Sept. 12, 2018 Update

For players beginning the viola d'amore, the 24 Preludes of Henri Casadesus may be a good place to start getting familiar with D major tuning and the 7 string territory.


Comments on Henri Casadesus Technique de la viole d’amour, Editions Salabert

This is a useful work for players beginning the viola d’amore, as it has many many fingerings. Positions are also indicated, but maybe not as consistently as fingerings. Overall, it is a very accurate score. I have made a list below, of places I think there may be errors in the edition.

24 Preludes in all keys for viola d’amore, with accompaniment of harpsichord, piano, or harp.

Prelude 4, 2 bars from the end: an alto clef is missing.

Prelude 5, page 18, last bar of 2nd system from the bottom of the page: beat 1 might be like beat 1 of bar 4, or vice versa, and bar 2, beat three of the same system, that might be better as in bar 2.

Prelude 8 page 21, system 5. I find it easier slur by bars, as the slurs are in the accompaniment score.

Prelude 12 bar 6, fingering should be parallel to 1st bar of 2nd system from the end. 2nd system from bottom, bar 3, lower b flat is a first finger. System 4, bar 1, and also in the parallel place in the 3rd last bar, natural signs are missing for the final 8th note double stop, I think. System 6, bar 2, the g’s are natural, I think.

Prelude 13 Final note should be a harmonic on b’ on the 3rd string? So a diamond head note on the middle line of the staff.  Fifth system, final bar, tie is missing between 3rd and 4th notes? 2nd last system, last bar, 3rd note should be d#’’?

Prelude 14 bar 3, final note should have 2 for fingering.

Prelude 15 5th system, bar 3, I think the 5th note is an a# with a 2nd finger. 6th system, bar 2 4th note is d natural

Prelude 16 3rd system, bar 2 and 3, g naturals.

Prelude 18 3rd system from the end, bar 1, beat 3, I need a reminder fx myself.

Prelude 21 system 2, bar 2, 2nd 16th of bar, both notes open. System 3, bar 4, the a’ c#’’ double stops are fingered 2 3. System 6, the a’ c#’’ double stop fingered 3 4. System 7, bar 3, the g’s are #. 4th system from the end, bar 2, g#. 3rd system from the end, bar 2, the 3rd double stop in 2 1, the 4th double stop in 0 2, I think.

Prelude 22 System 2, bar 2 the lowest note is a d#. System 5, the last fingering in the bar is easier as a 2, I think.


In the meantime, here is a link to Casadesus playing playing his Plaisir d'amore, which I presume is the work he ascribed to Martini in his program of 1906, see below.

Plaisir d'Amour, Casadesus rec. ca 1929


Also of note, there is a write-up on this record in the Phonograph Monthly Review from January of 1931, available on the Internet Archive here:

Relevant text copy and pasted follows:

"Casadesus Society of Ancient Instruments
(Henri Casadesus, Viola d’Amore; Marius Casadesus, Quinton;

Lucette Casadesus, Viola da Gamba; Maurice Devilliers,

Bass Viol; Regina Pastorny-Casadesus, Harpsichord and

Harpe Luth). Columbia 50262-D (D12, $1.25).

Father Martini’s haunting air finds the nostalgic tones of 
the viola d’amour an ideal medium. There are a number 
of other good recordings, most important of which is the 
vocal version sung by Nina Koshetz, but none fits the music 
more becomingly than this of Casadesus, with its improvisa- 
tory introductory cadenza, and its beautifully drawn melodic 
line floating above the quiet accompaniment of viols and 
harpsichord. Are we ever to hear more of Martini’s music 
besides the Plaisir d’Amour? He composed prolifically both 
for instruments and voices, and was one of the most dis- 
tinguished theoreticians of the eighteenth century. Des- 
touches lived from 1692 to 1749, a Parisian, who abandoned 
a military career for that of a musician and from 1728-31 — 
director of the Paris Opera. He wrote numerous operas and 
ballets, in one of which Louis XV danced. The present 
minuet was arranged by Henri Casadesus for a quartet of 
viols and harpe luth. It is a sturdy dance with abundant 
swing and go, played here with vigorous spirit. 

Pleasant as the music is, it is the musicians and their 
instruments that give the disc the market interest. Colum- 
bia does a fine service in making available to Americans 
an example of the work of the Societe des Instruments 
Anciens, founded in 1900 by Henri Casadesus, and which 
has only lately begun to record for the Columbia company 
in France. The Casadesus group has appeared in concert in 
this country, once with the Boston Symphony (works by 
Lerenziti, Borghi, and Asioli). The family of viols is now 
represented in current use only by the bass viol, which still 
appears in double bass choirs, although most basses now 
follow the violin pattern. The viola d’amore is occasionally 
heard in solo, and is called for in some modern scores 
(notably Loeffler’s Death of Tintagiles, where it has an im- 
portant obbligato role). There are seven regular strings 
played with the bow, and seven more (tuned in unison with 
the others) which are not directly played, but which vibrate 
sympathetically, giving the instrument a singularly warm and 
haunting tone. The quinton is a small five-stringed viol, 
coming between the viol group proper and the violins. It 
is not stated whether the instrument used here is a treble 
or tenor quinton. The three lower strings of the former 
are the same as the corresponding three of the modern 
violin, and the three lower strings of the latter are the same 
as three of the modem viola. The viola da gamba (leg- 
viol) is so-called because it is held between the knees violon- 
cello fashion. The qualities of the various instruments are 
better shown in the Destouches minuet where they have 
greater independence than in the Martini air where the solo 
viola d’amour is excellently displayed, but where the other 
instruments are relegated to a subdued accompanying role. 

Another member of the Casadesus family — a highly dis- 
tinguished one in French musical circles — is Robert, who has 
made several solo piano records, also,, for Columbia."

The Early Twentieth Century and the Viola D'Amore

Henri Casadesus


I have had the pleasure, as a member of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, of performing in a beautiful hall in Bilboa, in northern Spain.

The hallways around the auditorium are filled with the publicity pictures, to a far greater degree than is usual, dating back to the inception of the series there, in 1896. My colleagues and I especially liked the one of Pablo Casals, as a member of a string quartet, back in 1898, when he had hair.

Among the many famous musicians pictured is Henri Casadesus, violist in the Capet Quartet, and well-known exponent of the viola d'amore.

Notice that the woman playing the viola da gamba (what could this instrument have been? It looks very large in the photo) and has no frets, but does have an endpin.


Finally I have had the opportunity to hear Casadesus' early music group, on my visit to the Library of Congress.  I heard the Quartet of Ancient Instruments


Le plaisirs champetres, Monteclair arr. Casadesus, something on the order of 20-25 minutes of music:. I am guessing it is original to Casadesus, sounds too romantic in tonality, (kind of like russian quasi folk music, i.e. Modal. However, not chromatic.) Too many times jazzy rhythms of twos and threes.

The LOC uploaded the 2 78 discs from their warehouse, I listened in the Madison building at a computer in the Performing Arts Reading Room.

The overall impression is of pleasant light music.

What I noticed foremost was the tinny harpsichord sound with continuous 4 foot. No realization al all, the harpsichord gets snippets of solos, plays bridges. Warm string tone and the string playing is  excellent, sustained tone, warm, narrow unobtrusive vibrato, but continuous. The sound of the viola d'amore is like violins to me, not like viola d′amore and pardessus, as advertized on the catalog entry, anyway. Staccato sounds spiccato. 8 foot sounds like cello, not gamba.

Really fascinating to get a sample of early music, 1920's style.

Here are the programs Casadesus performed in Bilboa, over a period of 34 years, with his early music group, the Society for Ancient Instruments. During this period Casadesus also performed in Bilboa as a member of the Capet Quartet.

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Janurary 8th, 1906

Sra, Casadusus-Dellerba, Quinton, Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor, Marcel Casadesus, Viola de gamba, Sr. Oliver, Contrabajo,  Sr. Casella, Clave.

M.P. Monteclair Ballet de divertissement

J.S. Bach  Gavota

G.F. Handel   Arie con var. de la Suite n. 5 en mi mayor HMV 430

A. Ariosti  Sonatina para Quinton

L. Borghi  Concierto para cv

J.P. Martini  Plaisir d'amour

G.B. Borghi  Tambourin

A.B. Bruni  Sinfonia n. 2

Popular  Suite francesa del siglo XVII

J. Ph. Rameau  Aria

C.W. Gluck  Gavota

J-J.Mouret  Aria de las gracias


09 de Enero de 1906

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Sra, Casadusus-Dellerba, Quinton, Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor, Marcel Casadesus, Vioa de gamba, Sr. Oliver, Contrabajo,  Sr. Casella, Clave.

A. Sacchini  Ballet de Chimene

A. Lotti  Aria

L. Caix D'Hervelois Musette

A.B Bruni  Sinfonia n. 3

M. Marais  Andante y Rondo

J.S. Bach  Preludio y Giga

L-C. Daquin  Le coucou de Premier livre de pieces de clavecin

J.P. Martini  Plaisir d'amour

J-B. Lulli  Menuet

L. Borghi  Tambourin

W.A Mozart  Concierto


20 de Febrero de 1914

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Maurice Hewitt, Quinton; Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor; Marcel Casadesus, Viola da gamba; Maurice Devilliers, Bajo de viola; Regina Patorni-Casadesus, Clave.

A.C. Destouches Le pays du tender

F Galeazzi  Suite en sol

C.P.E Bach  Concierto para va

G. Nicolini  Fantasia

M.P. Monteclair Les plaisirs champestres


19 de Diciembre de 1928

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Maurice Casadesus, Quinton; Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor; Lucette Casadesus, Viola da gamba; Maurice Devilliers, Bajo de viola; Regina Patorni-Casadesus, Clave.

J-J. Mouret  Divertimento Le jardin des amours

Lorenziti  La Chasse

W. Ayrton  Partita para cv

B. Asioli  Concierto para va de amor

F. Galeazzi  Suite florentina


20 de Diciembre de 1928

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Maurice Casadesus, Quinton; Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor; Lucette Casadesus, Viola da gamba; Maurice Devilliers, Bajo de viola; Regina Patorni-Casadesus, Clave.

M. Marais  Petite Symphonie

A.B. Bruni  Concerto para Quinton

A. Campra  Gracieuse

D. Scarlatti  Sonata

W. A. Mozart  Rondo alla turca de la Sonata par p en la mayor

D Cimarosa  Divertimento

A.F Destouches Fete galante


16 de Enero de 1940

Sociedad de Instrumentos Antiguos de Paris

Lucienne Tragin, Soprano; Maurius Casadesus, Quinton; Henri Casadesus, Viola de amor; Lucette Casadesus, Viola da gamba; Regina Casadesus, Clavecin.

M. Marais  Petite Symphonie

A Campra  Charmant papillon

J-B. Lully   Revenez, revenez amour

W.A. Mozart  Alleluia

G.B. Martini  Gavotte

H. Desmarest  Fileuse

L-C. Daquin  Le coucou

E. Granados  Tres Tonadillas as estilo antiguo

N-M. Dalayrac  Serenade a l'infante

M.P. Monteclair Ballet Divertissement

J.S Bach  Cantata, BWV 202


I found these programs in a volume issued in 1996 by the Philharmonic Society of Bilbao to celebrate 100 years of concert presentation. This made it very easy to check on the performances that included the viola d'amore. Perhaps similar reference works exist for other concert halls, but I have not encountered them. I am assuming that the programs above are representative of the kinds of presentations Casadesus was making everywhere on his concert tours, but ideally this should be checked, to support my position that the viola d'amore was heard regularly in concerts in the early 20th century.

Much of the music in these programs will look unfamiliar to us today, and it is likely that Casadesus may have written part or even most of it. Like some of his more famous contemporaries, he passed off some of his own compositions as those of 18th century composers. Casadesus also wrote a method book, Technique de la viole d'amour, Salabert, Paris, 1931, which includes 24 Preludes for viola d'amore solo, for which he also provided an accompaniment on the harpsichord, piano, or harp

I have never heard the following recording of Casadesus' performance, so I cannot vouch for its availability, but here is the reference, from the English page of the Japan viola Society:



CD No.[ "The Recorded Viola, vol.I" / GEMM CDS 9148 ]

MARTINI, Jean Paul [1741-1816](arr. Casadesus) : Plaisir d'Amour ( 3:55 )