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Bernard Romberg, Duos for Violoncellos: Bernhard Romberg

by Jo Arnold and Markko Markko

Romberg's Influence on Cello

Bernhard Romberg was a solo cellist and composer who contributed many works within the canon of the cello repertoire and made a wide-ranging impact on cello construction, technique, and performance conventions. His performance practice is the root of the Dresden School of Violoncello, which was founded by his friend and student, Friedrich Dotzauer. He was the name behind the Romberg Bevel (a carved-out area underneath the C-string of a cello, designed to reduce the string vibrations against the fingerboard). He standardized the symbol for fingering with the thumb on the cello as well as the convention of writing for the cello in only three clefs. He changed the way cellists and bassists held the French bow (closer to the frog than beforehand). Romberg composed many cello concertos, concertinos, and sonatas, duets for string instruments, fantasias, divertimentos, and variations. Although he wrote primarily for string instruments, he did branch out with compositions for other instrument families, symphonies, and also a few light operas.

Romberg’s "Duo II" from the Duos for Violoncello, held in the RBI's Freedman Collection, is a work that demonstrates several aspects of his influence. 

Lithograph portrait of Bernhard Romberg

Bernhard Romberg. Lithograph by Kräger after Gentili, 1815. Bibliothèque national de France, via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.