Lucca’s Double-Bass Bonanza


The ‘concerto’ (which in Italian also means ’concert’) came fully into its own in the eighteenth century with the likes of Vivaldi and the Lucchese Geminiani. Concerti were written from the piccolo to the newly invented clarinet and from the bassoon to the viola d’amore and many featured instrumental combinations. However, the harpsichord and the double-bass were neglected as concerto soloists and were classified as accompanying or ‘continuo’ instruments.

It wasn’t until the invention of the piano that concerti began to written for keyboard instruments and from the nineteenth century onward the piano, and the violin, of course, have been the main concerto instruments we love to hear.

How many of us, however, have flocked to hear a double bass concerto? Certainly the double bass has entered into the jazz repertoire, although its strings there are largely plucked rather than bowed, but what about classical and cross-over music? Ever heard of Dragonetti, Sperger or Bottesini?

Luckily you’ll now get the chance of hearing and becoming a fan of the double bass since, from July 30th to August 5th, Lucca is hosting the sixth ‘Bass2018’, the biennial international double bass festival bringing together musicians, instrument makers, composers and publisher thanks to Lucca’s ‘Boccherini’ conservatoire, the City and Province of Lucca and Cassa di Risparmio Foundation. Events take place in the Palazzo Ducale, Teatro Del Giglio and the Boccherini conservatoire with concerts, master classes, competition and conferences.

Of special interest will be the award for women composer of music for double bass, in collaboration with the Adkins Chiti – Women in Music – Foundation.

The festival’s artistic directors are Gabriele Ragghianti and Alberto Bocini.

Incidentally, this year I attended a concert featuring the double bass in London’s lovely Queen’s house in Greenwich. Performers were harpist Anna Quiroga and double bassist Valentina Ciardelli (also known as ‘Zappawoman’ because of her brilliant arrangements of Frank Zappa’s music) who graduated with the highest honours from Lucca’s own ‘Boccherini’ conservatoire.

Valentina Ciardelli, Anna Quiroga and Stefano Teani will play Zappa, Rossini, Stravinsky, Ciardelli and Puccini in the Saletta Rossa of Lucca’s Istituto Musicale Boccherini on August 3rd at 4.30 PM.”

More information about the festival is available at the excellent web site at

There is even a  double concerto for the double-bass by the famous cartoonist E. Hoffnung:

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And the double-bass remains one of the most versatile of instruments to drown one’s sorrows even if you can’t play one…













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