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David Heyes

Giovanni Bottesini: Auld Robin Gray for double bass & piano (edited by David Heyes)

Giovanni Bottesini: Auld Robin Gray for double bass & piano (edited by David Heyes)

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About the Composition

Auld Robin Gray is based on an old Scottish melody composed by Rev. William Leeves, which he set to a poem by Lady Anne Lindsay. The melody has been used by many composers, most notably Joseph Haydn, and Bottesini’s version for double bass and piano, according to Chris West (The Paganini of the Double Bass, 2021), dates from 1887.

Bottesini played Auld Robin Gray in London in February 1887 but this is probably one of the composer’s least-known works. In one movement it introduces the theme, with a simple and straightforward accompaniment, followed by variations that employ the entire range of the double bass, ending with a coda which is designed as a flashy and impressive audience pleaser.

Auld Robin Gray is a fun and light-hearted piece, contrasting lyrical melodies with virtuosic harmonic flourishes, which should appeal to performers and audiences alike.

This edition includes accompaniments for both solo and orchestral tuning.

About the Composer

Giovanni Bottesini was called the 'Paganini of the Double Bass' and was the finest double bass soloist of the 19th-century. He was born in Crema (Lombardy) on 24 December 1821 and studied at the double bass at the Milan Conservatoire with Luigi Rossi, alongside harmony and composition with Nicola Vaccai (1790-1848) and Francesco Basili (1767-1850). His remarkable career as a soloist began in 1839 and lasted fifty years, taking him to every corner of the world. From Italy, his travels took him to Cuba (1846), USA (1847), England (annually from 1849), Egypt, Ireland, France, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Spain, Belgium, Monte Carlo and many other countries throughout a long and distinguished career.

Bottesini was also famous as a composer writing at least 13 operas (Cristoforo Colombo, 1847 / Il diavolo della notte, 1856 / Ali Baba, 1871 / Ero e Leandro, 1879), a Messa da Requiem (1880) and an oratorio, The Garden of Olivet (1887 - first performed at the Norwich Festival), works for orchestra, 11 string quartets, string quintets, songs and many virtuoso works for double bass. As a conductor he is remembered primarily for directing the first performance of Verdi's Aida in Cairo in

1871, but was also a respected composer of Italian opera, including seasons in Mexico, Paris, Palermo, Barcelona, London, Buenos Aires and Parma.

Giovanni Bottesini died in Parma on 7 July 1889.

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