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Historic Stringed Instrument Treatises: Home


 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

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:

18th Century Stringed Instrument Treatises

19th Century Stringed Instrument Treatises