Chamber Music for Bassists
Syllabus- a proposal for a paper for Dr. Michael Montgomery's class:
Not so long ago the double bass student, when he first considered playing music with a small group of instrumentalists in a chamber music setting, may have felt there that there were not so many pieces to choose from, especially if he wanted to play standard chamber music literature by well known composers that included a part which had been written specifically for the double bass. Today, however, the list of available literature may seem almost overwhelming. The following two websites may give some indication of how true this is:http://www.paulnemeth.com/basschamber.htm and http://www.double-bass.org/music.html. Modern composers such as Frank Proto (http://www.liben.com) are constantly expanding this list.
Despite the fact that today there is such a large amount of repertory to choose from, there IS a smaller body of chamber music repertory that might be considered almost standard for the double bassist, and it would perhaps be good for students to at least have a sampling of this music before delving into lesser known works. At the core of this paper are one dozen of the arguably best known chamber music works, written by some of history's most famous composers- works which include a part originally intended for the double bass. The purpose of this class is to get a closer look at this repertory and share insights about it.
Included with the works on this list is a short bio about each composer that describes briefly his place and that of the composition in music history and literature, as well as thoughts about the bass part itself (level of difficulty, accompanimental or somewhat independent, etc.). The comments about the composer and the writer's impression of the bass part and performance make up the annotation for each work. Links to .pdf files of the bass parts of these works, most from International Music Score Library Project (http://www.IMSLP.org), and performances of each on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com) are also included for this online version, while the printed parts are included with the hard copy of this paper. This forms the main body of the paper.
The goal and purpose for doing this research is to have a useful reference for other bass students to use in the future when searching for chamber music to perform. With a brief commentary about the bass in chamber music (including a quick look at the origins of the instrument and the way its use evolved in common settings - playing, for instance, the basso continuo in the Baroque era ensembles, in the string section of the symphony orchestra in the classical and romantic periods, and as part of the rhythm section of jazz groups in more recent times) asintroduction, a closing summary, an appendix with a more comprehensive (not annotated) list of chamber pieces with bass (including a handful of the more popular standard repertory for double bass and piano) and finally abibliography of sources, the writer hopes to have created a helpful resource for students and teachers of the double bass.
A list of some of the most popular chamber works written with an original bass part
Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750)
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791)
Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827)
Hummel, Johann Neomuk (1778-1837)
Onslow, Georges (1784-1853)
Spohr, Ludwig (1784-1859)
Rossini, Gioachino (1792-1868)
Schubert, Franz Peter (1797-1828)
Mendelssohn- Bartholdy, Felix (1809-1847)
Saint-Saens, Charles Camille (1835-1921)
Dvorak, Antonin (1841-1904)
Stravinsky, Igor (1882-1971) Written in 1918
Martinu, Bohuslav (1890-1959)
Prokofieff, Serge (1891-1953)
Referenced websites include: