The viola da gamba was a central instrument in European music from the late fifteenth century well into the late eighteenth. In this comprehensive study, Bettina Hoffmann offers both an introduction to the instrument -- its construction, technique and history -- for the non-specialist, interweaving this information with a wealth of original archival scholarship that experts will relish. The book begins with a description of the instrument, and here Hoffmann grapples with the complexity of various names applied to this and related instruments. Following two chapters on the instrument's construction and ancestry, the core of the book is given to a historical and geographical survey of the instrument from its origins into the classical period. The book closes with a look at the revival of interest in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
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Bettina Hoffmann is German and lives in Florence where she pursues an active career both as a performer on the viol and baroque 'cello and as a musicologist. She has given concerts all over Europe and America, participating as a soloist and with her ensemble Modo Antiquo at major festivals and venues. A significant discography (more than 70 CDs for Deutsche Grammophon, Naïve, Brilliant Classics, Tactus and others) is especially notable for Idées grotesques with works by Marin Marais, Scherzi Musicali for viola da gamba by Johann Schenck, and the first complete recording of the works by Diego Ortiz and Silvestro Ganassi. Two CDs of her ensemble Modo Antiquo have been nominated for Grammy Awards. She is the author of the Catalogue of solo and chamber music for viola da gamba (LIM, 2001) and has edited critical facsimile editions of the Regulae Concentuum Partiturae of Georg Muffat and of works for viol and for cello by Antonio Vivaldi and Domenico Gabrielli (Bärenreiter-Verlag, S.P.E.S.). She discovered and edited the only German treatise on the viol currently known to us, Instruction oder eine anweisung auff der Violadigamba. Bettina Hoffmann is professor of viola da gamba, baroque cello, performing praxis and baroque chamber music at the Conservatorio Arrigo Pedrollo di Vicenza and the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole.
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