18th. Century Cello Music

The 1700’s

This was a time that saw an explosion in compositions for the cello. There is an endless list of pieces–if one listed each sonata, concerto, suite, etc. separately it would take up many dozens of pages.

In Joseph Wasielewski’s invaluable tome The Violoncello and Its History one finds reference to so many composers and cellists that it is hard to keep up with them all. This became more apparent to me after I began my search for music to play. The upcoming Episode in my podcast Forgotten Cello Music, (episode 29) of course would be more interesting with music to fit the era.

As I searched names mentioned in the chapter Violoncello in the 18th Century: Italy, I quickly realized that I’d have to sift through hundreds of pieces. Luckily, most of them are quite unplayable (due to highly ornamental passages) in a short practice session and so, they were easily eliminated. However, there are still dozens of compositions which are exhilarating examples of the prevailing style and character of music from the early 1700’s, which are readable and readily playable. Just deciding which fine specimen to play took time.

Some composers that caught my attention after sight-reading:

  • Giovanni Sammartini
  • Benedetto Marcello
  • Antonio Vandini
  • Giacobbe Cervetto
  • Giovanni Buononcini
  • Guiseppe Dall’baco

But wait! Who did Wasielewski leave out!

You might be thinking, like me, that this is the 1700’s hundreds. There were dozens of still often played composers whom we all know very well. Namely, from Italy, Antonio Vivaldi. I’m not sure if J. W. didn’t know of the 9 sonatas and the numerous concertos or if they were simply ignored or forgotten about. (Why would he leave him out since he was positioned squarely in this era.) It is curious that of this period’s cellos sonatas one of the most often learned is Vivaldi’s Sonata da chiesa in E minor (every Suzuki student knows it well).

You might be asking, “Was Vivaldi a cellist?” The answer is, “No, he wasn’t.” Regardless, his compositions for cello are so influential that it is hard to ignore them. So, I include his works. It must also be admitted that I really like his Cello sonatas and hold them up as the most beautiful and exhilarating examples of music ever written for cello.

Including another sonata by vivaldi

With that in mind, I will be including a sonata by A. Vivaldi, or two. Having mentioned the most famous one it surely must be utilized. However, any of the others would suffice for the tenor of this project. Obviously, this is a project all about Forgotten Cello Music so I must naturally choose another. I love all of his sonatas so it will be difficult.

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment or send me an email. It is interesting to hear what others think and ideas about this topic, Forgotten Cello Music.

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