The Brothers Romberg... Wait Cousins?? - May 2020

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The Theme: Andantino con Variazioni

The Theme: Andantino con Variazioni from "Trois Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle composes par les freres [sic] Andreas et Bernard Romberg"

Francis Liu, violin, and Sarah Stone, cello

About the Brothers Romberg... wait Cousins?


Bernhard and Andreas Romberg, both born in 1767 came from an extended musical family. Bernhard was born in provincial Dinklage, Germany (where he is remembered today by a huge statue in the one of the town’s roundabouts… that’s how you know you’ve made it). Bernhard’s dad Anton Romberg played cello and bassoon and was his first teacher. Andreas also started on violin with his musician father, Gerhard Romberg.


The Roundabout in Dinklage, Germany honoring Bernhard Romberg!

By the age of seven, Andreas and Bernhard were playing violin and cello duets together in public and by seventeen, they took their duo on the road, touring first Holland and then Paris, where they performed for the Baron Carl Ernst Bagge von Boo (a student of Tartini and patron of Viotti, Boccherini, Kreutzer, and Gossec… he’s hilarious so more about him later) and at the Concert Spirituel. Both Bernhard and Andreas were considered virtuoso performers and noted composers. They marketed themselves as brothers for their concerts and even in their published compositions.


After touring, the two settled down in 1790 and joined the court orchestra of the Prince Elector Archbishop of Cologne in Bonn, where they got to know Joseph and Anton Reicha, Franz Anton Ries (and his son Ferdinand) and the young Beethoven. This is where the apocryphal story of Beethoven offering to write Bernhard a cello concerto comes in (and Bernhard saying no), but what we do know is that Beethoven thought of Bernhard Romberg as a musician and together with Ries (violin), Beethoven (viola) and the two Rombergs formed a string quartet.


The "brothers” moved apart in 1793; Andreas settled in Hamburg because of the war, eventually taking over Louis Spohr’s post in Thuringia and Bernhard toured Spain and Portugal, then lectured at the Paris Conservatory, and became a member of the Royal Chapel in Berlin. The two reunited in Hamburg in 1820, but sadly Andreas passed away the following year. Bernhard would stay in Hamburg until his death in 1841.


The First Two Variations


Variation 1 - Andantino con Variazioni from "Trois Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle composes par les freres [sic] Andreas et Bernard Romberg"

Variation 2 - Andantino con Variazioni from "Trois Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle composes par les freres [sic] Andreas et Bernard Romberg"

Three images from Bernhard Romberg's 1840 Violoncell Schule


Three ways Bernhard Romberg changed the cello:

1) He’s also the person responsible for only using 3 clefs; bass, tenor, and treble… if Boccherini had his way, we’d still be using six!

2) He designed a longer fingerboard that was flat on the c string side, to give the string more space to vibrate! 3) He’s one of the first cellists to play concerts from memory, wowing his audiences!

The Third and Fourth Variations


Variation 3 - Andantino con Variazioni from "Trois Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle composes par les freres [sic] Andreas et Bernard Romberg"

Variation 4 - Andantino con Variazioni from "Trois Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle composes par les freres [sic] Andreas et Bernard Romberg"

Two Hilarious Quotes about the Ridiculous Personage

Baron Carl Ernst Bagge von Boo:


“He played the viola poorly and the violin worse, but considered himself a first-class virtuoso and claimed to have invented a completely new method of playing the violin, which consisted of sliding up and down with the same finger on the sides without any further application... "


- General German Biography, Volume 1, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1875

"I have to give Wolfgang a picture or specifically a description of the Baron Bache or Bagge (I don't know how he writes it). As far as I know, he is a poor baron from Prussia or the towns and married in Paris to a very wealthy hat maker daughter. All kinds of disagreements emerged between them, and after we got back home, the two spouses became obnoxious and went through such trials that I heard that the woman had even been put into a monastery. He is a passionate lover of music. He always gave concerts in his house, and maybe still gives them. For this he had some people, as two French horn players (including Heina), two oboes, and a double bass, which he pays full time but not a lot; but they do it because it is something permanent. In addition, he dealt with all the foreign virtuosos, all of whom came to him, since they could stay with him in the foreign city… Even the Parisian virtuosos often come there; some, if they have something new, can try it there; others to hear foreign pieces of music there because he is competing for new music; and finally they also come there to have the opportunity to hear new virtuosos who have just arrived. ”


- Leopold Mozart, Travel Records 1763 - 1771

Minore and Finale: Allegro


Minore - Andantino con Variazioni from "Trois Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle composes par les freres [sic] Andreas et Bernard Romberg"

Allegro - Andantino con Variazioni from "Trois Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle composes par les freres [sic] Andreas et Bernard Romberg"

Thank you for joining us for this Virtual Communitea Chamber Music Concert, The Brothers Romberg! We hope to see you again for our new program released on Friday, June 26th @7 PM. Until then, please stay safe and healthy!


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© 2020 by Sarah Stone