In the following pages I present to the musical world the History of the Violoncello and Violoncello playing. I have preceded it by the History of the Viola da Gamba, for the reason that this instrument must be considered the precursor of the Violoncello. For my work I have made use of the musical dictionaries extant, especially Gerber's old and new musical Lexicon as well as Fetis' " Biographie Universelle des Musiciens." What has been borrowed from other works will be indicated in the course of the narrative. The great courtesy of Herr Friedrich Grutzmacher, the Royal Concert-director of Saxony, in placing at my disposal his extensive collection of old and new Violoncello Literature, has been of especial value to me in my undertaking. By its means I have been enabled to find my way through the historical development of Violoncello composition. I willingly seize this opportunity of expressing my thanks to him for it.
SONDERSHAUSEN, December, 1888.
(The picture is of Robert Lindley, a famous nineteenth century English cellist.)
It may be that we are not a musical people, but if so the encouragement and appreciation which the sister Art to painting has of late years received in England is not a proof of the truth of the assertion frequently made. Our Concert-rooms are always crowded to overflowing; foreign artists think it worth while to come year by year to England; schools of music are multiplying, and eagerly attended by amateurs as well as professionals; and I think it may now be taken for granted that a musical education may be as thoroughly acquired here as abroad. Every kind of musical instrument is taken up, if not always with a really serious intention ; but no instrument has more rapidly or more certainly come into favour amongst all lovers of music, as well with those who study as witli those who listen, than the Violoncello. It is therefore somewhat surprising that up to the present time no book has been published in English, either as regarding its History or its Literature. This consideration, as well as the hope that not only those who devote themselves to the Violoncello, either as professors or amateurs, may be interested in its History, but also the general musical public who delight in listening to its deeply pathetic tones as produced by the great masters of it, has induced me to attempt the translation of Mr. Wasielewski's interesting work. We love to know . and often take pains to enquire into the history of any fav ourite picture, to learn something of the artist's life, the circumstances under which he painted it, and often the origin of its conception. I therefore hope that the story of the Violoncello will be acceptable to all who love it and give their lives to the development of its many beauties and capabilities.
The account of the Violoncello's forerunner, the Viola da Gamba, cannot but be especially interesting, this instrument having been formerly cultivated in England to so great an extent. The frequent allusions which Praetorius in his " Syntagma Musicum " makes to English Gamba players, with a decided preference to their manner of playing and tuning their instruments, is a proof of how high their reputation was abroad; and if any further evidence were wanting the dictum of Mersermus that English Gambists excelled all other nations in Gamba playing, is sufficient to show that in the sixteenth and part of the seventeenth centuries they held the first rank. If for a short period we have no violoncellist of extraordinary merit to chronicle, more modern times have produced artists who will bear comparisonwith any of the greatest players on the Continent. Concerning these and English Gamba players I have ventured to add a few more particulars than Mr. Wasielewski has given, hoping they would prove interesting to English readers. These details have been gathered from Grove's Dictionary, Leslie Stephen's Nat. Biography, and various other works. For the technical portion, Mr. Niecks's Dictionary of Musical Terms has been consulted, as well as Mendel and Dommer. I have supplemented the Yioloncello Schools by others collected from Mr. Heron Allen's Bibliography, and various sources, introducing some of the old Instruction books for the Gamba.
I must here thank Mr. Wasielewski for his kind permission to translate his valuable work, as well as Messrs. Breitkopf and Hartel for their courteous assistance. I beg Mr. George Herbert to accept my grateful acknowledgment for his most kind help and encouragement, and Mr. Heron Allen for the interest he has taken in my work. To Mr. Arthur Hill I am indebted for much kind advice, and to Mr. Noseda of the Strand for his courteous permission to reproduce from his oil-painting the portrait of Robert Lindley as a Frontispiece.
ISOBELLA S.E. STIGAND
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