12 Fun Facts About The Cello You Might Not Have Known

Interesting Facts About The Cello

The cello arrives from the violin family and is often referred to as the violoncello. It’s a bowed string instrument with four strings usually adjusted in perfect fifths: from low to high.

This solo instrument grew to become an indispensable part of Western music not abruptly but steadily through a sequence of inventive transformations and realistic requirements. While the cello is a well-liked instrument, its historical past stays unknown to many people.

The cello is among the more unusual stringed instruments in the orchestra. It has a big, rich sound you can’t get from another instrument. However are you aware of what makes the cello so fascinating? This post will discover some cello legends and disaster stories and take a light-hearted look at some fascinating, much less well-known facts about the cello that we expect will surprise even some experienced musicians.

Fun Facts About The Cello

1. The Cello is a lot Just like the Human Voice

Of all of the instruments in the orchestra and violin family, the cello is claimed to be probably the most like the human voice.

The range closely resembles that of the human voice, encompassing all 4 registers – bass, tenor, alto, and soprano.

The cello does this with wonderful sound quality at every level and might go far beyond.

However the similarity goes deeper than that – the expressive, rich, and mellow tone of the cello has the ability to sing and touch the heart just like the human voice.

2. Booted by Napoleon Bonaparte

All cellos made by famous cellist Antonio Stradivari within the 18th Century have ‘names,’ and one among these, The Duport, made in 1711, has quite a story attached.

By 1812, the cello belonged to Jean-Louis Duport, often known as the father of the modern cello approach.

He performed for Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the palace, and the tale is that afterward, Bonaparte was determined to try playing the instrument.

He discovered it very awkward, exclaiming, ‘How the hell do you hold this thing, Monsieur Duport?’

And it’s mentioned that to this present day, the cello has a dent in it, supposedly made by Napoleon’s boot!

Renowned twentieth Century cellist Mstislav Rostropovitch additionally played this distinguished cello from 1974 till he died in 2007.

3. What is the most Expensive Cello Price?

In 2008 popular instrument Duport Stradivarius cello was purchased by the Nippon Music Foundation for $20 million.

That is the most expensive cello ever sold and probably the most money ever paid for a musical instrument (the MacDonald Stradivarius viola went on the market at a reserve price of $45m but didn’t sell).

However, you don’t have to be really rich to play a priceless beautiful-sounding instruments instrument – simply actually good!

Lots of the named Stradivarius cellos are on loan to noteworthy cellists, such as famous cellist The Davidov, on loan to Yo-Yo Ma.


4. The Cello has a Lead Role in a Bond Movie

A Stradivarius cello known as The Lady Rose features prominently in the Bond movie, The Living Daylights, primarily based on a short story by Ian Flemming.

The cello actually is the star – the case is used as a human decoy, weapon holder, sled, the spike as a rudder, and the cello even gets shot (in fact, it’s actually a ‘stunt double’ student instrument).

The cellist is a sniper, and the humor is cello-centric, similar to, ‘Why couldn’t you learn the violin?’ whilst cramming it into an Aston Martin.

Flemming’s inspiration for the short story was most likely his half-sister Amaryllis Flemming, a cello instructor, and performer who owned a 1717 Stradivarius cello, recognized today as the Amaryllis.

Be aware too that the orchestra used in the movie was really the Austrian Youth Orchestra, and the second cellist may be glimpsed playing the solo part for real.

5. Cellos can be very Modern

Most beautiful sounding instruments are typically characteristic in artworks and fashion photos – romantically dressed cellists with color-themed cellos.

But sometimes priceless instruments have also been used, with disastrous consequences.

In 2012, a 1694 Stradivarius cello often called ‘the Spanish’ – price $20 million – was used for a fashion shoot.

While being positioned alongside 2 violins and a viola from the ‘Spanish Quartet’ set, it was knocked off a table and the neck broke off!

Fortunately, in the hands of a talented luthier, the repair was doable – although the Spanish Royal Palace didn’t reveal the price!

Fashion Designer Louis Vuitton’s company, MHLV, has gone a step further from fashion shooting cellos; it owns a variety of priceless musical instruments, together with two Stradivarius cellos, which it loans out to great cellists such as Yo-Yo Ma.

6. You can make a Cello out of Rubbish

Cellos are traditionally made from wood – spruce or pine for the top, maple or poplar for the back, and ebony for fingerboards, pegs, and tailpieces.

However, artisans have made them from many more supplies together with ice, glass, metal, natural fiber, and carbon fiber.

Some are more decorative, but most are absolutely playable, and cellos have even been produced from rubbish!

The Landfillharmonic Orchestra in Paraguay was founded using instruments made from recycled supplies.

The orchestra founder wanted to stop the Cateura village kids from playing on the mountainous landfill site, so he helped them make instruments and formed an orchestra with cellos produced from oil drums and huge containers.

Cello out of Rubbish

7. The Cello is a very Peaceful Instrument

Some cello sheet music may be very peaceful, however, cellists have also been related to campaigns for peace or human rights.

Pau (Pablo) Casals, the Catalonian cellist, was even awarded a United Nations Peace medal.

Casals, who popularised the Bach Suites, transforming them from play-at-home studies to masterpieces for public live performance, was awarded the medal at the age of 94.

At the United Nations General Assembly, he performed in public for the first time in 40 years, and introduced ‘Song of the Birds’ emotionally, saying that when birds are in the sky, they sing: “Peace, Peace, Peace”, and, ‘it’s a melody that Bach, Beethoven, and all of the greats would have admired and cherished.’

Mstislav Rostropovich received an award from the International League of Human Rights in 1974, and Yo-Yo Ma, the Chinese-American cellist has been a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2006.

8. The Cello is Played by lots of Royals

The next examples present that cellos have some royal connections!

Prince Charles, an heir to the British throne, performed the cello as an undergraduate at Cambridge and took part in orchestral performances (although Charles thought he was ‘hopeless’).

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle selected 20-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason to perform Sicilienne by Maria Theresia von Paradis at their wedding ceremony in 2018.

King Frederick the Great of Prussia, was additionally a musician, composer, and owner of the Stuart Stradivarius cello, now thought to belong to Vladimir Putin’s good friend Sergei Roldugin.

Lastly, the oldest cello in the world is known as ‘The King’ and bears a crown.

9. The Oldest Cello in the World is Almost 500 years old!

The world’s oldest cello, generally known as ‘The King’, made by Andrea Amati in the mid-sixteenth century, has undergone a CAT scan – and has recovered well!

The King was examined by researchers from the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota to assist them in identifying which parts are authentic, and what has been changed – it’s the oldest surviving cello in the same form we use in the present day.

Lavishly decorated in red, green, and gold paint, this cello even bears an image of King Charles IX of France.

It seems to have been played standing up – maybe for processions, as it’s adapted for strapping.

It’s not often performed but you’ll be able to hear its rich tone and cello music on recordings.

Oldest Cello in the World is Almost 500 years old

10. Cello has been Considered ‘Unladylike’

In the past playing the cello was sometimes considered ‘unladylike’, through which case ladies might ‘turn both legs to the left, sinking the best almost to a kneeling posture’ or ‘if found more convenient, rest upon a stool which is concealed by the dress, behind the instrument’! (From the Handbook of Violoncello Playing by Carl Shroeder).

This dates from the late nineteenth century when ladies would have worn long clothes full enough to cover a stool behind!

Surprising now, but funny to look back on.

11. Cello can Cause some Pain

Endpins weren’t at all times used to rest the cello on the ground.

The truth is, although cellos have existed since the sixteenth century, the spike only grew to become common in the early twentieth century.

Belgian cellist Adrien-François Servais, who probably had really sore and aching calves, was the first to use a spike in around 1845, however, the calf workout was most popular for quite some time after that!

Nowadays almost anything goes – some still use their calves (Baroque experts), some play standing up, and some have the cello strung around their neck, e.g. the cellist in The Dead South, however, most are glad to use the endpin for the support!

The cello can ‘harm’ the player in a couple of different ways – beginners will know all about sore left-hand fingertips from pressing cello strings, and the thumb position place might be the worst culprit for being a pain – the player has to hold the cello strings down in opposition to the fingerboard by pressing hard with the side of the thumb.

The sharp endpin is hazardous, (rubber stoppers are really helpful), then there’s the inconvenience and issue of transporting the cello.

On foot it’s large, awkward, and heavy – shoulder straps or wheels assist but it’s not simple.

By road it’s a challenge – not simply fitting into many small cars, inflicting frowns and inevitable jokes by train or bus, and by air, your cello would require a seat of its own – so it would ‘hurt’ your pocket!

12. The Cello Actually has a Different Name

Cello is definitely a shortened version of its full name, Violoncello.

That is translated as ‘little violone’ as a result a violone (not a violin) was actually the direct ancestor of the double bass and far larger.

Living in Wales, my personal favorite phrase for cello is the Welsh word – ‘Soddgrwth’, a soft phrase pronounced ‘so-the-gr-ooth, and it’s appropriate that in welsh you don’t play the cello, you ‘sing’ the cello, ‘Dw i’n caru canu’r soddgrwth’ – (doo-ween cah-ree can-ear soh-the-gr-ooth) – I really like ‘singing’ the cello.

Fun Facts About The Cello

Bill Hood

Bill Hood

My name is Bill, and I am a musician and music enthusiast who has a deep love and passion for anything and everything stringed that moves my soul. It is an honor to be a part of the team at our website dedicated to stringed instruments, and I look forward to sharing my passion and knowledge with our readers as well.

Strings Kings
Strings Kings