Viewing: Orchestration 101: The String Section, videos 30-33.

Reference: Studying String Orchestration PDF from above course:

Cello Tuning, Range, Finger Positions, Harmonics, and Multiple Stops

Reading: Orchestration Manual, chapters on the cello.

Piston: Chapter 4.

Adler: Chapter 3 section on Cello.

Kennan: Chapter 2 section on Cello (pp. 24-2, 2nd Ed.)

Reading: 100 Orchestration Tips 89-94.


• J.S. Bach, Suite no. 3 for unaccompanied cello in C, BWV 1009

• Additional suite from the same collection, BWV 1007-1012

Recommended version: Complete Score (color scan) copied by Anna Magdalena Bach.,_BWV_1007-1012_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian)

A good free upload of the recording by Colin Carr is the Suite no. 3’s own page:,_BWV_1009_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian)

Recommended viewing:

Mischa Maisky is much more respectful to Bach’s bowing instructions than Carr, but then adds more. Good camera work, though tempos a bit sluggish at times, and a bit heavy-handed dynamically.

Rostropovich is superb in all things. Camera takes a long view a bit too often, but still excellent.

• Max Reger, Suite no. 1 for unaccompanied cello in G, Op. 131c,_Op.131c_(Reger,_Max)

Recommended viewing:

Guido Schiefen’s interpretation is nearly perfect throughout, and it’s great for study with the score added. (embedded below)

Örs Köszeghy’s version is more casual, playing on a porch with so-so acoustics. Camera work on the outer movements is puzzlingly distant, but the 2nd movement (which is the showpiece anyway) has a nice close view. That’s worth watching to see the fingerings on all those passages of multiple stops and tricky arpeggiation.

• Zoltán Kodály, Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8

The copyright status is really weird on this score. Please use your best judgement when downloading, or simply watch the YouTube video with score.,_Op.8_(Kodály,_Zoltán)

Recommended viewing:

I believe this is Yo-Yo Ma with score added. It is spectacular playing.

For a great contrast, and to see exactly how all those hair-raising (and occasionally consciousness-raising) passages work, watch the Janos Starker version. Caution, occasionally idiotic camera work.


• Eugène Ysaÿe, Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 28,_Op.28_(Ysaÿe,_Eugène)

Excellent virtuoso interpretation by Nicolas Deletaille

• Paul Hindemith, Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 25, no. 3,_Op.25_No.3_(Hindemith,_Paul)

Youthful fireball Stephane Tetreault delivers intense reading

And have a listen to Prokofiev’s Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 134 (no IMSLP score as yet)


Compose a work for unaccompanied cello using the following parameters:

  • 2-3 minutes in length
  • focus on lyricism and strong craft
  • avoid overusing any one technique
  • compose in your own artistic voice and idiom (such as film, concert, crossover, etc.)
  • consider that this work may be read and possibly performed
  • progress the scoring approaches from Lesson 1:
    • Bowing —> All forms of tone production (pizzicato, tremolo, sul C/G, sul pont/tasto, etc.)
    • Melodic Phrasing —> Scoring to the strengths of the registers as defined by clefs
    • Contrasts of register —> ditto above, also individualising strings
  • don’t overdo the virtuosity and write to both your strengths and the cellist’s


Try this online note identification game if you need to brush up on your tenor clef reading.

Formulas: lines – DFACE; spaces – “Every Good ‘Bonist Doesn’t”

Or just think your way up or down the right distance from the C line