In 2022, I began a project of arranging female composed historical pieces for unaccompanied cello that were originally written for other instruments. The result is about 30 minutes of music by women composers from different musical eras, mostly Baroque, bookended with selections from the Medieval, Renaissance and 19th century Classical periods. There is very little “invention” on my part in these arrangements. There are no reharmonizations, or anything of the sort. As much as possible, I stayed true to the actual notes (transpositions notwithstanding) that the composer wrote, and deliberately chose pieces for which that was possible to achieve with the cello. The arranging process could be thought of as “subtractive,” in that I sometimes subtracted some notes, but in most cases, added very few (or none). I should also stress that in no way are these arrangements attempts to imagine what the composers might have done had they originally written their music for this instrument. It is my hope that the emotional essence of the pieces will shine through and that the medium of unaccompanied cello will serve them in good stead.

The composers:

Beatriz de Dia (1140-1212)
Lucia Quinciani (C. 1566-1611)
Anonymous Benedictine Nun (C. mid-late 1600s)
Antonia Bembo (1640-1720)
Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665-1729)
Anna Bon (1738-1767)
Teresa Carreño (1853-1917)

Listen to the pieces

Score samples from Unspeakable Beauty:
Anonymous Benedictine Nun - Praeludium from Klagenfurt Manuscript (C. 1680s) solo cello version
Teresa Carreño - Reverie-Impromptu (C.1860s) solo cello version

More scores

(free to download)

Marcelle Soulage - Pastorale for cello and harp (or piano) Op. 15 (1920)

Gena Branscombe - An Old Love Tale for cello and piano (1911)

Gena Branscombe - But Only Three In All God's Universe (1907) solo cello arrangement

Marie Elisabeth of Saxe-Meiningen - Lullaby for cello and piano (1883)