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Stefano Marcocchi
historical viola da braccio


The course proposes to address a topic that has been decisively neglected by early music didactics, such as the performance practice of the viola da braccio over the centuries, its peculiarities, and the path of its progressive emancipation and specialisation vis-à-vis that of the violin.

The programme will focus on the study and research of the original solo, chamber and ensemble repertoire for viola da braccio, starting from the Baroque style and moving on to the Classical style, and will delve into the history of period treatises.
Together with the study of the repertoire, fundamental performing aspects will be addressed, such as the practice of "playing the middle parts", through the development of tonal versatility, sensitivity to a "harmonic" type of intonation, and the use of the bow as a means of expression par excellence.


He was born in 1974 in Parma, where he completed his musical studies, graduating in viola with top marks and honours. From a very young age he undertook an activity that led him to collaborate for about ten years, under the guidance of Claudio Abbado, with ensembles such as the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Mozart and Lucerne Festival Orchestra. He also holds the position of first viola with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, the Orchestra Mozart itself, the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova and the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini. At the same time, his interest in performance practice and his curiosity for the 'forgotten' viola da braccio repertoire have guided him, since the early 1990s, through a personal research path conducted on period sources (of which, as a passionate bibliophile, he keeps a significant collection of originals), until he established himself internationally as one of the most sought-after interpreters of his instrument, as soloist, chamber musician, teacher and first part. 

At the beginning of the 2000s, he played first viola with Europa Galante, Zefiro and Les Talens Lyriques, a position he later held with ensembles such as Accademia Bizantina, I Barocchisti, Il Complesso Barocco, Ensemble Aurora, Ensemble Concerto, Le Concert de la Loge, Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century and Il Pomo d'Oro. 

From 2014 to 2017 - after winning an international selection - he was co-principal viola of the renowned and long-running Canadian ensemble Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
He is one of the founders of the AleaEnsemble, a string quartet dedicated to the performance of the classical-romantic chamber music repertoire on original instruments, which, thanks to recordings that have won awards such as Diapason d'Or and Choc de Le Monde de la Musique, is considered a reference in the rediscovery of L. Boccherini's chamber music, so much so that it has been defined by Diapason magazine as 'le quatuor boccherinien de nôtre temps'. 

Numerous chamber music projects see him working alongside performers such as Alfredo Bernardini, Fabio Biondi, Giuliano Carmignola, Gaetano Nasillo, Stanley Ritchie and the Quatuor Cambini- Paris.
Noteworthy solo performances include W. A. Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with violinist Julia Wedman and Tafelmusik in Toronto, as well as J. S. Bach's Sixth Brandenburg Concerto with Europa Galante at the Leipzig Bachfest in 2023. 

He recorded the viola concerto by G. Ph. Telemann (Brilliant Classics and Label Agogique), receiving praise from Diapason magazine for his 'jeu suave', takes part in the complete recording of the Brandenburg Concertos with Zefiro for Arcana (first viola in the Sixth Concerto) and participates in over eighty award-winning recordings for labels such as Aparte, Arkiv Produktion, Deutsche Grammophon, Dynamic, Erato, Glossa, Harmonia Mundi, Naïve, Naxos, Passacaille, Sony, Stradivarius and Virgin Classics. 

He also collaborated in the publication of the volume "The Girolamo Amati Viola in the Galleria Estense" (Edizioni Scrollavezza & Zanrè, 2015), for which he recorded compositions by D. Gabrielli and A. Rolla on the precious 1625 instrument.
Teaching activity plays an increasingly central role in his musical life, flanking concert activity. He is regularly invited to hold master classes in historical and modern viola and since 2017 has been holding a popular Baroque viola course at the Conservatorio 'E. F. Dall'Abaco' in Verona. He also boasts a track record as Guest Lecturer Professor of Baroque Viola at the University of Toronto, as a lecturer at the Accademia di Musica Antica in Brunico, and since 2021 he has held the historic viola course at Urbino Musica Antica. 

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