In the music collection of the Austrian National Library this collection is to be found under the shelfmark E.M. 68. It is part of the “Estensischen Musikalien” that arose in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries and probably reached Vienna through family relationships between the Hapsburgs and the Family d’Este.
The old library card calls them: 45 small pieces for Viola da gamba or Cello with and without bass. The microfilm introduction from 1953 calls them Exercises for a bass instrument (cello)
(The different numbering is because the librarian clearly regarded pieces 41 and 42 as one piece.)
In the shelfmarks around E.M.68 there are further exercise pieces:
- E.M.67. Amongst others 62 “small pieces for Cello or Gamba” dated 1708 (Cello and Viola)
- E.M.69. 44 short exercise pieces by Antonio Caldara for Cello and Basso Continuo (Footnote: Lezione per il Violoncello con il suo Basso).
- E.M.70 19 Sonatas for Cello and Bass and 1 sonata for Viola da Gamba.
It seems to be a teaching collection for a student in which many keys and techniques are presented. The order of pieces is as in the original. There are 2-part pieces, Solo Ricercare, and three pieces for violin and bass (in the Balleto no. 39 the composer is given as one Valeriani).
Pieces 17-21 are headed “Ricercara”. They are either short (Intonation?) exercises over a ground note or exercises to develop a long note.
Quite rarely the upper voice is in the tenor clef. (so that those who approve of the alto clef are not excluded I have added this). The respective original voices are indicated by a stave brace.
The chord at the end of no. 12 points more likely towards the pieces being dedicated to the cello but they are also a good collection of studies for every other bass instrument. It was not possible to determine the authorship, but I am grateful for every suggestion.
(Translation: John Collins)