Degli Antonii Giovanni Battista
Ricercate sopra il Violoncello
A hostile climate reigned at this time, especially in France, against the cello, as it attempted to “. . . emerge from the still shapeless mass of the primitive orchestras, and began to develop, so to speak, its own personality, and free itself from the humble conditions under which it would suffer for many decades of the eighteenth century: that of assistant to the harpsichord and servant of the solo instrumentalist or singer”. Quite different was the attitude towards this instrument during the second half of the seventeenth century in Bologna, a city that in many ways may be considered the home of the cello. Its extraordinary musical vitality, the excellence of its musicians, and the elevated quality of its academies constituted a fertile terrain for this instrument’s further development. The first name which comes to mind when one thinks of Bologna together with the cello is certainly that of Domenico Gabrielli. Also known in Bolognese dialect as Minghén dal viulunzèl, his fame was tied not only to his unquestionable abilities as a virtuoso on the instrument and his monumental collection of Ricercari for solo violoncello of 1689. Above all, his musical production fostered the freeing of the cello “from its role of sustaining the bass line, which tradition had imposed upon it, and established in compositional practice the equivalent on the cello of the sonata for solo violin and continuo. ”. Akin to Gabrielli was the Bolognese composer Giovanni Battista Degli Antonii, a musical figure of immense importance to the history of the cello.