The Conservatory Library's special collections include a large number of historically significant printed treatises from the 16th through the 19th centuries.

Drawn primarily from the Frederick R. Selch Collection of American Music History and the Violin Society of America/Herbert K. Goodkind Collection, the materials highlighted here include some of the most influential writing on stringed instrument performance practice in the history of Western music.

Paul Schubert (OC '19) provided extensive research support for this guide.
17th Century Stringed Instrument Treatises
1659    Simpson, Christopher, -1669, The division-violist [MT337 .S46 1659]
  • The most important English work on the viola da gamba.
1667    Simpson, Christopher, -1669, Chelys, minuritionum artificio exornata [MT49 .S42 1667]
  • This second edition of The division-violist includes a Latin translation alongside the original English, "to make it useful at home as well as abroad."    
1660    Playford, John, 1623-1686?, A Brief Introduction to the Skill of Musick [MT7 .P72 1660]
  • First printed in 1654, the work went through twenty editions, the last being in 1730.  Oberlin's copy is the third edition from 1660. In addition to being broadly regarded as the most significant English theoretical treatise of the late 17th century, Brief introduction also contains practical instructions for performing on the bass viol and the treble violin.    
1676    Mace, Thomas, d. 1709?, Musick's monument [MT640.2 .M23 1676]
  • Musick's monument is among the most quoted English language music treatises of the 17th century.  It includes instructions for playing lute, viol, and organ.    
1687    Rousseau, Jean, 1644-ca. 1700, Traité de la viole [MT338 .R7 1687]
  • Separate sections of this work explore the history of the viol, ornamentation, transposition, and different approaches to playing the instrument.    
1697    Sanz, Gaspar, 1640-1710, Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española [MT582 .S2 1697]
  • This second edition from 1697 followed the work's original publication in 1674.  It focuses on the five-course, double-strung guitar typical of the era.
Leopold Mozart's Violonschule
Leopold Mozart's Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule is a landmark treatise in the history of violin playing.  It stands alongside C.P.E. Bach's 1753 Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen and Johann Joachim Quantz's 1752 Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen as a key work for understanding performance practice and musical style of the 18th century.

The first printing was in 1756 (Augsburg), and the work proved to be so popular that other editions appeared in 1769/70 (Augsburg), 1787 (Augsburg), 1791 (Frankfurt and Leipzig), 1800 (Augsburg), 1804 (Leipzig), 1806 (Vienna), and 1817 (Leipzig).  The work's popularity inspired multiple translations, including a Dutch version from 1766 and a French version from 1770. The work first appeared in English in 1948 (with a preface by Albert Einstein), and a facsimile of the 1756 edition first appeared in 1922.

Oberlin holds copies of the following editions and translations:

1756    First edition [MT262 .M9 1756]
1766    Dutch translation [MT262 .M92125 1766]
1770    Second edition [MT262 .M9 1770]
1783    Reprint of the French translation [MT262 .M94 1783]
1791    Fourth edition [MT262.M9 1791]
1806    Vienna edition [MT262 .V56 1806]
1948    English translation [MT262 .M93 1948]
18th Century Stringed Instrument Treatises
1730    Prelleur, Peter, 1705?-1741, The modern musick-master [MT6.P744 M6 1730]
  • Includes a basic set of instruction manuals for voice, recorder [flute], flute [German flute], oboe, violin, and harpsichord.
1730    Prelleur, Peter, 1705?-1741, The art of playing on the violin [MT262 .P88 1731]
  • Part 5 of Prelleur's The modern musick-master (London, 1730) which is a paraphrase of Nolens Volens (London, 1695).
1740    Le Blanc, Hubert, Defense de la basse de viole contre les entréprises du violon et les prétentions du violoncel [ML760.V565 L42 1740]
  • This work is one of the few sources of information about style and technique in 18th century French viol playing, as few treatises appeared in France after Rousseau’s Traité de la viole of 1687.
1748    Geminiani, Francesco, 1687-1762, Rules for playing in a true taste on the violin, German flute, violoncello and harpsicord [MT262.P49 I6]
  • The first treatise published by Geminiani, which also contains four compositions based on English, Scottish, and Irish airs. Oberlin’s copy is bound with Geminiani’s Art of playing on the violin of 1751 and Philpot’s An introduction to the art of playing on the violin of 1767.
1751    Geminiani, Francesco, 1687-1762, Art of playing on the violin [MT262.P49 I6]
  • This work was one of the first to be written for non-amateur performers.  Along with Mozart's Violinschule from 1756, it is the most important source for violin performance practice of the first half of the 18th century.  Geminiani famously opposed Mozart on several issues, including bow hold, use of vibrato, and the so-called "rule of the down-bow", which states that the first beat of every bar must be played with a down-stroke.
1754    The Muses delight [M1619.M93 1754]
  • A reworking of Prelleur's Modern musick-master.
1756    Tans'ur, William, 1699?-1783, New musical grammar [MT6.T17 1756]
  • The work was first published in 1746, and Oberlin's copy is the third edition from 1756.  It includes instructions for organ, harpsichord, bass-viol, violin, oboe, flute, and bassoon.  It also includes instructions in music theory and a dictionary of important musical terms.    
1760    The Compleat tutor for the violin [MT262 .C58 1760]
  • A slight revision of Prelleur's The art of playing on the violin (London, 1730)
1760    Crome, Robert, The compleat tutor for the violoncello [MT305 .C89 1760z]
  • One of the first tutors for the cello, the work contains the earliest reference to using a wooden peg (i.e. an endpin) as a learning aid to support the cello while seated.
1760    Tartini, Giuseppe, 1692-1770, A letter from the late Signor Tartini to Signora Maddalena Lombardini, trans. Dr. Burney (1913) [ML410.T18 A42 1913]
  • This letter explains Tartini’s methods of violin playing and practice techniques, particularly those concerning the mastery of the bow. Oberlin’s copy is a reprint from 1913, featuring an English translation opposite the original Italian.
1761    Amat, Joan Carles, 1572?-1640, Guitarra española [MT582.A54 1761]
  • This is among the earliest and most influential works describing Spanish guitar techniques. No copies of the original edition from the late 16th century have survived.  Oberlin's copy is from a 1761 reprinting.
1767    Philpot, Stephen, An introduction to the art of playing on the violin [MT262.P49 I6]
  • Based on a simplified version of Geminiani’s Art of playing on the violin, this tutor was intended for children or young beginners. Oberlin’s copy is a first edition bound with Geminiani’s Rules for playing in a true taste of 1748 and Art of playing on the violin of 1751.
1770    Tessarini, Carlo, ca. 1690-ca. 1766, An accurate method to attain the art of playing ye violin [MT262 .T295 1770]
  • This work is an English translation of Tessarini’s Grammatica di musica of 1741. When initially published, Grammatica di musica was the first Italian violin method, a predecessor to Geminiani’s Art of playing on the violin of 1751.
1781    Löhlein, Georg Simon, 1725-1781, Anweisung zum Violinspielen [MT262 .L62 1781]
  • The work was first published in 1774, and Oberlin’s copy is the second edition from 1781. It was modeled after Mozart’s Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule of 1756 but offered a simplified and somewhat limited technical foundation in comparison.
1785    Compleat instructions for the guitar [MT582.C66 1785]
  • Instructions for the English guitar, also known as the cittern; a type of wire-strung mandolin popular in England in the late 18th century.
1786    Gehot, Joseph, 1756-ca. 1820, Treatise on the theory and practice of music [MT6.G44 1786]
  • Includes brief instructions for playing keyboard, organ, violoncello, guitar, flute, trumpet, and many other instruments.    
1789    Ribeiro, Manoel da Paixao, Nova arte de viola [MT585.R52 1789]
  • An explanation of the increasingly-obsolete method of notating guitar music in tablature, this work also illustrates a five-course, twelve-string guitar on which the fourth and fifth courses have three string each rather than the normal two.
1790    Panerai, Vincenzo, Principi di musica teorico-pratici [MT6.P26 P8 1790]
  • While focusing on the harpsichord and organ, this work also includes brief instructions for flute, oboe, and bowed strings, including the first printed instructions for the modern tuning of the double bass.    
1790    New and compleat instructions for the violin [MT262 .N3 1790]
  • A supposititious work sometimes attributed to Geminiani but actually a version of Peter Prelleur's The art of playing on the violin (part 5 of his Modern musick-master), originally published in 1731, and supplemented by the table of ornaments from Geminiani's 1751 treatise of the same title.
1791    Galeazzi, Francesco, 1758-1819, Elementi teorico-pratici di musica [MT6.A2 G5 1791]
  • One of the most influential treatises of the 18th century, this work consists of a violin method along with extensive writings on music theory and composition. In addition, it contains the first thematic description of sonata form in print and provides thorough details on musical characteristics and tendencies of the Classical period. Oberlin’s copy is a first edition, containing both volume one and volume two, published in 1791 and 1796, respectively.
1795    Hiller, Johann Adam, 1728-1804, Anweisung zum Violinspielen [MT278 .H46 1795]
  • This treatise on the violin includes sections on technique, maintenance, and notation, as well as a dictionary of musical terms.
1797    The compleat tutor for the violin [MT262 .G336 1797]
  • Contains short extracts from Geminiani's The art of playing on the violin (p. 1-15), as well as content apparently taken from Prelleur's Modern musick-master.
17xx    A modern violin tutor [MT262 .M27 1700z]
19th Century Stringed Instrument Treatises
1801    Cartier, Jean-Baptiste, L'art du violon, 2nd ed [MT262 .C28 1801]
  • This comprehensive work examines the violin schools of France, Italy, and Germany and consists of both a method and a sizable anthology of 17th and 18th century compositions. Cartier included little original material but quoted accepted authorities such as Geminiani, Mozart, and L'abbé le fils instead.
1801    Holyoke, Samuel, 1762-1820, The instrumental assistant : containing instructions for the violin, German-flute, clarionett, bass-viol, and hautboy [MT170.H65 1801]
  • The first comprehensive American tutor for musical instruments, including the violin, flute, clarinett, bass viol, and oboe.    
1804    Méthode simple et facile, par demandes et par réponses, pour apprendre rapidement et sans confusion la musique [MT7 .F12 1804]
  • Tentatively attributed to F. Marcou or Pierre Marcou by Heron-Allen
1810    Martinn, Jacob-Joseph-Balthasar, 1775-1836, Méthode elementaire pour le violon [MT265 .M37 1810]
  • One of the few pedagogical works written by Martinn, who was active as a composer and violinist in and around Paris.
1812    Jousse, J., 1760-1837, The theory and practice of the violin [MT260 .J68]
  • The work was intended for amateurs and primarily quotes Prelleur’s The art of playing on the violin of 1730, Geminiani’s Art of playing on the violin of 1751, and Philpot’s An introduction to the art of playing on the violin of 1767.
1817    Gunn, John, ca. 1765-ca. 1824, The theory and practice of fingering the violoncello, 2nd ed [MT302 .G86 1790]
  • This work includes a 36-page section on cello fingering that attempts to establish a simple and uniform approach.
1819    Colla, Vincenzo, b. 1784, Saggio teorico-pratico-musicale [MT55 .C6 1819]
  • This work is primarily a treatise on counterpoint and composition, but it includes a section of lessons on a variety of instruments.    
1819    Light, Edward, ca. 1747-ca. 1832, A new and complete directory to the art of playing on the patent dital-harp, 2nd ed [MT542 .L55 1819]
  • This was one of a group of experimental instruments that were popular in England and France at the beginning of the 19th century.
1820    Paine, John, A treatise on the violin, 3rd ed. [MT262 .P13 1820]
  • Written as a dialogue between a fictional master and pupil, the work contains instructions on shifting, bowing, intonation, and transposition.
1825    Désargus, Xavier, ca. 1768-1832, Traité général sur l'art de jouer de la harpe [MT542 .D48 1812]
  • This treatise on harp performance includes sections on notation and technique, along with a series of progressive studies.
1828    Wettengel, Gustav Adolph, Vollständiges, theoretisch-praktisches auf Grundsätze der Akustik, Tonkunst und Mathematik [ML802 .W52 1828]
  • This work was one of the earliest production manuals for violin, guitar, and bow making in Germany. It includes detailed descriptions of luthier techniques, materials, tools, and equipment and contains information on acoustics and composition. Oberlin’s copy is a first edition.
1836    Goodale, Ezekiel, The instrumental director, 4th ed [MT172 .I59 1836]
  • Includes instructions for flute, clarinet, bassoon, serpent, French horn, trumpet, oboe, violin, viola, bass-viol or violoncello, double bass, trombone, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, and bass-drum.
1843    Spohr, Louis, 1784-1859, Violinschule [Louis Spohr's celebrated violin school] / translated by John Bishop [MT262.S6 V5 1843]
  • First published in 1832, Spohr’s Violinschule was arguably the most influential German violin method after Mozart’s Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule of 1756. It contains innovative instructions on bowing, shifting, vibrato, playing chords, and using chinrests. Oberlin’s copy is an English translation from the original German.
1846    Hanks, J. F. (Jarvis F.), A complete system for the violin [MT265 .H16 1846]
  • Written while Hanks was active in the Cleveland, Ohio area, this violin method contains introductory instructions intended for amateurs. It quotes prominent European works by Spohr, Baillot, Rode, and Kreutzer.
1852    Duport, J. L. (Jean Louis), 1749-1819, Essai sur le doigté du violoncelle et sur le conduite de l'archet. English [787.3 D928EE]
  • Initially published in 1806, this tutor is immensely important in the evolution of the cello as it radically transformed cello technique and established the modern system of fingering.  Oberlin's copy is an English translation from 1852.
1854    Winner, Septimus, 1827-1902, Winner's improved method for the violin [MT262 .W56 1854]
  • The work was the first of twenty-three violin methods written for amateurs by Winner and was widely dispersed throughout the United States during the 19th century.
1856    Campagnoli, Bartolomeo, 1751-1827, Nouvelle méthode de la mécanique progressive du jeu de violon. English / translated by John Bishop [MT262 .C19313 1856]
  • First published in 1824, the work documents violin technique during the transitional period between the Baroque and Classical eras.  Oberlin's copy is an English translation from 1856.
1857    Hering, Carl, 1819-1889, Methodischer Leitfaden für Violinlehrer [MT260 .H485 1857]
  • An elementary violin method written by Hering, who worked as a composer and violinist in Germany.
1858    Hering, Carl, 1819-1889, Ueber Rudolph Kreutzer's Etüden [MT260 .H49 1858]
  • This work serves as an introduction and companion to Kreutzer’s 42 études ou caprices of 1796.
1864    Tottmann, Albert, 1837-1917, Das Büchlein von der Geige, oder, Die Grundmaterialien des Violinspieles [MT260 .T75 1864]
  • Oberlin holds both a first edition (1864) and a sixth edition (ca. 1910).
1886    Tottmann, Albert, 1837-1917, Führer durch den Violinunterricht [ML128.V4 T7 1886]
  • An annotated guide to the violin literature, which includes descriptions and information on the relative difficulty of select works. 
1889    Schroeder, Carl, 1848-1935, Katechismus des Violinspiels [MT260 .S38 1889]
  • This treatise consists of a practical guide for students, with supplementary writings on taste, expression, and phrasing. A list with short biographies of celebrated players of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries is included.
1893    Schroeder, Carl, 1848-1935, Katechismus des Violoncellspiels. English / translated by J. Matthews [MT300 .S382 1893]
  •  Originally published in 1890, this English translation of 1893 contains information concerning the history, design, development, technique, and performance style of the cello.
Subject Specialist
Picture: Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith
Special Collections Librarian
Tel: (440)775- 5181

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