Romberg Dagen

A celebration of cellist Bernhard Romberg






Romberg Dagen is a festival over two days, celebrating the music of cellist Bernhard Romberg and his significant contribution to the repertoire of the cello and the development of its technique. 

The weekend consists of three chamber music concerts of music by Romberg and other musicians from his circle (Reicha, Dotzauer, Ries), a masterclass and three lectures on 19th-century performance practice, making it a concise but rich symposium commemorating this important musician. 


Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Oosterdokskade 151, 1011DL Amsterdam



May 12th 9am – 6pm
May 13th 10am – 6pm

The team

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Directors: Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde & Maximiliano Segura Sanchez

The Festival is graciously hosted by the Conservatorium van amsterdam

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  • Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde, Lecture & cello

  • Maximiliano Segura Sanchez, cello

  • Artem Belogurov, fortepiano

  • Kate Bennett Wadsworth, lecture & cello

  • Job ter Haar, lecture & cello

  • Jesper Christensen, masterclass


Ensemble Schönbrunn

  • Marten Root, flute

  • Johannes Leertouwer, violin

  • Anneke van Haaften, violin & viola

  • Viola de Hoog, cello

  • Sara de Vries, viola

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“Complete freedom of performance and absolute command of the instrument eliminate any struggle with its mechanical means of expression [...]. But is that not a supreme goal towards which any artist is striving? And who came closer to this than Romberg! He has complete power over the instrument or, rather, the instrument itself, with its force and grace, with its rare wealth of sound becomes part of the artist, and without any expense of mechanical force conveys all that the soul is feeling.”

— Ernst Theodor Amadeus (E.T.A.) Hoffmann, Berlin, October 23, 1814



Called ‘the hero of all violoncellists, the king of all virtuosos’ by the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, Romberg was a charismatic performer, and always played solos from memory. His own cello compositions combined techniques pioneered by earlier Mannheim cellists with those from the French violin school of Viotti. His thumb position fingerings fully exploited the stationary ‘block’ hand positions familiar to Anton Fils and J.B. Tricklir. By using all four fingers across all four strings, Romberg brought speed, range, dexterity and accessibility to the upper registers of the lower strings, and in his use of natural and artificial harmonics he anticipated Paganini's developments on the violin. He also explored bowing techniques suitable to the Tourte bow, and expanded the use of legato slurring and contrasting dynamics and timbres.


BERNHARD ROMBERG (b Nov 13, 1767; d Aug 13, 1841) learnt the cello from his father, Bernhard Anton Romberg, and until about 1799 followed a career largely identical to that of his cousin, [Andreas Romberg], touring in Holland and Germany and in 1785 giving six performances at the Concert Spirituel in Paris. He then played with his cousin in the electoral orchestra in Bonn, 1790–92, and from 1793 at Schröder's Ackermannsches Komödienhaus in Hamburg. While visiting Vienna with Andreas in 1796, Bernhard gave the first performance in that city of Beethoven's two op.5 cello sonatas with the composer. The two cousins returned to Schröder's theatre in 1797, but left two years later following a contractual dispute.

Romberg then toured London, Portugal and Spain, visiting Boccherini in Madrid. In 1799 he arrived in Paris, where he was active as a cellist and composer and from 1801 to 1803 taught at the Conservatoire. In 1805 he joined the royal court orchestra in Berlin as Jean-Louis Duport's desk partner, but left after the French invasion of 1806. In constant demand as a soloist, he toured continually between 1806 and 1815, visiting Russia and London among other destinations. Romberg returned to Berlin in 1815 as second Kapellmeister, where his duties included the production of E.T.A. Hoffmann's Undine; he resigned after Spontini's appointment as Generalmusikdirektor (1819), and resumed his concert tours and entered a piano manufacturing business. He ceased touring in 1836, and in 1839 completed his Méthode de violoncelle. Among his pupils were J.J.F. Dotzauer, J.G. Arnold and Count Mateusz Wielhorski; his influence and personal interest extended to many other cellists and composers.

Romberg, who played a 1711 Stradivari, made several significant innovations to cello construction and technique: he introduced ‘modern’ instrument fittings and Tourte le jeune's bows to Germany and eastern Europe. He adopted a leveraged bow held at the frog, and his ‘broad’ style of playing initiated modern or Romantic concepts of tone production. Generating widened vibrations from the C string, he consequently altered the curvature of the fingerboard, a modification that Spohr adopted for the violin. He also codified cello notation to modern usage. [...]

Romberg's instrumental works remained popular throughout the 19th century and are still used for teaching purposes. Stylistically, they reflect the influences of Mozart and Viotti, although their melodies are often derived from idiomatic figures that exploit Romberg's distinctive fingerings. In spite of abundant passage-work, his music shows structural cohesiveness, and the chamber and solo works richly explore the cello's sonority and technical resources.

Source: Walden, Valerie, "Romberg, Bernhard Heinrich", Grove music online, ed. by Deane Root, accessed January 27th, 2018.