I was wrong.
There were whole chapters on both Hummel, and on Giuliani.
My heart sank.
It was late, I had been working all day at the computer, and I was ready to switch off.
However, after browsing for only a few minutes, I became hooked.
What a fascinating period of time.
To think that Hummel actually lived with Mozart for two years, and whilst there, he did in fact compose many songs and arias with mandolin accompaniment.
At the age of 21 he also compose a concerto for orchestra and mandolin, in which the orchestra take the introductory theme for the first 45 bars. (This 45 bars rest is beautifully depicted in the film, 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', which if you haven't seen, then you should go and get, now.)
He also composed 'Grand Sonata' for mandolin and piano, which was sometimes played on guitar.

Mauro Giuliani on the other hand, didn't appear to write for mandolin, although he was undoubtedly frequently exposed to the instrument. As Giuliani was such a prolific writer I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is a 'lost' manuscript hidden in someones attic, specifically for the mandolin.

Giuliani was a particularly common name amongst musicians, and this caused some confusion on a number of occasions.
In fact, many thought that Mauro Giuliani had died, when it was reported that the guitarist M.Giuliani was dead. It was actually one Michele Giuliani that had met his demise, and the world was to have the pleasure of Mauro for a few more years.
But another Giuliani, Giovanni Francesco, did actually compose four quartets for mandolin, viola, cello and lute.

Whilst this is only a short, and potted history of the era, of which I have only briefly researched, (late last night if you remember), it must have been an incredible time to be alive.
Hummel living with Mozart, friends with Giuliani, Diabelli and Sor.
These names are so familiar to me, and it's very exciting to think of them all sitting around together, 'talking music'.
Thank goodness there was no television at the time. Can you imagine if all these wonderful musicians had been distracted by some awful reality T.V. show...
The world would be a poorer place.

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