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"What We're Listening To:" Giovanni Bottesini Double Bass Concerto in B Minor

"What We're Listening To:" Giovanni Bottesini Double Bass Concerto in B Minor

Giovanni BottesiniGiovanni Bottesini (1821-1889) was an Italian Romantic composer, conductor, and a double bass virtuoso. Bottesini held much acclaim for his mastery and is often considered the Paganini of the double bass. He contributed so heavily to double bass technique and repertoire, the double bass is now considered a more versatile instrument. Bottesini's innovations allowed composers to utilize the bass in more diverse ways, extending its function and elevating its appreciation.

Bottesini had received basic musical training early in his life, but he did not begin to play the bass until he was interested in applying to the Milan Conservatory in 1835. There were only two remaining scholarships, one of which was for double bass. Within weeks, he learned to play the instrument well enough to win the scholarship.

Bottesini’s own bass was said to be unique with a truly remarkable sound. It was built by Carlo Giuseppe Testore in 1716 and was passed through several unknown bass players before finding itself in his accomplished hands. Bottesini also was one of the first performers to adopt the French-style bow grip for the bass; previously, this had only been used by violinists, violists, and cellists.

The accompanying video displays a performance of Bottesini’s Double Bass Concerto in B Minor, still a staple in today's bass repertoire. The concerto is being played by Rinat Ibragimov, the principal bassist of the London Symphony Orchestra on an original 3 string period instrument.

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