Although born in Bisceglie, Giuliani's center of study was in Barletta where he moved with his brother Nicola in the first years of his life. His first instrumental training was on the cello—an instrument which he never completely abandoned—and he probably also studied the violin. Subsequently he devoted himself to the guitar, becoming a very skilled performer on it in a short time. The names of his teachers are unknown, and we cannot be sure of his exact movements in Italy.
He married Maria Giuseppe del Monaco, and they had a child, Michael, born in Barletta in 1801. After that he was probably in Bologna and Trieste for a brief stay; by the summer of 1806, fresh from his studies of counterpoint, cello and guitar in Italy, he had moved to Vienna without his family. Here he began a relationship with a certain Fräulein Willmuth, with whom he had a daughter, Maria, in 1807.
In Vienna he became acquainted with the classical instrumental style. In 1807 Giuliani began to publish compositions in the classical style. His concert tours took him all over Europe. Everywhere he went he was acclaimed for his virtuosity and musical taste. He achieved great success and became a musical celebrity, equal to the best of the many instrumentalists and composers who were active in the Austrian capital city at the beginning of the 19th century.
Giuliani defined a new role for the guitar in the context of European music. He was acquainted with the highest figures of Austrian society and with notable composers such as Rossini and Beethoven, and cooperated with the best active concert musicians in Vienna. In 1815 he appeared with the pianist Johann Nepomuk Hummel (followed later by Ignaz Moscheles), the violinist Joseph Mayseder and the cellist Joseph Merk, in a series of chamber concerts in the botanical gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, concerts that were called the "Dukaten Concerte", after the price of the ticket, which was a ducat. This exposure gave Giuliani prominence in the musical environment of the city. Also in 1815, he was the official concert artist for the celebrations of the Congress in Vienna. Two years earlier, on the 8th of December, 1813, he had played (probably cello) in an orchestra for the first performance of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.
In Vienna, Giuliani had minor success as a composer. He worked mostly with the publisher Artaria, who published the large part of his works for guitar, but he had dealings with all the other local publishers, who spread his compositions all over Europe. He developed here a teaching reputation as well; among his numerous students were Bobrowicz and Horetzky.
In 1819 Giuliani left Vienna, mainly for financial reasons: his property and bank accounts were confiscated to pay his debtors. He returned to Italy, spending time in Trieste and Venice, and finally settling in Rome. He brought with him his daughter Emilia, who was born in 1813. She was educated at the nunnery L'adorazione del Gesù from 1821 to 1826, together with Giuliani's illegitimate daughter Maria. In Rome he did not have much success; he published a few compositions and gave only one concert.
In July 1823 he began a series of frequent trips to Naples to be with his father, who was seriously ill. In the Bourbon city of Naples Giuliani would find a better reception to his guitar artistry, and there he was able to publish other works for guitar with local publishers.
In 1826 he performed in Portici before Francesco I and the Bourbon court. In this time, which we could call Giuliani's Neapolitan period, he appeared frequently in duo concert with his daughter Emilia, who had become a skilled performer on the guitar. Toward the end of 1827 the health of the musician began to fail; he died in Naples on 8 May 1829. The news of his death did not create much of a stir in the Neapolitan musical environment.
Giuliani's expression and tone in guitar playing were astonishing, and a competent critic said of him: "He vocalized his adagios to a degree impossible to be imagined by those who never heard him; his melody in slow movements was no longer like the short, unavoidable staccato of the piano, requiring profusion of harmony to cover the deficient sustension of notes, but it was invested with a character, not only sustained and penetrating, but of so earnest and pathetic a description as to make it appear the natural characteristic of the instrument. In a word, he made the instrument sing."
—Philip James Bone, The guitar and mandolin, 1914 (page 127)
Theme and variations
As a guitar composer he was very fond of the theme and variations— an extremely popular form in Vienna. He had a remarkable ability to weave a melody into a passage with musical effect while remaining true to the idiom of the instrument.
One example of this ability is to be found in his Variations on a theme of Handel, Op. 107. This popular theme, known as "The Harmonious Blacksmith", appears in the Aria from Handel's Suite no. 5 in E for harpsichord.
Another example is Giuliani's Sei variazioni sull'aria "A Schisserl und a Reindl", op. 38, which is a set of variations on the Austrian Folkslied A Schisserl und a Reindl, is åll mein Kuchlg'schirr, used in the play Der Kaufmannsbude (1796), with music by Johann Baptist Henneberg (1768–1822) and text by Schikaneder; and in the play Der Marktschreyer (1799), with music by Franz Xaver Süssmayr (1766–1803) and text by Friedrich Karl Lippert. (Beethoven used the same theme in his work op.105, number 3 for flute and piano.)
Giuliani's achievements as a composer were numerous. Giuliani's 150 compositions for guitar with opus number constitute the nucleus of the nineteenth-century guitar repertory. He composed extremely challenging pieces for solo guitar as well as works for orchestra and Guitar-Violin and Guitar-Flute duos.
Outstanding pieces by Giuliani include his three guitar concertos (op. 30-36 and 70); a series of six fantasias for guitar solo, op. 119-124, based on airs from Rossini operas and entitled the "Rossiniane"; several sonatas for violin and guitar and flute and guitar; a quintet, op. 65, for strings and guitar; some collections for voice and guitar, and a Grand Overture written in the Italian style. He also transcribed many symphonic works, both for solo guitar and guitar duo. One such transcription arranges the overture to The Barber of Seville by Rossini, for two guitars. There are further numerous didactic works, among which is a method for guitar that is used frequently by teachers to this day.
Today, Giuliani's concertos and solo pieces are performed by professionals and still demonstrate the ability of the guitarist to play the piece, as well as Giuliani's natural ability as a composer for the classical guitar.
Of the instruments used by Giuliani, there are known, guitars made by
possibly: Gennaro Fabricatore, (Naples 1809) (now in the collection of Gianni Accornero)
At the bottom of the guitar, one can see the initials M G. The guitarcase also has the initials M G.
briefly: Pons l'Aîné (Joseph Pons), (Paris 1812)
This Pons guitar was made for Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria in Paris 1812, and later given to Giuliani: is known to have been in Giuliani's possession only briefly. Giuliani later gave it to the amateur guitarist Christopher Bilderbeck de Monte as a present. However, Giuliani did not often play this 1812 guitar: it hardly shows signs of use.
unlikely: Pons l'Aîné (Joseph Pons), (Paris 1825) (now in the collection of Gianni Accornero)
The back cover of a CD claims "Giuliani's original Guitar Pons l'Aîné 1825". Gianni Accornero wrote the CD's liner notes about the guitar, and claims: "This instrument is in actual fact identical to the one which Joseph had made for Empress Marie-Louise of Habsburg, the wife of Napoleon, who later gave it to Giuliani. This instrument became one of his favourites. Not only the model is the same, but also are the different types of wood used for its construction."
However Paul Pleijsier is critical of these claims; and has found flaws and inconsistencies in Accornero's claims. Pleijsier states that there is no evidence that Giuliani ever played the 1825 Pons.
Eduardo Catemario (the performer on the CD) has written "E' interessante notare che questa Pons è molto simile (per non dire identica) a quella di Giuliani", which seems to suggest that there is indeed no evidence that Giuliani played the 1825 Pons.
Filippo E Araniti: Nuove acquisizioni sull'opera e sulla vita di Mauro Giuliani : gli anni del soggiorno napoletano (1824–1829) Type: Italian : Book Book Publisher: Barletta-Trani : Regione Puglia-Assessorato Pubblica Istruzione, 1993. OCLC: 42716282
Antonio Lasada: The butterfly, op. 30 by Mauro Giuliani. Type: English : Book Book. Publisher: Sydney : J. Albert & Son, 1976. ISBN 0-909700-90-7 OCLC: 27600649
Thomas Fitz / Simons Heck: The birth of the classic guitar and its cultivation in Vienna reflected in the career and compositions of Mauro Giuliani (d. 1829) Type: English : Book Book. Publisher: [S.l. : s.n.], 1970. OCLC: 65932060
Tomasina Soto Michel: Survey of program music in early romantic guitarists, 1800-1850. Type: English : Book Book : Thesis/dissertation/manuscript Publisher: 1994. OCLC: 30986316
Joseph Zuth: 24 [i.e. Vierundzwanzig] Studien für Gitarre, op. 100 by Mauro Giuliani; Type: German : Book Book Publisher: Mainz : B. Schott's Söhne ; New York : Schott Music Corp., 1929. OCLC: 41699112
Joseph J Gonzales; Johann Sebastian Bach: Recital document. Type: English : Book Book : Thesis/dissertation/manuscript. Publisher: 1995. OCLC: 33850916
Hans Ritter: 24 [i.e. Vierundzwanzig] Etüden für Gitarre, op. 48 by Mauro Giuliani; Type: German : Book Book Publisher: Mainz : B. Schott's Söhne ; New York : Schott Music Corp., [19--] OCLC: 41699167
Ludwig van Beethoven: Beethoven-Festnummer der Oesterreichischen Gitarre-Zeitschrift Type: German : Book Book Publisher: Wien : Kunstdruckerie Frisch & Co., 1927. OCLC: 40961302
Yvonne Regina Chavez: The flute and guitar duos of Mauro Giuliani Book: Thesis/dissertation/manuscript Publisher: 1991. (English) OCLC: 24571012
Roger West Hudson: The orchestration of the guitar concerto : a comparison of the Concerto in A major, op. 30, by Mauro Giuliani and the Concierto del sol by Manuel Ponce. Type: English : Book Book : Thesis/dissertation/manuscript. Publisher: 1992.OCLC: 31118635
Heike Vajen Rossiniana no. 6 op. 124 by Mauro Giuliani.Type: German : Book Book. Publisher: Celle : Moeck, (1986). OCLC: 46051295
Volker Höh: Sonata op. 15 : Fingersatz by Mauro Giuliani. Type: Book Book Publisher: Celle : Moeck, 1989. OCLC: 46095695
Horacio Ceballos: Sonata Op. 15 [Música] by Mauro Giuliani. Type: Spanish : Book Book. Publisher: Buenos Aires, Argentina : RICORDI, 1977. OCLC: 70134745
Kurt L Schuster: Performing Joseph Haydn's Divertimento a quattro, opus 2, no. 2 and Mauro Giuliani's Grand sonata eroica, opus 150. Type: English : Book Book : Thesis/dissertation/manuscript. Publisher: 1989.: 20402277