Ornaments in Castrucci's op. 1


During the presentation of the preliminary findings of the first year of this research project in January 2022,1 we discussed some of the differences in ornament notation found in two editions of Pietro Castrucci’s sonata op. 1 no. VI. In this case study we explore these differences more in depth, and also in practice.


Pietro Castrucci (Rome, 1679 - Dublin, c. 1751) was probably a pupil of Corelli in Rome, before moving to London in 1715. In that same year, Castrucci performed some of his virtuoso compositions in a benefit concert. He worked with Händel, leading his opera orchestra for over twenty years. It is known that he was in London at least until 1737, when he was replaced by Festing in Händel’s orchestra. By 1750 he was living in Dublin, dying shortly after.2


To begin, we analyzed seven sources of Castrucci’s sonata op. 1 no. VI,3 first published by Jeanne Roger in Amsterdam in 1718:4

Roger (editor)





Walsh (editor)


c. 1720



Dublicq (copyist)




US-CA MS Mus 73

Le Cène (editor)





Walsh (editor)


c. 1725



Walsh (editor), Chaboud (arranger)5


c. 1725

traverso (or 

oboe, or violin)


Le Cène (editor)





Dublicq (1721), Le Cène (1723-1743) and Walsh (c. 1725) are closely related to the first edition by Roger (1718). As in Roger’s edition, these are collections dedicated to the violin, and all sonatas remain in their original tonalities (in the case of Sonata VI, A Major). Le Cène’s edition of 1723-1743 is a reprint of Roger, using the same plates (no. 435).6 Based on the analysis of Sonata VI, we postulate that Walsh (c. 1725) reproduced either Roger or Le Cène (1723-1743), presenting the same musical text, the same ornament signs, the same bass figures, including the same mistake in the second movement (m. 22), and almost the same graphic layout (with one exception). Considering that the manuscript is dated 1721, Dublicq’s source was probably Roger. This is corroborated by the close similarities between the two sources: the ornament placement is consistent with Roger, it contains the same bass figures (including the aforementioned mistake), the same sign ‘m.’, and the same articulation markings and slurs, replicating the inaccuracies of Roger. However, Dublicq omits some fingerings, and the ornament signs ‘t.’ and ‘+.’ are both simplified to ‘+’.

The other three sources are either transcriptions or arrangements: in Walsh (c. 1720) and Le Cène (1727) the sonata is transposed from A Major to C Major (the standard 18th century transposition when adapting to the recorder), and Chaboud (c. 1725) to G Major. All three transposed sources lack the sign ‘m.’, perhaps denoting it to be something related to violin technique, not pertinent to woodwind playing, or unknown to the arrangers. 

In the transcriptions by Walsh (c. 1720) and Le Cène (1727), the signs ‘t.’ and ‘+.’ are replaced by ‘tr’ (Walsh, c. 1720) or ‘t’ (Le Cène, 1727), or removed. Slurs and articulation markings are related to Roger, with the same divergences found in both sources. Bass figures are very similar but slightly simpler than Roger’s; extra ‘unnecessary’ or particular figures were added to both Walsh (c. 1720) and Le Cène (1727) and in a few instances these differ from one another. In both editions the musical text is adapted to the recorder in the exact same way, and both present the same Terzverschreibung slip in the bass of the second movement. Le Cène’s (1727) edition contains a few more mistakes in the recorder part, not found in Walsh (c. 1720): it has an extra Terzverschreibung slip in the first movement (m. 2), and one lower appoggiatura in the first movement (m. 3, third beat). 

Chaboud (c. 1725) is in fact an arrangement: either in order to simplify, to make it more suitable for the traverso or according to his personal preferences, several adaptations are found in the musical text; several measures are omitted (avoiding, for example, kinetic repetitions). Very few (cadential) ‘tr’ are used and no other sign is found. Bass figures are different and much simpler. The very few slurs found are somewhat similar to the other sources and there is no other articulation sign. The time signature of the second movement (C in all other sources) is replaced by Ȼ and the 4th movement (Gavotta Allegro) is omitted.

Roger’s edition of 1718 was announced for sale by Walsh on 15 February 1718,7 so it circulated in London almost immediately after its publication in Amsterdam. It was also listed in the catalogs of Ballard (1731), and Leclerc (1734 and 1737) in Paris, but it must have reached Dublicq’s hands earlier than 1721.8 

On the cover page of the copy of Walsh (c. 1720) extant at F-Pn we read “costa due fiorini e mezzo | in haÿa L’anno 1725.”, showing that the transcription was in circulation in The Netherlands already before Le Cène’s reprint of 1727.


From this analysis, we conclude that:

  1. There are no other earlier extant sources to Castrucci’s Sonata op. 1, no. VI, first published by Roger in 1718 in Amsterdam.

  2. All extant sources stem directly from Roger’s edition, except for Le Cène (1727) which is likely a sloppy copy of Walsh (c. 1720).

The conclusion that all sources stem directly or indirectly from Roger’s edition entails that the differences in the signs used for ornaments are reinterpretations (by the copyist or editor) of the ornaments found in Roger’s edition.

Another point needed to be considered: how does Roger’s print of Castrucci’s op. 1 in 1718 compare to other prints by Roger of this period, in terms of ornament signs? A perusal of the prints in the 1710s and early 1720s reveals that Castrucci’s op. 1 seems to be the only print in which ‘+’ and ‘t’ coexist.9 All other prints contain either '+' (e.g. Dandrieu op. 2, Loeillet op. 2, 3 and 5, Venturini op. 1, Manfredini op. 2), 't.' (e.g. Bonporti op. 10, Dall’Abaco op. 3, Giuseppe Sammartini and Alessandro Marcello in Roger’s XII Concerti a 5), 'tr' (e.g. Dall'Abaco op. 1, Vivaldi op. 3), 'squiggly line' (e.g. Piani). In Händel’s op. 1, an unauthorized print (most probably engraved by Walsh)10 most likely originating by piecing together a variety of manuscripts, both ‘tr’ and ‘t’ are found. All of the above may suggest that Roger (and/or his engravers) treated the manuscripts with some degree of individuality, not necessarily uniformly ‘translating’ everything into a preconceived mold, in that case only printing ‘+’ or ‘t’. 

It is however important to point out that the vast majority of Roger’s prints contains either no ornament signs at all, or only cadential trills, so Castrucci is not only an exception in the kinds of ornament signs it contains (‘t.’, ‘+.’, ‘m.’, appoggiaturas) but also, and especially, in the fact that ornaments are indicated, and in such profusion. 

The concomitance of ‘+.’ and ‘t.’ in the Roger print of 1718 and their placement throughout the print is very puzzling. Furthermore, it is not usual for a ‘+’ to be followed by a ‘.’: dots are usually used for abbreviations (e.g. ‘t.’ for ‘trillo’).11

At first glance, these signs (which in other contexts would represent the same ornament, a trill) seemed to be different graphic representations of different ornaments; for example: one a trill, the other a mordent.

We also considered whether ‘t.’ could be a trill without termination ("Plain Shake") and ‘+.’ a trill with termination ("Turn'd Shake"), as shown by Geminiani:12

We then considered whether one could represent a trill on the main note, and the other on the upper note,13 but, since in the Roger edition of 1718 '+.' and 't.' appear on notes with and without upper appoggiaturas, for this specific print this seems unlikely, as in this case the sign for the upper-note trill would have a very similar result as the sign for the main-note trill preceded by an appoggiatura - such minutiae are not commonly indicated, even by contemporary composers whose notational practice is extremely detailed, e.g. J. S. Bach. Such nuance is usually left to the discretion of the performer.

However, the comparison between the Roger print of 1718 for violin and that of Walsh in 1720 for the recorder led us to reevaluate this hypothesis (that ‘+’ and ‘t’ could possibly indicate different executions of the trill, starting on the main note, or on the upper note), since this is what the Walsh print clearly proposes (whether or not this was a misunderstanding of the first print, or a personal preference remains unknown).

Our practical experimentation focused therefore on exploring the implications of the 1720 print on the print of 1718, playing with trills on the main and on the upper note, along with the combination with appoggiaturas (where these are notated). Lastly, inspired by these possibilities, we proposed a further application to related repertoire.


Castrucci: op. 1 (Roger, 1718), Sonata VI in A Major - III (Adagio)

Castrucci: op. 1 (Walsh, 1720), Sonata II in C Major - III (Adagio)

Castrucci, version 1:

‘t.’ / ‘+.’ = upper note trill

‘appoggiatura’ + ‘t.’ / ‘+.’ = upper note trill with (long) appoggiatura

Castrucci, version 2:

‘t.’ / ‘+.’ = main note trill
‘appoggiatura’ + ‘t.’ / ‘+.’ = upper note trill

Castrucci, version 3: 

same as version 2 but substituting 6/4 cadences with 5/4

Castrucci, version 4:
same as version 2 but fixing what ‘felt odd’* (and also cadence 5/4 not 6/4)
* m. 15, upper note trill

Castrucci, version 5: 

‘concert version’ = same as version 4 but adding other ornaments, etc.


Piani: op. 1 (Foucau[l]t, 1712), Sonata VII in C Minor - (Preludio Adagio, et affettuoso)

Piani: op. 1 (Le Cène, 1723-1743), Sonata VII in C Minor - (Preludio Adagio, e affettuoso)

Piani: MS US-NYpl JOG 72-29 (ZB-4354), vol.17 - Sonata per Flauto in E minor (Adagio, ed Affettuoso Sostenuto)

Piani, version 1:

‘tr’ = upper note trill

‘appoggiatura’ + ‘tr’ = upper note trill with (long) appoggiatura

Piani, version 2:

‘tr’ = main note trill
‘appoggiatura’ + ‘tr’ = upper note trill

Piani, version 3:
same as version 2 but fixing what ‘feels odd’*
* mm. 2, 5, 6: upper note trill

Some reflections

Inês: recording these short examples, even in this somewhat controlled framework, was a little uncomfortable. While playing, there was a clear physical resistance to the main note trill, from my fingers and my brain. But listening back I found it very normal and actually quite interesting to have this variety.



Claudio: it seems more appropriate for me to treat 't' (or 'tr') as a trill starting on either the main or upper note, and 't' (or 'tr') preceeded by an appoggiatura as a trill with an appoggiatura (i.e. a rather long upper note before starting the trill).

Having discussed these videos with the 2022 Lectorate research group, we confirmed some of our own impressions when listening back to our recordings: these various types of trills provided different rhythmic impulses, generated probably by the different inherent gestures, bringing out different aspects of the same piece. As was brought up during this discussion, the trills that remained the same throughout all versions sounded different in the mixed versions (with main and upper note trills) because the context had changed.

This is still work in progress, and in fact much of the work involves retraining to be able do naturally what we had been very much trained not to do. At first this feels constraining and artificial, but the initial oddity quickly fades away and brings many new creative impulses.