DMA University of Auckland 2014 Pages: 112

The development of the left thumb use in cello playing from its beginning until 1900

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Ever since the cello emerged as a solo instrument in the first half of the eighteenth century, cellists have sought to develop new playing techniques. Over time, these techniques have exerted a profound influence on the way in which composers have written for the instrument and none more so the use of the left thumb. This technique, which emerged in its first form in the first half of the eighteenth century, not only facilitated the performance of otherwise difficult string crossings in virtuosic works such as concertos but also opened up the extreme upper register of the instrument. This exegesis focuses on the historical development of the thumb technique with reference to various method books published from the mid-eighteenth century and the repertory written from the eighteenth century and encompassing the virtuoso repertoire from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It also considers the impact of the thumb position on the evolution of the cello literature, and practical aspects of the use of the left thumb.

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