Historical development of the cello - Philipp Dangas

Historical development of the cello

Cello graphic can be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

Cello in small representation

The cello (more correctly: violoncello) originated in the course of the development of the family of arm violas (the family Viola da braccio) to the family of today's string instruments (violin, viola, cello and double bass) at the beginning of the 17th century in the area of Bologna and was without until about 1850 Spike held with the legs like the gamba. This is still the case today at concerts in historical performance practice.

The name violoncello came about by adding the diminutive "-cello" to the name given to the bass instrument of this new family, i.e. to the name "violone". "Violoncello" therefore means: "small double bass".

In the orchestras of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel, the violoncello is already a permanent part of the string body, but here its function is mainly limited to the performance of the bass together with the double bass. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn also used the cello in the orchestra mainly in this stereotypical way, which is probably due in no small part to the technical awkwardness of the double bass that still existed at the time.

At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, the cello finally began to free itself from its previous close connection with the double bass in the orchestra. It was above all Ludwig van Beethoven who began to entrust it with independent tasks, either alone or in connection with the violas or the bassoons, but we also find it in these new functions in the works of Carl Maria Weber and e.g. also in Mehul's " Joseph in Egypt" (1807). In the works of Richard Wagner , the transition to the use of the cello, which is still common today, is finally complete.

Metallic shimmering sound example of the sound of the cello
[download size: 768 kilobytes]
The use of the cello in music
Music composer's Work Style of music
Ludwig van Beethoven 5th Symphony c minor opus 67 „Symphony of Destiny“ Orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven Triple Concerto for piano, violin and cello Orchestra
Robert Schumann Trio for piano, violin and cello No. 3 in G minor opus 110 Chamber music
Johann Sebastian Bach 6 Suites for Solo Cello Bach Works Index [BWV] 1007-1012 Chamber music
Nikos Skalkottas Little Serenade A/K 64 Chamber music