ITALY – 18th century

Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni (1671-1751), Venice. Composer of opera & instrumental music.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1751), Venice, Mantua, Vienna. Violinist, composer, & teacher.
Cadenza composed by Vivaldi, one of the few that survive in manuscript:

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), Naples, Lisbon, & Madrid. Keyboard composer.

Francesco Saverio Geminiani (1687-1762),  Lucca, Naples, & London. Violinist, composer, & music theorist.
Cello sonatas recorded 45 years ago:

Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695-1764), Bergamo, Rome, &  Amsterdam. Violinist & composer.

Origins of the Violin Family

Since the 13th century, and before, there had been a great variety of bowed string instruments of various shapes, sizes, and number of strings used in Europe. In northern Italy, in the latter part of the 16th century, the basic form of the violin family of instruments was established. The instrument we recognize as a ‘violin’ originates in N Italy c.1540, and the ‘viola/lira da braccio’ a little earlier. The bass violin followed shortly after (the smaller ‘violoncello’ was first made c.1700). The double bass has always been a hybrid of a viol (a contemporary cousin of the violin, typically with 6 strings and played between the legs) and a violin shaped instrument with 3,4,5,or 6 strings depending on the country of origin, and the type of music it played. In 1556, the French musician, Philibert Jambe de Fer, was the first to describe the instrument we know as the ‘violin’. The basic shape of the violin has changed very little since that time.

Iconography of Precursors of the Violin Family: 13th century – c.1600

Vielle Player, Codex, Cantigas e Santa Maria, c.1250.

Lion Playing a Vielle, Breviary, Renaud de Bar, France,1300

Madonna of the Orange Trees, (detail), Gaudenzio Ferrari, 1530.

Angels Playing Bass Violin, Lira da Braccio, & Violin, Gaudenzino Ferrari,1536.

The Wedding at Cana, (detail), Paolo Veronese, Venice,1563.
Two tenor viola da gamba players (played in the lap rather than between the knees), a bass viol player, and a violinist. The painting has over 100 figures and is 32 feet wide.

Iconography of the Violin Family: c.1600 – 1665

During much of the baroque period, and before, the only strings available were made of sheep gut. In 1665 silver wire covered gut strings were invented in Bologna, Italy – initially for the bottom string of bass violins, but did not come into more general use until the late 17th/early18th century. All metal strings did not come into use until 1920’s, and their use was not widespread until 1950/60’s.

Young Woman Playing a Violin, Orazio Gentilischi, Rome,1612.

Still Life with Ball & Violin, Pieter Claesz, Flemish/Dutch,1628.
The violin in the late 16th century would have looked very similar to the violin depicted in this painting. It has all gut strings, a short straight neck, and maple fingerboard and tailpiece.

Strumenti musicali, Evaristo Baschenis, Bergamo, Italy, 1665.

Baroque Violin Bow
Before the introduction of the tropical hardwood *Snakewood from colonial S. America in the 17th century, various European hardwoods had been used to make bows, e.g. maple, cherry, acacia, pearwood, boxwood. Until the early 18th century the baroque violin bow typically had a **clip-in frog. The more recognizable screw frog then gradually came into use.
*Snakewood – Piratinera Guianensis – (translation from Latin: Guiana sea-pirate wood) weighs 76 pounds a cubic foot, and has a specific         gravity of 1.20 – so it sinks in water.
** clip-in frog:

–Richard Webb


ITALY – Late 17th century

Please use good quality earphones/laptop or, better still, a stereo system in order to hear the full range of sounds. It is a good idea to archive BEEP for future reference.

Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690), Bergamo, & Venice. Composer of opera, vocal, and instrumental music.

Domenico Gabrielli (1651-1690), Bologna, & Modena. Cellist, & composer of instrumental music.

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), Ferrara, Bologna, & Rome. Violinist & composer.

MOVIES – depicting life/music in 17th century Europe. 

They may not all be easy to find on the internet. Try Netflix/Amazon discs or streaming etc., DVD loan/purchase, or library loan request – worth the effort.

To Kill a King – Charles I (England)
England my England (Purcell) extract

Stage Beauty – Restoration Charles II (England)

Restoration – King Charles II (England)

Admiral de Ruyter (Holland)

Girl with the Pearl Earing – Vermeer (Holland)

Tulip Fever (Holland)

The Miniaturist (Holland)

Artemisia Gentileschi  (Italian)

Tous Les Matins Du Monde – Saint Colombe & Marin Marias (France)

A Little Chaos – Versailles (France)

Vatel – Versailles


–Richard Webb

Disneyland Reminder

Just a reminder for those attending DHS Orchestra Disneyland Trip in March 2019 – October contributions are due by this Wednesday, October 10! Contributions can easily be made online via our Online Store. Excited to currently have 89 students signed up for this trip – will be lots of fun!

Thank you for all your contributions and support


ITALY – early 17th century

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), Cremona, Mantua, & Venice. Composer, string player, and choir master.

Girolamo Alessandro Frescobaldi (1583-1643), Ferrara, Rome, & Mantua. Composer of music for keyboard.

Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676), Cremona, & Venice. Opera composer.

Marco Uccellini (1610-1680),

Assisi, Modena, & Parma. Baroque violinist and composer.

–Richard Webb

Montgomery Tutors Needed

Montgomery Elementary has after school music tutoring this school year, in connection with their Bridge ‘Homework Club.’

Hiram Jackson is looking for volunteer tutors to be available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, starting Tuesday next week.

Tutor times are 3:45 to 4:45 at the Montgomery Elementary Music Room, next to the MPR.

Please bring your instrument.

This activity can serve as community service and/or “You choose points” for orchestra program (Entire Quarter’s worth)

If you are interested, please contact Hiram