View Full Version : Carlo Munier

Dec-11-2008, 6:27am
Dear mandolin friends I have started this thread to highlight the figure of Carlo Munier.
In the last years I have studied some of Munierís music and I have appreciated it a lot.
So the decision to collect the pieces and make a monographic CD with a guitar player friend of mine.
From this the impulse to expand my knowledge on his live.
So I have discovered the link wilth Vinaccia family, a very simple link, indeed his mother is Rosa Vinaccia as stated on the his birth certificate.

I have put an entry with the Munier biography on wikipedia both in English and in Italian.

Munier en wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Munier)
Munier ita wiki (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Munier)

I indicate you also the recorded cd build on music for mandolin and guitar and solo guitar.
Carlo Munier mandolin and guitar CD (http://cdbaby.com/cd/franzonisartori)


Richard Walz
Dec-11-2008, 12:18pm
Nice project Stefano. I studied all of Munier (all that was available at the time) with Albert Bellson (Balsonne di San Angelo prov. Napoli), scores of which I bought from Pettine at the end of his life. In many ways I find his music and studies equal to Calace and, though dated stylistically, still enjoyable to our modern ears. Needless to say, Carlo must have played on Vinaccia's instruments. He could have done worse :).

Alex Timmerman
Dec-11-2008, 6:52pm
Hi Stefano,

Very nice that you and your guitarist Mr. Franco Sartori have made a record of the music of Carlo Munier, indeed one of the greatest among the mandolinists and composers for the mandolin of the Golden Area. And congrats with your research and the article in Wikipedia!

Thanks and best greetings from Holland,


Dec-12-2008, 3:08am

thanks for your posts.

About the instrument used by Munier I have no documentation but I think that it could not be other than Vinaccia!

I not agree at all that his music is dated stylistically, much of the work is left to the musicians interpretation; I think that the music can not be simply played as written.
I have found Munier music full of energy and full of great spur for a current interpretation.

About the Munier Wiki any update or correction is appreciated.
I know that this forum is full of expert biographer (best greetings also to you Alex!!).


Richard Walz
Dec-12-2008, 9:17am
Of course Stefano, interpretation, imagination ... always! But the writing has little to do with the past 30-50 years in music. To be honest, I much prefer to play Munier than most of the recent compositions, but here too we must use are skills and creativity to make the most of the score. It's just easier with a composer like Munier :).

Dec-12-2008, 4:11pm
The 1914 Edition of P.J. Bone "The Guitar and Mandolin" is availble without copyright at www.archive.org. It contains the following entry about Carlo Munier:

Munier, Carlo, born in Naples, the home of the mandolin,
July 15, 1859, and died in Florence, February 10, 1911. Munier
stands at the head of all composers, performers, and writers for the
mandolin of any period, an inspired artist in every department of
musical art, a colossus who towers above the mightiest, and whose
genius is justly recognised wherever the instrument is played or
known. It would seem as if fate had predestined him the musical
genius who was to uplift the mandolin and had decreed and
prepared his advent for several previous generations. Munier
inherited his profound love of the mandolin from his ancestors who
were engaged in its construction and improvement for more than a
century, and figuratively speaking, he was born with a mandolin in
his hands. He was grand nephew of the celebrated Pasquale
Vinaccia of Naples, the perfector of the modern Italian mandolin.
The name of Vinaccia is emblazoned amongst the most exhalted of
the world's stringed instrument makers, and it was the inventive
genius of this member of the family — born July 20, 1806 in Naples,
and died there in 1882 — that gave the instrument its steel strings
and consequent machine head, who extended the compass of its
fingerboard and enlarged and improved the tonal capabilities and
qualities of the instrument. Previous to this date, the mandolin
was of smaller dimensions, its sound hole was circular, similar to
that of the guitar, the bridge was a short narrow strip of ivory,
and the body was rather smaller, being composed of from fifteen to
twenty narrow fluted ribs. Its strings were of gut, similar to those
of the violin ; they were tuned in pairs by ebony, or ivory pegs, and
the compass of the instrument was very limited, the fingerboard
possessing usually twelve frets. The instruments of this period
were decorated elaborately, their necks being veneered with
tortoiseshell inlaid with strips of ivory, and a triangular design in
tortoiseshell and pearl was inlaid on the table between the bridge
and tailpins. The mandolin of to-day is the legacy of Pasquale
Vinaccia, whose portrait is reproduced, and Munier was grand-
nephew of this instrument maker and nephew of the celebrated
present day mandolin makers, the brothers Gennaro and Achille
Vinaccia who are honoured by the royal appointment of mandolin
makers to the Court of Italy.

If heredity is to be considered, there is no surprise then that
Munier devoted his entire life to the uplifting and advancement of
the mandolin — it was an innate love for the instrument that led
and shaped his whole career. His immediate relatives were
practical and theoretical artists on the instrument, and everything
in his childhood's environments appertained to the mandolin — its
manufacture, its performers, its study, and when with these
circumstances we combine the rare musical genius of the man,
it is easily understood how he became in time universally
recognised as the greatest musical authority on the instrument.
Young Munier commenced serious study of the mandolin in Naples,
under Carmine de Laurentiis, a reputed mandolinist and guitarist,
and the author of a method for the mandolin, which is founded
upon an excellent system, and contains progressive studies most
admirable in their conception, (see Laurentiis) Carlo Munier
made wonderful progress under Laurentiis, and after a time
commenced the study of the guitar also, under the same master,
who laid the foundation of a correct system of mechanism, and it
was left to Munier's genius to strike out original paths in his
advancement. At the age of fifteen he studied the piano under
Galiero and Cesi, both of whom enjoyed enviable reputations in
Naples, and with D'Arienzo, Munier studied harmony and

He was nineteen years of age when he quitted the Conservatoire
of S'Pietro d'Maiella, having succeeded in obtaining the first prize
for composition, and the second for harmony, and at this time he
appeared in many concerts in Naples, and published his first
compositions, arrangements of Traviata and Puritani for quartets
of two mandolins, mandola and piano. These were the first
compositions published for this combination of instruments, the
second of which was dedicated to Her Majesty The Queen of
Italy. In 1881 when he was twenty-two years of age, Munier
removed to Florence, and he lived here the greater part of his life,
being actively engaged as a composer and professor of the mandolin
and guitar in the most select musical institutions of Florence.
Munier organised in 1890 the first plectrum quartet, with Luigi
Bianchi and Guido Bizzari first and second mandolins, Riccardo
Matini, mandola, and himself director and lute, and this quartet,
each member a thorough musician and artist on his respective
instrument, gave many performances throughout Italy, being
received with great enthusiasm, and they did much to popularise
this combination of instruments. In 1892 they obtained the first
prize in the International Music Contests of Genoa, when Munier
himself was awarded the gold medal as mandolinist and composer.
From the year 1890 until his death, Munier was engaged with his
quartet in concert work, and he has left several compositions of
sterling merit written for this combination. He was a member of
the Royal Circolo Mandolinisti Regina Margherita in Florence,
under the direction of the esteemed and venerable mandolinist,
Bertucci, and for a period Munier officiated as conductor of this
royal mandolin society.

On June 30, 1902, at a concert given by the royal band, Munier's
quartet rendered several of his own compositions before a select
musical audience, when they were accorded an ovation. He was
ever striving for the advancement of the mandolin, and on
October 6, 1909, performed by royal command in the historic castle
of Sommariva-Perno. Munier's solos were his Prelude in D major
and his First mazurka de concert, and immediately upon the
conclusion of the performance, His Majesty Victor Emmanuel III
rose to greet him, shook him by the hand most cordially, warmly
congratulated him upon his marvellous execution, and dilated on
beautiful effects of which the mandolin was capable. Munier as a
virtuoso on the mandolin appeared frequently in his native land, but
he did not perform to any extent in other lands. He contributed
literary articles to the music journals, and was honoured upon many
occasions by being appointed an adjudicator in musical contests,
both in Italy and other European countries. He was held in the
highest esteem by musicians of Florence, and upon his suggestion
the Mandolin Band of Cremona gave a concert in the Royal
Conservatoire of Music of Florence to demonstrate the possibilities
of their instruments. This concert took place in 1910 before a large
concourse of the leading musicians of the city and proved an artistic
success. In the spring of 1911, Munier made a visit to Antwerp,
and on his homeward journey spent a few days in Marseilles in the
company of his friend — the mandolinist Fantauzzi. Two months
previous they had been officiating in the Mandolin Contest of
Cremona, and now they recalled with gratification the advancement
made in the instrument and its music, Munier spoke of his plans
for the future, of organising an imposing concert and recital in
Florence ; but man proposes and God disposes, for in a very few
weeks he was suddenly called to the sphere from whence none
return. He died after a short illness in Florence, February 10, 1911,
at the age of fifty-two years, and the following notice appeared in the
music journals : —

" It is with the profoundest regret that we record the death of the
greatest mandolin artist and composer of our times, the renowned
Carlo Munier. The whole mandolin world will miss him greatly.
It can ill afford to lose its most sincere, devoted and illustrious
champion. Cut off in the prime of life, in the midst of his noble
and successful work, we silently mourn our loss. Conscientiously
and persistently had he devoted himself to the serious and classic
side of the welfare of the mandolin, and as a true artist, trickery in
playing or composition was to him abomination, as an enemy to
the advancement of the mandolin. He is gone — it is a staggering,
severe, and sad blow to all sincere students of the instrument — but
his work will live. His many compositions, known and admired
by mandolinists throughout the wide world — studies, solos, duos,
trios, quartets and compositions for mandolin band — form a colossal
monument that cannot perish ; they will delight future generations
and bear testimony to his mighty genius and noble inspirations.
As I write, I see before me his last letters, full of hope for the
future concerning the success of the mandolin — his life's ambition,
nay, his very life itself. Two of his latest overtures for mandolin
band, I see also, works that emanate from serious musicians only.
He leaves a widow, Armida, and two daughters Eliviraand Louise,
with the whole world of mandolin players to mourn their loss."
(continued in next post)

Dec-12-2008, 4:15pm
His admirers from all parts of the world subscribed through the
medium of a Milanese music journal, and a bronze shield suitably
inscribed was erected to his memory. Munier, who was a man of
superior education and attainments, and a versatile linguist, wrote
concerning his early study of the instrument : " At the beginning
I confess I did not think the mandolin capable of such advancement,
and I excluded from my repertoire a number of pieces that I
believed impossible of execution ; but I thought, studied and worked,
then wrote my method, my studies, solos, duos, caprices, trios,
quartets, etc., and I became so proficient that I could then execute
what I had previously considered impossible. They became clear,
easy of execution, and in fact trifling as compared with other
difficulties." Munier was a prolific composer — he had published
considerably over three hundred and fifty works previous to his
death — many remain unpublished. With few exceptions, such as
a trio for mandolin, violoncello and piano, and several songs, his
compositions are for the mandolin or guitar. His quartets written
in the orthodox style of four movements, for two mandolins, mandola
and lute, were the first of the kind published, and they are Op. 76,
123 and 203. Op. 76, the first of these quartets was performed by
the plectrum quartet " Fiorentino," of which Munier was the
leader, in the Sala Philharmonica, Florence, and published in 1903
by Forlivesi & Co. ; but the most classic of his quartets is that in
G, the Quasi adagio and Minuetto are inspirations, while its fugue
is most ingeniously w T orked out ; Lo Scioglidita, four volumes of
progressive studies and a volume of twenty studies are among the
most advanced exercises written for the instrument, and of the
same degree of excellence are the duos for two mandolins of which
there are several volumes published by Carisch & Janichen, Milan,
and Maurri, Florence. Munier wrote also for the guitar, and all
his compositions denote the cultivated musician and abound with
graceful melody characteristic of the Italian school. In his Love
song, Op. 275, dedicated to Samuel Adelstein, San Francisco,
Munier opened new possibilities and effects for the mandolin as an
unaccompanied solo instrument. He was the author of a Method
for the mandolin, Op. 197 in two volumes and numerous studies,
exercises, and duos for two mandolins, which deserve to be more
widely adopted.

This text was copied from the text version from www.archive.org. Several versions including pdf are available.

The first volume of Muniers mandolin method and the first volume of Lo Scioglidita (which I got from Richard Walz) is available for download on my homepage. I have planned to add more in the future when I find time to scan / typeset.

Stefano - I will support this project if I can. I think this nessage board is good place to make this kind of information available.

Dec-13-2008, 6:08pm
Thanks mandoisland for writing on this thread.

P. J. Bone is one of the sources that I have used to write the wiki.
It is in the bibliography at the end of the wiki.


Dec-16-2008, 10:36am
I just ordered your new CD from CD baby!