Volume 9, September 2017
Koussevitzky's Double Bass Repertoire: A Reassessment

by Andrew Kohn, Ph.D.

8. Repertoire Arranged Chronologically By Performance

Before proceeding to the final group of pieces, we can take stock of the music that we know Koussevitzky performed. This repertoire can also be arranged chronologically by performance, showing the growth of Koussevitzky's confirmed repertoire.

Even at the beginning of his career, Koussevitzky built a core repertoire that he drew upon for the rest of his career. In 1896 he performed the Stein Concertstück and the Bottesini Tarantella; in 1901 he performed Bruch's Kol Nidrei and his own "Valse Miniature;" in 1902 he performed the Handel Sonata and his own "Andante."57

The record becomes more complete after his international debut. In 1903-4 Koussevitzky performed all of his previous repertoire except the Tchaikovsky, filling out the programs with the Handel concerto, Láska, and Lvovsky:

Bottesini, Tarentella
Bruch, Kol Nidrei
Handel, Violin Sonata in F-sharp minor and Oboe Concerto
Koussevitzky, two of his four salon pieces (the "Valse Miniature" and an unnamed piece: presumably the "Andante")
Láska, Berceuse
Lvovsky, Drei Stücke nach Corelli
Stein, Concertstück.

By modern standards, this is one overstuffed recital, with about 72 minutes of playing time.58 This material was extended to fill two programs by the inclusion of a few pieces for solo piano, performed by the collaborative pianist, on each program.

By the 1906-7 season, he added:

Borghi [Casadesus], Sonata 3
Bottesini, Fantasia "La Sonnambula"
Glière, Intermezzo and Tarentella
Koussevitzky, Concerto

That is, by modern standards, another recital program.

Thereafter, only a few pieces were added to his regular repertoire: by October, 1907 he added the Mozart Bassoon Concerto; 1909 marks the first documented performance of his own "Chanson Triste"; in 1910 he added the Casadesus Sinfonia Concertante; in 1915 he added the Rachmaninoff Vocalise; by 1920 he added the Eccles Sonata, the Galliard Sonata, and the Handel Largo. This is a conservative list, since we are missing such important information as the content of his 1916 recital tour of Russia.

Less often, apparently, he performed:

Bach, Aria (no documented performance)
Bottesini, Grand Duo Concertante (in private, while living in Berlin)
Mozart, "Per Questa Bella Mano" (in 1929)
Schubert, two movements from the "Trout" Quintet (in 1927)
Scriabin, Two Preludes (no documented performance)
Tchaikovsky, Andante Cantabile (in private, in 1892).

We shall consider the implications of this information after exploring the final group of pieces.