Presentation of the


Here is some important information to know about the instruments you will discover during the European Crafts Days exhibition.

The cello

A little history …

Evolution of the instrument

The cello, whose most direct ancestor is the rebec, shares the same history as the violin. This one goes back to the creation of the violin family in 16th century Italy. Indeed, the first cello was made around 1552by Andrea Amati (1535 -1612), a luthier from Cremona.

At that time, the cello was still placed on the calves and held by the musician’s knees. It was not until the 19th century that it rested on a spike to facilitate a new style of playing.



The cello is one of the instruments withthe greatest range, that is, the greatest number of notes ranging from the lowest to the highest. It is often claimed that this instrument is the closest to the human voice.


The sound of this instrument is produced by the vibration of its 4 strings, amplified by the sound box. These can be set in vibration by their plucking by the fingers of the player, as with the guitar, or by the bow rubbing the strings.

The range of the cello extends over 4 octaves and a fifth.

Listen to the sound of the cello


Neighbor in the orchestra of …

Altos, violins

Holding the Instrument

The cello is played generally seated, positioned between the two knees. It rests on a retractable spike.


Instrument construction

The luthiery woods generally used to make a cello are spruce, flamed maple, and ebony. The accessories (tailpieces and pegs) are usually made of ebony, but for aesthetic reasons can be made of boxwood, rosewood, or even flamed maple.

The bow, meanwhile, is carved from a Brazilian wood, permambuco and made of horsehair horns coated with rosin (powdered fir resin) for better adhesion to strings.

Cello, instructions for use
Cello, instructions for use
[Figures de Notes] Le violoncelle, mode d’emploi

Some composers

Concurrent with the viola da gamba, it was used until the 18th century alongside the harpsichord to support instrumental ensembles.

Thanks to its sonic power, the cello completely replaced the viola da gamba and emerged from its sole role as an accompanist to assert itself as a soloist instrument:

Bach completed his Six Suites for Solo Cello in 1725, an essential masterpiece of the cello repertoire.

With Mozart and Haydn, the cello becomes a pillar of chamber music.

At the time of Romanticism (19th century), the instrument becomes emancipated and plays equal with the violin. Many composers would write solo pieces for this instrument, such asClaude Debussy’s Cello Sonata (1862-1918) or Strauss’s Don Quixote (1864 – 1949).

The technical capabilities of this instrument continue to be explored today, including in current music, where new techniques including electronic devices allow for real-time sound modification.

Bach, Prelude to Suite 1
Bach, Prelude to Suite 1
Bach: Prélude, Cello suite Nr.1 | Ophélie Gaillard
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