View Full Version : Zelenka, Selencka, as Bassist

24-12-2010, 07:40 AM
The SLUB contains an interesting set of parts corresponding to an instrumental selection from André Campra's "L'Europe Galante".

It contains just one part for all the 'not-bass' instruments (vls, obs, hc, taille) but it keeps at least 7 parts of the bass line:
3 basse de violon
2 basse
2 basse continue

Of course, it's not unusual to see several bass parts but, in this case, it could be helpful in our reseach of which instrument Zelenka played.

In fact, we have two names in the parts: "Woulm˙er" (Volumier) in the first violino and "Selencka" in one of the two "basse" parts.

Probably, the Dresden musicians didn't have "basses de violons" at their disposal (a french instrument slightly greater that the standard cello and tuned one tone lower, in B) and played this 3 parts with violoncelli. So, the question is if they needed another two extra string players to play in the '8 feets' tessitura or whether this "basse" parts were -more convincingly- destined to "16 feets" instruments (some type of violone or contrabasso). And we are not taking in account the possibility of several players reading at the same music stand.

However, there are also some arguments to temper this hypotesis of Zelenka as "16ist":
.- The '16 feets' register was not used in the french music in the Campra's times. (but the Dresden ensemble was not a French Bande).
.- Some of the 'Basse de violon' parts were probably played by the bassonnists.
.- Could be that the extant parts didn't correspond to a single production.

Anyway, we have in this Basse part a testimony of the French music reception by Zelenka and his colleagues. L'Europe Galante was one of the most played and praised óperas in the post-Lully style; printed at least six times and transmited in countless manuscripts sources.

We can download the full Dresden parts in the IMSLP:

or in the SLUB website:

All the best,

28-12-2010, 12:06 AM
Thanks Joseba. I would like to mention that Shelley Hogan, an Australian double bass player, is about to finish her PhD at the University of Melbourne (where one of her supervisors is Jan Stockigt). Her research theme is the bass ripieno section of the Dresden orchestra. She has studied a lot of sources and found unknown archival material in Dresden for her thesis, so let's hope it will be published and further light can be shed on this subject.

More on this note: Jan Stockigt has suggested that Zelenka could also have played the theorbo as the fingering patterns are practically the same to the viol family. She introduced this idea during the "Schrank II" conference in Dresden last June. Her excellent paper dealt with the Dresden sources of Zelenka's instrumental music (excluding the Trio Sonatas). The proceedings of the conference should be published shortly. I'll keep you posted.