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Registered User
Posts: 429
(6/15/01 4:51:23 pm)
Cello Duets - Recommendations
I recently bought a book of cello duets by the French baroque composer, Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1691-1755). I have been playing from another book of duets by Boismortier that is a bit more advanced and a bit challenging in parts. This new book arrived and when I first looked at it it seemed much simpler and only occasionally moves up to 3rd position. At first, I was a bit disappointed, as I expected it to be very similar to the previous book. However, the pieces, although not complicated, are very pleasant to play and hear. It is music that sounds more difficult than it is. The key signatures are, for the most part, in the easier keys to play and the second cello part is mostly in first position.

The book is called "9 Petites Sonates et Chaconne for two cellos, Op. 66 by Boismortier and is published by Schott, 1990, CB 142. I ordered mine from Hickey's Music at:

If you are looking for a bit more of a challenge, then you could try the Boismortier 6 Sonaten fur 2 Violoncelli, published by Kunzelmann, GM 1665a. This are quite musical and enjoyable to play. They do not move beyond 4th position. I think that these may be the same as the ones listed on the Hickey's site as Op. 40, but these have a different editor and so may a different edition. There is no opus number on the Kunzelmann edition.

I enjoy cello duets and it is a great way to begin playing chamber music. It has all the basic elements of ensemble playing and is a great way to learn to sight read and count.


Registered User
Posts: 354
(6/15/01 8:14:41 pm)
Re: Cello Duets - Recommendations
Thanks Terry, they sound interesting. (Maybe I could at least play the 2nd part. :lol )

I have a recording that contains a few duets by August Franchomme that are quite nice to listen to, but I'll probably be too old to move before I can play them ;)

His Opus 7 is Caprices; Opus 15, Nocturnes; and Opus 35 is Etudes. I think Shar lists at least some of them.

The recording I have is "August Franchomme / Le Violoncelle Virtuose" with Roel Dieltiens and Ensemble Explorations (there are several quintets on the disk also). Lidewij Scheifes is the second cellist (about whom I know nada). I nearly played the spots off the CD when I first got it. Franchomme is occasionally described as "the Pagannini of the 'cello." I fear these are beyond the average (maybe even above average) CBN, but I certainly found them inspiring.

As these are rather a lush, romantic style (A. F. lived 1808 - 1884), I was curious last year when Dieltiens was listed as doing a Baroque session at WCC III. I attended and was pleased to see that he is apparently comfortable with a wide range of styles.


Registered User
Posts: 430
(6/15/01 9:43:37 pm)
Re: Cello Duets - Recommendations
Dave I have the same CD and it is quite enjoyable. The duets on this CD are quite advanced. I have another set of duets by Franchome that I got, as a freebee, with some music I bought on eBay. They are the Op. 14 set of 3 Nocturnes. I have not seen these in print anywhere and the edition I got is very old, probably the original edition. They are challenging but playable with some work.

The Boismortier are worth a try and I feel sure you could do them justice. My teacher always finishes my lessons by playing duets with me. It is a chance to sight read and to get commentary and coaching on how to make chamber music sound musical. I look forward to these sessions each week. Friday night is also my cello duet night and I usually get together with a cellist friend to play, but she is away this week and I am feeling "cello duet withdrawal" symptoms. I have been alternating between the two parts just to get my fill. :)


Registered User
Posts: 431
(6/18/01 6:37:29 pm)
More Recommendations you didn't ask for!
I received an e-mail note from Ellen G thanking me for posting my thoughts on the duets. She told me that she often gets requests and so is looking for books of this sort to bring in and offer through Cellos2Go, as a part of her overall services to cellists. I put together a list for her, which is by no means complete, of some of the duet books from which I have been playing.

I subsequently received an e-mail request from another "cello chatter" asking about duets and so I thought that there might be some here who would have similar interest in such a list. Please understand that I am no expert and my recommendations are based on my personal experience as an advanced intermediate level player, but I hope that they may be helpful to others.

This is my list:

Schoenbeck Op. 12 Book 1 published by Grancino Editions, ed. by Nona Pyron and Francois Gueneux. These duets are not too difficult and most of them are quite musical. The first book of Boismortier, that I mentioned in my post above, are about the same ease/difficulty as the Schoenbeck. The second book of Boismortier are a bit more difficult from a rhythmic standpoint, but still quite playable.

Another enjoyable set of duets is the Six duos by Francois Cupis (1732
-1808), Op. 3. These are published by Gerard Billaudot Editeur, 1990,
Cat. no. 4766 B. I got these at Shar, in Toronto. These are a little
more advanced with the first cello part in tenor clef a fair part of the
time. In fact, the second cello part moves from time to time to tenor too, but neither part moves much beyond 4th position. Keywise, they go up to 2# and 3 flats.

The 6 duos by Tommaso Giordani 91740-1806) are very classical in style and very playable as well. Both cello parts go into tenor clef and the most difficult key is 3#s. They have a very pleasing sound to them, but they are a bit more work. These duets are published by Schott, cat. no. CB-119.

If you are looking for some classical duets that are very playable and
sound good too, then try the 6 Duos by Guiseppe Cambini, Op.49. These
have a very melodic nature to them and the second cello part is fairly
easy...not that the first is very difficult, only a bit of tenor clef.
They are published by Amadeus Verlag (Bernhard Pauler)Winterhur/Schweiz.

I also have some fairly easy duets by Joseph Reinagle (1762-1836). These are about the same difficulty as the Schoenbeck. They are published by Edition Moeck, cat. no. 1048.

I you are looking for a duet book that is good for beginners and advancing beginners, the book, "Violoncello Duos for Beginners," published by Edition Musica Budapest cat. Z 8158, is very good. The first few are early music pieces, but the rest of the book are duets by Couperin, Bach, Telemann, Boismortier, Haydn, Pleyel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Offenbach. The Pleyel and Offenbach are not difficult, but take some good playing to make them sound musical.

The book of 6 Duets Op. 156 by Kummer are also great for advancing beginner students who can play all strings in first postion. The duets get a little more challenging towards the end of the book with some double stops and some 16th note passages, but the keys remain at or below 2 sharps and 2 flats. These duets give a good workout in string crossings and moving around first position and will reward you with some nice sounding music. You can always play one note of the double stop until you get both under your fingers.

I hope these recommendations are helpful to some of you who may be looking for pieces to play with other cellists.


Ellen G 
Registered User
Posts: 771
(6/19/01 8:02:29 am)
Re: More Recommendations you didn't ask for!
I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to second guess which pieces will be worth it when I peruse catalogs. Terms like "easy" and "intermediate" can really throw you since they aren't particularly definitive. I like little tipoffs like "Bach, Ten Pieces in the First Position" rather than "Easy." I have ordered pieces for "intermediate cello" and wanted to throw them out the window. Or jump myself. They are ridiculously hard, and it's a little discouraging to think in the cello world there is easy, intermediate and virtuoso, with Intermediate being this vast expanse.

I just located, I think, another edition of the Schoenbeck duos which is good since Grancino seems to be unavailable in the US. Those I can play with both my girls, they are good sightreading material and sort of fun fingering pattern exercises as well. The repeats are handy to vindicate yourself when you screw up the first time. I tend to have an aversion to my open A string, and invariably the shift I use to avoid it gets me into trouble in a subsequent measure. So the second time through I'm wiser.

I'm looking at lists of duos by Zumsteeg, Telemann, Taub, Stevens, Schubert, Schoenbeck, Rosenblum, Moss, Linde, Kagel, Joplin, Hofmann, Gruetzmacher, Dotzauer, Chapman, Breval, Boismortier, Bach, Boccherini, Barriere, DeFesch, Gliere, Klengel, Kummer, Lee, Mozart, Popper, Romberg, Servais, Couperin, Graziani, Hindemith, Offenbach, Tchaikovzky and MORE and I haven't got a clue as to which are suitable for our levels. That's why, as Terry, said, we're trying to compile as much feedback from players as possible. The Telemann turned out to be more than I expected, and some of the others are way too boring. Little guides like "requires knowledge of tenor clef" or "goes beyond 4th position" would be a big help.

I find the Suzuki references helpful since they are so well known. If someone is in Book 2 or 6, you have a pretty good idea where they are cellistically and what's going to be doable.

Registered User
Posts: 45
(6/20/01 12:15:51 pm)
Re: More Recommendations you didn't ask for!
what about the duets by Sebastien Lee?

Registered User
Posts: 388
(6/22/01 10:30:42 pm)
Re: More Recommendations you didn't ask for!
Is that the same "Lee" from the Krane etude books? If so, I'll bet they're pretty, because the Lee etudes are the prettiest ones, by far. When I visited Andrew Victor earlier this year, he had some Dotzauer pieces for three cellos, too.... They were very fun!

I'm playing some Boismortier duets (well, one cello, then the second cello is really a "continuo" part) and the Telemann canonic sonatas now, too.... all really pretty stuff. I LOVE those canonic sonatas! My teacher and I actually play them from the double-bass part. Very good for those of us who are stuck in the beginning-intermediate sort of range (i.e. not very comfortable beyond 4th position)

I really would like to know about those Lee duos... I really like the Lee etudes! if there are duos, I'll have to get them for sure!

Registered User
Posts: 433
(6/23/01 9:08:09 am)
The Lee Duets
This is the same Sebastian Lee (1805-1887) as the Lee of the cello etudes. I have one book of Lee duets, his Six Duets, Op. 60 Volume 1, as published by International Music, catalog No. 1679. These duets are at what I would term, an intermediate level, with frequent double stops, position shifting up to 4th and 5th position. They are not rhythmically complex, but there are numerous arpeggiated chords with the inherent string crossings. They are melodic in nature and the keys go up to 2 sharps, 2 flats.

Lee wrote several sets of duets, as you can see below.

22 Very Easy Duets, op 126
Six Duets, op 60, vol. 1, ed. Schulz
Six Duets, op 60, vol. 2, ed. Schulz
Three Duets, op 36
Three Duets, op 37 ed. Schmidt
Three Duets, op 38
Three Duets, op 39 ed. Guignard


Registered User
Posts: 390
(6/23/01 11:42:45 pm)
Re: The Lee Duets
Thanks for all the great info, Terry! I'm so excited now!! :)

Registered User
Posts: 48
(6/29/01 7:37:55 am)
More duets
There is also a book of duets by Bartok, very easy. They were originally done for 2 violins; the cello edition is transposed so some of the pieces sound odd if you are used to the violin version, but these are still definitely fun! They are folk song based duets.

Ellen G 
Registered User
Posts: 792
(6/29/01 3:32:53 pm)
More "duettic" tidbits

Edited by: Ellen G  at: 6/29/01 3:41:41 pm
Registered User
Posts: 395
(6/29/01 7:43:39 pm)
Re: More "duettic" tidbits
what kinda tease is that, Ellen?! :)

I have another set of duets (of the easier variety) to recommend, too. Very fun. Rather odd.... but VERY fun... Halsey Stevens, 5 Duets.

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Add Reply

Cello Duets - Recommendations TerryM  6/15/01 4:51:23 pm
    More "duettic" tidbits Ellen G  6/29/01 3:32:53 pm
       Re: More "duettic" tidbits lblake  6/29/01 7:43:39 pm
    Re: Cello Duets - Recommendations DWThomas 6/15/01 8:14:41 pm
       Re: Cello Duets - Recommendations TerryM  6/15/01 9:43:37 pm
          More Recommendations you didn't ask for! TerryM  6/18/01 6:37:29 pm
             Re: More Recommendations you didn't ask for! Ellen G  6/19/01 8:02:29 am
                Re: More Recommendations you didn't ask for! karenlee  6/20/01 12:15:51 pm
                   Re: More Recommendations you didn't ask for! lblake  6/22/01 10:30:42 pm
                      The Lee Duets TerryM  6/23/01 9:08:09 am
                         Re: The Lee Duets lblake  6/23/01 11:42:45 pm
                            More duets karenlee  6/29/01 7:37:55 am

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