Free Chamber Music . . . who’s playing? 2

Double Bass Blog Guest Post

Last year, when the International Society of Bassists was involved with the Year of Collaborative Music, I spent a lot of time scouring the web for more chamber music that involves the bass.  I stumbled upon a lot more than I ever knew was out there, including Paul Nemith’s massive list of 3000+ chamber works with bass.

Another impressive site was that of Merton Music.  They have been collecting and reprinting out-of-copyright (public domain) works for years, and have amassed quite a collection of chamber works with bass–most of which I’ve never heard (or heard of.)  Now, thanks to IMSLP, these are all available online for free.  Merton Music only charges a very small fee for printing, so particularly if you are in the UK and the shipping isn’t so much, this seems like a steal.  I mentioned this in an information packet that was given out at a presentation on chamber music at the San Francisco ISB convention, and had the intention of digging into this trove of material myself, but have yet to make the dive.

So my question is . . . with so many bass players looking for fun music to play (whether or not it’s the greatest masterworks of all time)–is anyone checking these pieces out?  I’d love to hear some reviews, and there’s no way I am going to single-handedly make it through this list on my own.

Check out the list of chamber works with bass here.

Then order some, or search for them on IMSLP and print them out.

Then read them with friends, and let the rest of us know what you think of the piece/s.  If you’re really brave, post a recording on youtube–or even better–on the IMSLP page that they have created for non-commercial recordings.

I’ll be looking forward to hearing them!

Jeremy Kurtz-Harris

About Jeremy Kurtz-Harris

Bassist Jeremy Kurtz-Harris has a diverse musical background that includes solo, chamber and orchestral performance. He is the winner of numerous competitions, including the 1997 International Society of Bassists solo competition. He has been the principal bassist of the San Diego Symphony since 2004, and is currently on sabbatical from San Diego while performing as Acting Associate Principal bass of the San Francisco Symphony for the 2015-2016 season. His recital experience is extensive, including solo appearances in Houston, Memphis, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Toronto, as well as appearances at several International Society of Bassists conventions and “Bass 2008” in Paris. He performed Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison’s bass concerto with the San Diego Symphony in March 2007 as one of fifteen bassists participating in the coast-to-coast premiere of the piece, and has also appeared as soloist with New Jersey's Riverside Symphonia and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Mr. Kurtz-Harris has performed chamber music at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, La Jolla SummerFest, San Diego’s Art of Elan Series, and the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. A graduate of the Curtis Institute and Rice University, his main teachers have been Harold Robinson and Timothy Pitts. His wide musical interests have also led him to study with such artists as jazz bassist John Clayton and classical/bluegrass bassist-extraordinaire Edgar Meyer. In addition to his performing pursuits, Mr. Kurtz-Harris has been on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists, and is on the music faculty at San Diego State University. His first solo CD, “Sonatas and Meditations,” was released in 2008 in partnership with Houston Classical Radio, KUHF.

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2 thoughts on “Free Chamber Music . . . who’s playing?

  • Thomas Rushton

    I’ve played a good number of those pieces over the years, some of them many times. I do, occasionally, get round to putting a few notes up on my blog about the pieces that I play, but it’s not often I have the time… I do have a week each year when I get to really hammer through the repertoire – for example, my playlist from that week in 2011 contains, among others:

    Nonets – Spohr, Farrenc, Martinu (needs to be done in a group where at least half of you know it / have played it before), Onslow (feels like film music)

    Septets – Beethoven, Berwald, Strauss (Metamorphosen arrangement / reduction – a much better, more engaging and less frustrating play than the 23-part version, but it needs to be well controlled)

    Piano Sextets – Glinka & Sterndale Bennett (top tip: avoid ’em both unless your pianist is very very very good)

    Quintets – Dvorak (some hairy moments for all). There’s also a Beethoven/Khym quintet (this feels like a violin/cello concerto, with the rest of the group filling in the blanks).

    My full playlist from that one week in 2011 is here: