Exploring Nicolas Léonard Tourte (b 1746; d c1807)

Posted on January 8th, 2012 by

Exploring a bow by Nicolas Léonard Tourte (b 1746; d c1807)

Pierre Marie François de Sales Baillot (1 October 1771 – 15 September 1842) helps me, with the aid of his Art du Violon  to explore an amazing bow from the collection of Charles Beare. Workshop recordings, Wapping 8th January 2012.

Bow by Nicolas Léonard Tourte (b 1746; d c1807)

Pierre Baillot, in the wonderful drawing by Ingres

‘Taste’, which is the touchstone of feeling, is shown especially the choice of  ‘preparations’ for a bad ending of a trill is enought to show that the player has not understood the passage, or sometimes the whole piece…the ‘First ending’ [on the same note on which the trill is indicated] is generally used for simple melodies.’ (Pp.132-3) Air ‘Charmante Gabrielle’, poem attributed to Du Caurroy French Tune ”Mountain Airs…their vague but tender expression, the pastoral character of the Swiss Airs called ‘Ranz des Vaches’, the long duration of their final notes which last a long time in the vallyeys and travel back into the mountains, seem to us particularly appropriate to the study of Swells.(P.233)Ranz des Vaches. From Rousseau ‘Dictionnaire de musique’. The Oboe and Musette ‘the oboe of the mountains’. In order to imitate this timbre, the violinist must press the bow a little more than usual,bring it closer to the bridge and feel that the roughness of the bow, inhibits, so speak, the free vibrations of the string.’ (l’Art du violon p.247)


GABRIELLE, CHARMANTE, that is, Gabrielle d’Estrées, mistress of Henri IV. The reign of Louis XVIII. revived an artless little romance, which, like the song ‘Vive Henri IV.’ ‘Charmante Gabrielle’ was not only sung far and wide at that loyal epoch, but the authorship of both words and music was attributed to the gallant king, and the mistake is still often repeated. True Henri suggested the song to one of the poets of his court, but we have his own authority for the fact that he did not himself write the stanzas. The letter in which the king sent the song to Gabrielle is in the ‘Recueil des Lettres missives’ of Berger de Xivrey (iv. 998, 9), and contains these words:— ‘Ces vers vous représenteront mieulx ma condition et plus agréablement que ne feroit la prose. Je les ay dictez, non arrangez.’ The only date on the letter is May 21, but it was written in 1597 from Paris, where Henri was collecting money for his expedition to Amiens, and making preparations to leave Gabrielle for the campaign against the Spaniards. It was probably Bertaut, Bishop of Séez, who, at the king’s ‘dictation,’ composed the four couplets of the romance, of which we give the first, with the music in its revived form:

The refrain is not original; it is to be found word for word in the ‘Thesaurus harmonicus’ of Besard (1603), and in the ‘Cabinet ou Trésor des nouvelles chansons’ (1602); and as at that time it took more than five or six years for an air to travel from the court to the people, we may safely conclude that it was no novelty. (A.D. 1450-1889), George Grove 1900.