Date of Degree
Fine Arts | Musicology | Music Performance | Theatre History | Women's History
London, violoncello, The Broken Melody, Alfredo Piatti, endpin
The development of cello playing in England in the late nineteenth century was driven largely by the efforts of expatriate and visiting performers trained elsewhere. Performers from abroad, with the support and admiration of British institutions and audiences, elevated the technical level of cello playing and helped to increase the quality and quantity of solo repertoire being written and performed. They also expanded the degree of acceptance that British audiences held for the cello, both as a solo instrument and as an instrument that could be played in public by women. This study explores the impact that three such cellists, Robert Hausmann (1852–1909), Auguste Van Biene (1849–1913), and Guilhermina Suggia (1885–1950), had on the development of cello playing in England through their personal and professional activities.
Berlin-based cello professor Robert Hausmann, a close associate of Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim, made frequent extended visits to London over a period of forty years, performing the British premieres of countless chamber music works and forging fruitful relationships with British performers and composers. Dutch cellist Auguste Van Biene, after training in Belgium and launching a brief concert career in London, became a household name through his work as an actor-cellist in music hall dramas, giving thousands of performances on tours across all of Great Britain and around the world. Guilhermina Suggia, originally from Portugal and trained in Leipzig, lived in London for many years at the height of her career, establishing a visible presence as a glamorous, charismatic, and technically unrivalled soloist.
The aim of this study is to draw a nuanced picture of the impact that these influential performers had on audiences and on other musicians in England. Their choices of who to work with, what to program, where to play, and in what manner, affected what was expected and what was valued by the general public and by musical institutions. To assess the broad influence that these cellists had, this study investigates a wide range of sources including published scholarship, contemporaneous music journals, mainstream newspaper coverage from both London and smaller provincial centers, published music editions, essays, letters, iconography, and the limited available recordings of Van Biene and Suggia.
Collins, Hannah E., "International Influence on the Development and Reception of Cello Playing in England, 1870–1930: Robert Hausmann, Auguste Van Biene, and Guilhermina Suggia" (2020). CUNY Academic Works.