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Thread: The mandolin in Portugal (ca. 1770-1830)

  1. #1

    Default The mandolin in Portugal (ca. 1770-1830)

    Hi all,

    I've published a rather large blog post concerning a dark horse of mandolin history: the mandolin in Portugal (ca. 1770-1830).

    Besides listing some sources already discovered by colleagues (linking to editions available) I have also included some of my own finds. Most important are:
    - an anonymous manuscript with 50 short duets for six-course mandolin
    - four excellent and extensive mandolin-keyboard sonatas by Vittorio Trento from ca. 1822

    https://www.vantichelen.name/2021/05...-ca-1770-1830/

    Enjoy!
    Pieter

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  3. #2
    Registered User Mandolin Deep Cuts's Avatar
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    Default Re: The mandolin in Portugal (ca. 1770-1830)

    I love your posts because they are a weeks worth of content. Read, listen, Google, read other sources, compare, listen once more. Continue to next paragraph

    Btw, Those first two mandolins are some of the most beautiful mandolins I’ve ever seen. I’m sure you’ve found a lot of crazy ones over the years. What are some of your most interesting mandolin finds in history?

    Thanks for the great content as always.

  4. #3

    Default Re: The mandolin in Portugal (ca. 1770-1830)

    Thanks for the compliments! I do spend a lot of time on my research and writing it all up.

    I sometimes worry some readers might find things too long and detailed. But breaking things up in small consecutive posts isn't really my thing. I'm happy to hear back from you that it's actually pleasing some people.

    The first picture in the post is a Neapolitan mandolin, but the next one is in fact a "Portuguese guittar", which is a cittern. Though it looks a bit like a mandolin, that's a different type of instrument. At that moment, it's the same as the "English guittar". All very confusing, for example, when reading late 18th century sources, the word guit(t)ar often means the cittern type. You also need to know your mandolin from your Portuguese/English guittar to spot the right type from 18th century paintings. These citterns were tuned in an open C major chord (C-E-G-c-e-g). So in fact, quite a bit larger and tuned a lot lower than a mandolin (more similar to a mandocello). Have a look at Wikipedia on "English guitar".
    The fun bit of course is that I have proven an exchange of repertory between the English guittar and the mandolin in Great Britain in the late 18th century. I presented this as part of my talk at Mainz University, and it got published as an article in Phoibos (see https://ojs.uni-bayreuth.de/index.ph...ticle/view/192). (I'm warning you though, that this article is a proper musicological article, so quite a bit more tedious to read than most of my blog articles. )

    About mandolins and finds... I won't know where to start, really. There are beautiful instruments in all traditions throughout the ages - they all have their own appeal.
    If you ask me to name one... I'd probably have to go for the 19th century mandolin I'm having restored right now. Probably mostly because of the story that I was able to pick it up at an auction at an absolutely low price (not in playing condition and because the label is missing no-one seemed to realize the worth of the instrument). I am able to compare to instruments that still bear the label of its builder so have my suspicions. Anyway, it's a piece of museum quality. Though it will be a huge restoration job, it is a privilege to own a piece of living history, as it were, and to be able to bring it back to its former glory.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: The mandolin in Portugal (ca. 1770-1830)

    " I sometimes worry some readers might find things too long and detailed. But breaking things up in small consecutive posts isn't really my thing. I'm happy to hear back from you that it's actually pleasing some people."

    Impressive scholarship, Pieter, and I understand your reluctance to post short entries that cannot have the depth and breadth. I supervise doctoral dissertations, and I often have to ask my students for more detail and cited sources. There are two thoughts/questions that came to me from your notes here. For one, I wonder about the emergence of Brasilian choro music--any threads you found in the colonial records to connect with Portuguese classical mandolin literature?
    Also, your comments about the similarities and confusion among instruments--English guitar and European cittern--reminds me of discussions (and rebukes) I have encountered regarding the history of the mandocello. I play a clearly "American original" Gibson 1911 K4, but have read and heard a variety of thoughts on the European origins of the bass clef mandolin family member. You mention the similarity in your post, I wonder if you have any semi-definitive sources on that?
    Again, thank you for you primary-sourced research and rich body of information.

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