Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/315
��chief Professor of the Violin at the Royal Col- lege of Music in London, is a thoroughly artistic player, who more especially excels in quartet- playing.
There can be no doubt that the number of good violin -players is very much greater at the present time than it ever was before. Striking originality and genius are probably as rare as ever, but the improvement which has taken place in the rank and file during the last forty years is truly astonishing. While formerly even the most famous orchestras contained but a few who could make any claim to be soloists, nowadays the great majority are thoroughly trained artistic players. One of the best-known teachers of modern times used to declare that the same concertos which during the first half of this century were considered the ne plus ultra of difficulty, and were attempted in public by per- haps a very few of the most famous virtuosos he used specially to adduce Lipinski's ' Concerto Militaire ' are now as a matter of course studied and fairly mastered by the average stu- dent at any Conservatoire. It is obvious how much orchestral performances must have gained by this general spread of executive skill, and we can safely assume that at no period of musical history has orchestral music been so generally well executed as at the present day.
At the same time we cannot speak of a modern violin-technique and a modern develop- ment of such technique as we speak of it in reference to piano-playing. The development of the technique in any instrument, as a matter of course goes along with the perfecting of its mechanical structure. Now in the case of the pianoforte this gradual perfecting of the me- chanism has continued up to the present time. Thus the technique of Mozart probably stands in the same relation to the technique of Liszt as an old Vienna clavicembalo to a modern Broadwood. In the case of the violin it is not so. For more than three hundred years the violin has undergone no structural alteration whatever, and no important change in the prin- ciples of execution has taken place since the days of Corelli. The advance made in master- ing difficulties since the early days of violin- playing is more apparent than real. There are but few points of modern technique which one or another of the old masters had not already attempted (Locatelli, Lolli, Bach, etc.), and it is owing only to the more complicated nature of modern music (not to speak of the morbid tendency towards exaggeration in every respect) that the execution of great difficulties is more often demanded. It is only in reference to 4 bowing ' that we can speak of a modern de- velopment, and that for the very good reason that the modern flexible bow attained its pre- sent form but very gradually at the end of last century. In the art of bowing we do find, as in piano-playing, a modern development which follows the gradual perfecting of the instrument. TOUBTB, of Paris, made the modern bow what it is, and the violinists of his time were not slow
��to avail themselves of its immense advantages. Hence resulted a rapid progress in the art of bowing, which culminated in Paganini, and there reached a point of perfection which is not likely to be surpassed. [P-D-}
VIOLONCELLO i.e. the little Violone commonly CELLO. For the place of this instru- ment in the Violin family see vol. i. 580; iv. 268, 269, 281. II. The name is given to an organ- stop of 8 ft. pitch, usually to be found in the- Pedal organ, but occasionally in the Great also. It may be found both with open and closed pipes. There is always, as its name implies, some attempt to give the string quality. [W.Pa.l
VIOLONCELLO-PLAYING. Though the manufacture of the Bass Violin or Violoncello followed closely on the invention of the Tenor and Treble Violins, nearly a century elapsed before the Violoncello took its proper rank in the family of stringed instruments. This is due to the fact that the six-stringed Viola da gamba ? the established chamber and orchestral bass of the 1 7th century, was a very popular instru- ment, and more easily handled than the Violon- cello, though inferior to it in power and quality of tone. [See GAMBA.] The larger and more thickly strung Violoncello was at first employed to strengthen the bass part in vocal music, par- ticularly in the music of the church. It was in Italy that the instrument first took a higher posi- tion. The stepping-stone appears to have been the continuous basses which formed the usual accompaniment to solos for the Violin. The ringing tones of the Violin demanded a more powerful accompaniment than the Viola da gamba could give ; and with many Violin soloa of the latter part of the century we find bass parts of some difficulty, which were played on the Violoncello by accompanists who made this department of music a special study. Corelli is said to have had a Violoncello accompaniment to his solo performances, though his basso con- tinue is obviously written in the first instance for the Viola da gamba : but it is not until after the death of Corelli that we hear of the first solo violoncello player. This was one Franciscello (1713-1740), of whom little ia known except that he played solos in the prin- cipal European capitals. The name of Vandini has also come down to us as the violoncello- accompanist of the solos of Tartini. These two- players rank as the fathers of the Violoncello, and it may be assumed that it was from its association with the Violin as a bass that the Violoncello itself became a model instrument, and that the methods of violin playing came to be applied to it.
Among the earliest compositions for the Vio- loncello may be mentioned the sonatas of Anto- niotti of Milan, an Amsterdam edition of which is dated 1736, and of Lanzetti, violoncellist to the King of Sardinia (1730-1750). According to M. Vidal 1 we trace in these masters the first decided recognition of the capacities of the
i Les Instruments & Archet, torn. 1. p. 327.