AMONGST the first noteworthy French violoncellists the brothers ABBE must be mentioned. They were music masters of the parish church of Agen under their own names of Philipp Pierre and Pierre de Saint Sevin. As such, in conformity with the regulation of that time, they had to wear the "collet"of the Catholic priests over their dress, on account of which they were called shortly Abbe, or l'Abbe. They retained this name, with the addition of "l'Aine"and "Cadet,"after they had given up their posts in Agen and had entered the Paris Opera Orchestra as cellists in 1727. This is all that is known about them.
There is more information extant concerning BERTEAU. (His name was written in various ways-viz., Bertaut, Bertault, Bertaud, and Berthaud.) This artist, born at the beginning of the eighteenth century at Valenciennes, was esteemed by his contemporaries as of eminent talent-indeed, as a genius. In his youth he travelled through Germany, and during this time be applied himself with vigour to gamba playing, under the direction of a Bohemian of the name of Kozecz, and acquired great proficiency. However, after he became acquainted with the superiority of the violoncello, and had heard a solo piece for it by Franciscello, (Franciscello must accordingly have written for the cello.) according to Fetis, he went over to that instrument. His progress was so remarkable that he was ever without a rival, and was looked upon as a wonder on his return to Paris, for he also performed unusually well on the flageolet, the playing of which had been little developed. In the year 1739 he was heard for the first time at the "Concert Spirituel" (The oldest concert institution of the French capital, founded in the year 1725.) in a solo of his own composition, and aroused great enthusiasm. The result was a frequent appearance at these concerts. His chief strength lay in the production of an extraordinary richness of tone. He wrote for the violoncello four Concertos as well as three Sonatas with bass accompaniment. His death took place in 1756. Berteau was looked upon as the founder of the French school of violoncello playing. Fetis asserts as a proof of this that as pupils he educated CUPIS, JANSON, TILLIERE, and the elder of the brothers DUPORT, who were the propagators of his beautiful tone as well as his melodious manner of rendering.
JEAN BAPTIST CUPIS, born in 1741, in Paris, received his first lessons from his father, and in his eleventh year became Berteau's pupil. Before he had passed the second decade of his life he was already esteemed as one of the cleverest cellists in France. He was soon received into the Opera Orchestra in Paris, and, indeed, with the distinction that he was associated with those members of it who had to accompany the Solo singers.
In the year 1771 he gave up his connection with the opera in order to undertake some concert tours. He visited a great part of Germany, remained some time in Hamburg, and then went to Paris and Italy, where he married the songstress Gasparini. In 1794 he was in Milan. From that time nothing more is known about him. The requisite information concerning his pupils, Jean Henri Levasseur and Breval, will be given farther on.
Cupis composed two Concertos and a couple of pieces with variations, of which the second, for two violoncellos, appeared only as a "Posthumous work" after his death. Besides these, he wrote a violoncello School. It bears the title "Methode nouvelle et raisonnee pour apprendre A jour du violoncelle, oil l'on traite de son accord, de la maniere de tenir cet instrument avec aisance, do celle de tenir l'archet, de la position de la main Sur la touche, du tact, de l'etendue du manche, de la maniere de doigter dans tous les tons majeurs et mineurs, etc. Paris, Boyer."
Berteau's second pupil, JEAN BAPTISTE AIME JOSEPH JANSON, was born at Valenciennes in 1742. At twenty-four he was heard for the first time as solo-player at the "Concert Spirituel." In 1767 he went as accompanist to the heir apparent of Brunswick to Italy, and remained there till 1771. He then returned for a few years to Paris, after which he travelled in Germany. From Hamburg, where he remained until 1783, he visited Denmark, Sweden, and Poland. He everywhere reaped great applause for his performances, which were distinguished for their broad and fine tone. In the year 1789 he again found himself in Paris, The value that was set upon his playing there is proved by his beiug offered the post of teacher of the violoncello at the Conservatoire, which was founded in the year 1795. He died September 2, 1808. Of his violoncello compositions, Fetis mentions three Concertos (Op. 8), three Concertos (Op. 7), both with a bass; six Concertos with orchestra (Op. 15), and six Sonatas with bass (Op. 4).
Janson had a younger brother, whose Christian names were LOUIS AUGUSTE JOSEPH, whom he instructed as a skilful cellist, after his father had prepared him for it. In 1789 he was given a place in the Parisian Orchestra, which he held till 1815. He died a few years later. He was born on July 8, 1749. He only published six Sonatas for the violoncello with bass.
JOSEPH BONAVENTURE TILLARE, of whom neither the day of birth nor death is known, was about 1760 in the service of the Prince de Conti, after he had finished his studies under Berteau. He had the reputation of being a clever player. His published works consist of six Sonatas for violoncello andbass, nine Duets for two violoncellos, of which three appeared as Op. 8, and also of a violoncello school, published in 1764: "Methode pour le Violoncelle, contenant jes principes necessaires pour bien jouer de cet instrument." This work appeared in several editions.
Berteau's best pupil was JEAN PIERRE DUPORT, called the elder, whose father was a dancing master. He was born in Paris, November 27, 1741. He was heard at twenty years of age, with unanimous applause, inthe "Concert Spirituel." At the same time (1761) he was appointed one of the private musicians of the Prince de Conti. He gave up the post in 1769 in order to travel. He first went to England, two years later he visited Spain, and in 1778 he went to Berlin, where he remained, as Frederick the Great engaged him for his chamber musician as well as for the opera. He was at the same time teacher to the future King Frederick William II., who named him in 1787 superintendent of chamber music. From that time Duport no longer worked in the Opera, but only played at Court. On December 31, 1818, he died, at Berlin. Duport published, in 1787, (Fetis says 1788. The title-page, however, of this Sonata bears the date 1787, by the engraver's own hand.) at Berlin, six Sonatas for violoncello and bass, as well as three Duets for two violoncellos, known as Op. 1.
Gerber, who had the opportunity of hearing this artist in 1793, in Berlin, gives an enthusiastic account of his playing. He especially commended his strong, full tone, and his powerful bowing. According to Fetis, however, his younger brother, JEAN Louis, surpassed him, and he seems to have been remarkably gifted. He had at first chosen the violin as his instrument, but took up by preference the violoncello, when he saw the artistic success of his brother, whose pupil he became. He very soon acquired considerable reputation by his appearance at the "Concert Spirituel" and at the "Societe Olympique," formerly known under the name of "Concerts des Amateurs"; and also by his connection with the house of Baron Bagge, so much frequented at that time by native and foreign artists of note.
When Viotti came to Paris, either at the end of 1781 or the beginning of 1782, and Duport heard him, he took his characteristic style of playing as his model, and his performances gained considerably thereby. He undertook his first concert tour to London in company with the English cellist, Crosdill, who was connected with him, and he there met with a most animated reception. This journey kept him six months away from Paris. But be did not remain then long at home. The ominous events which, in 1789, preceded the Revolution caused him, like a great many others, to fly from Paris. He betook himself to his brother in Berlin, where he soon found employment in the Royal orchestra, to which he was attached for seventeen years. During this time he had many pupils, whose names unfortunately are unknown. His pupils of French nationality-Rousseau, Levasseur, and Platel-will be noticed later.
The events of 1806, so unfortunate for Prussia, obliged Duport to leave Berlin. He returned again to Paris. But during his long absence he had been forgotten, and he had to gain for himself another public.
A single public appearance in the year 1807, in which he was supported by the assistance of the singer, Colbran, Rossini's future wife, was sufficient for this. He could not, however, attain to any certain or decided position again by reason of the entire change of circumstances little favourable to Art in Paris. This obliged him to enter the service of Charles IV of Spain, who had been dispossessed by Bonaparte, and who was then at Marseilles. But this connection came to an end in 1812, when Charles IV went to Rome, and Duport consequently was obliged to return to Paris. He took part in three concerts, and in spite of his advanced age of sixty-five years, had so great a success that he was named solo cellist to the Emperor and teacher at the Conservatoire. He lost the latter post on the re-organization of the abovenamed Institution in the year 1816. He , remained, however, in his position at Court, which meantime had been changed from an imperial to a monarchical one. But only three years after he succumbed to a liver attack, on September 7, 1819. He was born on October 4, 1749.
Louis Duport was the author of a tolerable number of cello -compositions. They consist of four books of Sonatas with bass accompaniment, three Duets for two violoncellos, and eight "Airs Varies" with orchestra or quartet accompaniment. Besides these he composed, in connection with Bochsa, nine Nocturnes for harp and violoncello, a "Fantasie" for piano and violoncello in conjunction with Rigel, and a Romance with piano accompaniment. As his chef d'oeuvre must be distinguished : "Essai sur le doigter du violoncelle et la conduite de l'archet, dedie aux professeurs de violoncelle." Thiscomprehensive instruction book, for which the materials were collected by degrees during a long period of years, was published by Duport during his residences in Berlin and Potsdam. In the preface he says : "I have treated with minute detail the subject of double-stops, and this I have done for two reasons: the first is that until now nothing concerning them has been written, (This must not be taken word for word, for Corrette, in his violoncello school, ,gives directions with regard to double stopping, though very insufficient. ) and they are so important for a good player; the second, because they have so often served me as an argument, for without an established mode of fingering, double notes are impossible. In the course of this work things will be met with, of which the performance is difficult, but nothing will be presented which is really impracticable. I am not writing a useless theory. I have put down no scales, no figures, no passages, no, exercises, without having repeatedly tried them myself. I caused them to be repeatedly played by my brother, who was formerly my master, and will ever remain so, as well as by the best of my pupils in Berlin and Potsdam. I am, therefore thoroughly convinced that the work contains. nothing that may not with ease be clearly and distinctly carried out, and what at first appears impracticable will be practicable for those who will give themselves continuous trouble, and make a point of practising a regular course of fingering."
It is evident that Duport devoted himself with the greatest care to the working out of his book of instruction (which must be accounted a violoncello school) in order to bring about distinctness in the finger technique, not until then fully settled. For that time it was a meritorious undertaking. A new edition of it, brought out by the violoncellist, A, Lindner, is a. proof that the work, in spite of its age, is not quite without value. It is only to be regretted that the original text has not throughout been faithfully adhered to, and that in parts it has been suppressed. The editor should have reproduced the work in its original, form, and have enunciated his own dissenting opinions in observations.
Of more value for our present purpose than Duport's work just mentioned are his Twenty-one "Exercizes," which contain much that is worthy of consideration and of acquisition. Duport left a son who, for a long time, belonged to the, orchestra at Lyons, but then opened a piano manufactory in Paris. The splendid Stradivari cello, which he inherited from his father, he disposed of to the violoncello virtuoso, Franchomme, for 25,000 francs.
Amongst Duport's pupils, FREDERICH ROUSSEAU, born January 11, 1755, at Versailles, must be mentioned. He was member of the Parisian Opera Orchestra in 1787. In 1812 he retired from his position and established a music school in his native town. He was of special importance in the musical life of Paris as having been one of the founders of the Concert Institute of the "Rue de Clery," formerly so popular. Amongst his compositions he published six "Duos concertants " (Op. 8 and 4) as well as Potpourri" for two violoncellos.
Taking up the chronological thread from Berteau, we have next to mention the Cellist CHARLES HENRI BLAINVILLE who was born in a village near Tours, in the year 1711, and died in Paris, in 1769. The intimate circumstances relating to his life are unknown. Only so far is certain, that he enjoyed the protection of the Marquise de Villeroy, who received musical instruction from him, and that apparently through the influence of this lady he obtained the position of a creditable "Maitre de Musique " in Paris. Blainville published several theoretical works and a few compositions, amongst them two Symphonies, but nothing for his own instrument.
The cellist NOCHEZ, born between 1720 and 1780, is known as a pupil of Cervetto and Abaco. In his early years he travelled in Italy and was then member of the comic opera in Paris, from which he went to the orchestra ofthe grand Opera in 1749. In 1768 he received the appointment of royal chamber musician. He died in 1800 after a year spent in retirement. Nochez is the author of an article on the violoncello which appeared in print in de La Boras's "Essai sur la musique ancienne et moderne " (Paris, 1780).
Concerning the violoncellist EDOUARD, only the following notice is found in Gerber. "A violoncellist living in Paris, in 1737, was an extraordinary artist on his instrument, and was much commended by Telemann " (Ehrenpforte, 367).
CLAUDE DOMERGUE, born at Beaucaire in 1734, seems to have been remarkable among French violoncellists, although he never left his home. That Duport, when he was traveling in the South of France, stopped at Beaucaire solely in order to make Domergue's acquaintance is sufficient proof of his unusual skill in execution. During the disturbances of the Revolution he unhappily ended his days, with thirty of his fellow citizens, on the scaffold, in 1794.
To the Paris Opera orchestra belonged FRANCOIS JOSEPH GIRIUD, the violoncellist, from 1752-1767. Besides this he was chamber musician. He wrote a volume of Sonatas for his instrument. Further, he occupied himself with vocal composition, and also wrote for the stage.
The next to be mentioned is JEAN TRICKLIR, already named, of German extraction, born at Dijon in 1750, who passed only his youth in France. Destined by his parents for the church, he went to the seminary of his birthplace. In his leisure hours he occupied himself with cello playing. His partiality for it increased by degrees as he advanced in skill, and in his fifteenth year he embraced the resolution of devoting himself to the art. For this object Tricklir went to Mannheim, where he remained several years and reached a master-pitch by zealous study under the direction of experienced teachers. After he had been several times to Italy, he was received in March of the year 1783 as a member of the Court band at Dresden, to which he belonged as a highly appreciated artist until his death on November 29, 1818. His published compositions consist of seven Concertos and six Sonatas for violoncello. It must also be noticed that Tricklir thought to have discovered by a "Microcosme Musical" a sure means of keeping stringed instruments continually in even, pure tune. It was, however, an illusion, and this imaginary invention disappeared as quickly as it had originated.
A remarkable scholar of Tricklir's was DOMINIQUE BIDEAU, or BIDAUX, as he called himself in his violoncello school. He belonged to the orchestra of the "Theatre Italien" in Paris. His compositions in relation to the violoncello are "Six duos pour Violon et Violoncelle" (Op. 1 and 2), Paris, 1796; "Trois grands divertissements concertants pour violon et violoncelle," "Un air ecossais varie avec quatuor," "Deux duos faciles pour deux violoncelles," and some other things of the same kind. The title of his violoncello school runs thus: "Grande et Nouvelle Methode raisonnee pour le Violoncelle, composee par Dominique Bidaux. Paris, 1802."
A contemporary of Bidaux, PIERRE FRANCOIS OLIVIER AUBERT, born 1768 at Amiens, also brought out a violoncello method. (Fetis says that Aubert published "deux methodes do violoncello," but immediately after speaks of one "livre elementaire" of the same author, so, that it may easily be concluded the first assertion was an error.) He received his first musical instruction in the "maitrise" of his native town, but he learned cello playing by himself, without any other assistance. After,his arrival in Paris, he found a place in the orchestra of the "Opera Comique," to which he belonged for twenty-five years. His cello method was, as Fetis remarks, the first good instruction book which followed after the insufficient preparatory works by Cupis and Tillibre.
Aubert wrote for his instrument twelve Duets in four parts, as Op. 8, 5, 6, and 7; some Studies, besides three Sonatas, Op. 8; and lastly, eight Sonatas.
A second violoncellist of the same name, who was commonly called AUBERTI, worked in the orchestra of the Paris Commedie, Italienne. He died in the year 1805. Of his compositions. six Solos for the violoncello (Op. 1) appeared, and six Duets for. two violoncellos.
F. CARDON was a member of the Paris Opera orchestra in the middle of the last century. He educated his nephew, PIERRE CARDON, born in 1751, who at the same time studied singing under Richer. The latter seems to have been his chief occupation, Since he became a singer in the Royal Chapel in 1788, and gave singing lessons. He was, however, also engaged as a teacher of cello playing.
ESPRIT AIMON, born at Lisle (Vaucluse), in 1754, is also distinguished as a clever violoncellist. He conducted for a long time the music of the Danish Minister, Count Rantzau; he then Settled down in Marseilles. In the year 1828 he died in Paris,
The cellist, PIERRE FRANCOIS LEVASSEUR, born at Abbeville, in 1753, was intended for the church, and received for that end a liberal education. He decided, however, in the eighteenth year of his life for art. A certain Belleval directed for three months his practice on the violoncello. This instruction, however, does not seem to have satisfied him, for he preferred to be his own master. When he came to Paris, in 1782, he received a few lessons from Duport the younger ( Mis says from the elder Duport. This is, however, impossible as he had. already settled in Berlin, in 1773, from which place he did not again absent, himself. ), whose tone and style he adopted. In 1789 be played at the "Concert Spirituel" some of his master's solo pieces, and later be appeared at the concerts of the "Theatre Feydeau." From 1785-1815 he was a member of the Opera orchestra. Soon after his retirement from this he died. The compositions which he published were twelve Duets for two violoncellos in two volumes.
There was another cellist, LEVASSEUR, about ten years younger, who sprang from another family so-called, and whose Christian name was JEAN HFNRI. He seems to have been more remarkable than his namesake mentioned above. He was born in 1765 in Paris, was a pupil of Cupis, and belonged consequently to Berteau's school. After he had pursued his studies with the former artist, he profited for some time by the instruction of the younger Duport. He was then received into the Paris Opera orchestra, to which he belonged as first violoncellist until 1823, the year of his death. He was also for some time active as a teacher at the Conservatoire. He likewise had a place at the Court Music of Napoleon, and from 1814 in the Royal band. That he was amongst the first in rank who belonged to the violoncello school of the Conservatoire, under the direction of Baillot, is a proof of the repute in which he was held in Paris. Of his own compositions, he only left a set of Sonatas with bass, two sets of Duets, and a volume of "Exercices."
Levasseur's most prominent pupils were LAMARE and NORBLIN.
JAQUES MICHEL HUREL DE LAMARE, born on May 1, 1772, in Paris, died on March 27, 1823, in the town of Caen, where he possessed some property, was the son of poor parents and got his scientific as well as his artistic education together with the Pages of the Court Music. In his fifteenth year he began, under the direction of the younger Duport, violoncello playing, for which he developed an extraordinary talent. Before he had reached seventeen years of age, he left the Pages' Institute and returned to his parents. In 1794 he found a place in the orchestra of the Theatre Feydeau. The then famous concerts of this institution gave him the wished-for opportunity of making himself known as a solo player. His excellent performances procured for him very soon the reputation of the French violoncellist of his time. The Committee of the Paris Conservatoire hastened to secure him as a teacher. But he desired to go out into the world, and at the beginning of 1801 he went to Germany. At Berlin he was brought into intimate relations with Prince Louis Ferdinand, and played a great deal with him; as a mark of distinction he presented him with a ring on condition that he would exchange it. with one that Lamare himself wore. From Germany Lamare went to Russia. He lived there alternately at St. Petersburg and Moscow until 1808. During this period he was not only soloist at the Imperial Court, but was also active in giving concerts. On his return to France he took the route through Poland and Austria. In April, 1809, he returned to Pais and soon organised a concert in the Odeon without, however, exciting in any way his audience, which determined him not to play publicly again. He only allowed himself to be heard in private circles, where great admiration for his playing was cooceded to him. He must have been an excellent perfomer in ensemble and also in quartet playing. In 1815 he married a lady of fortune. From that time he only pursued his art for pleasure. On March 27, 1823, he succumbed to an affection of the larynx.
Lamare wrote nothing for his instrument. He was destitute of any gift of form. The, compositions published in Paris under his name, consisting of four violoncello Concertos, Duets, and. an "Air varie" for violoncello, originated probably from the opera composer Auber, who was an intimate friend of Lahmare. Of the Concertos, the one in A minor is the best.
LOUIS PIERRE MARTIN NORBLIN Was the Son of the French painter, Norblin de la Gourdaine, of some repute in his time, who, in 1772, selected Warsaw as his permanent residence and there married a Polish lady. The artist just now mentioned, born on December 2, 1781, was the offspring of this union, In 1798 he went to Paris for the sake of the Conservatoire and was first Baudiot's and then Levasseur's pupil. In the year XI., according to the reckoning of the French Republic, that is, 1803, he received the first prize at a competition of the directors of the above-named Institution for his performances in solo playing. Six years later, 1809, he was appointed to the orchestra of the "Theatre italien," and, in 1811, solo violoncellist in the orchestra of the Grand Opera. In this position he remained until 1841. Besides this, he gave instructions at the Conservatoire from January 1, 1826, as successor of his master, Levasseur; on June 5, 1846, he gave this up, in order to withdraw into private life. He died on July 14, 1854, at Chateau Connautre, in the Department of the Marne.
Norblin was highly estimated, not only as a soloist, but also as a delicate, tasteful quartet player. For many years he took the violoncello parts in the Baillot String Quartets. He gained special distinction from the musical world of Paris, for having assisted in the foundation of the Conservatoire Concerts, called into existence by Habeneck, in 1828.
His son and pupil, EMILE, born April 2, 1821, was a skilful violoncellist, who received the Conservatoire prize. He, however, devoted himself more to teaching than solo playing.
Cupis' pupil, JEAN BAPTISTE BREVAL, already mentioned, born, in 1756, in the Department of the Aisne, so quickly developed his talent that he was able very early to appear at the "Concert Spirituel" with brilliant success. He was a member of the Paris Opera orchestra from 1781 to 1806. In 1796 followed his nomination as teacher of violoncello playing at the Conservatoire. From this he was released in 1802, as the number of the pupils at the Institution was not large enough to keep him employed. Towards the end of his life Breval retired to Chamouille, a village in the neighbourhood. of Lyon. He shortly after died there, at the end of the year 1825.
Breval published for the violoncello seven Concertos, five sets of Duets, three Sonatas with bass, and twelve "Airs varies." Besides these he wrote two Concertantes, Quartets, Trios, and an instruction book under the title "Methode raisonnee de Violoncelle," which appeared in Paris in 1804. His cello pieces were formerly much in request, but have been long obsolete. As a player Breval had a finished style, but in his rendering lacked, force and energy.
Of similar kind is the verdict regarding the pupil of the elder Janson, CHARLES NICOLAS BAUDIOT, who was born on March 29, 1773, at Nancy, and died in Paris on September 26, 1849. Fetis, who had heard him, says that his rendering, though of great neatness and purity of tone, was cold and without spirit. It appears that he possessed an extraordinary talent for teaching, for he was, in 1802, the successor of his master at the Conservatoire, and worked there until the year 1822 when he accepted a pension. He had an official post in the Treasury as well as his artistic occupation.
In 1807 he was unfortunate in exciting the ridicule of an audience, at a concert given by the famous Catalani, in which he took part. The occasion was of a very harmless nature. In the said concert a Symphony of Haydn was played, and Baudiot had a solo to perform immediately after. It was a "Fantaisie" on the Andante of the German master's Symphony which had just been executed, and of the performance of which the soloist had no suspicion, as he entered the hall when his turn came. Scarcely had Baudiot begun Haydn's Theme when the public, who thought he wanted to have a joke, burst out into hearty laughter. The artist, who was at a loss to explain the demeanour of his audience, and ignorant of the connection of affairs, became excited and played out of tune, whereupon the laughter was repeated with renewed vigour. Having lost his self-control, and being on the point of fainting, he left the platform, supported by a fellow artist. Baudiot wrote for the violoncello two Concertos and two Concertinos, as well as a great number of other compositions, consisting of Duets, Potpourris, Fantaisies, Nocturnes, Sonatas, with bass accompaniment, and transcribed besides violin pieces by Lafont and Beriot. He was also the author of a method for his instrument, and under the direction of Baillot, and with the co-operation of Levasseur, he took part also in the production of a violoncello method for use in the Conservatoire.
Of Baudiot's pupils, SCIPION ROUSSELOT, born at the beginning of our century, deserves notice. During his attendance at the Conservatoire, he received also instruction in composition from Reicha. At the completion of his studies the first prize was allotted to him (1828). Rousselot went later on to England. Besides several chamber music compositions and a Symphony, there appeared by him three Sonatinas, some books of Variations, and a "Morceau de Salou " for violoncello.
A fellow student of Baudiot's, under Janson the elder, was PIERRE LOUIS HUS-DEDSFORGES , grandson of the violin virtuoso, Jarnowick. Hus-Desforges was born at Toulon in 1778, where his mother, Jarnowick's daughter, was performing as an actress. At the age of eight his parents confided him to the boys' choir of the Cathedral at La Rochelle. As he had occupied his leisure hours with trumpet blowing, he accepted the duty of trumpeter (1792) to the 14th Regiment in order to join in the campaigns of the Revolutionary Army, Four years after he lost a finger of his right hand by a musket ball and was consequently invalided. He now tried his fortune as cellist, for during his sojourn at La Rochelle he had acquired some facility on the violoncello. He succeeded in being appointed to the theatre orchestra. In the course of six months he relinquished this and chose Paris as his residence. Here he was received into the Conservatoire and assigned to the pupils of Janson. After his release from the Conservatoire, Hus-Desforges led, like his grandfather Jarnowick, a perpetually changing life. In the year 1800 he went as head of the orchestra with a French opera troupe to St. Petersburg, in 1810 he returned and made some concert tours in France, in 1817 came back to Paris and undertook the functions of first cellist at the Theatre "Porte Saint Martin," in 1820 went to Metz and founded there a music school, made fresh journeys, and in 1828 was the head of the orchestra at the "Theatre du Gymnase,"but at the end of a year asked for his dismissal. He did the same again when in 1831 he had succeeded in obtaining the office of Director of the orchestra at the Theatre of the Palais Royal. He spent the end of his chequered career in the little town of Pont-le-Roi, near Blois, as teacher at the music school there, where he died January 20, 1838.
Hus-Desforges was a clever, skilful violoncellist, but he did not belong to the number of prominent, practised artists of his time. His tone was weak and his performances lacked force and brilliancy, as Fets remarks. His violoncello compositions, which were formerly somewhat liked, consisted of four Concertos and nine Airs with variations, entitled "Soirees Musicales," four Duets, and two Sonatas with bass. Besides these he wrote a violoncello method.
Of far greater importance to the art of violoncello playing was Duport the younger's pupil, NICOLAS JOSEPH PLATEL, who was born in the year 1777 at Versailles, and received his first musical instruction in the Institution of royal pages. There was then no attempt at violoncello playing, but about the tenth year of the boy's age the inclination for it was developed. Louis Duport, who discerned a disposition favourable to it, devoted himself with special zeal to his training. These relations were broken off, when Duport, at the end of 1789, left France in order to seek a position in Berlin. From that period Platel was thrown for a long time upon his own resources. In the year 1798 he was drawn into close relations with Lamare, who sought in every way to forward him. In 1796 Platel became a member of the orchestra of the "Theatre Feydeau." He was deprived of his post on account of a love affair with an actress of that institution, with whom he went to Lyons at the end of 1797. When he returned to Paris in 1801, he appeared several times at concerts with great success. He was then reputed the best violoncellist in Paris, and the absence of Duport and Lamare abroad stood him in good stead.
Platel might now have made his fortune in the French capital. However, on account of the carelessness of his disposition and his unpractical nature, he knew not how to turn his opportunities to advantage. In, 1805 he left Paris in order to undertake a concert tour, but at Quimper, where he made the acquaintance of a cello playing dilettante, he remained quite two years. He then finally came to the resolution of again beginning his wanderings. When he had appeared in concerts at Brest and Nantes with great success, he went North with the intention of visiting Holland and thence Germany. This plan, however, was not carried out. Platel settled himself down, on the way to the former place, at Ghent, remained there giving lessons several yeaxs, and then went to Antwerp. An opera troupe was there at the time who engaged him as first violoncellist. About six yeaxs later he undertook the same function in the theatre at Brussels. This was the turning-point which decided Platel's destiny. The Prince of Chimay engaged him for the Royal Music School of the Belgian Court, which was opened in 1831. By accepting this office, to which he devoted himself until his death on August 25, 1835, he became the founder of the Belgium school of violoncello playing, from which emanated, under his direction, such artists as Batta, Demunck, and Servais.
Platel's compositions consist of five Concertos, of which the last is entitled "Le Quart d'heure," also of three books of Sonatas with bass accompaniment, and eight "Airs Varies" of "Caprices ou Preludts," and six Romances with piano, accompaniment. Besides these he wrote six Duets for violoncello and violin, and three Trios for violin, viola., and violoncello.
We must mention here three French cellists of the second half of last century, whose master is not known-namely, Chretien, Haillot, and Raoul.
GILLES LOUIS CHRETIEN, born in 1754 at Versailles, and died in Paris, March 4, 1811, at the age of twenty-two found a position as Royal band musician. He possessed great readiness and a good tone, though he played without expression. He lost his place by the Revolution, but was indemnified in 1807 by being received into the Imperial orchestra. He does not seem to have occupied himself with composition, but as a writer on music, though without much success.
HAILLOT belonged to the orchestra of the "Comedie Italienne," and was also engaged in private teaching. By his arrangements of operas in the form of duets he supplied the wants of amateur cello players.
Finally, JEAN MARIE RAOUL, an enthusiastic friend of art who besides his official position as crown lawyer and, later, as Justice at the Paris Cour de Cassation, cultivated zealously the violoncello, on which he distinguished himself--must be mentioned in this place as the author of a violoncello school. It appeared under the title of "Methode de violoncelle, contenant une nouvelle exposition des principes de cet instrument." Raoul composed also some Sonatas and "Airs varies" for his favourite instrument. His efforts, supported by Vuillaume, the well-known Parisian violin maker, to restore the gamba to practical use were in vain. Raoul was born in Paris, in 1766, and died there in 1837.
When we survey the progressive development of violoncello playing from its commencement to the close of the eighteenth century under all aspects, the following facts are presented to us: violoncello playing was taken up, as we saw, in the first half of the seventeenth century, and even before, by the Italians. It was at first used only as an orchestral instrument and as a harmonised accompaniment of recitative singing in the place of the gamba.. But in the second half of the seventeenth century there were some Italian artists, as GABRIELI, ARIOSTI, AND BONONCINI, who endeavoured to elevate the violoncello to the rank of a solo instrument. Then appeared FRANCISCELLO, who worked with uncommon success to the same end. By the last three named artists violoncello playing was presented to the German nation with the idea of artistically treating it, while in France Giov. Battista Struck, called Baptistin, exercised an influence in the same direction.
In both these countries this new branch of Art soon received a great impulse by means of native talent. The Germans brought to it more that was empiric, the French what was methodic-consequently at the beginning, it must be acknowledged, the latter - gained a certain advantage. It is very noteworthy that they made great, efforts to arrange systematically and establish the technique of violoncello playing by instruction books and methods, and Corrette led the way with his violoncello school, published in 1741, which was followed in the course of the second half of the last century by similar works by Tilliere, Cupis, and Muntzberger. ( Tilliere's violoncello school appeared in 1764, and those of Cupis and Muntzberger, to all appearance, came out before 1800. ) In Italy and Germany, as far as one can see, the first attempts at instruction books for the violoncello were initiated after Corrette and Tilliere had published their Schools.
But in spite of the laudable efforts which were made, especially in France, to establish the science of cello playing on a sure and suitable basis, it made very slow progress... A substantial hindrance existed from the circumstance that the method of violin playing, which, at the time, had already reached a high state of cultivation. had been in a measure used as a model without taking into consideration the important difference in the dimensions of the fingerboard in the two instruments. Not only had the fingering of the diatonic and chromatic scales, but also the principles of the so-called positions, been transferred from the violin to the violoncello. With reference to the first point, the necessary directions were given by description in the Method of Corrette. As to the latter point it must be observed that for the lower portion of the fingerboard four different positions were adopted analogous to the technique of the violin. To this position theory, which has come down to the present time and is treated of in some of the old as well as the new violoncello schools, no special authority, strictly speaking, should be attached. ( Here is an example or two: Alexander in his cello school, which appeared in 1801, takes up quite arbitrarily an " ordinary," a " half," and a " whole," as well as a " mixed " THEORY OF FINGERING," and Fr. Kummer divides the fingerboard into " whole" and " half" positions. Muntzberger says in his cello school, which appeared apparently in 1800, he wished that people could accustom themselves to say to the pupil as for the violin: " take this or that position." Here is given a distinct indication of the application of the violin positions. In other cello schools, on the contrary, there is no reference to positions. Duport, however, makes use of positions 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, &a., throughout his volume.) For the violin it has to a certain extent a meaning, as on that instrument it is possible to play a complete scale on all parts of the fingerboard without moving the hand. On account of its wider dimensions the violoncello admits of this only by the help of the thumb position, with the exception of the C major scale by using the open strings. But even here, where an indication of position would be applicable, it is not usual. Evidently there is something inconsistent in this.
There was a singular conjuncture with regard to finger technique in the use of the thumb, as we have already seen from Corrette's violoncello school. The fourth finger was excluded from co-operation as soon as the use of the thumb was introduced, because it was thought that it was too short. This view of it prevailed up to the end of last century. In the method published by the Belgian violoncellist, Muntzberger, it is literally said: "When the fourth position has been passed over, only three fingers are used." Later indeed, where Muntzberger speaks of the use of the thumb, he somewhat modifies this rule, since he remarks: "Many professors, when using the thumb, do not need the fourth finger. I am of opinion that its use should not be rejected, in that he, who by nature is endowed with a long finger, can make it available in certain cases."
In exceptional cases, therefore, Muntzberger advocated the use of the little finger when playing with the assistance of the thumb. But it is evident from his expression that the use of it was not usual at the end of the last century. This is undoubtedly to be gathered from the " Methode de Violoncello," published conjointly by Baillot, Levasseur, Catel, and Baudiot. In it is the following observation: "The use of the fourth finger in the different positions of the thumb was not known to the older violoncello teachers of France. It has only been introduced a few years, since the necessity for it has been felt." As this violoncello school was in 1804 accepted as an instruction book for the Conservatoire by a resolution of the General Committee, it is clearly evident that in France at least the fourth finger had for the most part remained unused until shortly before the close of the last century. The cause of this was plainly an incorrect manipulation. Concerning the practice pursued in Germany during the second half of the last century with regard to the fourth finger, Joh. Bap. Baumgartner's Tutor, mentioned earlier, would alone be able to give an explanation, if it were still extant. With some probability, however, it may be assumed that the same opinion was held in reference to it as on the other side of the Rhine. The influence of France on German violoncello playing in the second half of the last century made itself felt in other ways This was chiefly through the means of the brothers Duport. The succeeding sections will show in what way the further cultivation of this branch of the art progressed.
The Art of Violoncello Playing in the Nineteenth Century
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