Nineteenth-century Italian cellist, Guglielmo Quarenghi (1826-1882), was a virtuoso performer, pedagogue, and composer active in Milan, Italy. Despite his successful career, Quarenghi’s accomplishments as a cellist, as well as his contribution to the cello repertoire, are practically unknown today. Quarenghi’s merits may not be readily apparent based on the rather scant biographical information available, but once his work is explored in detail, his brilliance and the status of his works as a valuable asset to cello playing is clearly evident. This paper explores Quarenghi’s life and a selection of his works, and offers an in-depth pedagogical guide to his Six Caprices. Composed in 1863, Quarenghi’s Caprices is one of the more obscure works of the cello repertory, but it has much to offer the contemporary cellist.
This paper consists of four parts: (1) a summary of historical and musical contexts surrounding Quarenghi’s life, (2) a study of Quarenghi’s selected concert works, (3) an exploration of Quarenghi’s pedagogical approach as revealed through his method book, and (4) a practical guide to Quarenghi’s Six Caprices. With a goal of promoting and defining the value of Quarenghi’s Caprices, the following discussion of the Caprices offers musical analysis and editorial commentary, as well as preparatory exercises, performance suggestions, and excerpts from related standard repertoires for further study. The edited version of the Six Caprices is included in Appendix 2.