Air Varie Op.118.No 1


On a theme from I Capuletti ed I Montecchi by Bellini

Composer: Charles Dancla
Arranger: Cathy Elliott

Instrumentation: Double bass and piano

Difficulty: Suitable for advanced players
Exam syllabus: Grade 8

Download editions are supplied as a single PDF containing the double bass part and piano accompaniment

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Charles Dancla (1817 – 1907) was born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre in the foothills of the Pyrenees. At the age of 9 he played to the celebrated violinist and teacher Pierre Rode who immediately wrote him a letter of introduction to Cherubini, Director of the Paris Conservatoire. Dancla was admitted as a student of both violin and composition and remained there until 1840. In 1834, whilst still only 17 Dancla became the leader of the Paris Opera and was able to provide financial support for his family so that his three siblings could also attend the Paris Conservatoire. By 1848 Dancla was becoming disenchanted with life in Paris and left to take up a position as postmaster in Cholet in eastern France. Although he returned to Paris as an official in the post office it was not until 1855 that he was offered a teaching position in the Conservatoire. He remained Professor of violin for over 3 decades until his retirement in 1892.

Dancla wrote two sets each of 6 Airs Varies for violin and piano (Op. 89 and Op. 118). The Op. 118 are based on popular operatic themes of his time and the variations reflect his love of the virtuosic style of the violinists Vieuxtemps and Pagannini. It was not uncommon for 19th century composers to write variations on operatic themes. Indeed, Luigi Bottesini wrote several for double bass and Dancla was not the only composer to choose themes from Vincenzo Bellini’s opera I Capuletti ed I Montecchi. Both the French pianist, teacher and composer Louise Farrenc and the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka wrote variations for piano using melodies from that opera. 

The theme in the Air Varie from I Capuleti ed I Montecchi is based on a tenor aria from the first act where Tebaldo declares his love for Giulietta.

Set for Grade 8 exams by

  • Guildhall (2001-2006) (excluding variation 2)

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ISMN: 979-0-708191-06-3


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