Anner Bylsma

Remembering Anner Bylsma

I play early music on period instruments because of the great Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma, who passed away on July 25 at the age of 85.  When I was 14 I entered the classical music section of a Tower Records store where Bylsma’s recent release of arrangements of music for unaccompanied flute and violin by J.S. Bach, performed on his son’s 7/8ths-sized cello tuned like a violin, was being played.  I didn’t pay much attention to it until Bylsma hit the final note of the prelude to the E major Partita, BWV 1006. It ended a driven but, as I realized much later, subtly nuanced and very “spoken” performance. It seemed the energy stored by what had preceded the note was fully released by it: powerfully, beautifully, emphatically, and most [...]

By |2019-08-28T23:45:13+00:00August 28th, 2019|Categories: Internet Cello Society Archive, Featured|Tags: , , , |

Conversation with Anner Bylsma

        Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma received his first lessons from his father and concluded his instruction with Carel van Leeuwen Boonkamp at The Hague Conservatory, when he was awarded the Prix d’excellence. In 1959 he won a prestigious first prize from the Pablo Casals Concours in Mexico. He was solo cellist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam from 1962 to 1968. He performs regularly around the world as a soloist and recitalist, and has recorded for Das Alte Werk, Telefunken, Decca, Harmonia Mundi, Seon, RCA, Phillips, and EMI. Anner Bylsma is perhaps most famous for his interpretations of the music of Baroque and Early Classical periods. He recently published a book on the Bach Solo Cello Suites, entitled “Bach, The Fencing Master - Reading aloud from the [...]

Remembering Anner Bylsma (1934 – 2019)

With heavy hearts we share the loss of Dutch cellist, Anner Bylsma.  His presence and artistry have made an enormous impact, profoundly influencing the lives of generations of cellists.  Over the course of his career, Bach played a significant role in Bylsma's life as reflected in his performances, writings, and the two sets of recordings of the complete Cello Suites he made in 1979 and 1992.  In fact, his first recording was the first ever to be recorded on gut strings, achieving a significant stride in the period performance movement. Bylsma was a strong believer in the essential accuracy, and therefore sanctity, of the Anna Magdalena Bach manuscript of the Cello Suites.  He accepted there were some mistakes but not that all performance indications were suspect and therefore optional.  In [...]

By |2019-08-10T02:26:34+00:00July 29th, 2019|Categories: Featured, News|Tags: , , , , |

What Makes a Baroque Cellist — by Guy Fishman

I was once accused of playing like a baroque cellist. It was most certainly an accusation, and I don’t know what the coach was hoping to achieve by framing her opinion of my playing in such terms. Suffice it to say I was insulted, and the funny thing is, I don’t even know why. Okay, I was playing Brahms’s F major sonata, on a cello that had an endpin and two steel strings (the other two were wound gut). My partner was playing a Steinway M. Furthermore, and perhaps most revealing, is the fact that by the time I was being coached on this piece, during my second year of doctoral studies at New England Conservatory, I had already won a position with Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society, the nation’s [...]

Bach Suites and You – by Robert Battey

“In a work of art the intellect asks questions; it does not answer them” -Friedrich Hebbel Few tasks are more daunting than attempting to discern and convey J.S. Bach’s precise intentions for his Cello Suites.  Just playing them is hard enough, but a true and meaningful interpretation of the Suites requires an entirely different heuristic model than that of our other repertoire.  This is because the autograph of the Suites has been lost, and we are left only with several flawed and inconsistent copies.  Since there is no original source, everything, from notes to rhythms to phrasings, must be questioned. With many pieces, one can rely on the fidelity and accuracy of a high-quality edition, prepared either from autographs or composer-supervised prints.  There, you have the simple choice of either [...]