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: September 5, 2022
Download the call for scholarship




In Italian treatises or music collections of the late 16th and early 17th century, the term alla bastarda generally refers to a particular technique of ornamenting (or diminishing) vocal compositions with rapid virtuosic passages over a large range, performed on instruments such as the organ, harp, lute or viola. Viola bastarda, on the other hand, denoted – or appears to have denoted – a type of viola da gamba particularly well-suited, by tuning or constitution, to the performance of these diminutions.


Considering the importance attached to this technique by numerous historic composers – such as Girolamo Dalla Casa, Giovanni Bassano, Riccardo and Francesco Rognoni, Orazio and Francesco Maria Bassani and Vincenzo Bonizzi –both the relative scarcity of surviving compositions and the rarity of modern historiographic writings on the subject are surprising.


The principal teacher at the seminar will be Paolo Pandolfo, a renowned viola da gamba specialist and teacher at the Schola Cantorum, Basel. He will conduct a group of four viol players, accompanied by chitarrone, organ and harpsichord, all selected through an international call for scholarship applications. There will also be a public concert (free admission but booking required) at the Squero Auditorium on Saturday, 5 November.