Early Music Seminars 2022 | Viola bastarda

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venezia
plus Nov, 0206 2022

Egida Sartori and Laura Alvini Early Music Seminars
Director: Pedro Memelsdorff



Viola bastarda
and the art of Italian diminuition


Master classes by Paolo Pandolfo
Venice, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, 2–6 November 2022


Deadline for applications: 15 July 2022
Download the call for scholarship



In Italian music treatises or collections of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the term “alla bastarda” generally refers to a particular technique of adorning (or diminishing) vocal compositions with rapid and virtuosic passages of great extension performed on instruments such as the organ, harp, lute or viola. “Viola bastarda”, on the other hand, seems to have designated a type of viola da gamba particularly suitable for the execution of these diminutions―due to its tuning and constitution. Considering the importance attributed to this technique by numerous ancient composers including Girolamo Dalla Casa, Giovanni Bassano, Riccardo and Francesco Rognoni, Orazio and Francesco Maria Bassani, Vincenzo Bonizzi, the relative scarcity of surviving compositions and modern historiography on the subject is surprising.


The seminar will address the technique of the viola bastarda―an instrument some of whose most important luthiers’ workshops were located in Venice ― as described or alluded to in treatises and repertories printed in Venice such as Il vero modo di diminuir by Girolamo Dalla Casa (Venice, 1584); Mottetti, madrigali et canzoni francesi by Giovanni Bassano (Venice, 1591), Passaggi per potersi essercitare nel diminuire terminatamente con ogni sorte di istromenti by Riccardo Rognoni (Venice, 1592), or Alcune opere di diversi auttori a diverse voci, passaggiate principalmente per la viola bastarda (Venice, 1626).


The main teacher will be Paolo Pandolfo, renowned specialist and teacher at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, who will conduct a group of four violists accompanied by theorbo, organ and harpsichord, selected through an international call for scholarships. The seminar will take place at the Giorgio Cini Foundation, and all participants will be hosted at San Giorgio during five days of intense musical residency. In addition to music lessons addressed to scholarship holders, the seminar will include a historical-musicological introduction and a final concert. Public and free of charge upon reservation, this concert will take place at the Auditorium “Lo Squero” on Saturday, November 5.