The Tenor Violin Back to About the BBCM

As my research shows, the cello-type tenor violin is the forerunner of the (solo) cello. It is half-way between the viola and the cello both in size and in register. This instrument was often used in the baroque period; significant composers such as Bach, Monteverdi, Corelli, Marcello, etc used it for solos as well as ensembles. Later, in the classical period, the great cellist-composer Boccherini also composed a great deal for this instrument. In the not too distant future I will extend my research to other composers.

I published a paper on the tenor violin in the 1994 Galpin Society Journal. A short article of mine, about Boccherini and the tenor violin, was published by Early Music (Oxford University Press) in November 2005. An updated version of my 1994 Galpin Society Journal article appeared in another annual English journal (The Consort) in 2006.

Having found a tenor violin (which was subsequently restored by Mr Dietrich Kessler), I introduced it on Duna TV, Hungary on 18 January 1998. It is of note that Duna TV was awarded the 1999 Unesco prize for cultural programmes. Subsequently I gave tenor violin lecture recitals at the University of Edinburgh, June 2000; Royal Academy of Music, London, June 2001; Trinity College of Music, London, May 2002 (see; Royal Academy of Music, London, October 2003 (second time); Austrian National Library, Vienna, November 2003 and at Goldsmiths College London in October 2004. I also appeared at a concert at King's College London, April 2004.

My 12 November 2003 Vienna tenor violin lecture recital was a significant event. I presented my views on the tenor violin (that is the forerunner of the solo cello) in the very library where I started and conducted most of my research on the topic. This library, the Austrian National Library, was built over 300 years ago and is a part of the Hofburg. It was a moving experience to talk about baroque instrumentation in this building. The lecture hall was packed with distinguished scholars, the Library produced a beautiful printed programme, I presented my case fully and (at last but not least) I played my tenor violin in a programme of Torelli, Caldara (still in manuscript!), Marcello and Bach.

On 22 April 2004 I performed, on my tenor violin, to a regular audience of about 300 at a fund raising function at King's College London. To my surprise and delight, my instrument and its sound generated a lot of excitement and pleasure.

Agnes Kory
August 2006