HISTORY 5th

THE DOUBEL BASS

The double bass, or upright bass, also called the string bass, bass fiddle, bass violin, doghouse bass, contrabass, bass viol, stand-up bass, bull fiddle or simply bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument of the viol family in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2 (see standard tuning). The double bass is a standard member of the string section of the orchestra[1] and smaller string ensembles[2] in Western classical music. The double bass is played either with a bow (arco) or by plucking the strings (pizzicato). In orchestral repertoire and tango music, both arco and pizzicato are employed. In jazz, blues, and rockabilly, pizzicato is the norm. While classical music uses just the natural sound produced acoustically by the instrument, in jazz, blues, and related genres, the bass is typically amplified with a bass amplifier.

The bass is used in a range of genres, such as jazz, 1950s-style blues and rock and roll, rockabilly/psychobilly, traditional country music, bluegrass, tango and many types of folk music. A person who plays the double bass is usually referred to as a bassist. The contrabass violin is the version of the double-bass used in the violin octet; it is larger than the usual double bass and was originally intended to be tuned in 5ths C1-G1-D2-A2 (that is one octave below the cello). However practical considerations have induced some players to tune it in 4ths E1-A1-D2-G2 like the usual double bass. The double bass is a transposing instrument and sounds one octave lower than notated.

The double bass is the only modern bowed string instrument that is tuned in fourths (like a viol), rather than fifths. The issue of the instrument's exact lineage is still a matter of some debate, and the claim that the double bass is a direct descendant of the viol family is one that has not been entirely resolved. Some scholars argue that the bass is derived from the violin family.

Description

The double bass stands around 180 cm (six feet) from scroll to endpin,[3] and is typically constructed from several types of wood, including maple for the back, spruce for the top, and ebony for the fingerboard. It is uncertain whether the instrument is a descendant of the viola da gamba or of the violin, but it is traditionally aligned with the violin family. While the double bass is nearly identical in construction to other violin family instruments, it also embodies features found in the older viol family.

Playing style

Like many other string instruments, the double bass is played either with a bow (arco) or by plucking the strings (pizzicato). In orchestral repertoire and tango music, both arco and pizzicato are employed. In jazz, blues, and rockabilly, pizzicato is the norm, except for some solos and also occasional written parts in modern jazz that call for bowing.

When playing the double bass, the player either stands or sits on a high stool and leans the instrument against the player's body with the bass turned slightly inwards in order to more easily reach the strings. This stance is also a key reason for the bass's sloped shoulders, which mark it apart from the other members of the violin family, as the narrower shoulders facilitate playing of the strings in their higher registers.

History

Some early basses were conversions of existing violones. This 1640 painting shows a violone being played.

The double bass is generally regarded as a modern descendant of the string family of instruments that originated in Europe in the 15th century, and as such has been described as a bass Violin.[4] Before the 20th century many double basses had only three strings, in contrast to the five to six strings typical of instruments in the string family or the four strings of instruments in the violin family. The double bass's proportions are dissimilar to those of the violin and cello; for example, it is deeper (the distance from top to back is proportionally much greater than the violin). In addition, while the violin has bulging shoulders, most double basses have shoulders carved with a more acute slope, like members of the viol family. Many very old double basses have had their shoulders cut or sloped to aid playing with modern techniques. Before these modifications, the design of their shoulders was closer to instruments of the violin family.

The double bass is the only modern bowed string instrument that is tuned in fourths (like a viol), rather than fifths (see Tuning below). The issue of the instrument's exact lineage is still a matter of some debate, and the supposition that the double bass is a direct descendant of the viol family is one that has not been entirely resolved.

In his A New History of the Double Bass, Paul Brun asserts, with many references, that the double bass has origins as the true bass of the violin family. He states that, while the exterior of the double bass may resemble the viola da gamba, the internal construction of the double bass is nearly identical to instruments in the violin family, and very different from the internal structure of viols.[5]

Double bass professor Larry Hurst argues that the "modern double bass is not a true member of either the violin or viol families." He says that "most likely its first general shape was that of a violone, the largest member of the viol family. Some of the earliest basses extant are violones, (including C-shaped sound holes) that have been fitted with modern trappings." [6] Some existing instruments, such as those by Gasparo da Salò, were converted from 16th-century six-string contrabass violoni.[7]

Terminology

A person who plays this instrument is called a bassist, double bassist, double bass player, contrabassist, contrabass player, or bass player. The names contrabass and double bass refer to the instrument's range and use in the contra octave below the cello, also called the 16' octave relative to the church organ.[8] The terms for the instrument among classical performers are contrabass (which comes from the instrument's Italian name, contrabbasso), string bass (to distinguish it from a brass bass instrument in a concert band), or simply bass.

In jazz and other genres outside of classical music, this instrument is commonly called the upright bass or acoustic bass to distinguish it from the electric bass guitar. In folk and bluegrass music, the instrument is also referred to as a bass fiddle or bass violin (or more rarely as doghouse bass or bull fiddle). Other colourful nicknames are found in other languages; in Hungarian, for instance, the double bass is sometimes called nagy bőgő, which roughly translates as "big crier," referring to its large voice.

Design

Example of a Busetto-shaped double bass: Copy of a Matthias Klotz (1700) by Rumano Solano
Principal parts of the double bass

In general, there are two major approaches to the design outline shape of the double bass: the violin form (shown in the labelled picture to the right); and the viol da gamba form (shown in the header picture). A third less common design, called the busetto shape, can also be found, as can the even more rare guitar or pear shape. The back of the instrument can vary from being a round, carved back similar to that of the violin, to a flat and angled back similar to the viol family.

The double bass features many parts that are similar to members of the violin family, including a bridge, f-holes, a tailpiece, a scroll, and a sound post. Unlike the rest of the violin family, the double bass still reflects influence, and can be considered partly derived, from the viol family of instruments, in particular the violone, the bass member of the viol family.

The double bass also differs from members of the violin family in that the shoulders are typically sloped, the back is often angled (both to allow easier access to the instrument, particularly in the upper range), and machine tuners are always fitted. Lack of standardization in design means that one double bass can sound and look very different from another.

Construction

The double bass is closest in construction to violins, but has some notable similarities to the violone (literally "large viol"), the largest and lowest member of the viol family. Unlike the violone, however, the fingerboard of the double bass is unfretted, and the double bass has fewer strings (the violone, like most viols, generally had six strings, although some specimens had five or four).

An important distinction between the double bass and other members of the violin family is the construction of the pegbox. While the violin, viola, and cello all use friction pegs for gross tuning adjustments, the double bass has metal machine heads. The key on the tuning machine turns a metal worm, which drives a worm gear that winds the string. While this development makes fine tuners unnecessary, a very small number of bassists use them nevertheless. At the base of the double bass is a metal rod with a spiked end called the endpin, which rests on the floor. This endpin is generally more robust than that of a cello, because of the greater mass of the double bass.

The materials most often used in double bass construction are maple (back, neck, ribs), spruce (top), and ebony (fingerboard, tailpiece). Exceptions to this include less-expensive basses that have laminated (plywood) tops, backs, and ribs, and some newer mid-range basses made of willow. These basses are resistant to changes in heat and humidity, which can cause cracks in spruce tops. Plywood laminate basses, which are used in music schools, youth orchestras, and in popular and folk music settings, are very resistant to humidity and heat, as well to the physical abuse they are apt to encounter in a school environment (or, for blues and folk musicians, to the hazards of touring and performing in bars).

The soundpost and bass bar are components of the internal construction. All the parts of a double bass are glued together, except the soundpost, bridge, and tailpiece, which are held in place by string tension (although the soundpost usually remains in place when the instrument's strings are loosened or removed). The metal tuning machines are attached to the sides of the pegbox with metal screws. While tuning mechanisms generally differ from the higher-pitched orchestral stringed instruments, some basses have non-functional, ornamental tuning pegs projecting from the side of the pegbox, in imitation of the tuning pegs on a cello or violin.

Famous double bass makers come from around the world and often represent varied national characteristics. The most highly sought (and expensive) instruments come from Italy and include basses made by Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Gaspar da Salo, the Testore family (Carlo Antonio, Carlo Giuseppe, Gennaro, Giovanni, Paulo Antonio), Celestino Puolotti, and Matteo Gofriller. French and English basses are also sought by players of the highest caliber.

Strings

Detail of the bridge and strings
Gut strings

The history of the double bass is tightly coupled to the development of string technology, as it was the advent[8] of overwound gut strings, which first rendered the instrument more generally practicable, as (over-)wound strings attain low notes within a smaller overall string diameter than non-wound strings.[9] Professor Larry Hurst argues that had "it not been for the appearance of the overwound gut string in the 1650s, the double bass would surely have become extinct"[6] because thicknesses needed for regular gut strings made the lower-pitched strings almost unplayable.

Prior to the mid-20th century,[citation needed] double bass strings were usually made of gut, but, since that time, steel has largely replaced it, because steel strings hold their pitch better and yield more volume when played with the bow.[10] Gut strings are also more vulnerable to changes of humidity and temperature, and they break much more easily than steel strings.

Gut strings are nowadays mostly used by bassists who perform in baroque ensembles, rockabilly bands, traditional blues bands, and bluegrass bands. In some cases, the low E and A are wound in silver, to give them added mass. Gut strings provide the dark, "thumpy" sound heard on 1940s and 1950s recordings. The late Jeff Sarli, a blues upright bassist, said that, "Starting in the 1950s, they began to reset the necks on basses for steel strings."[11] Rockabilly and bluegrass bassists also prefer gut because it is much easier to perform the "slapping" upright bass style (in which the strings are percussively slapped and clicked against the fingerboard) with gut strings than with steel strings. (For more information on slapping, see the sections below on Modern playing styles, Double bass in bluegrass music, Double bass in jazz, and Double bass in popular music).

The change from gut to steel has also affected the instrument's playing technique over the last hundred years, because steel allows the strings to be set up closer to the fingerboard, and, additionally, strings can be played in higher positions on the lower strings and still produce clear tone. The classic 19th century Franz Simandl method does not utilize the low E string in higher positions because, with older gut strings set up high over the fingerboard, the tone was not clear in these higher positions. However, with modern steel strings, bassists can play with clear tone in higher positions on the low E and A strings, particularly when modern lighter-gauge, lower-tension steel strings are used.

Bows

The double bass bow comes in two distinct forms (shown below). The "French" or "overhand" bow is similar in shape and implementation to the bow used on the other members of the orchestral string instrument family, while the "German" or "Butler" bow is typically broader and shorter, and is held in a "hand shake"[clarification needed] position.

French and German bows compared

These two bows provide different ways of moving the arm and distributing force on the strings. Proponents of the French bow argue that it is more maneuverable, due to the angle at which the player holds the bow. Advocates of the German bow claim that it allows the player to apply more arm weight on the strings. The differences between the two, however, are minute for a proficient player, and modern players in major orchestras use both bows.

German bow

German-style bow

The German bow (sometimes called the Butler bow) is the older of the two designs. The design of the bow and the manner of holding it descend from the older viol instrument family. With older viols, before screw threads were used to tighten the bow, players held the bow with two fingers between the stick and the hair to maintain tension of the hair.[12] Proponents of the use of German bow claim that the German bow is easier to use for heavy strokes that require a lot of power.

In comparison with the French bow, the German bow has a taller frog, and it is held with the palm angled upwards, as is done for the upright members of the viol family. When held in correct manner, the thumb applies the necessary power to generate the desired sound. The index finger meets the bow at the point where the frog meets the stick. The index finger is also used to apply an upward torque to the frog when tilting the bow. The little finger (or "pinky") supports the frog from underneath, while the ring finger and middle finger rest in the space between the hair and the shaft.

French bow

French-style bow

The French bow was not widely popular until its adoption by 19th-century virtuoso Giovanni Bottesini. This style is more similar to the traditional bows of the smaller string family instruments. It is held as if the hand is resting by the side of the performer with the palm facing toward the bass. The thumb rests on the shaft of the bow, next to the frog while the other fingers drape on the other side of the bow. Various styles dictate the curve of the fingers and thumb, as do the style of piece; a more pronounced curve and lighter hold on the bow is used for virtuoso or more delicate pieces, while a flatter curve and sturdier grip on the bow sacrifices some power for easier control in strokes such as detaché, spiccato, and staccato.

A bassist holding a French bow; note how the thumb rests on the shaft of the bow next to the frog.

Bow construction and materials

Double bass bows vary in length, ranging from 60 cm (24") to 75 cm (30"). Pernambuco, also known as Brazilwood, is regarded as an excellent quality stick material, but due to its scarcity and expense, other materials are increasingly being used. Less expensive student bows may be constructed of solid fiberglass, or of less valuable varieties of brazilwood. Snakewood[disambiguation needed] and carbon fiber are also used in bows of a variety of different qualities. The frog of the double bass bow is usually made out of ebony, although snakewood and buffalo horn are used by some luthiers. The wire wrapping is gold or silver in many quality bows, and the hair is usually horsehair.

The double bass bow is strung with either white or black horsehair, or a combination of the two (known as "salt and pepper"), as opposed to the customary white horsehair used on the bows of other string instruments. Some bassists argue that the slightly rougher black hair "grabs" the heavier, lower strings better.[citation needed] As well, some bassists and luthiers believe that it is easier to produce a smoother sound with the white variety.[citation needed] Red hair (chestnut) is also used by some bassists.[citation needed] Some of the lowest-quality student bows are made with synthetic hair.

Rosin

String players apply rosin to the bow hair so it will "grip" the string and make it vibrate. Double bass rosin is generally softer and stickier than violin rosin to allow the hair to grab the thicker strings better, but players use a wide variety of rosins that vary from quite hard (like violin rosin) to quite soft, depending on the weather, the humidity, and the preference of the player. The amount used generally depends on the type of music being performed as well as the personal preferences of the player. Bassists may apply more rosin in works for large orchestra (e.g., Brahms symphonies) than for delicate chamber works.[citation needed] Some brands of rosin, such as Pop's double bass rosin, are softer and more prone to melting in hot weather. Other brands, such as Carlsson or Nyman Harts double bass rosin, are harder and less prone to melting.[citation needed]

Pitch

The bass (or F) clef is used for most orchestral double bass music.

The lowest note of a double bass is an E1 (on standard four-string basses) at approximately 41 Hz or a C1 (~33 Hz), or sometimes B0 (~31 Hz), when five strings are used. This is within about an octave above the lowest frequency that the average human ear can perceive as a distinctive pitch. The top of the instrument's fingerboard range is typically near D5, two octaves and a fifth above the open pitch of the G string (G2), as shown in the range illustration found at the head of this article. Playing beyond the end of the fingerboard can be accomplished by pulling the string slightly to the side.

Many double bass symphony parts and virtuoso concertos employ harmonics (also called flageolet tones). Both natural harmonics and artificial harmonics, where the thumb stops the note and the octave or other harmonic is activated by lightly touching the string at the relative node point, extend the instrument's range considerably.

Orchestral parts rarely demand the double bass exceed a two-octave range (an exception to this rule is Orff's Carmina Burana, which calls for three octaves and a perfect fourth). However, there is no hard limit to the upper range a virtuoso solo player can achieve using natural and artificial harmonics. The high harmonic in the range illustration found at the head of this article may be taken as representative rather than normative.

Five-string instruments have an additional string typically tuned to a low B below the E string. ON rare occasions a higher string is added instead, tuned to the C above the G string.

Four-string instruments may feature the C extension extending the range of the E string downwards to C (sometimes B).

Traditionally, the double bass is a transposing instrument. Since much of the double bass's range lies below the standard bass clef, it is notated an octave higher than it sounds. This transposition applies even when reading the tenor and treble clef, which are used to avoid excessive ledger lines when notating the instrument's upper range. Other notational traditions do exist; Italian solo music is typically written at the sounding pitch, and the "old" German method sounded an octave below where notation except in the treble clef, where the music was written at pitch.

Tuning

Regular Tuning

The double bass is generally tuned in fourths, in contrast to other members of the orchestral string family, which are tuned in fifths. The standard tuning (low to high) is E-A-D-G, starting from E below second low C (concert pitch). This is the same as the standard tuning of a bass guitar and is one octave lower than the four lowest-pitched strings of standard guitar tuning. Prior to the 19th-century, many double basses had only three strings; "Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889) favored the three-stringed instrument popular in Italy at the time[6]", because "the three-stringed instrument [was viewed as] being more sonorous."[13]

Throughout classical repertoire, there are notes that fall below the range of a standard double bass. Notes below low E appear regularly in the double bass parts found in later arrangements and interpretations of Baroque music. These parts are transpositions of parts written for other bass instruments used before the modern double bass became common and may actually lower the part an octave.

In the Classical era, the double bass typically doubled the cello part an octave below, occasionally requiring descent to C below the E of the four-string double bass. In the Romantic era and the 20th century, composers such as Wagner, Mahler, Busoni and Prokofiev also requested notes below the low E.

There are several methods for making these notes available to the player. Players with standard double basses (E-A-D-G) may play the notes below "E" an octave higher, subject to the conductor's discretion. The player may tune the low E string down to the lowest note required in the piece: D or C are common. Four string bases may be fitted with a "low-C extension" (see below). Or the player may employ a five-string instrument, with the additional lower string tuned to C, or (more commonly in modern times) B, three octaves and a semitone below middle C. Several major European orchestras use basses with a fifth string.[14]

A low-C extension with wooden mechanical "fingers" that can be used to stop the string at C♯, D, Eb, or E.

C Extension

In Britain, the United States and Canada, most professional orchestral players use four-string double basses with a C extension. This mechanism extends the fingerboard under the lowest string and additional four semitones of downward range. The lowest string is typically tuned down to C, an octave below the lowest note on the cello. More rarely this string may be tuned to a low B, as a few works in the orchestral repertoire call for a low B, such as Respighi's The Pines of Rome). The extension is an extra section of fingerboard mounted up over the head of the bass. There are several varieties of extensions.

In the simplest mechanical extensions, there are no mechanical aids attached to the fingerboard extension except a locking nut for the "E" note. To play the extension notes, the player reaches back over the pegs to press the string to the fingerboard. The advantage of this "fingered" extension is that the player can adjust the intonation of all of the stopped notes on the extension, and there are no mechanical noises from metal keys and levers. The disadvantage of the "fingered" extension is that it can be hard to perform rapid alternations between low notes on the extension and notes on the regular fingerboard, such as a bassline that quickly alternates between "G" and the low D.

The simplest type of mechanical aid is the use of wooden "fingers" that can be closed to press the string down and fret the C♯, D, Eb, or E notes. This system is particularly useful for basslines that have a repeating pedal point such as a low D, because once the note is locked in place with the mechanical "finger," the lowest string sounds a different note when played open (e.g., a low D).

The most complicated mechanical aid for use with extensions is the mechanical lever system nicknamed the machine. This lever system, which superficially resembles the keying mechanism of reed instruments such as the bassoon, mounts levers beside the regular fingerboard (near the nut, on the "E" string side), which remotely activate metal "fingers" on the extension fingerboard. The most expensive metal lever systems also give the player the ability to "lock" down notes on the extension fingerboard, as with the wooden "finger" system. One criticism of these devices is that they may lead to unwanted metallic clicking noises.

Other Tuning Variations

A small number of bass players tune their strings in fifths, like a cello but an octave lower (C-G-D-A low to high). This tuning was used by the jazz player Red Mitchell and is increasingly used by classical players, notably the Canadian bassist Joel Quarrington. In classical solo playing the double bass is usually tuned a whole tone higher (F#-B-E-A). This higher tuning is called solo tuning, whereas the regular tuning is known as "orchestral tuning." String tension differs so much between solo and orchestral tuning that a different set of strings is often employed that has a lighter gauge. Strings are always labelled for either solo or orchestral tuning, and published solo music is arranged for either solo or orchestral tuning. Some popular solos and concerti, such as the Koussevitsky Concerto are available in both solo and orchestral tuning arrangements.

Many contemporary composers specify highly specialized scordatura. Berio, for example, asks the player to tune his strings E-G♯-D-G in Sequenza XIVb and Scelsi asks for both F-A-D-E and F-A-F-E in Nuits.

A variant and much less-commonly used form of solo tuning used in some Eastern European countries is (A-D-G-C), which uses three of the strings from orchestral tuning (A-D-G) and then adds a high "C" string. Some bassists with five-string basses use a high "C" string as the fifth string, instead of a low "B" string. Adding the high "C" string facilitates the performance of solo repertoire with a high tessitura (range). Another option is to utilize both a low C (or B) extension and a high C string.

When choosing a bass with a fifth string, the player may decide between adding a higher or lower-tuned string. Six-stringed instruments are generally regarded as impractical. To accommodate the additional string, the fingerboard is usually slightly wider, and the top slightly thicker to handle the increased tension. Some five-stringed instruments are converted four-string instruments. Because these don't have wider fingerboards, some players find them more difficult to finger and bow. Converted four-string basses usually require either a new, thicker top, or lighter strings to compensate for the increased tension.

Playing and performance considerations

Body and hand position

French double-bass player and composer Renaud Garcia-Fons pictured during a performance.

Double bassists either stand or sit to play the instrument. The instrument height is set by adjusting the endpin such that the player can reach the desired playing zones of the strings with bow or plucking hand.

Bassists who stand and bow sometimes set the endpin by aligning the first finger in either first or half position with eye level, although there is little standardization in this regard.

Players who sit generally use a stool about the height of the player's pants inseam length.

Traditionally, double bassists stood when playing solo and sat when they played in the orchestra or opera pit. Now, playing styles have become specialized to the point where one player rarely can satisfactorily perform both standing and sitting. Consequently, now many soloists sit (as with Joel Quarrington, Jeff Bradetich, Thierry Barbé and others) and orchestras often employ standing bassists.

When playing in the instrument's upper range (above the G below middle C), the player shifts their hand out from behind the neck and flattens it out, using the side of the thumb to press down the string. This technique—also used on the cello—is called thumb position. While playing in thumb position, few players use the fourth (little) finger, as it is too weak to produce a reliable tone (this is also true for cellists), although some extreme chords or extended techniques, especially in contemporary music, may necessitate its use.

Physical considerations

Performing on bass can be physically demanding because the strings are large and thick. Also, the space between notes on the fingerboard is large due to the scale length and string spacing, so players have to shift positions frequently. As with all non-fretted string instruments, performers must learn to place their fingers precisely to produce the correct pitch. For bassists with shorter arms or smaller hands, the large spaces between pitches may present a significant challenge, especially in the lowest range, where the spaces between notes are largest. However, the increased use of playing techniques such as thumb position and modifications to the bass, such as the use of lighter-gauge strings at lower tension, have eased the difficulty of playing the instrument.

Bass parts have relatively fewer fast passages, double stops, or large jumps in range. These parts are usually given to the cello section because it is a smaller instrument and are typically tuned together.

Until the 1990s, child-sized double basses were not widely available, and the large size of the bass meant that children were not able to start playing the instrument until their hand size and height would allow them to play a 3/4-size model (the most commonly available size). Starting in the 1990s, smaller half, quarter, eighth and even sixteenth-sized instruments became more widely available, which meant that children could start at a younger age.

Volume

Despite the size of the instrument, it is not as loud as many other instruments, due to its low range. In a large orchestra, usually between four and eight bassists play in unison. In the largest orchestras, bass sections may have as many as ten or twelve players, but modern budget constraints make bass sections this large unusual.

When writing solo passages for the bass in orchestral or chamber music, composers typically ensure the orchestration is light so it doesn't obscure the bass. While amplification is rarely used in classical music, in some cases where a bass soloist performs a concerto with a full orchestra, subtle amplification called acoustic enhancement may be used. The use of microphones and amplifiers in a classical setting has led to debate within the classical community, as "...purists maintain that the natural acoustic sound of [Classical] voices [or] instruments in a given hall should not be altered."[15]

In many non-orchestral settings, such as jazz and blues, amplification via a specialized amplifier and loudspeakers is employed. Bluegrass and jazz players typically use less amplification than blues, psychobilly, or jam band players. In the latter cases, the high overall volume due to other amplifiers and instruments may lead to acoustic feedback, a problem exacerbated by the bass's large surface area and interior volume. The feedback problem has led to the development of instruments like the electric upright bass, whose playing characteristics mimic that of the double bass.

Transportation

The double bass's large size and relative fragility make it cumbersome to handle and transport. Most bassists use soft cases, referred to as gig bags, to protect the instrument during transport. Basic, unpadded gig bags used by students cost under 100 USD, while thickly padded gig bags for professional players typically cost as much as 500 USD. Some more feature-filled examples with backpack straps retail for over 1000 USD. Some bassists carry their bow in a hard bow case. Players also may use a small cart or gig bag and end pin-attached wheels to move the bass.

Hard flight cases have cushioned interiors and tough exteriors of carbon fiber, graphite, fiberglass, or Kevlar. The cost of good hard cases—USD 500 to over USD 2500—tends to limit their use to touring professionals.

Classical repertoire

Solo works for double bass

1700s

The double bass as a solo instrument enjoyed a period of popularity during the 18th century and many of the most popular composers from that era wrote pieces for the double bass. The double bass, then often referred to as the Violone used different tunings from region to region. The "Viennese tuning" (A1-D-F-A) was popular, and in some cases a fifth string or even sixth string was added (F1-A1-D-F-A).[16] The popularity of the instrument is documented in Leopold Mozart's second edition of his Violinschule, where he writes "One can bring forth difficult passages easier with the five-string violone, and I heard unusually beautiful performances of concertos, trios, solos, etc."

The Italian bass virtuoso Domenico Dragonetti helped to encourage composers to give more difficult parts for his instrument.

The earliest known concerto for double bass was written by Joseph Haydn ca.1763, and is presumed lost in a fire at the Eisenstadt library. The earliest known existing concertos are by Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, who composed two concertos for the double bass and a Sinfonia Concertante for viola and double bass. Other composers that have written concertos from this period include Johann Baptist Wanhal, Franz Anton Hoffmeister (3 concertos), Leopold Kozeluch, Anton Zimmermann, Antonio Capuzzi, Wenzel Pichl (2 concertos), and Johannes Matthias Sperger (18 concertos). While many of these names were leading figures to the music public of their time, they are generally unknown by contemporary audiences. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's concert aria, Per Questa Bella Mano, K.612 for bass, double bass obbligato, and orchestra contains impressive writing for solo double bass of that period. It remains popular among both singers and double bassists today.

The double bass eventually evolved to fit the needs of orchestras that required lower notes and a louder sound. The leading double bassists from the mid-to-late 18th century, such as Josef Kämpfer, Friedrich Pischelberger, and Johannes Mathias Sperger employed the "Viennese" tuning. Bassist Johann Hindle (1792–1862), who composed a concerto for the double bass, pioneered tuning the bass in fourths, which marked a turning point for the double bass and its role in solo works.

Bassist Domenico Dragonetti was a prominent musical figure and an acquaintance of Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven. His playing was known all the way from his homeland Italy to the Tsardom of Russia and he found a prominent place performing in concerts with the Philharmonic Society of London. Beethoven's friendship with Dragonetti may have inspired him to write difficult, separate parts for the double bass in his symphonies, such as the impressive passages in the third movement of the Fifth Symphony, the second movement of the Seventh Symphony, and last movement of the Ninth Symphony. These parts do not double the cello part.

Dragonetti wrote ten concertos for the double bass and many solo works for bass and piano. During Rossini's stay in London in the summer of 1824, he composed his Duetto for cello and double bass for Dragonetti and the cellist David Salomons. Dragonetti frequently played on a three string double bass tuned G-D-A from top to bottom. The use of only the top three strings was popular for bass soloists and Principal bassists in orchestras in the 19th century, because it reduced the pressure on the wooden top of the bass, which was thought to create a more resonant sound. As well, the low "E" strings used during the 19th century were thick cords made of gut, which were difficult to tune and play.

1800s

The virtuoso nineteenth-century bassist and composer Giovanni Bottesini with his 1716 Carlo Antonio Testore bass.

In the 19th century, the opera conductor, composer, and bassist Giovanni Bottesini was considered the "Paganini of the double bass" of his time. His compositions were written in the popular Italian opera style of the 19th century, which exploit the double bass in a way that was not seen beforehand. They require virtuosic runs and great leaps to the highest registers of the instrument, even into the realm of harmonics. These compositions were considered to be unplayable by many bassists in the early part of the 20th century, but are now frequently performed. During the same time, a prominent school of bass players in the Czech region arose, which included Franz Simandl, Theodore Albin Findeisen, Josef Hrabe, Ludwig Manoly, and Adolf Mišek. Simandl and Hrabe were also pedagogues whose method books and studies continue to be used in modern times.

1900s–present

The leading figure of the double bass in the early 20th century was Serge Koussevitzky, best known as conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, who popularized the double bass in modern times as a solo instrument. Because of improvements to the double bass with steel strings and better set-ups, the bass is now played at a more advanced level than ever before and more and more composers have written works for the double bass. In the mid-century and in the following decades, many new concerti were written for the double bass, including Nikos Skalkottas's Concerto (1942), Eduard Tubin's Concerto (1948), Lars-Erik Larsson's Concertino (1957), Gunther Schuller's Concerto (1962), Hans Werner Henze's Concerto (1966) and Frank Proto's Concerto No. 1 (1968).

From the 1960s through the end of the century Gary Karr was the leading proponent of the double bass as a solo instrument and was active in commissioning or having hundreds of new works and concerti written especially for him. Karr was given Koussevitzky's famous solo double bass by Olga Koussevitsky and played it in concerts around the world for 40 years before, in turn, giving the instrument to the International Society of Bassists for talented soloists to use in concert. Another important performer in this period, Bertram Turetzky, commissioned and premiered more than 300 double bass works.

Serge Koussevitzky popularized the double bass in modern times as a solo instrument

In the 1970s, 1980 and 1990s, new concerti included Nino Rota's Divertimento for Double Bass and Orchestra (1973), Jean Françaix's Concerto (1975), Frank Proto's Concerto No. 2, Einojuhani Rautavaara's Angel Of Dusk (1980), Gian Carlo Menotti's Concerto (1983), Christopher Rouse's Concerto (1985), Henry Brant's Ghost Nets (1988) and Frank Proto's "Carmen Fantasy for Double Bass and Orchestra" (1991) and "Four Scenes after Picasso" Concerto No.3 (1997).

In the first decade of the 21st century, new concerti include Frank Proto's "Nine Variants on Paganini" (2002), Kalevi Aho's Concerto (2005), John Harbison's Concerto for Bass Viol (2006), and André Previn's Double Concerto for violin, double bass, and orchestra (2007).

Reinhold Glière wrote an Intermezzo and Tarantella for double bass and piano, Op. 9, No. 1 and No. 2 and a Praeludium and Scherzo for double bass and piano, Op. 32 No.1 and No.2. Paul Hindemith wrote a rhythmically challenging Double Bass Sonata in 1949. Frank Proto wrote his Sonata "1963" for Double Bass and Piano. In the Soviet Union, Mieczysław Weinberg wrote his Sonata No. 1 for double bass solo in 1971. Giacinto Scelsi wrote two double bass pieces called Nuits in 1972, and then in 1976, he wrote Maknongan, a piece for any low-voiced instrument, such as double bass, contrabassoon, or tuba. Vincent Persichetti wrote solo works—which he called "Parables"—for many instruments. He wrote Parable XVII for Double Bass, Op. 131 in 1974. Sofia Gubaidulina penned a Sonata for double bass and piano in 1975.

In 1977 Dutch-Hungarian composer Geza Frid wrote a set of variations on The Elephant from Saint-Saëns' Le Carnaval des Animaux for scordatura Double Bass and string orchestra. In 1987 Lowell Liebermann wrote his Sonata for Contrabass and Piano Op.24. Fernando Grillo wrote the "Suite No.1" for double bass (1983/2005). Jacob Druckman wrote a piece for solo double bass entitled Valentine. US double bass soloist and composer Bertram Turetzky (born 1933) has performed and recorded more than 300 pieces written by and for him. He writes chamber music, baroque music, classical, jazz, renaissance music, improvisational music and world music

US minimalist composer Philip Glass wrote a prelude focused on the lower register that he scored for timpani and double bass. Italian composer Sylvano Bussotti, whose composing career spans from the 1930s to the first decade of the 21st century, wrote a solo work for bass in 1983 entitled Naked Angel Face per contrabbasso. Fellow Italian composer Franco Donatoni wrote a piece called Lem for contrabbasso in the same year. In 1989, French composer Pascal Dusapin (born 1955) wrote a solo piece called In et Out for double bass. In 1996, the Sorbonne-trained Lebanese composer Karim Haddad composed Ce qui dort dans l'ombre sacrée ("He who sleeps in the sacred shadows") for Radio France's Presence Festival. Renaud Garcia-Fons (born 1962) is a French double bass player and composer, notable for drawing on jazz, folk, and Asian music for recordings of his pieces like Oriental Bass (1997).

Two significant recent works written for solo bass include, Mario Davidovsky's Synchronisms No.11 for double bass and electronic sounds and Elliott Carter's Figment III, for solo double bass. The German composer Gerhard Stäbler wrote Co-wie Kobalt (1989–90), "...a music for double bass solo and grand orchestra." Charles Wuorinen added several important works to the repertoire, Spinoff trio for double bass, violin and conga drums, and Trio for Bass Instruments doublebass, tuba and bass trombone, and in 2007 Synaxis for double bass, horn, oboe and clarinet with timpani and strings. The suite "Seven Screen Shots" for double bass and piano (2005) by Ukrainian composer Alexander Shchetynsky has a solo bass part that includes many unconventional methods of playing.

Chamber music with double bass

Since there is no established instrumental ensemble that includes the double bass, its use in chamber music has not been as exhaustive as the literature for ensembles such as the string quartet or piano trio. Despite this, there is a substantial number of chamber works that incorporate the double bass in both small and large ensembles.

There is a small body of works written for piano quintet with the instrumentation of piano, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. The most famous is Franz Schubert's Piano Quintet in A major, known as "The Trout Quintet" for its set of variations in the fourth movement of Schubert's Die Forelle. Other works for this instrumentation written from roughly the same period include those by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, George Onslow, Jan Ladislav Dussek, Louise Farrenc, Ferdinand Ries, Franz Limmer, Johann Baptist Cramer, and Hermann Goetz. Later composers who wrote chamber works for this quintet include Ralph Vaughan Williams, Colin Matthews, Jon Deak, Frank Proto, and John Woolrich. Slightly larger sextets written for piano, string quartet, and double bass have been written by Felix Mendelssohn, Mikhail Glinka, Richard Wernick, and Charles Ives.

In the genre of string quintets, there are a few works for string quartet with double bass. Antonín Dvořák's String Quintet in G major, Op.77 and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Serenade in G major, K.525 ("Eine kleine Nachtmusik") are the most popular pieces in this repertoire, along with works by Darius Milhaud, Luigi Boccherini (3 quintets), Harold Shapero, and Paul Hindemith.

Slightly smaller string works with the double bass include six string sonatas by Gioachino Rossini, for two violins, cello, and double bass written at the age of twelve over the course of three days in 1804. These remain his most famous instrumental works and have also been adapted for wind quartet. Franz Anton Hoffmeister wrote four String Quartets for Solo Double Bass, Violin, Viola, and Cello in D Major. Frank Proto has written a Trio for Violin, Viola and Double Bass (1974), 2 Duos for Violin and Double Bass (1967 and 2005), and The Games of October for Oboe/English Horn and Double Bass (1991).

Larger works that incorporate the double bass include Beethoven's Septet in E-flat major, Op.20, one of his most famous pieces during his lifetime, which consists of clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and bass. When the clarinetist Ferdinand Troyer commissioned a work from Franz Schubert for similar forces, he added one more violin for his Octet in F major, D.803. Paul Hindemith used the same instrumentation as Schubert for his own Octet. In the realm of even larger works, Mozart included the double bass in addition to 12 wind instruments for his "Gran Partita" Serenade, K.361 and Martinů used the double bass in his nonet for wind quintet, violin, viola, cello and double bass.

Other examples of chamber works that use the double bass in mixed ensembles include Serge Prokofiev's Quintet in G minor, Op.39 for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and double bass; Erwin Schulhoff's Concertino for flute/piccolo, viola, and double bass; Frank Proto's Afro-American Fragments for bass clarinet, cello, double bass and narrator and Sextet for clarinet and strings; Fred Lerdahl's Waltzes for violin, viola, cello, and double bass; Mohammed Fairouz's Litany for double bass and wind quartet; Mario Davidovsky's Festino for guitar, viola, cello, and double bass; and Iannis Xenakis's Morsima-Amorsima for piano, violin, cello, and double bass. There are also new music ensembles that utilize the double bass such as Time for Three and PROJECT Trio.

Orchestral passages and solos

The double bass in the baroque and classical periods would typically double the cello part in orchestral passages. A notable exception would be Haydn, who composed solo passages for the double bass in his Symphonies No.6 Le Matin, No.7 Le midi, No.8 Le Soir, No. 31 Horn Signal, and No. 45 Farewell, but who otherwise would group the bass and cello parts together. Beethoven paved the way for separate double bass parts, which became more common in the romantic era. The scherzo and trio from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony are famous orchestral excerpts, as is the recitative at the beginning of the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

While orchestral bass solos are somewhat rare, there are some notable examples. Johannes Brahms, whose father was a double bass player, wrote many difficult and prominent parts for the double bass in his symphonies. Richard Strauss assigned the double bass daring parts, and his symphonic poems and operas stretch the instrument to its limits. "The Elephant" from Camille Saint-Saëns' The Carnival of the Animals is a satirical portrait of the double bass, and American virtuoso Gary Karr made his televised debut playing "The Swan" (originally written for the cello) with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein. The third movement of Gustav Mahler's first symphony features a solo for the double bass that quotes the children's song Frere Jacques, transposed into a minor key. Sergei Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite features a difficult and very high double bass solo in the "Romance" movement. Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra contains a prominent passage for the double bass section.

Double bass ensembles

Ensembles made up entirely of double basses, though relatively rare, also exist, and several composers have written or arranged for such ensembles. Compositions for four double basses exist by Gunther Schuller, Jacob Druckman, James Tenney, Robert Ceely, Jan Alm, Bernhard Alt, Norman Ludwin, Frank Proto, Joseph Lauber, Erich Hartmann, Colin Brumby, Miloslav Gajdos and Theodore Albin Findeisen. Bertold Hummel wrote a Sinfonia piccola [17] for eight double basses. Larger ensemble works include Galina Ustvolskaya's Composition No. 2, "Dies Irae" (1973), for eight double basses, piano, and wooden cube, Jose Serebrier's George and Muriel (1986), for solo bass, double bass ensemble, and chorus, and Gerhard Samuel's What of my music! (1979), for soprano, percussion, and 30 double basses.

Active double bass ensembles include L'Orchestre de Contrebasses (6 members),[18] Bass Instinct (6 members),[19] Bassiona Amorosa (6 members),[20] the Chicago Bass Ensemble (4+ members),[21] Ludus Gravis founded by Daniele Roccato and Stefano Scodanibbio, The Bass Gang (4 members),[22] the London Double Bass Ensemble (6 members) founded by members of the Philharmonia Orchestra of London who produced the LP[23] Music Interludes by London Double Bass Ensemble on Bruton Music records, Brno Double Bass Orchestra (14 members) founded by the double bass professor at Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts and principal double bass player at Brno Philharmonic Orchestra - Miloslav Jelinek, and the ensembles of Ball State University (12 members), Shenandoah University, and the Hartt School of Music. The Amarillo Bass Base of Amarillo, Texas once featured 52 double bassists,[24][25] and The London Double Bass Sound, who have released a CD on Cala Records, have 10 players.[26]

In addition, the double bass sections of some orchestras perform as an ensemble, such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Wacker Consort.[27] There is an increasing number of published compositions and arrangements for double bass ensembles, and the International Society of Bassists regularly features double bass ensembles (both smaller ensembles as well as very large "mass bass" ensembles) at its conferences, and sponsors the biennial David Walter Composition Competition, which includes a division for double bass ensemble works.

Use in jazz

Beginning around 1890, the early New Orleans jazz ensemble (which played a mixture of marches, ragtime, and Dixieland) was initially a marching band with a tuba or sousaphone (or occasionally bass saxophone) supplying the bass line. As the music moved into bars and brothels, the upright bass gradually replaced these wind instruments. Many early bassists doubled on both the brass bass and string bass, as the instruments were then often referred to. Bassists played "walking" bass lines—scale-based lines that outlined the harmony.

Because an unamplified upright bass is generally the quietest instrument in a jazz band, many players of the 1920s and 1930s used the slap style, slapping and pulling the strings so that they make a rhythmic "slap" sound against the fingerboard. The slap style cuts through the sound of a band better than simply plucking the strings, and allowed the bass to be more easily heard on early sound recordings, as the recording equipment of that time did not favor low frequencies.[28] For more about the slap style, see Modern playing styles, below.

Jazz bassist Charles Mingus was also an influential bandleader and composer whose musical interests spanned from bebop to free jazz.

Jazz bass players are expected to be able to improvise an accompaniment line or solo for a given chord progression. They are also expected to know the rhythmic patterns that are appropriate for different styles (e.g., Afro-Cuban). Bassists playing in a big band also need to be able to read written-out bass lines, as some arrangements have written bass parts.

Many upright bass players have contributed to the evolution of jazz. Examples include swing era players such as Jimmy Blanton, who played with Duke Ellington, and Oscar Pettiford, who pioneered the instrument's use in bebop. Paul Chambers (who worked with Miles Davis on the famous Kind of Blue album) achieved renown for being one of the first jazz bassists to play bebop solos with the bow. Terry Plumeri furthered the development of arco (bowed) solos, achieving horn-like technical freedom and a clear, vocal bowed tone, while Charlie Haden, best known for his work with Ornette Coleman, defined the role of the bass in Free Jazz.

A number of other bassists, such as Ray Brown, Slam Stewart and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, were central to the history of jazz. Notably, Charles Mingus was a highly regarded composer as well as a bassist noted for his technical virtuosity and powerful sound.[29] Scott LaFaro influenced a generation of musicians by liberating the bass from contrapuntal "walking" behind soloists instead favoring interactive, conversational melodies.[30]

Since the commercial availability of bass amplifiers in the 1950s, jazz bassists have used amplification to augment the natural volume of the instrument.

While the electric bass guitar was used intermittently in jazz as early as 1951, beginning in the 1970s bassist Bob Cranshaw, playing with saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and fusion pioneers Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke began to commonly substitute the bass guitar for the upright bass. Apart from the jazz styles of jazz fusion and Latin-influenced jazz however, the upright bass is still the dominant bass instrument in jazz. The sound and tone of the plucked upright bass is distinct from that of the fretted bass guitar. The upright bass produces a different sound than the bass guitar, because its strings are not stopped by metal frets, instead having a continuous tonal range on the uninterrupted fingerboard. As well, bass guitars usually have a solid wood body, which means that their sound is produced by electronic amplification of the vibration of the strings, instead of the upright bass's acoustic reverberation.

Demonstrative examples of the single sound of a double bass and its technical use in jazz can be heard on the solo recordings Emerald Tears (1978) by Dave Holland or Emergence (1986) by Miroslav Vitous. Holland also recorded an album with the representative title Music from Two Basses (1971) on which he plays with Barre Phillips while he sometimes switches to cello as well.

Use in bluegrass and country

The string bass is the most commonly used bass instrument in bluegrass music and is almost always plucked, though some modern bluegrass bassists have also used a bow. The bluegrass bassist is part of the rhythm section, and is responsible for keeping a steady beat, whether fast, slow, in 4/4 time, 2/4 or 3/4 time. The Engelhardt-Link (formerly Kay) brands of laminate basses have long been popular choices for bluegrass bassists. Most bluegrass bassists use the 3/4 size bass, but the full-size and 5/8 size basses are also used.

Upright bass used by a bluegrass group; the cable for a piezoelectric pickup can be seen extending from the bridge.

Early pre-bluegrass traditional music was often accompanied by the cello. The cellist Natalie Haas points out that in the US, you can find "...old photographs, and even old recordings, of American string bands with cello." However, "The cello dropped out of sight in folk music, and became associated with the orchestra."[31] The cello did not reappear in bluegrass until the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century. Some contemporary bluegrass bands favor the electric bass, because it is easier to transport than the large and somewhat fragile upright bass. However, the bass guitar has a different musical sound. Many musicians feel the slower attack and percussive, woody tone of the upright bass gives it a more "earthy" or "natural" sound than an electric bass, particularly when gut strings are used.

Common rhythms in bluegrass bass playing involve (with some exceptions) plucking on beats 1 and 3 in 4/4 time; beats 1 and 2 in 2/4 time, and on the downbeat in 3/4 time (waltz time). Bluegrass bass lines are usually simple, typically staying on the root and fifth of each chord throughout most of a song. There are two main exceptions to this rule. Bluegrass bassists often do a diatonic walkup or walkdown, in which they play every beat of a bar for one or two bars, typically when there is a chord change. In addition, if a bass player is given a solo, they may play a walking bass line with a note on every beat or play a pentatonic scale-influenced bassline.

Country music bassist "Too Slim" (Fred LaBour of Riders in the Sky) performing in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 2008.

An early bluegrass bassist to rise to prominence was Howard Watts (also known as Cedric Rainwater), who played with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys beginning in 1944.[32] The classical bassist Edgar Meyer has frequently branched out into newgrass, old-time, jazz, and other genres. "My all-time favorite is Todd Phillips," proclaimed Union Station bassist Barry Bales in April 2005. "He brought a completely different way of thinking about and playing bluegrass."[citation needed]

An upright bass was the standard bass instrument in traditional country western music. While the upright bass is still occasionally used in country music, the electric bass has largely replaced its bigger cousin in country music, especially in the more pop-infused country styles of the 1990s and 2000s, such as new country.

Slap-style bass

Slap-style bass is sometimes used in bluegrass bass playing. When bluegrass bass players slap the string by pulling it until it hits the fingerboard or hit the strings against the fingerboard, it adds the high-pitched percussive "clack" or "slap" sound to the low-pitched bass notes, sounding much like the clacks of a tap dancer. Slapping is a subject of minor controversy in the bluegrass scene. Even slapping experts such as Mike Bub say, "Don't slap on every gig," or in songs where it is not appropriate. As well, bluegrass bassists who play slap-style on live shows often slap less on records. Bub and his mentor Jerry McCoury rarely do slap bass on recordings. While bassists such as Jack Cook slap bass on the occasional faster "Clinch Mountain Boys song," bassists such as Gene Libbea, Missy Raines, Jenny Keel, and Barry Bales [rarely] slap bass.[33]

Bluegrass bassist Mark Schatz, who teaches slap bass in his Intermediate Bluegrass Bass DVD acknowledges that slap bass "...has not been stylistically very predominant in the music I have recorded." He notes that "Even in traditional bluegrass slap bass only appears sporadically and most of what I've done has been on the more contemporary side of that (Tony Rice, Tim O'Brien)." Schatz states that he would be "... more likely to use it [slap] in a live situation than on a recording—for a solo or to punctuate a particular place in a song or tune where I wouldn't be obliterating someone's solo."[34] Another bluegrass method, Learn to Play Bluegrass Bass, by Earl Gately, also teaches bluegrass slap bass technique. German bassist Didi Beck plays rapid triplet slaps, as demonstrated in this video [2].

Use in popular music

In 1952, the upright bass was the standard bass instrument in rock and roll music, Marshall Lytle of Bill Haley & His Comets being but one example. In the 1940s, a new style of dance music called rhythm and blues developed, incorporating elements of the earlier styles of blues and swing. Louis Jordan, the first innovator of this style, featured an upright bass in his group, the Tympany Five.[35]

The upright bass remained an integral part of pop lineups throughout the 1950s, as the new genre of rock and roll was built largely upon the model of rhythm and blues, with strong elements also derived from jazz, country, and bluegrass. However, upright bass players using their instruments in these contexts faced inherent problems. They were forced to compete with louder horn instruments (and later amplified electric guitars), making bass parts difficult to hear. The upright bass is difficult to amplify in loud concert venue settings, because it can be prone to feedback howls. As well, the upright bass is large and awkward to transport, which also created transportation problems for touring bands.

In some groups, the slap bass was utilized as band percussion in lieu of a drummer; such was the case with Bill Haley & His Saddlemen (the forerunner group to the Comets), which did not use drummers on recordings and live performances until late 1952; prior to this the slap bass was relied on for percussion, including on recordings such as Haley's versions of Rock the Joint and Rocket 88.[36]

In 1951, Leo Fender independently released his Precision Bass, the first commercially successful electric bass guitar.[37] The electric bass was easily amplified with its built-in pickups, easily portable (less than a foot longer than an electric guitar), and easier to play in tune, thanks to the metal frets. In the 1960s and 1970s bands were playing at louder volumes and performing in larger venues. The electric bass was able to provide the huge, highly amplified stadium-filling bass tone that the pop and rock music of this era demanded, and the upright bass receded from the limelight of the popular music scene.

Jim Creeggan from the Barenaked Ladies, pictured at a 2009 show.

The upright bass began making a modest comeback in popular music in the mid-1980s, in part due to a renewed interest in earlier forms of rock and country music. In the 1990s, improvements in pickups and amplifier designs for electro-acoustic horizontal and upright basses made it easier for bassists to get a good, clear amplified tone from an acoustic instrument. Some popular bands decided to anchor their sound with an upright bass instead of an electric bass, such as the Barenaked Ladies. A trend for "unplugged" performances further helped to enhance the public's interest in the upright bass and acoustic bass guitars.

Jim Creeggan of Barenaked Ladies primarily plays upright bass, although he has increasingly played bass guitar throughout the band's career. Athol Guy of the Australian folk/pop group The Seekers plays an upright bass. Shannon Birchall, of the Australian folk-rock group The John Butler Trio,[38] makes extensive use of upright basses, performing extended live solos in songs such as Betterman. On the 2008 album In Ear Park by the indie/pop band Department of Eagles, a bowed upright bass is featured quite prominently on the songs Teenagers and In Ear Park. Norwegian ompa-rock band Kaizers Orchestra use the upright bass exclusively both live and on their recordings.[39]

Hank Williams III's bass players (Joe Buck and Zach Shedd, most notably) have used upright basses for recording as well as during the country and Hellbilly sets of Hank III's live performances before switching to electric bass for the Assjack set.

The late 1970s rockabilly-punk genre of psychobilly continued and expanded upon the rockabilly tradition of slap bass. Bassists such as Kim Nekroman and Geoff Kresge have developed the ability to play rapid slap bass that in effect turns the bass into a percussion instrument.This live Nekromantix song showcases Kim's rapid percussive slapping. This live Tiger Army song shows Kresge's rapid slap bass technique.

Modern playing styles

In popular music genres, the instrument is usually played with amplification and almost exclusively played with the fingers, pizzicato style. The pizzicato style varies between different players and genres. Some players perform with the sides of one, two, or three fingers, especially for walking basslines and slow tempo ballads, because this is purported to create a stronger and more solid tone. Some players use the more nimble tips of the fingers to play fast-moving solo passages or to pluck lightly for quiet tunes.The use of amplification allows the player to have more control over the tone of the instrument, because amplifiers have equalization controls that allow the bassist to accentuate certain frequencies (often the bass frequencies) while de-accentuating some frequencies (often the high frequencies, so that there is less finger noise).

An unamplified acoustic bass's tone is limited by the frequency responsiveness of the instrument's hollow body, which means that the very low pitches may not be as loud as the higher pitches. With an amplifier and equalization devices, a bass player can boost the low frequencies, which changes the frequency response. In addition, the use of an amplifier can increase the sustain of the instrument, which is particularly useful for accompaniment during ballads and for melodic solos with held notes.

In traditional jazz, swing, polka, rockabilly, and psychobilly music, it is sometimes played in the slap style. This is a vigorous version of pizzicato where the strings are "slapped" against the fingerboard between the main notes of the bass line, producing a snare drum-like percussive sound. The main notes are either played normally or by pulling the string away from the fingerboard and releasing it so that it bounces off the fingerboard, producing a distinctive percussive attack in addition to the expected pitch. Notable slap style bass players, whose use of the technique was often highly syncopated and virtuosic, sometimes interpolated two, three, four, or more slaps in between notes of the bass line.

"Slap style" may have influenced electric bass guitar players[citation needed] who, from the mid-sixties (particularly Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone), developed a technique called slap and pop that used the thumb of the plucking hand to hit the string, making a slapping sound but still letting the note ring, and the index or middle finger of the plucking hand to pull the string back so it hits the fretboard, achieving the pop sound described above.

BASSETTO

The Bassetto in Baroque Music

"Sunday Concert" Anonymus

The name Bassetto was first mentioned in 1626, by Biagio Marini. The instrument was in com-
mon use in Bologna between 1674 and about 1700. The composers Giovanni Battista Mazzaferrata and Sebastiano Chierico
wrote many pieces which called for its use, as
did A. Grossi, G. Colombi, S. Filippiniand others. The bassetto was used for concertante bass parts in church sonatas, motets and psalms, and occasionally also in chamber sonatas. The compass was from

D to e’. Although the name "bassetto" disappeared with the popularisation of the new term "violoncello", it cannot be assumed that this was one and the same instrument, as is demonstrated by an entry in the Florentine "Vocabulario degli Accademici della Crusca" from 1729: "Bassetto: strumento di quattro corde, che si suona come il contrabbasso" (Bassetto: instrument with four strings that sounds like the double bass). The bassetto must in any case have been popular enough that Antonio Stradivari planned, or possibly even carried out, the construction of one: Stradivarius´s design drawings for the sound holes of a bassetto are preserved in the "Della Valle collection".

 

ABOUT GIOVANNI BOTTESINI (1821-1889)

by Thomas Martin

My interest in Bottesini began only a few years ago (in about 1980) when my circumstance and especially my health allowed me to become interested in solo playing on the double bass and in the compositions of Bottesini in particular. This fascination grew to a desire not only to learn what I could about his music but also to an interest in the man himself as a person, player, and composer. Here, then, is an article not by a scholar or educated writer, but by a simple bass player in search of Bottesini.
Giovanni Bottesini was born into a musical family on December 22nd, 1821, in Crema, a town in Lombardy, Italy. His mother was Maria (born Spinefli) and his father, Pietro, was a local musician, a well-known claxionettist who also was interested in composition, having written several methods for various instruments. A composition of his is in Milan. His sister, Angelina, also studied music and became a fine pianist. She died in Naples in 1877.

Young Giovanni’s talent, indeed genius, for music luckily had a chance to show itself in such a musical home. He began his study of the violin at five and at the age of ten he was put in the care of his uncle, Cogliati, a priest, who was the first violinist in the orchestra of the Cathedral at Crema. He remained in this tuition for three years singing as a boy soprano, playing the drums at the Teatro Communale, continuing serious study of the Pianoforte as well as experimenting with the cello and double bass. In 1835 his father heard of two places on scholarship at the Conservatono in Milan, one for the bassoon and one for the double bass. Thus, the decision was made that was to launch Bottesini on his fantastic career. They made the journey to the big city one week ahead of the audition in order for young Giovanni to meet Professor Luigi Rossi and have some lessons prior to the big day. He impressed Rossi and the panel, and at one point in his examination made the famous remark: ‘I know, Gentlemen, that I play out of tune; but when I know where to place my fingers this shall not happen anymore.”

Here again the young man had tremendous good fortune as the school of double bass playing which existed in northern Italy at that time had already produced a series of artists who were outstanding including Langlois, Andreoli, Dal Occa, Dal Oglio and, indeed, Rossi himself. Dal Occa, for example, had been as far as St. Petersburg in Russia and back and was well-known as a soloist. It was during his stay at the conservatory that Bottesini wrote a number of compositions including the three Grand Duels and a Double Concerto with his friend, Arpesani (of whom, more later). He studied composition under Vaccaj and Basily.

Of his progress on the bass, his friend Piatti (the famous cellist with whom he was a classmate) said that after three years of study Bottesini never played better, he only gained experience! lie left the conservatory three years early with the permission of the Governors in order to do more work on composition and to begin a playing career, lie was given 300 francs on leaving and borrowed 600 more from a relative, Rachetti, using the money to buy his double bass which I will mention a bit later.

His solo debut was made in the following year (1840) in Crema (his home town) and he had tremendous success. He then undertook an extensive tour that saw him appearing in Milan “La Scala” and Vienna. The Viennese critic said of his 1840 appearance that “Giovanni Bottesini from Milan played with distinction as far as one would call the double bass a solo instrument.”

He seems to have done occasional touring as a soloist during the next six years and was engaged as last double bass in Brescia for two seasons, then as principal double bass in Verona. Verdi, who was producing I due Foscari at that theatre, heard Bottesini and advised him to follow a career as a soloist. It is said that Bottesini took on these orchestral positions in order to recover from “angina pectoris” which he is supposed to have contracted in Vienna in 1840. Neither I nor a heart specialist friend of mine think this could be true as there is no further mention of heart trouble in his life which went on for 50 more years to end with liver trouble! The heart trouble is mentioned by a contemporary biographer Cesare Lisei who was the London representative to Ricordi, wrote a brochure on Bottesini in 1884. Bottesini himself mentions his health in a letter home but in a very obscure way known only to his mother.

in 1846, Bottesini’s good friend Arditi (who was his accompanist for many years) was able to offer him a position with the opera house in Havana, Cuba, which he accepted, thus making his first of many visits to the New World.

That Company undertook tours to central America and in 1847 visited Boston, Philadelphia and New York (as well as Cape May, New Jersey, etc.) performing several operas by Verdi including Ernani, I Lombardi and I Due Foscari and also Bottesini’s first opera Cristophon Colonibo. That Company played the first Verdi ever heard in Philadelphia. Bottesini received extra money from the Company for appearances as a soloist on the bass, often during the interval of the opera. This was the beginning of a custom which he was to follow throughout his career. Even then, it seems, he was selling out the opera performances on the strength of his phenomenal abilities as a performer on the double bass. He was always very popular in North America and was made, for example, an honorary member, along with Jenny Lind, of the Philharmonic Society in New York in 1850.

Here is a letter home to his parents written in Boston, April 29, 1847.
“My most beloved father,Yesterday I had the great pleasure of receiving your very dear letter dated February 20; the consoling news of you as well as mother and Angelina’s good health have cheered me up and truly restored my peace of mind”.

“During this current month of April, I have been unable to write to you because I left Havana on the 3rd, which is the day when all letters to Europe must be posted. I did not arrive in New York until the 15th; the journey was very pleasant and we were treated with the highest regard. In New York, we found another Italian opera company at the Teatro Palmos, where it had been in residence for five months, and there I came across a few of our acquaintances such as Clotilde Basili, Benedette il Tenore, Sanquivrio, etc.; a man from home whose name I do not remember, is also working there as a call boy. Our managers, who were highly irritated when they discovered that the theatre was not free after all, spent 750 colommodes on another theatre in order to have the company heard in two performances of Ernani and thus, hopefully, sink the competition. Having quickly unloaded the boxes, we immediately started rehearsing until it was time to go on stage. The Park Theatre may have been minute, yet it was packed with people; we triumphed to the detriment of the others. God knows how much poison our success must have made them swallow. The next evening we played in the Sale del Tabernacolo and I performed two duets with Arditi; I am enclosing a review of the evening so that you may judge for yourself how my playing was received.

“ Before leaving Havana, I signed a new contract with the manager, engaging myself to perform in three concerts every month in exchange of which my monthly pay will be increased by 150 colommodes which will be added to the 120 I already receive as an orchestral player. I shall now be able to save a certain amount every month. You may rest assured that as soon as I am able to put together 3 or 4 thousand francs from my savings, I shall be sending them over. Please use them as seems best to you. I do not want to know about it. I shall be only too happy to find myself finally in a position to repay part of my debt towards you."

“ I spent the last five days in New York wandering about the city; having left Havana on an oppressively hot day, I was finally able to breath again—the freshness of the air here revives my lungs and pumps blood back into my veins; just like a St. Bernard dog, I start sniffing the atmosphere, it tastes of snow. I have not yet seen Paris or London but I can imagine more or less what they must be like if they at all resemble New York, for this is a great business center, highly populated, lean, elegant and hustling with activity: steam engines, railways, omnibuses, carriages, millions of newspapers. I no longer knew what world I was in."

“We then left for Boston, another very remarkable city, where Washington, the great hero to whom this country owes its freedom, preached such wholesome principles to the people. English is spoken everywhere, quite a handful for us, really, this language!"

“Everyone works for the good of the homeland, and life is quite pleasant here. There are thousands of things I could tell you, but I do not wish to deprive myself of the pleasure of relating them to you in person one day.
“We shall remain in this city until mid-May, at which point we will depart for New York where we shall be spending the summer. Before we return to Havana, we may decide to visit Philadelphia."

“I shall keep you informed at all times so that you know where to write to me. How is mother? and how is Angelina? Both well, I presume. I am surprised, though, that in the last letter my sister was not even mentioned; I assume she has left for the country with some lady. If the distance between us was not so immense, I would send her a few beautiful dresses, but that will have to wait until I get back. Tell mother that this is a country where Sundays as religious holidays are rather better observed than in our own Catholic countries; on those days, singing, playing and alcohol consumption are forbidden. Everybody goes to Church and although it is not a Catholic Church, the religion preached there is highly moral, honest and worthy of the public freedom and welfare existing in this country."

“I do remember my promise—time will tell. Don’t worry therefore, even if I suffer from not being at home; the situation has become so much of a habit that my health is not in the least affected by it. In fact, I have even become a little podgy—by my standards of course."

“I have heard nothing from my brothers. Once more, I beg of you to let me know how they are, write to me quickly and tell me what is new with them and with their wives. Have my nephews grown? I have not had the time to write to Dello. Please tell him that I received two of his letters in Havana where I also received your last two. Ask him to keep me informed on everything, and I shall do the same from here."

“When I am finished with all my engagements, I shall go on a very small trip around the U.S. and I shall then proceed towards London where I am eagerly expected. As soon as I get there I shall be sending you a modest draft so that you may come and visit me at once with mother and Angelina."

“I was very sorry to hear about Piatti’s illness in Bergomo. If you happen to see him, please send him my warmest wishes. Novelli, the bass, asks me to send you his regards, and so do Arditi and Bottoglioni, that famous Musician of Brescia."

“Our opera company is having a tremendous success. We have the inexperienced American eardrums to thank for that, for in reality it is absolutely dismal. With the exception of the Ernani, all the other operas are a disaster, horribly out of tune but always applauded! How lucky we are! I don’t know how we shall be able to cope when we are back in Italy."

“Best regards to you and please kiss mother and Angelina on my behalf. Keep well, regards to Dello. S. Angelo, Terni, Monze, all the family and friends. I remain, your affectionate and most loving son. Giovanni”

To see the famous first visit from a less personal point here is a small article about it which appeared in the MuskiIe di Milano on September 23rd of that year (1847).

“Any time the manager of the Havana theatre wishes to enlarge his capital, regardless of what part of the world he is in, all he has to do is to announce a concert or an operatic intermezzo featuring Bottesini and, in no time, he will have a hall crammed full with spectators, each of them having paid quite a hefty sum for the privilege of being there. Last July 10th, Bottesini, Arditi and the principal artists of the Italian opera, among which the great Tedesco, attracted more than 5,000 spectators to a pcrforniancc they gave in Castle Garden. They then left for Philadelphia, Boston and Cape May Island from where they shall subsequently go to Saratoga and Newport, travelling through all of the northern river area back to New York".

Finally, in mid-October they shall depart for Havana. The management despatches the opera company, and notably Bottesini and Arditi, from one place to the other; those two are never allowed a moment’s rest, running from one city to the next, seeing, thanks to their work the lucky impresario who is in the process of re-engaging them, becoming richer by the minute. Sivori who, with Herz, continues to tour around America earning a fortune for himself, published on one of the pages of this periodical, a very kind declaration by way of which he expressed his great desire to meet and shake hands with the incomparable double bass player of Crema and congratulate him and the whole of Italy for the incredible success achieved everywhere. A lithograph representing both Arditi and Bottesini has just been released. The double bass player has become the object of tremendous ovations of the kind bestowed on Essler in the greatest years of her career as a solo dancer.”

1849 saw his debut in London, then as now, one of the world’s musical capitals. Both of his close school friends, Piatti and Arditi, were to settle and prosper here making enormous contributions to the musical scene. He appeared first at the Exeter Hall and his success was impossible to describe.

He was described as the “Lion of the season”; every concert series had an appearance by Bottesini. He was asked to join numerous tours both in Ireland, England and Scotland with the famous impresario and conductor Jullien who also took Bottesini as his “star” on a triumphant tour of the United States with Sir Michael Costa conducting. London seems to have been his home during large portions of his life and his residence at least in the 1850s was on Golden Square, Piccadilly.

Bottesini as the double bass player seems to have created the same reaction wherever he appeared. He usually played either his La Sonnambula fantasy or the Carnival of Venice variations for large audiences or his Grand duo Concertante together with a violinist (often with Sivori and Papini in England, Sighicelli in Paris and tours with Wieniawski, etc.). The original version of the Grand duo for double bass and violin (also listed in the musical compositions of the violinist, Sivori!!) was composed in its earliest state as a duo for two double basses for Bottesini and Arpesani to play together. The work exists under the name of Arpesani and Bottesini in various places. He wrote a great number of other compositions, most of which were used for smaller gatherings or the many specific musical evenings at which the artists of the day entertained.
Let me quote some reviews and writings from his lifetime to give us an idea of his impact as a performing artist:

“Of all the artists who have gained a reputation as players of the double bass, Bottesini is the one who possesses the greatest talent. The beauty of the tone he draws from the instrument, his marvellous dexterity and skill in conquering difficulties, his manner of making the instrument sing; the delicacy and grace of his ornaments are the component elements of a talent as complete and all-sufficing as could be desired. By his skill in producing harmonics in all positions Bottesini can compete with the most able violinists.”

“In his duet for violin and double bass, which is frequently played, he arouses the enthusiasm of his audience to the highest pitch. It is necessary to hear Bottesini in this piece to discover what possibilities are hidden in the giant of the stringed instruments; to hear what can be done in the way of sonorousness, tone, lightness of expression and grace.”

“Dragonetti, Dal Oglio, and Mueller were fine Bassists but none possess the surety of execution that makes Bottesini’s playing so brilliant."

“In precision, dash, accuracy and withal in the softness of touch and phrasing, Bottesini has no equal on the double bass.”

“Bottesini’s wonderful playing upon the unwieldy double bass is really a musical phenomenon; and those who have not heard him can have no notion of the vast resources of the double bass as a solo instrument.”

“The duo between Bottesini and Sivori was all that could be desired and we fear can never be produced save by these two artists.”

“Bottesini, who was worthily welcomed on his entrance, displayed in his double bass solo quite new powers and much other than those we should have dreamed of for this apparently unwieldy instrument. Added to its own power and breadth were sweet violin effects, only rounder and more mellow and flute-like than can be extracted from the violin. Now its harmonics were liquid and singing, and then it took the character of the violoncello, and anon growled out its bassest bass and, in the hands of this masterly performer, it eventually extended through the range and with the peculiar characteristics of three instruments.”

“An outstanding concert artist, he is called the ‘Paganini of the double bass’. Under his bow, the double bass becomes an entire orchestra with a complete range of moods.”

“Everyone was enraptured by Signor Bottesini’s solo double bass. He has the unaffected, generous, enthusiastic look of a man of genius, and no one has drawn forth more exquisite sweetness and deep-toned intense melody from the double bass than he did last night. The Duet Concertante (violin and double bass) was a rich musical treat—the full mellifluous tones of the double bass mingling and blending with the silken notes of the violin and bell like triangle chime harmonics rendered this part of the programme truly delightful.”

From these critics and many others (I hope to find still more from more diverse places) we can begin to draw a picture of how Bottesini came across. He won admiration from all for his technique and intonation but also for his musicality and ability to sing on the instrument, I have come across much mention, as well, of two other aspects of his activities which seem to escape notice, one being a fine player of chamber music.

He first played in London not as a soloist but at an evening of chamber music playing to everyone’s amazement the cello part of a quartette by Onslow. He was present playing, for another example, at the premier performance of Spohr’s Nonette. Second, he was brilliant player and accompanist on the pianoforte and seems often to have accompanied other artists on programmes where he was also engaged as soloist. Among friends, “He was amazingly versatile at the piano; he would play, sing, talk and shout, imitate the clang of the trombone, the sigh of the oboe, the trill of the flute, the roll of the drum, the crash of the cymbals! until, exhausted, he would stop improvising, push back a rebellious curl, turn to his listeners and silently question them, fixing them with a penetrating gaze that would reach their innermost thoughts.”

In his concert career, Bottesini went to every corner of Europe as far as Russia (St. Petersburg), also to Turkey, and Egypt. He also went from Boston to Buenos Aires in America via Mexico and almost every country in between. Today’s soloists would be hard pressed to keep up with the travels of Bottesini. Imagine touring like that before even steamships, and surely no aeroplanes, motor cars, telephones, etc., etc. He must have spent a tremendous amount of time just travelling, and think of transporting his instrument! Fortunately, his temperament was such that he had an aversion to settling down anywhere for too long.

Most of Bottesini’s compositions were in manuscript and not published, and, due to his constantly moving lifestyle, are well spread around. I would not be surprised if compositions continue to come light.

His compositions for the double bass are varied and, in my opinion, ingeniously constructed for the instrument. There are a number duets for double bass and other instruments (does anyone know where the Elixir of Love fantasy for double bass, cello and accomp. is?), operatic fantasies mostly on Bellini or Donizetti. (I cannot locate Lucretia Borgia), themes and variations, melodies, elegies, concertos and concerto movements. If there is a problem with his music it is a combination of solving technical difficulties combined with an understanding of the “Bel Canto” style which is now at least 100 years gone.

“. . . he is called the ‘Paganini of the double bass’. Under his bow, the double bass becomes an entire orchestra with a complete range of moods.”

He used a normal ¾ size Italian double bass tuned one tone higher or one and a half tones above the normal orchestral tuning. He used pure gut strings for all three strings and cello type (hard) resin. His bow was a slightly long French bow with white hair (although be advocates black in his Method).

His fee for a concert at which he usually played one or two numbers (Koussevitsky was the first soloist to do entire recitals and he had a number with the pianist alone included often), was in the 1860s about 500 francs. I think that must have been quite a high payment, and Bottesini earned a fortune in his lifetime being well in demand everywhere.

Bottesini’s bass belonged to the Milanese player, Fiando, and was reputed to be in a closet in a marionette theatre in that city. A friend of Bottesini, the bassist Arpesani, told him where it was. Bottesini got a prize of money from the Conservatory and borrowed the rest from a relative to buy the bass in 1839.

Contrary to popular belief, the instrument at that time had four tuners and a four string tail piece! The tuner had been removed leaving a hole in the scroll. Another hole was drilled in the centre of the tailpiece for the second string. I have heard it said that this was put lower down than the other original holes for some accoustical reason, but I doubt that. This was a simple conversion from four to three strings!

Bottesini felt strongly in favour of three strings of pure gut in time when some places in the 1840s used, traditionally, four and even five strings, such as Germany. France had just accepted the four stringed instrument as standard at the Conservatoire, and Italy, England, Spain, etc. were still using three strings as standard (I saw a three-stringed instrument in Spain last month). I suppose England was one of the last places to change over, as three strings were rather common here until the first war. There was also a controversy pro and con about the metal wrapped bottom strings going on at that time among all the bass players.

The instrument was made in 1716 by Carlo Antonio Testore in Milan, the eldest son of Carlo Giuseppe. It is very typical of this maker. I have seen several which are almost identical to the Bottesini bass. I have read that it was by Carlo Giuseppe, but this is not true. The instrument was made with the flat back and ribs of pearwood which was popular with the makers in the north of Italy for basses and cellos (along with poplar and a type of willow). The instruments from thismaterial almost always have the traditional cherry-brown colour and this one is no exception. The Testore family seemed to have a great selection of beautiful pine and the table of this instrument is a good example. The ff holes slant inwards toward the bottom and are typical of the maker. The table length is 45¼”, 19¼” across at the upper bouts, and 25 5/8” across the lower part, the depth in the rib being 8” at the bottom. These measurements refute the misconception that the bass was a “Basso da Camera” or of small size.

The instrument is the normal ¾ size Italian Contrabbasso in every respect. On Bottesini’s death, the instrument was passed on to an advocate in Torino for settlement of his estate and was subsequently sold to Hill and Sons, the London dealers. The bass was then bought by Claude Hobday, the famous English Bassist, in 1894. At that time the instrument was converted to four strings, keeping the existing tailpiece but losing the original three tuners, replacing them with the English type and making the string length the modern norm of just under 42” and having a “d” stop. Previously the stop had been nearer Eb and the string length closer to 44”. The longer neck would, of course, have made several significant differences for Bottesini. First the sound would have been bigger and brighter owing to the longer string. Secondly, as Bottesini played semi-tones in the lower register 1-4 (the “Scuola Lombardo”), the longer string would have been more comfortable! Thirdly, the harmonics and upper register would have been easier to reach, as the shoulders are not too sloping on this instrument.

I believe that the bass bar was changed at the same time. The work was done, I believe, by Hill and Son who certified the instrument as well at that time. The instrument during Bottesini’s ownership had a slightly raised bottom nut which may have been there when he bought it but was surely there from the 1860s onwards through Hobday’s ownership. When Claude Hobday died, the instrument was purchased by James Merrett Sr., the well-known London player and teacher, and on his death the instrument was left to his son, James Jr. It was at this time that I came to know the instrument. (1 replaced James Jr. as professor at the Guildhall School of Music, London.) When James Jr. died in 1974, the instrument was offered for sale for 3,500.00 Pounds and the wish was expressed that it not leave England. An instrument dealer, a Mr. Duffy, purchased the instrument, and I understand that it is now in Japan!

According to my colleague, Adrian Beers, who was certainly the finest pupil of Hobday, the box for the bass, which was literally covered with exotic luggage labels and stickers from all over the world, was left to disintegrate behind the Royal College of Music. At least we are left the instrument, hopefully to survive us all into history. Bottesini admired most the instruments of Gasparo da Salo though he wouldn’t have selected an instrument of such a grand pattern as a solo instrument, and owned a number of instruments at various times including another Testore, I understand. The 1716 instrument, however, was his constant companion throughout his playingcareer. Considering the traveling that Bottesini did, I’m amazed to say that, when I knew the instrument, it was in very good condition. It might also be interesting to mention that, while there have been attempts over the years, Herr Horst Grunert of Penzberg, W. Germany has succeeded, to my mind, at producing a copy of the instrument which is superb in every respect. The tone is magnificent and the material and workmanship beyond fault. The varnish is the traditional one in oil. In my opinion Grunert will emerge in the future as one of the most important makers of basses.
Bottesini’s instrument, in addition to the normal and genuine label dated 1716, has several repair records inside, one from Madrid in 1871 and another from Buenos Aires in 1879 (the date of the production of Ero & Leandro there).

END OF PART ONE


Thomas Martin studied the Double Bass in America under Harold Roberts and Roger Scott. He has held principal positions with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Academy of St. Martin—in the Fields. He is now the co-principal with the English Chamber Orchestra.

Thomas Martin has been made fellow of the Guildhall School of Music in London, where he has been Professor of Double Bass for some years. A frequent visito to Ireland, he gives a series of popular Master classes each year for the Dublin Philharmonic Society. In addition, he has just released a new all-Bottesini album see “New Releases”.

GIOVANNI BOTTESINI THOUGHT of himself as a composer who played the double bass. It is one of the cruel paradoxes of musical history that the goal which he wanted most to achieve continually eluded him. One of his contemporary biographers writing about his later life said, “Tired of touring, it seems that Bottesini wants to dedicate his noble gift and all the treasures of his noble doctrine almost exclusively to the Opera Theatre where, despite the success of his previous operas, it has to be admitted that he has not been able to make the sort of impact that takes a composer to the forefront and assures his popularity. So far he has written worthy scores, admired and appreciated by the intellectuals, but he has yet to write a score that would excite the public, that great and just dispenser of applause and censure. Some maintain he lacks inspiration, the high and powerful inspiration that alone creates master pieces and this may be true as it also may be that he is finally in these last years about to capture that feeling of inspiration.

Of course he loved his instrument which brought him to the forefront of all the musicians of his time; that success, however, was at the expense of his composition. His financial situation, as well, was such that at many times, particularly in later life when he would have liked nothing better than to settle down in order to devote himself to composition, he was forced to undertake concert tours with his great friend and breadwinner, the Double Base, in order to keep the wolf from the door. For this reason, it seems his life was a somewhat frustrated one.

That frustration showed itself early in his life, for he left Conservatory in Milan three years early (with the blessing of the governors) in 1939 in order to “give himself up to composition in a freer atmosphere” as he felt drawn to it. His teachers were Piantanida Ray, Basili and Vaccai. One contemporary summed his compositional aim by saying. “His sympathies favour the beautiful school for Italian melody enriched by the modern art of orchestration. To him, Rossini’s William Tell and Gounod’s Faust are standards of Beauty and the realization of his ideal of musical loveliness, he is really a cosmopolitan in taste and unreservedly admits the merits of composers whose music differs in all essentials from his.”

Bottesini had completed quite a large number of compositions by the time of is London debut in 1849. At Conservatory in Milan he had undertaken such daunting assignments as a quartet for harps, not to mention string quartets. Almost all of his famous compositions for the double bass were written in one form or another by that time, ad he had already completed his first opera: “Cristoforo Colombo” was written in Havana (Teatro Tacon 1847), in two acts with the libretto in Spanish.

Bottesini’s first major operatic undertaking was L’assedio di Firenze (Siege of Florence), which was given its first performace in Paris at the Theatre des Italiens on 2 Feb 1856, and was repeated at La Scala (1860), among other places. A Viennese critic who commented on the Paris performance said that the opera was very well received and was thought to be very good. He felt that the writing for the orchestra was excellent but the writing the voices was not up to the same standard, remarking that Bottesini was far better at singin on his instrument. The critic mentioned that Bottesini played his “Carnival of Venice” in the interval, as was custom, and said it was a pity that the audience was compelled to cry out so much during the performance.

His next opera was written in 1858 and called “Il Diavalo della Notte”. It was know that the full score to this opera, as well as L’assedio di Firenze still exists. 1862 found him composing the first of his three best-known and best received operas, Marion Delorme. It was written on a libretto by Ghislanzoni (who wrote Aida, among other libretti) based on a novel by Victor Hugo. The performance was in Palermo (Jan 10). It was repeated in 1864 in Barcelona, where Bottesini was given a silver baton by the chorus and a silver crown by the orchestra of the Liceo Theatre engraved “to the worthy Professor Sr. Juan Bottesini, a tribute of friendship, wonder, and respect.” The absolutely glowing review went on for pages, and excerpts from which gives us an idea of where Bottesini stood at that time in musical history:

“Now, when the world feels the destruction of its true Italian school due to the wrongly called Verdian style that has destroyed not only the beautiful and pure melodies which formed its glory, and when we see with amazement the slovenliness in which the Italian school has fallen as well as its old and celebrated Conservatories, we heard with amazement, we say again, Maria Delmore by Bottesini, because the melodies it contains are original, pure and simple as Bellini’s, having a spiritual sound so marvellous that it makes us be in paradise. We have also heard it with wonder, because every bit of it fits in its place together with an excellent orchestration. We do not know what to praise more in Bottesini, his melodic and compound genius, or his philosophical talent to develop the drama musically, or the knowledge he has in the fields of orchestration and composition.
“All the things can be seen in his work which is developed with easiness, simplicity, and loftiness.”

The full score of this opera exists, but the exact location is not known. The libretto and stage movements, however, have been found.

Bottesini appeared as soloist at the Casino in Monte Carlo in 1864. At a theatre nearby was a fine troupe of singers from Paris, for whom he wrote a one-act opera called Vinciguerra, Il bandito. They performed it in Monte Carlo and subsequently took it to Paris for forty consecutive performances.

Next came the second of his great operatic successes, Ali Baba, his great comic opera. Ali Baba, in four acts, was written and first performed in London at the Lyceum Theatre in 1870. Bottesini was acting as conductor for the season, as he had been forced to flee Paris owing to the advance of German troops on that city. Ali Baba was a great success and had a long and appreciated run. Only the piano score to this opera, is known but it is believed that the full score exists.
Bottesini’s great opera is “Ero e Leondro” (Hero and Leander) which was composed during his tenure as director of the Italian Opera in Cairo in 1875 at a villa near Ramle outside Cairo. The libretto was by Boito, who was Verdi’s chief librettist and a good composer in his own right (Mefistofile). The first performance took place in Torino with a fabulous cast in 1879. It was repeated 20 times that season to ovations. The Director of the Teatro Reggio, who mounted this first performance stated:
“That Boito should have renounced the idea of setting Ero e Leandro to music himself is a great shame, considering the fourth act of Mefistofile. It is also amazing that Bottesini should have chosen this libretto to compose an opera on; and yet he was successful with this as with a few others, and Ero was his greatest success in serious opera as Ali Baba was in comic opera.

“If his virtuosity made him a famous concert artist, it was at the expense of composing. In Bottesini inventive originality did not correspond to spontaneity; technically skilled and a capable instrumentalist, he more often than not proved unequal to the task of composition. The impatience of the concert artist was revealed in obvious improvisations which were merely concessions to the dubious taste of his audience. Having decided to become a composer, he had neither the patience nor the desire to really work at it; it was enough for him that his work sparkled, was applauded, and he could move on to other things.

“Bottesini can be regarded as one of the last exponents of the Italian school that was bound to the traditions of Bellini and Donizetti. He was a confirmed enemy of the Wagnerian revolution; he was even ready to set to music a satire against the Wagnerians, of which I have read the libretto. In later years he spoke out strongly against all those he held responsible for all that was bad in the Italian theatre. Accusing others of intolerance, he passed into even worse intransigence. The classical form of the Italian opera he considered sacred, and he really believed that he could bring it up to date by working on the counterpoint and orchestration. Such a view reduced the Italianness to a question of style and obscured the content.

“In choosing his libretti he also followed the old school and did not go for subtlety. He would use any libretto he came across—and he came across some very unfortunate ones—and, suffering somewhat from a persecution complex, he blamed his editors, impressarios and colleagues for what was partly the result of his poor choice of libretto and partly his excessive indulgence for his creations, namely the lukewarm success of some of his scores and difficulties over mounting them.

“I do remember my promise—time will tell. Don’t worry therefore, even if I suffer from not being at home; the situation has become so much of a habit that my health is not in the least affected by it. In fact, I have even become a little podgy—by my standards of course."

“I have heard nothing from my brothers. Once more, I beg of you to let me know how they are, write to me quickly and tell me what is new with them and with their wives. Have my nephews grown? I have not had the time to write to Dello. Please tell him that I received two of his letters in Havana where I also received your last two. Ask him to keep me informed on everything, and I shall do the same from here."

“When I am finished with all my engagements, I shall go on a very small trip around the U.S. and I shall then proceed towards London where I am eagerly expected. As soon as I get there I shall be sending you a modest draft so that you may come and visit me at once with mother and Angelina."

“I was very sorry to hear about Piatti’s illness in Bergomo. If you happen to see him, please send him my warmest wishes. Novelli, the bass, asks me to send you his regards, and so do Arditi and Bottoglioni, that famous Musician of Brescia."

“Our opera company is having a tremendous success. We have the inexperienced American eardrums to thank for that, for in reality it is absolutely dismal. With the exception of the Ernani, all the other operas are a disaster, horribly out of tune but always applauded! How lucky we are! I don’t know how we shall be able to cope when we are back in Italy."

“Best regards to you and please kiss mother and Angelina on my behalf. Keep well, regards to Dello. S. Angelo, Terni, Monze, all the family and friends. I remain, your affectionate and most loving son. Giovanni”

To see the famous first visit from a less personal point here is a small article about it which appeared in the MuskiIe di Milano on September 23rd of that year (1847).

“Any time the manager of the Havana theatre wishes to enlarge his capital, regardless of what part of the world he is in, all he has to do is to announce a concert or an operatic intermezzo featuring Bottesini and, in no time, he will have a hall crammed full with spectators, each of them having paid quite a hefty sum for the privilege of being there. Last July 10th, Bottesini, Arditi and the principal artists of the Italian opera, among which the great Tedesco, attracted more than 5,000 spectators to a pcrforniancc they gave in Castle Garden. They then left for Philadelphia, Boston and Cape May Island from where they shall subsequently go to Saratoga and Newport, travelling through all of the northern river area back to New York".

“As the logical result of his concept of melodrama, Bottesini only looked for and found ‘episodes’ in his libretti; he gave little importance to a logical development of plot or characterization. This restricted view denied him the ability to create great works of art. In fact, in Ero e Leandro we find exquisite pieces of composition followed by pieces that are frankly vulgar, which would seem inexplicable if we were to ignore the indifference of composers of Bottesini’s school to everything they considered mere accessories of no importance to the opera.

“But even so, every now and then Bottesini’s poetic sentiments flowed bright and pure from his imagination. Limiting myself to Ero e Leandro, I must say that the religious entreaty in the first act, Leandro’s declaration, the drinking song, various extracts from the two love duets and the Barcarole are totally appropriate. The depiction of a moonlight night on the Bosporus which opens the third act is truly exquisite. A few minor changes, and the evocation would be perfect; the spirit of the scene reveals itself, and we are filled with the sound of the orchestra and the muted voices of the chorus so that we are lost in the blue of sea and sky.

“Ero e Leandro, an opera created during every sort of vexation and worry, provided in exchange Bottesini’s last joys. Acquired by Ricordi, it was performed for many years in the major opera houses in Italy, Europe and South America, until it was superseded by the Ero e Leandro of Luigi Mancinelli written on the same libretto. Mancinelli was conducting the Bottesini opera in Rome and fell in love with the story. As Bottesini had never bothered to secure the literary copyright, Mancinelli set it to music as well.

“I recall that during one of the first performances of the opera, at universal insistence, Bottesini gave a recital between acts. The crowd that accumulated was so great that the management had to stop the sale of tickets half an hour before the performance was to begin. Bottesini left Torino in triumph, having been commissioned to write a new opera.”

THAT OPERA, La Regina di Nepal, was not well-received, and reinforced the views of the previously quoted theater director, who was the man who produced both operas and commissioned the second. The opera was damaged by a last-minute change of the leading tenor, and one is given to understand that this may well have ruined the performance. Here is the backstage description by another contemporary who was there at the time:


“The tenor became the scapegoat of the evening. It was as if the enthusiasm aroused by Ero e Leandro had been totally obliterated; the Regina di Nepal could just as easily have been the work of any insignificant composer, judging by the sulkiness of the audience. When the first-act curtain came down, there was utter silence! Oh, that silence!

“He who is not familiar with the backstage world cannot imagine the torture the poor composer is subjected to when he sees the curtain slowly coming down and hears no applause, no whistling, nothing, only a vague indistinct rustling seemingly miles away; yet this rustling is like a hammer on his temples, a knife in his heart already pricked by a thousand needles. He then wishes for the cries, the hisses, the shouts of a furious audience rather than that deadly silence.

“During the second act, still the same menacing silence; the electricity in the atmosphere weighed upon all his friends, and the interval seemed endless. Bottesini affected to be calm, but the glare in his eyes betrayed deep agitation. Retreating in the artists’ passageway behind the stage, he paced up and down, his head hanging low, his shoulders bent, his hands thrust in the pockets of his unbuttoned jacket. From time to time he stopped, listened, and almost immediately, fearing he would hear something, resumed his pacing up and down the corridor. He uttered not a word; what could he have said? We did not address him; what would we have dared say? During one of his pauses, a clamour made him start. He tossed his head, smiled bitterly, and said, ‘It’s finished!’

The clamour continued with increasing intensity. Suspecting some public uprising against his work, he prepared to flee from the theatre; but at that moment the announcer, the choir master and various other people came running towards him, shouting: ‘Maestro, Maestro! On stage, on stage!’ Bottesini turned pale; he was as white as a corpse. Turollo and Battistini, who with their interpretation of the second-act duet had moved the audience to tears, dragged the Maestro, pale and tense, on stage. When he returned back stage, he tossed his hat onto the floor, and leaning against the wall, in spite of his great resistance to the upheavals of theatre life, he who had been acclaimed all over the world for his performances on the double bass, burst into tears. He had been able to control himself in the face of so much public indifference, but when the audience started applauding, he, in one of those sudden reactions which often accompany downfalls, broke down completely. The image of that tall, virile figure prostrated and sobbing against the wall in the confusion of a first performance has remained engraved in my memory; thirty years have gone by, and I have not forgotten, and, indeed, I shall never forget.”

Despite this disastrous first performance, Regina di Nepal went on to run for 15 performances, attracting more and more interest and acclaim as it went on, eventually making a good profit or the theatre.

IN ADDITION TO the operas already mentioned, more were left unpublished, all written in his last years. He offered two for performance to the same Teatro Reggio in Torino in a letter to the Director in 1881. Three more were written in London about the time of his oratorio, all of them in three months 1886-87. These operas were: La torre di Babele, La figlia dell ‘Angelo, Azaele, Cedar, and Graziella.

The Teatro Reggio in Torino also was the scene of the first performance (in 1880-81) of a work Bottesini considered to be one of his finest compositions, his Missa da Requiem for four solo voices. chorus, and orchestra. This work was also chosen by his home town of Crema to represent them in the great musical exposition of 1881 in Milan, where it was awarded the gold medal. It is believed that there is a full score of this work in London.

Bottesini’s last major work was his oratorio The Garden of Olivet written for the Norwich festival of 1887, on an English text by Joseph Bennett, the eminent musical critic of the London Daily Telegraph. A large-scale work indeed, the Italian critic of the Gazetta Musicale di Milano, who attended the first performance with Bottesini as conductor, made the following observations: “The voluminous score is in 20 parts and included a total of 37 pieces. The perfection of the work need not even be mentioned. Bottesini’s knowledge of counterpoint and harmony is supreme and universally recognized. I shall say that this Oratorio shows a striking and largely individual feeling for melody, Italian in rhythm and form, congenial in character. It includes a sublimely simple duet for soprano and tenor, very much in the style of Haydn. The closing chorus is as sumptuous and grandiloquent as a Handel finale.” At the time Bottesini was known to be composing his oratorio, his biographer, Lisei, who was afraid Bottesini (violently anti-Wagner) was about to go stray from his style, wrote these words:

“Remember, Maestro, that the mourned composer of ‘Gioconda’ (Ponchielli, who had died recently) owed his popularity to his having remained faithful to the traditions of the great Italian school remember that you write above all for your fellow-countrymen, for those who speak in the sweet Italian idiom and love and fed one with a your ears to the facile seductions of the Nordic sirens, remember to remain Italian, and you will add further glory to your already illustrious name.”

The local Norwich critic who attended this concert said that it went very well, especially regarding the orchestral balance and the soloists. The work was melodious and masterly in its orchestration, even if rather colourless and unoriginal, with “reminiscences of Rossini, modified by some more modem influences’. He felt, nonetheless, that the work would add considerably to Bottesini’s reputation as a composer.

The audience was unanimously in favour of the work, and Bottesini was loudly applauded by both audience and orchestra alike, and was recalled repeatedly.

 

He alternated with Berlioz in conducting the formidable army of distinguished musicians which had been especially put together for the great ‘Exposition Universelle’ in Paris. He was awarded a silver medal by the Paris Conservatory in the presence of many dignitaries and made many successful appearances all over France and Europe. Bottesini anticipated a stay in Paris of about seven years.
The next year, however, he set off on what turned out to be a constant tour which lasted from 1857 to 1861, mostly appearing as a soloist with some conducting and accompanying. He visited Germany, Holland. Belgium, and France; paid his annual visits to England: toured Portugal and Italy extensively (1858); and in 1859 made a French tour as conductor and soloist. One opera was produced during this period Il diavolo della notte (Milan 1859) which is thought to be one of his finest. 1860 included a long tour of almost every city in England and Ireland with Sivori the violinist and the soprano Signora Fiorentini.

From 1861 through 1863, Bottesini took a post as Music Director of the Teatro Bellini in Palermo, but still found time for extensive tours as far as Dublin again. His opera Marion Delorme was produced (the leading soprano: Signora. Fiorentini) in Palermo in 1862. In 1863 the recently opened Liceum Theatre in Barcelona engaged both Bottesini as their Music Director which he accepted until mid-1866, combining that post with a series in Monaco. Maria Delorme, (as they called it) received an enthusiastic run in Barcelona as well, with the same soprano as in Palermo, Signora Fiorentini! She had at that time, been contracted to sing at the Italian Opera in Paris, the Queens Theatre in London, La Scala in Milan, as well as Mexico, Havana, Berlin, Dresden, Florence, Palermo, and Nice. (Claudine Florentine Williams, who was called Signora Fiorentini, was a close friend of Bottesini.
She toured with him in his early years; “Maria Delorme” was written for her, and she performed it both in Palermo and Barcelona and perhaps other places. Baptie claims that Bottesini married her in 1878. There is, however, no record of this.)

Bottesini’s tours went as far as England each year and in 1866 (one of his busiest years) he set off for tours of the U.S.A. and Cuba, was named Musical Director of the popular “Buen Retiro” concerts in Madrid, appeared in the promenade seasons and Arditi’s concerts etc. in London, and went on an extended tour (December 1866 through March 1867) of Russia under the direction of Anton Rubenstein. He returned from Russia to Pails from where he set out on a monster tour of provincial France as well as all of Scandinavia with Vieuxtemps. He then returned to London where he had been appointed Musical Director of the popular Promenade concert season at Covent Garden, where the “Conductor of the Dance Music” appearing with him was none other than Johann Strauss! In 1869 Bottesini toured France with Vieuxtemps again and the harpist Godefroid, with a program which began with Bottesini conducting Rossini’s Missa Solemnis.

Advancing German forces in the Franco-Prussian war brought Bottesini to London for an unexpected stay. He spent the last six weeks of the year and early 1870 writing his comic opera Ali Baba which was given as part of the season of opera at the Lyceum Theatre, London, where he was the Musical Director. At the same time he was Music Director of the Covent Garden Prom. season.
Broneth Bay, Director of the Italian Opera at the Kadivale Theatre in Cairo, met Bottesini in London in 1870 and engaged him on a long-term contract as their Musical Director. He held this post (as well as the Italian Opera in Constantinople which he added in 1873), until the Cairo Opera closed down in 1879. Bottesini managed during his Cairo years to go off on tours to Spain and Portugal, and even directed the Lyceum season in London.

In 1871 the premiere of Verdi’s opera Aida took place in Cairo, having been postponed a year due to the Franco-Prussian war. When Verdi’s favourite conductor (Mariani) was too ill to conduct, the important task fell on the worthy shoulders of Bottesini. The performances took place as part of the opening ceremonies for the Suez Canal and Bottesini was able to fit in a three day visit with Verdi at Saint ‘Agata in order to study the score. Much correspondence took place between Verdi and Bottesini. The first performance took place on December 24 to a crowd made up of the highest ranking dignitaries from most of the countries of the world, critics of all nationalities, as well as an enormous cosmopolitan crowd of spectators, all of whom greeted the work with enormous enthusiasm.

Verdi, who fully relied on Bottesini’s talent and ability, gave him in person, and in writing, the most detailed instruction. Although these performances of Aida made Bottesini—the conductor—a world wide figure, his main satisfaction on the personal level, was to see his reputation among the eminent artists and composers of his time increase tenfold and Verdi’s friendship and high regard for him grow and solidify in the most flattering manner.

Verdi wrote from Genoa in December 1871:
“Dear Bottesini,
“I cannot tell you how much I appreciated your kind thought in sending me a telegram after the first performance. This in one more instance in which you have obliged me, not to mention all the loving care you have invested in that poor Aida. Not only have you shown much eagerness but you have also displayed your extraordinary abilities in rehearsing and conducting, abilities which, of course, I have never doubted.

“Thank you, therefore, my dear Bottesini, for all you have done for me on this occasion; kindly also convey my sincerest thanks to all those who have taken part in the performance of this opera.”

The director of the Teatro Reggio in Tonno, where Bottesini often conducted, wrote:
“After the success of Aida, Bottesini received innumerable offers of Musical Directorships and conducting engagements but from that time on, although for financial reasons he could neglect neither the double bass or the baton, he chose to devote himself primarily to composition.
“Bottesini is not only a phenomenal virtuoso, but a consummate musician, a skillfull and fascinating conductor, and a composer with a naturally rich vein of Italian Melody, wedded to a profound musical sense, and an exacting knowledge of the orchestra.

“During rehearsals, he was never demonstrative and he never lapsed into sentimentality or affectedness when addressing the orchestra, nor did he show exaggerated impatience or haughty disdain. At most, there would be a short outburst, almost immediately repressed. When that happened, he would toss his hat up in the air or fling it onto the stage floor and that sufficed to calm him down.

“While conducting concerts and operas he always presented a dignified, composed, and gentleman like attitude following the traditions of the Italian school as imparted to us by Mariani and Pedrotti. His art in conducting relied mainly on the readiness, seriousness, and assurance of his beat and the careful choice of tempi, contrary to those conductors who, in order to appear inspired by the divine genius of art (even though they might be conducting a tiny orchestra) make themselves busy, standing up, bouncing, endlessly moving their bodies about like owls on a perch.”

A Barcelona critic remarked:
“Bottesini does not need to cause trouble and intreague [sic] among people to reign among Directors. He tries to win the affection of his subordinates by being an example for them in the arts and a father and a brother too without letting us forget that he honours the position he occupies (Music Director). Artistically speaking, it will be very difficult to fill that position again the day he leaves because we know of no one in Europe with all of his characteristics excepting Mr. Costa [later Sir Michael], Music Director of the great Covent Garden in London.”Bottesini continued to appear as a conductor for the rest of his life and was conducting at the Teatro Reggio in Parma in his last year. However, he did not, after his contract in Cairo expired, accept any further Music Directorships. One notable exception was a long season of opera in 1879 (including a performance of Ero e Leandro) in Buenos Aires followed by visits to Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro.
For conducting and service to music, Bottesini was given a number of honorary batons in silver, ivory, etc. as tributes of the esteem of musicians he conducted, as well as high honours from various countries and courts including: Chevalier of the Italian Orders of the “corona d’Italia, and the Santa Maurizio e Lazzano, Chevalier of the Portuguese Order of Christ and Saint Jago, the Imperial Turkish Order of the Medjidieh and Commander of the Spanish Order of Carlos III. The King of Spain also made him Commander of the Order of Isabel de Catolico.

In tracing Giovanni Bottesini’s movements as a conductor, they are nearly impossible to separate from his movements as a soloist, as he frequently appeared in both capacities, in addition to (as mentioned in Part two) trying to find time for his great love, composition.
As a musician in this period of Music History, Bottesini had “seasons” of Opera or concerts lasting a matter of weeks to months in one place, and long “tours” in which a group of artists went from town to town appearing in the “pot pourri” type of mixed concerts which were popular at that time, each appearing in several numbers and often accompanying each other.

Bottesini’s career as a conductor probably began during his days at the Milan Conservatory, and blossomed during his stay at the Teatro Tacon in Havana. He went to Havana in 1846 with his great friend, Luigi Arditi, the leading violinist and conductor. Bottesini was principal double bass and “Maestro al piano”, which un-doubtedly included some conducting. Also, he was involved in conducting his first operatic venture, Christopher Columbus, (although the actual title was Colon en Cuba (Columbus in Cuba).

Arditi recalled this period fondly in his reminiscences, saying that he and Bottesini shared a quaint house with large windows with “innumerable parrotts (sic) and dogs” (not Bottesini’s last collection of animals.) Apparently, they had a servant named Francesco who Bottesini, though far from rich, was continually bailing out of jail for being out after curfew.

Arditi wrote a number of compositions for this partnership which had begun earlier in Italy. (Arditi, Bottesini, and their other friend Piatti had all appeared together in numerous concerts, including the coronation of Emperor Ferdinand in Vienna where they were “enthusiastically applauded by the Austrian court”). His works included a fantasia on I Puritani for violin and double bass, a Carnival of Venice Fantasy for the same combination as well as a Scherzo on Cuban Melodies. Bottesini also was busy composing during this time. Some of his compositions from Cuba include: Music for the poem Dia Nebuloso, a Birthday Ode to Isabel II, and a Nocturne for violin and piano.
It seems that Bottesini was terribly sea sick all the way from Genoa to Havana, not surprising when one considers that he was sailing before steam ships! Given this fact, plus his fear of carriages, it is surprising that he became such a perpetual traveller. Once arrived in Cuba and having recovered, he was taken to everyone’s heart and was known as Juan Bottesini.

On his first visit to England in 1848, he appeared as a conductor at the music festivals in Buckingham and Birmingham. By the time of his debut concert as a soloist in London, the Times mentioned that “The Italian artistes (sic) who have been associated with Bottesini speak in the most enthusiastic terms of his abilities as a music director and conductor of an orchestra”.

He was, during this period, at the height of his career as a soloist. He did not have an official post as a conductor until 1853 in Mexico at the Teatro Santanna. There he helped to organize the Conservatory of Music, and was engaged as music director of the Opera by the great soprano of the day, Henrietta Sontag (the Countess Rossi), who died the following season in Bottesini’s presence. He returned to Havana in 1855, and then in 1856 the post of Musical.

Director was offered him by the Theatre des Italiennes in Paris. This was a highly prestigious post having had previous directors such as the great Rossini himself.

Bottesini used these opportunities as Musical Director to secure the performance of his compositions, and thus the premier of the Siege of Florence in Pans in 1856. Soon after his arrival in Paris he was invited to the Tuilleries to perform before Napoleon the Ill had heard of the great success that greeted the concert-artist wherever he went. He was duly received in the ante chamber to the concert room by the grand master of ceremonies, Count Bacciocchi; who asked him hundreds of questions about his instrument: how it was made, its size, harmonic qualities etc.. All of this left Bottesini bemused until the question was asked “and is it empty or full. Maestro?” At this. Bottesini almost burst out laughing until he remembered the recent attempt on the Emperor’s life by Felice Orsini. Controlling himself in time, he solemnly answered “Empty, empty, sir!” Needless to say, he had the warmest applause at the court and this only served to bring him further to the attention of the public of Paris.

He alternated with Berlioz in conducting the formidable army of distinguished musicians which had been especially put together for the great ‘Exposition Universelle’ in Paris. He was awarded a silver medal by the Paris Conservatory in the presence of many dignitaries and made many successful appearances all over France and Europe. Bottesini anticipated a stay in Paris of about seven years.
The next year, however, he set off on what turned out to be a constant tour which lasted from 1857 to 1861, mostly appearing as a soloist with some conducting and accompanying. He visited Germany, Holland. Belgium, and France; paid his annual visits to England: toured Portugal and Italy extensively (1858); and in 1859 made a French tour as conductor and soloist. One opera was produced during this period Il diavolo della notte (Milan 1859) which is thought to be one of his finest. 1860 included a long tour of almost every city in England and Ireland with Sivori the violinist and the soprano Signora Fiorentini.

From 1861 through 1863, Bottesini took a post as Music Director of the Teatro Bellini in Palermo, but still found time for extensive tours as far as Dublin again. His opera Marion Delorme was produced (the leading soprano: Signora. Fiorentini) in Palermo in 1862. In 1863 the recently opened Liceum Theatre in Barcelona engaged both Bottesini as their Music Director which he accepted until mid-1866, combining that post with a series in Monaco. Maria Delorme, (as they called it) received an enthusiastic run in Barcelona as well, with the same soprano as in Palermo, Signora Fiorentini! She had at that time, been contracted to sing at the Italian Opera in Paris, the Queens Theatre in London, La Scala in Milan, as well as Mexico, Havana, Berlin, Dresden, Florence, Palermo, and Nice. (Claudine Florentine Williams, who was called Signora Fiorentini, was a close friend of Bottesini.
She toured with him in his early years; “Maria Delorme” was written for her, and she performed it both in Palermo and Barcelona and perhaps other places. Baptie claims that Bottesini married her in 1878. There is, however, no record of this.)

Bottesini’s tours went as far as England each year and in 1866 (one of his busiest years) he set off for tours of the U.S.A. and Cuba, was named Musical Director of the popular “Buen Retiro” concerts in Madrid, appeared in the promenade seasons and Arditi’s concerts etc. in London, and went on an extended tour (December 1866 through March 1867) of Russia under the direction of Anton Rubenstein. He returned from Russia to Pails from where he set out on a monster tour of provincial France as well as all of Scandinavia with Vieuxtemps. He then returned to London where he had been appointed Musical Director of the popular Promenade concert season at Covent Garden, where the “Conductor of the Dance Music” appearing with him was none other than Johann Strauss! In 1869 Bottesini toured France with Vieuxtemps again and the harpist Godefroid, with a program which began with Bottesini conducting Rossini’s Missa Solemnis.

Advancing German forces in the Franco-Prussian war brought Bottesini to London for an unexpected stay. He spent the last six weeks of the year and early 1870 writing his comic opera Ali Baba which was given as part of the season of opera at the Lyceum Theatre, London, where he was the Musical Director. At the same time he was Music Director of the Covent Garden Prom. season.
Broneth Bay, Director of the Italian Opera at the Kadivale Theatre in Cairo, met Bottesini in London in 1870 and engaged him on a long-term contract as their Musical Director. He held this post (as well as the Italian Opera in Constantinople which he added in 1873), until the Cairo Opera closed down in 1879. Bottesini managed during his Cairo years to go off on tours to Spain and Portugal, and even directed the Lyceum season in London.

In 1871 the premiere of Verdi’s opera Aida took place in Cairo, having been postponed a year due to the Franco-Prussian war. When Verdi’s favourite conductor (Mariani) was too ill to conduct, the important task fell on the worthy shoulders of Bottesini. The performances took place as part of the opening ceremonies for the Suez Canal and Bottesini was able to fit in a three day visit with Verdi at Saint ‘Agata in order to study the score. Much correspondence took place between Verdi and Bottesini. The first performance took place on December 24 to a crowd made up of the highest ranking dignitaries from most of the countries of the world, critics of all nationalities, as well as an enormous cosmopolitan crowd of spectators, all of whom greeted the work with enormous enthusiasm.

Bottesini’s musicality was well summed up by a Milan critic who was listening to a London performance and making a comparison of Sivori (the great violinist) and Bottesini.
“If one tried to describe the special prerogatives of their individual talents and their various effects of the souls and minds of those who listen to them, one could perhaps say that Bottesini’s understanding of art is more consistent and that with the simplicity, the purity and the intimacy of his interpretations, he produces sounds that are a joy to the ears and aching hearts of his listeners.”

The London Times published the following story:

“Being, besides a great artist, also a man of the world, and, moreover, kind-hearted and fond of humour, he had an inexhaustible store of anecdotes, the reminiscences of his travels, his triumphs, and his meetings with royal and other personages with whom, in the course of his artistic peregrinations, he had come in contact.

“On one occasion, after a concert he had given at the ‘Kursaal’ of Wiesbaden, an English lady, plainly dressed, approached him and said ‘Oh Signor Bottesini, I am charmed with your playing, and should be so glad if you would come some day soon and play at my house! Bottesini, thinking that the lady before him was one of the innumerable “Anglaises” to whose eccentric and extravagant displays of hero-worship he was so accustomed, simply bowed in silence. ‘Besides’ continued the lady, ‘I have heard you play before in London’. The artist smiled and bowed again. ‘Yes’ persisted the lady. ‘I heard you play at my mother’s.’ ‘And who’ Bottesini now rejoined ‘is your mother, madam, if I may ask?’ ‘The Queen of England’ was the quiet and placid reply: Whereupon it at last dawned on Bottesini that the lady before him was none other than the Crown Princess of Germany, then staying at Wiesbaden.”

In the course of his career as a performer, he earned astronomical amounts of money and yet, if not altogether poor, he certainly did not die rich, lie did not really comprehend the value of money. He endured deprivation with philosophical resignation while squandering his earnings with the most careless enthusiasm when times were better. Gold slipped through his fingers without him even noticing it. The money sometimes went on millionaire’s whims (while in Cairo at one time, he set up a complete menagerie of wild beasts!), or often to help friends in difficulty. He contracted debts more than once to oblige someone or satiate the greed of some adventurer. Bottesini was endowed with a generous heart but at the same time he was absolutely incapable of adapting himself to the circumstances of life. Disillusion must have made him bitter but not ill-natured, and he certainly did not learn from experience. He would withdraw in an ill-tempered self restraint, grumbling and cursing; but he emerged from these extremes even more confident and good natured.

Bottesini’s good nature can be seen in the following remarks:


“Although Bottesini was rather tall, because of his position when playing, he walked with his shoulders bent and at a somewhat idle pace. He had a pale face with tiny grey eyes which often were half shut in a mischievous grin, yet when they opened, they flashed like lightning. His hair, parted in the middle, made him resemble an apostle, but a devilish one. Those who got close to him were surprised at his simplicity and at his sweet nature, a stranger only to affectation and self-indulgence.”
This good nature allowed him to place bets on cards and games of billiards, more for the social enjoyment and diversion than the love of the games. He indulged in the finer things of life: good food, fine wines and champagne, women and tobacco. His tours brought rave reviews and admiring throngs, but his career was accompanied by the worry of financial instability.

The position of Choirmaster at the cathedral in Crema (Bottesini’s home town) became vacant in 1857 and Bottesini’s friends and admirers immediately thought him to be the most appropriate successor. Subsequently, he was formally offered the position. Bottesini, who was then going through one of his low periods, accepted the offer immediately in this letter to Signor Dello Giovanni (whom he always addressed as Dello).

Paris March 18, 1857
3 Rue Le Grange Batelier

“Just before your letter, I received a letter from Battista Monza which I have already answered, accepting his offer to become Choir Master at the Cathedral in Crema, and telling him that he should discuss the particulars with my father. Having said this, I confirm it with you and am much obliged to you for “moltiplicatus amecis”. This is not only a distinguished position to hold but it is also lucrative. I have no words to tell you how gratified I was upon finding myself the recipient of so much kindness. I was touched by the general eagerness to have me as a choir master, and the additional prerogative afforded me since this position will not tie me to the town.

“In spite of the laurels (often quite prickly) which sometimes, not through my own unworthiness but because of the infamy of the world we live in, turn into failures, I will of course, be more than happy to find myself back in my native town where, with a dog and a gun, I shall be able to go hunting, enjoy music, and have a merry time with my friends, for I have wished your presence here countless times.

“As for myself, I feel somewhat under the weather for I have too much work; do write to me, your letters give me so much pleasure. I shall always answer you, perhaps not in great detail, but certainly with all my heart.

“With my warmest greetings, I remain your most affectionate friend, G. Bottesini”

Bottesini, as we have seen, eventually had to give way to the career which carried him too far and wide to be able to conscientiously hold such a position. This letter from Rossini in 1866 contains some recommendations for Bottesini on his forthcoming Russian tour:

“Dear Bottesini,
Although the saying goes ‘out of sight, out of heart’, I am happy to prove to you the contrary, here are the promised letters. One for the tenor Tamberlik. I am enclosing a letter from my friend Buffarini sent from Nice in which he gives instructions on how to go about introducing yourself to the people he has recommended you to. Do make yourself known, earn a lot of roubles, but save them; think of old age!!! and don’t forget your very affectionate,
Rossini”.
The Russian tour of 1866-7 was a financial disaster and Bottesini had to raise a mortgage in order to pay for his return to Paris. Once returned, he wrote to his lifelong friend Arditi that he was in financial difficulty and was being forced to sell his furniture (an extravagant collection of antiques). Twenty days or so later, he wrote to Arditi again saying that Arditi was the only one he could turn to in order to ask for money, that the Russian tour had been a financial disaster and that he had been forced to sign a contract to go to Cuba and the U.S.A. in order to have money.

In 1875 Bottesini wrote from Italy to his good friend Figari who was the Italian Ambassador in Cairo; he sent 600 francs to settle debts and asked him to withdraw shares (stock) held as collateral. He said he was going to Paris and then Scandinavia from where he would settle the final installment.
In another letter to Figari in 1877 he sent a large payment in order to reclaim pawned possessions “the rest will continue to sustain me as I am in need.”

Financial disaster figured in even the premiere of his great theatrical masterpiece. The son of the man who produced the premiere of Ero e Leandro wrote this account: “Pedrotti, (the famous conductor and friend of Bottesini) somewhat more nervous and restless than usual, turned up one day at my father’s house. The troubled expression on his face denoted a great commotion. He went straight to the point for he has never had the attributes of a diplomat. Bottesini, his friend, had written to him in despair. Pressed by financial problems, he was in desperate need of a certain sum; he had just finished a work, the score of which was enclosed, and he trusted his friend to find him an impressario who would give him cash in advance and have the work performed, for otherwise he could not be responsible for his actions. ‘He may be thinking of suicide’ concluded Pedrotti, half serious—half mocking as he ended his report.

“The producer, tearing his hair, said ‘Money is not enough for him, not that I can get it! He also requires that his work be performed! Poor me! What am I to do now?’ Bottesini’s threats, probably written in a moment of deep distress, need not have been taken so seriously, but Pedrotti was all shaken up, and terribly worried at the thought of what a negative answer might trigger, his apprehensions being intensified to an extreme by his vivid imagination.

“The work itself (Ero e Leandro) was much to his liking; staging it did not require a large expenditure and only three artists were needed for the performance. The work was accepted and Pedrotti hurried back to Bottesini to bring him the good news together with the much needed cash advance!”
Bottesini at times was forced to appear as a performer in orchestra and was a member of the orchestra in the Italian Opera in London for a time. He played in the orchestra during the Milan performance of Ero e Leandro, and it is difficult to know whether finances drove him to it, or if he was there anyway and was lending a hand.

In 1886 one contemporary biographer said “Modest, without envy, with a heart ever ready to sympathise [sic] with the misfortunes of others, he is always, as they say, ‘burning his fingers’ and so he can not, as he should now have the right to (at age 65) live without the fruits of his art. Contrary to what his so-called friends are saying, Bottesini does not love to play for the sake of it which is just as well because with his frequent bad luck, he would by now not even have the bow of his beloved instrument.”

Bottesini was so poor at the end of his life that his collections of correspondence were given to the restaurant where he ate in settlement of his account. It must have been a sizeable collection. The Musical Standard just after his death stated... “he has, however, left behind him a very interesting collection of autographs [letters] which prove that he was, at any rate, wealthy in the matter of ‘friends. Amongst these autographs are many from Verdi who was a great friend and held him in high esteem.” The Verdi letters have found their way, in part at least, to Trieste.

All of the letters assume great value, as Bottesini at no time that we know of, had a real home or central point where he could store his things. Naples became in his later life a favourite place and most of his letters from the 1880’s as well as his compositions from that period all bear addresses (most of them different) in Naples.

‘Verdi, aware of Bottesini’s difficulties, commended him for the vacant position of Director of the Conservatory of Parma. King Umberto I signed the decree on November 3rd 1888, appointing him “in absentia” and giving him an annual income of 6000 Lire with accommodation with effect from November 16th 1888. However, Bottesini only came to hear of it on January 20th 1889! The Mayor of Parma went to London, personally, in order to find him and bring him back. Typically, Bottesini went first to Bucharest, Rumania to fulfill a long standing solo engagement on the way back to Parma!


The Conservatory welcomed their new director with open arms and hearts and Bottesini was, directly upon his arrival, made president of the “Popular Concert Society”. His company was eagerly sought in the best circles and he was engaged by the Opera House to conduct a series of operas.
Bottesini made, in his short stay, a number of significant innovations at the Conservatory, one of them a controversial opera production at the opera theatre where the professional orchestra was augmented by the better students from the school.

Bottesini’s last recital was in Parma in the end of June where he agreed to play for the benefit of an artistic society at the Club House though by this time he was a very ill man. “It was a rainy night, and Bottesini had forgotten to send for a carriage, and he started to walk, but a friend took him up in his carriage and drove him to the concert room. The artist went on to the platform with his old companion in glory—his double bass—and began to resin his bow. The resin broke into pieces in his hands, whereupon he remarked with a sad smile, ‘There goes the resin; who knows? Soon I may have to go too!’ His own performance on that evening, though it carried away the audience as usual, did not satisfy him and he complained to those near him that there was something wrong with his old friend. ‘It would not sound right’ he said. His presentiment was but too true; for it was on the next day he was struck down by fever, from which he never recovered.”

Having been in a coma for three days, Giovanni Bottesini died on July 7, 1889 at 19:30 of syrrhosis of the liver.

As the sad news spread in Parma, it acquired the proportions of national mourning, to an extent where the municipality, having held a last minute meeting, declared that special arrangements would be made and that it would pay for the funeral. His body lay in state in a large hail, transformed into a funeral chamber, the body dressed entirely in black, lay on a platform. The platform was surrounded by an abundance of flowers and candles.

People filed by, silently, respectfully, deeply moved. Nothing encourages a man to think philosophically like the sight of a genius who has been struck down by death. Just after mid-day, the body was removed and placed in a coffin.

Next was one of the greatest funeral processions Parma had ever witnessed. Strade Farini was swarming with people. The funeral carriage was literally covered with splendid wreaths. Cards and telegrams poured in from all over. Verdi sent: “The loss of this distinguished artist is a calamity to the world of the arts and I am most distressed by it.” Carlo Pedrotti saluted him by saying; “Next to Verdi, he was the most profound and learned musician of Italy”. The press was saluting the ‘King of the Contrabassists’, ‘the composer of Ero e Leandro, ‘the Valiant Virtuoso and Conductor’.

L‘Opinione wrote “Italy mourns a great artist and a man of feeling, who during many long years caused the name of Italy to be honoured at home and abroad.”

The procession, which included several bands, three members of Bottesini’s family, and an “enormous crowd of the general public, s well as a great number of friends and musical confreres who flocked from all parts of Italy”, reached the barrier which had been set up and the speeches began. There were speeches by the acting Mayor of Crema, the Director and the Deputy Director of the Conservatory, the Minister of Education, and a less-elevated man who was just a friend. His name was Guerchi and his speech said more than all the rhetoric of the others:

“I met the renowned Maestro Giovanni Bottesini, whose death means a great loss to the world of arts, on the day he arrived in Parma. I had heard a lot about him, but I could not possibly have anticipated the greatness of the man. At a friend’s request, I picked him up from the station. I arrived full of expectation, anxious and agitated while waiting for the train, I tried to imagine that famous man, whose name and illustriousness had been known to me for a long time. I recognized him the minute he stepped off the train for his eyes showed the sparkle of a genius.

“I approached him full of reverence and he smiled. That kind of honest smile revealed to me the inner strength of the man, and from that evening, I loved him as if I had always known him.

“So much fame together with such modesty is quite unusual. I truly felt that throughout his eventful life, in the midst of so much glory and pain, he has never known hatred.

“His soul was full of love and dominated by his art. He represented everything that was good and loved everybody; no rancor, no resentment, and no intemperence whatsoever.

“To the ‘wicked, this indescribable smile expressed forgiveness and pity. He was only with us for a few months yet everyone who came into contact with him regrets him today.

“Each time I was fortunate enough to see him, I bowed respectfully, yet not because of the halo of glory that surrounded him—fame only commands an obsequious respect—my reverence was a tribute to the man who was able to ally such virtuousness of spirit to the greatness of his name.
“He could have been incredibly rich, yet he died in poverty, giving everything to charity, leaving as his only inheritance to his disconsolate family the example of an irreproachable life and the sincere grief of the world at his death.

“One day, as he seemed exhausted, I begged him, ‘Maestro, don’t tire yourself out for heaven’s sake’. But he, pressing my hand, answered in a weakened voice, so full of deep resignation that it will forever remain on my memory:

‘Working, I forget!’ Poor man!—How he suffered! And the first time I saw him after he became ill, he looked at me with those loving eyes of his, he knew he was dying and he told me: ‘You see I am no longer working.’ I did not have the heart to protest; he could feel that the end was near.
“One day as he felt better, he wanted to get up; with our help, and with difficulty, he walked a little. He saw his instrument, his life long companion who shared all his triumphs; his eyes reflected a deep inner agitation; with difficulty, he stretched his emaciated hand forward to touch the strings. That was his last farewell.”

Please visit also maestro THOMAS MARTIN website (HIGH RECOMMENDED):

http://www.thomasmartin.co.uk/

THOMAS MARTIN says:

"We all must thank you, Dear Vito, for your tireless work for all of us bassists!"  You are doing so much for your colleagues and your art.

prof.dr. Vito Domenico Liuzzi "Doctor of Law" -"Magna cum Laude"

dr. Vito Liuzzi
dr. Vito Liuzzi

TRANSLATOR

"Andante Affettuoso" di ROSANNA CARNEVALE

Ricordando Giuseppe Maria MARANGONI (1866-1945) "Anna e Pietro si lasciano andare in una esecuzione sul filo della memoria di una musica ormai totalmente interiorizzata e si guardano, di tratto in tratto, in una straordinaria muta conversazione d'intenti.

DOMINIK WAGNER

The fist CD of this great talent
The fist CD of this great talent

DIEGO ZECHARIES

"A TRIBUTE TO TEPPO" - Teppo Hauta-aho "THE KING" by Nbbrecords

DAN STYFFE "Octophonia" NEW CD

THIERRY BARBE'

CATALIN ROTARU or "The PAGANINI of the DOUBLE BASS"

MAURICIO ANNUNZIATA & ALL HIS COMPOSITIONS for Doublebass and Orchestra (piano reduction) - FREE DOWNLOAD

Click on the image for the free download
Click on the image for the free download

MARCOS MACHADO & His New Book (VOL.1) for The Left Hand. HR!

SPERGER DUO - "Sonatas for Double Bass and Piano" with PILIP JARO & Xénia Jarovà

GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

PINO ETTORRE

LEON BOSH

BOTTESINI

ALBERTO BOCINI

DAN STYFFE

DAXUN ZHANG

MARCOS MACHADO

METAMORFORA
METAMORFORA

JOEL QUARRINGTON

Garden Scene
Garden Scene

ORAZIO FERRARI

Pino Ettorre plays Gasparo da Salò on Youtube or here !!!

MICHAEL WOLF

MICHAEL WOLF BOOK, if you like click on to Schott Edition
MICHAEL WOLF BOOK, if you like click on to Schott Edition

 

PIERMARIO MURELLI

PIERMARIO MURELLI - "Nuova didattica per contrabbasso " Ed. RICORDI

ALFREDO TREBBI

ALFREDO TREBBI - Novissimo manuale semiserio per contrabbasso (click on the picture above to read more)
ALFREDO TREBBI - Novissimo manuale semiserio per contrabbasso (click on the picture above to read more)

RICCARDO CROTTI

GEIRD REINKE

BOGUSLAW FURTOK

ENRICO FAGONE

IRINA KALINA GOUDEVA

MICHAEL KLINGHOFFER

ALFRED PLANIAVSKY

MAURIZIO TURRIZIANI

THE BASS GANG

Thomas Martin & Timothy Cobb

SILVIA MATTEI

HR
HR

THE BASS SONORITY

THE BASS SONORITY: Vito Liuzzi, Michele Cellaro, Vincenzo Chiapperini, Leonardo Presicci, Giuseppe Lillo, Giovanni Rinaldi
THE BASS SONORITY: Vito Liuzzi, Michele Cellaro, Vincenzo Chiapperini, Leonardo Presicci, Giuseppe Lillo, Giovanni Rinaldi

DONOVAN STOKES

STEFANO SCODANIBBIO

Dead in Macerata at 55 years old

CATALIN ROTARU

FEDERICO BAGNASCO

CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO BUY
CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO BUY

ALFREDO TREBBI

Lo Zen e l' arte di imparare uno strumento
High Recommended

THOMAS MARTIN & his "Requiem" by Bottesini

PAOLO BENELLI

Dragonetti: Solos for double bass

by PAOLO BENELLI for CARISCH
by PAOLO BENELLI for CARISCH

FEDERICO BAGNASCO

Cd

MICHELE VERONESE

CATALIN ROTARU

Cd/DVD

PAOLO BENELLI

World Premiere!

FRANCESCO FRAIOLI

DAN STYFFE

"Portraits for friends" by BERNARD SALLES

BASSIONE AMOROSA

IRINA-KALINA GOUDEVA

"Recomenzar El Infinito"

Mr. PETRU IUGA "invention" !!!

Vito Liuzzi !!

Rino Liuzzi in STUDIOS

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