Chapter 4

Violin repertoire of the collection

What attracted my attention, in particular, was the amount of violinistic literature within chamber repertoire, often demanding quite high technical abilities. Artistic level and level of compositional advancement vary greatly in BDS musicalia, nonetheless pieces featuring violins as solo instruments are usually written with agility. In this chapter, I will focus on violin concertos, duets, and unidentified fragments indicating violin as main soprano voices (e.g. fragments displaying sonata form, etc.)

The distribution of violinistic manuscripts regarding style differences, shows clearly that period of josephinism inspired increased production and performance of instrumental pieces since almost all of them could be attributed to the late galant or early classical period. Among selected manuscripts, only two are dated for the first half or mid-18th century (Meck Concerto (no.6) and Symphonia a 3 vocibus (no.21)) and one for the early 19th century (no.31).


As for the authorship of ms. no. 6 RISM database describes it as conjectural to Joseph Meck- another copy of this concerto, dated for 1745 and with ascertained authorship, is preserved in Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz.[49] Concerto consists of three movements: Allegro moderato, Adagio, Allegro. On the title page, scriptor mentions Violino Principale / Violino 1mo / Violino Secundo / Violetta e Cembalo . In the preserved bass part we encounter inscriptions suggesting performance with cello ( violoncello pianissimo ). The level of violin technique advancement in the Violino Principale part is quite high, considering fast tempi in the 1st and 3rd movement combined with the very diminutive passage. The author is clearly inspired by Vivaldi’s violin concertos when it comes to harmonic language (“circle of fifths” progressions, sequences, similar use of cadences) as well as melodic lines (virtuosic figures in Violino Principale part).

  • Fragment of Violino Principale part, page 2


Another example of the vivid violinistic practice is the collection of anonymous violin duetti ms. no.9. The name appearing on the front page (“F. Zoliński”) is most probably referring to the manuscript's possessor. Although preserved only in the first violin part, this little book proves the advanced violin skills of Sandomierz musicians. Four of the duets follow a scheme of Allegro (moderato), Gratioso, one consists of movements called Andante, Rondo. The tonalities chosen by the composer (A♭ major, B♭ major, E major) as well as the fact that the duets are followed by three highly virtuosic etudes may suggest, the manuscript served an educational purpose.

  • Etude on page 13



Violin duetto is a really frequent genre within BDS chamber music. Not only do we find numerous manuscript scrapes of a didactic character (e.g, no.8), parts of other duets (no.7, no.10) but also another large collection of this genre- ms no.2. In this case, both violin parts were preserved, the manuscript is lacking the basso part, however. What is interesting, only Trio 6to was ascertained as a piece by Gaetano Pugnani mentioned on the front page[50]. RISM describes the authorship of other trios as alleged. Pieces display very ornamental writing, focusing on virtuosic idiom. Not surprisingly, trios show early classical characters, possibly inspired by Pugnani's writing.

  • Manuscript no.27, a fragment of page 6


The most interesting of violinistic pieces is the manuscript of Concerto for viola d’amore (ms no.1). A very enigmatic composition of an obscure composer is fortunately completely preserved. The front page does not display any information about the date, [51] however we can approximate it based on its possessor / scriptor - benedictine nun Agnieszka Sosnowska (1755–1827), who transcribed another 5 manuscripts and most probably served as a cappellae magistra. Even though a combination of viola d’amore with flutes or other woodwinds (chalumeau or oboe) was commonly explored[52], two flutes juxtaposed with two violins and viola d’amore give quite an unusual, high-register soundscape. Violin parts are written mostly in the small and one-line octave, flutes however circulate most frequently in the three-line octave. In the bass part, we encounter performance suggestions ("pizzicato", "collarco") which inform us about stringed bass instruments (most likely violoncello or violone) participation.

Concerto consists of 4 movements: Allegro Moderato, Allegro non Molto, Adagio, Allegro Moderato. Interestingly, viola d’amore part, tuned d, f♯, a, f♯₁,a₁,d, does not exceed b₂, which creates even greater contrast between traversi.

Viola d'amore part is written scordatura, exploring mostly double stops and technical possibilities of this twelve-string instrument. Melodically is quite simple but very effective and deftly written.

  • Fragment of viola d’amore part, 1st movement, page 3



Except for the examples above, displaying virtuosic idiom, I would like to mention three other noteworthy manuscripts. In their case, it is not technical demands but their composition that draws attention. In manuscript no.31, mentioned in previous chapters, a high compositional level is explained through the piece's attribution- the first movement was identified as a fragment of Vaclav Pichl Symphony in F major [53]. Nonetheless, unidentified movements II and III are equally creative and advanced compositionally.

In the case of manuscript no.13, mentioned in Chapter 4, regarding folk influences within the Clarinetto part, we find also two non-related fragments of Violin parts. The first one, on page 5, signed Violino Primo consists of a whole movement titled Moderato, in alla breve. However we cannot decide on the genre or date of the piece exactly, due to the lack of any inscriptions and front page, writing resembles French-type sinfonia.

  • Manuscript no.13, page 5

The four last pages of manuscript no.13 consist of two movements of Violin sonata (Sonata/ Allegro and Rondo), both displaying classical sonata-form features.

  • Manuscript no.13, pages 7 and 9