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David Heyes

Henry Eccles: Sonata in G minor for double bass & piano (ed. David Heyes)

Henry Eccles: Sonata in G minor for double bass & piano (ed. David Heyes)

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About the Sonata

This edition includes piano accompaniments for both solo and orchestral tunings and is written in bass and treble clef. 

Were it not for his eponymous Sonata in G minor, the name of Henry Eccles would have long ago been consigned to the history books. It is amazing that one work can keep a composer's name alive, several centuries after his death, and how new generations of young bassists, cellists and violists are drawn to a work which was written by more than one composer.

Aimed at the intermediate bassist, the sonata is both player and audience friendly, and is suitable for any recital or occasion.

Originally for violin and basso continuo, and first published in Paris in 1720, the printed edition was dedicated 'A Monsieur Le Chevalier Gage, Gentilhomme Anglois' and the figured bass part leaves the accompaniment to the player as was customary at the time. As this skill gradually died out there was a need to realise the accompaniment and make it playable for the 19th and 20th-century pianists, which in turn led to many 'romantic' accounts of the accompaniment. Recital Music’s new edition is based on the version for cello and piano by Alfred Moffat (1866-1950) which was first published in Berlin in 1905.

In four contrasting movements (Largo - Corrente: Allegro con spirito - Adagio - Vivace), the Sonata in G minor is the 11th of the twelve sonatas and Groves Dictionary states that some of the movements were composed by Giuseppe Valentini (1681-1753) and Francesco Antonio Bonporti (1672-1749), confirming that the second movement of this sonata was stolen from Bonporti's fourth 'Invenzione' Op.10 and first published in Bologna in 1712. At this time, copyright was unknown, and it would have been very easy for composers to use the music of others without ever being discovered. Modern research and the internet have changed everything forever...

About the Composer

English violinist and composer Henry Eccles was born in London in c.1670, the son of Solomon Eccles (c.1617-1682) and brother of the celebrated composer John Eccles (c.1668-1735). Groves Dictionary of Music & Musicians (1954) calls him "...a player of considerable ability and a member of the King's Band from 1674 to 1710. Conceiving himself neglected in England, he went to Paris, where he was admitted as a member of the French king's band." Joining the King's Band at the age of four or five seems strange. However, anything is possible, and apart from the fact that he composed 12 violin sonatas, published in Paris in 1720, very little else is known about this most elusive of composers. Henry Eccles died in Paris in 1742.

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