Domenico Carlo Maria Dragonetti (April 7, 1763 – April 16, 1846) was a double bass virtuoso and composer, born in Venice, Italy. He lived there for 30 years and worked at various opera houses before moving to London, England. There he played at the King's Theatre, and lived there the rest of his life. Dragonetti knew Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven, and showed them both the possibilities of the double bass as a solo instrument, and also about writing orchestral double bass parts.

Dragonetti, in addition to being a virtuoso, also wrote several works for double bass, including 12 Waltzes: short pieces for unaccompanied double bass that work well on a recital, or as encore. They're each quite short, with a focus on both melody and technical ability. We're just looking at No. 1 today, but the link to buy all twelve is at the bottom of the page!

This waltz is charming, with winding, chromatic melody that fits wonderfully on the bass. Dragonetti knew how to write for his instrument! Throughout the piece there are many opportunities to shape the work with rubato and varied dynamics, and the way that Dragonetti wrote the piece, the lines are easy to infuse with personality and panache. Along with opportunities to be musical, there are technical challenges throughout the work, particularly in making the fast line crisp and clean.

This is just one of twelve waltzes that fit wonderfully on recitals, and are great as encores as well. They're charming, and will delight audience members who aren't aware of what a double bass can do!

Here's a recording of this fun work for you to enjoy!*

Patrick Neher

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