Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dittersdorf - Double Bass Concerto In E Major

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739 - 1799) was an Austrian composer and violinist.  He was an important composer in the classical era, and composed in all the genres of the time. He knew Haydn and Mozart, and played string quartets with them and his student Vanhal. Dittersdorf and Haydn played violin, Mozart viola and Vanhal cello.

Dittersdorf held various music positions with his longest tenure being 24 years at the court of Johannesberg (which is currently in the Czech Republic.)  He was a well-known composer while there,and to entice him to stay he was given a noble title. His original surname was Ditters, his noble name became Ditters von Dittersdorf.

There was a small (and brief) school of double bass virtuoso playing in Vienna in the late 18th century. Dittersdorf no doubt wrote his two double bass concertos with this school of playing in mind.  The double bass is not usually thought of as a solo instrument because of the problems of balancing solo double bass and orchestra.  Two performers who made a name for themselves as double bass soloists were Dragonetti and in more recent times Koussevitsky  (who went on to become the conductor of the Boston Symphony).

The double bass of von Dittersdorf's time was not the instrument known today. It had three strings instead the four of the modern bass. The concerto is in the traditional three movements:
I. Allegro moderato-  The orchestra makes the first statement of the theme and then the bass enters and has its say. Another tune is heard high in the bass' register. Both themes are developed in a short section before the recapitulation begins. There is an extended cadenza for the solo bass and the movement comes to an end in the syncopated rhythm in the strings that was heard at the beginning.
II. Adagio - The bass sings a gentle song with and without accompaniment from the orchestra.
III. Allegro - A rondo for orchestra and soloist that gathers momentum and ends in a flurry .

1 comment:

  1. this was very helpful, thank you



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