Italian guitarist, cellist, singer, and composer Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) was a leading guitar virtuoso of the early 19th century. For guitar, Giuliani composed many etudes, theme and variations, and a series of numerous opera themes called Le Rossiniane, based on the operas of Gioachino Rossini. The Italian operatic influence is clear in all of Giuliani’s compositions, which contain gorgeous and bold melodic lines.
While Giuliani’s solo works for guitar are grand masterpieces, his collections of studies are also superb for guitar students at all levels. Giuliani’s beautiful song-like melodies compliment his rich harmonies, and explore the full range of what the guitar has to offer.
Giuliani has several important collections of etudes and right hand studies that remain fundamental to guitar pedagogy. All students are encouraged to play through the 120 right hand studies. In addition to those short exercises, anyone can benefit from playing through his beautiful studies! Intermediate and advanced players should be advised that Op.48 is considered tot be Giuliani’s most challenging collection of studies.
- 120 Studies for Right Hand Development
- Op.48: 24 Exercises for the guitar
- Op.51: 18 Progressive Lessons
- Op.98: 8 Delightful Studies
- Op.100: 24 Instructive Etudes
- Op.139: 24 First Lessons, Part 1
Giuliani’s 120 Studies for Right Hand Development
In my experience, Giuliani’s collection of 120 right hand studies for guitar is hands down the best resource available for mastering classical guitar right hand patterns. Most studies in the collection are just two measures long (with repeats). The first measure is played over a C major chord, and the second chord is almost always a G7 chord. Each study varies in difficulty, and doesn’t necessarily progress in difficulty until around #80.
For some studies, Giuliani also offers alternative right hand finger pattern suggestions in parenthesis. Therefore, one could consider this collection more than just 120 studies! I recommend you first get comfortable with the standard fingering indicated, then try the alternative fingering in parenthesis. Once you’re comfortable with both patterns, you might want to try playing through the study the first time using the standard fingering, followed directly by the alternate fingering on the repeat.
One of the best parts about these studies is that they expose you to all kinds of right hand patterns–both common and intricate. By spending some time practicing these studies, you’ll teach your right hand how to move in an agile, coordinated, and confident way. As a result, when you come across a piece that calls for one of these patterns, your hand will sort of go into autopilot and know just what to do!
Op.48: 24 Exercises for the guitar
Giuliani’s Opus 48 is entitled: Esercizio per la chitarra, contenente 24 pezzi della maggiore difficoltà, diversi preludi, passagi, ed assolo (Exercise for the guitar, containing 24 pieces of the greatest difficulty, including various preludes, passaggi, and solo pieces).
Thus, Op.48 is a collection of 24 etudes most suitable for guitarists at the intermediate level and above.
Giuliani composed this collection of pieces shortly after arriving in Vienna, a tremendously prolific period in his life. The studies are relatively short, and present a range of techniques in various keys. These etudes are excellent for students learning how to read classical guitar sheet music up the neck, or increasing your familiarity with common chord shapes in various positions.
You can download Giuliani’s 24 Etudes, Op.48 sheet music for free here.
Op.51: 18 Progressive Lessons
Giuliani’s Opus 51 XVIII Leçons Progressives (Eighteen Progressive Lessons) is a collection of relatively simple classical guitar studies compared to other collections.
By publishing this simpler collection after his more complex Op.48, one could say that Giuliani took a similar approach to Fernando Sor. Therefore, Giuliani’s Op.51 is most appropriate for beginner and early intermediate classical guitarists.
Op.98: 8 Delightful Studies
Giuliani’s Opus 98 is entitled Studi Dilettevoli ossia Raccolta di vari Pezzi Originali (Delightful Studies, or, Collection of various Original Pieces).
This collection of eight exercise studies offer more pleasant and fun melodies, and aren’t too difficult! These studies would also be useful to beginner and early intermediate students.
Op.100: 24 Instructive Etudes
Giuliani’s Opus 100 also carries the title Etudes instructives, faciles, et agréables… contenant un Recueil de Cadences, Caprices, Rondeaux, et Préludes (Instructive, easy, and agreeable studies… containing a collection of cadences, caprices, rondos, and preludes).
Therefore, each etude in this collection varies in length, style and form. Similar to his other collections, the studies in Op.100 are arguably easier than Op.48, but no less beautiful and fun to play. The collection can be broken down as follows:
- No. 1-9 are cadenze
- No. 10-14 are caprices
- No. 15-16 are Rondos
- No. 17-24 are Preludes
There is some controversy in the ordering of these styles, particularly No.5, which is the only cadenze that doesn’t follow the structure of moving from a major key to it’s relative minor key. This outlier is so bizarre that some scholars believe this might be a publishing issue. Other than the cadenze and rondos, the form of the remaining pieces is rather indistinguishable.
The cadenzas (Etude No.1: Maestoso, for instance) are rather short sequences that are meant to serve as a rhythmically free or improvised portions of virtuosic pieces.
On the other hand, rondos (like Etude No.15 and No.16) are more robust pieces with three or more sections and beautiful melodic themes. For instance, Etude No.11: Caprice is a very popular study in classical guitar pedagogy.
You can download Giuliani’s 24 Etudes, Op.100 sheet music for free here.
Op. 139: 24 First Lessons, Part 1
Giuliani’s Op.139 24 Prime Lezioni, Parte prima (24 First Lessons, Part 1) is full of sweet and melodious pieces. However, this collection is also somewhat controversial. Despite it’s title, only six studies were ever published in this collection–not 24 and no part 2! In fact some scholars even question whether or not this is truly the work of Giuliani at all. Still, the operatic and sweet melodic character of the pieces does feel like the work of Giuliani to me.
The collection of studies is appropriate for the upper beginner and intermediate guitarists. You can hear my recording of Op.139, No.3: Allegretto on my album of classical guitar etudes here or check out the video below:
You can download some of Giuliani’s Op.139 scores for free here.
Popular Solo Guitar Works by Mauro Giuliani
Grand Overture, Op.61
If there’s one classical guitar solo work Mauro Giuliani is known for, it’s his Grand Overture, (Op.61). This masterpiece of a work is full of drama and excitement, displaying the gamut of emotions as it explores a wide range guitar techniques across the entire fretboard. The Grand Overture is a virtuosic work, and one beloved by classical guitarists worldwide across generations.
Giuliani’s magnificent Le Rossiniane include six substantial compositions largely based on various melodic themes in operas by Gioachino Rossini. Giuliani and Rossini were close friends and colleagues, and likely collaborated to arrange these incredible pieces for guitar. As a result, Giuliani’s Le Rossiniane demonstrates how the various voices of guitar can simulate that of an entire opera cast! My personal favorites from this collection are Rossiniana I, Op.119 and Rossiniana V, Op.123.
Below are the original opera themes featured in each Rossiniana:
Rossiniana I, Op. 119
- Introduction (Andantino)
- “Assisa a piè d’un salice” (Otello)
- “Languir per una bella”, Andante grazioso (L’Italienne à Alger)
- “Con gran piacer, ben mio”, Maestoso (L’Italienne à Alger)
- “Caro, caro ti parlo in petto”, Moderato (L’Italienne à Alger)
- “Cara, per te quest’anima”, Allegro Vivace (Armida)
Rossiniana II, Op. 120
- Introduction (Sostenuto)
- “Deh ! Calma, o ciel”, Andantino sostenuto (Otello)
- “Arditi all’ire”, Allegretto innocente (Armida)
- “Non più mesta accanto al fuoco”, Maestoso (Cendrillon)
- “Di piacer mi balza il cor”, (La pie voleuse)
- “Fertilissima Regina”, Allegretto (Cendrillon)
Rossiniana III, Op. 121
- Introduction (Maestoso Sostenuto)
- “Un soave non-so che” (Cendrillon)
- “Oh mattutini albori!”, Andantino (La dame du lac)
- “Questo vecchio maledetto”, (Le Turc en Italie)
- “Sorte! Secondami”, Allegro (Zelmira)
- “Cinto di nuovi allori”, Maestoso (Ricciardo et Zoraïde)
Rossiniana IV, Op. 122
- Introduction (Sostenuto-Allegro Maestoso)
- “Forse un dì conoscerete”, Andante (La pie voleuse)
- “Mi cadono le lagrime” (La pie voleuse)
- “Ah se puoi così lasciarmi”, Allegro Maestoso (Moïse en Egypte)
- “Piacer egual gli dei”, Maestoso (Mathilde de Shabran)
- “Voglio ascoltar” (La pierre de touche)
Rossiniana V, Op. 123
- Introduction (Allegro con brio)
- “E tu quando tornerai”, Andantino mosso (Tancrède)
- “Una voce poco fa” (Le Barbier de Séville)
- “Questo è un nodo avviluppato”, Andante sostenuto (Cendrillon)
- “Là seduto l’amato Giannetto”, Allegro (La pie voleuse)
- “Zitti zitti, piano piano”, Allegro (Le Barbier de Séville)
Rossiniana VI, Op. 124
- Introduction (Maestoso)
- “Qual mesto gemito”, Larghetto (Sémiramis)
- “Oh quante lagrime finor versai”, Maestoso (La dame du lac)
- “Questo nome che suona vittoria”, Allegro brillante (Le siège de Corinthe)