Erin Lupardus - Historical Musicology

The Mythical Monolith: Reapproaching Bass Violin Characterization According to 17th- and 18th-Century Treatises

Recent research emphasizes that the vision of the baroque violoncello that is always similar in size to its current-day cognate, held with the legs, strung with 4 strings (C and G wire-wound, D and A unwound), and bowed overhand is misguided, but our current understanding of this mythical monolith still draws heavily on physical aspects extracted from a few noteworthy treatises without acknowledging the textual and contextual dimensions of the writing itself. Through reexamination of the primary texts, my research seeks not to ‘fill in the gaps’ of what is assumed ‘missing’ from these descriptions or to pluck out the obvious features toward which we have gravitated, rather to survey these texts as they are: precious insights into the characterization of bass violins and other bowed basses. I employ an explanatory sequential mixed method consisting of an initial analysis wherein I filter specifiable data from the written sources—what the texts indicate about the instruments—followed by a closer analysis wherein I trace identical content amongst sources and qualitatively examine the discourse—how the instruments are linguistically and subjectively described. The primary objective is to provide a deeper understanding of the historical context and discursive patterns surrounding bass violin descriptions, allowing for a more nuanced exploration of historical perspectives on these instruments.

First supervisor: Univ. Prof. Dr. Lars-Edvard Laubhold, ABPU
Second supervisor: Univ. Prof. Mag. Dr. Markus Grassl, mdw


Erin Lupardus (*1996) is a cellist, researcher, and English teacher hailing from Oklahoma, USA. She has performed with various ensembles in Carnegie Hall, the Strathmore Music Center, the Oklahoma Civic Center, the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, and the White House. Alongside artistic projects, she researches in the field of baroque performance practice.

Erin earned her Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance and German, magna cum laude, at DePauw University in Indiana. Following a Fulbright US Student grant to research historical performance practice for the 2018–2019 academic year, she completed her Master of Arts in Baroque Cello Performance at the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität in Linz, where her master’s thesis on the influence of Italian cellists in 18th-century England was nominated for the UNIsono Masterpreis. She has studied cello with Claire Pottinger-Schmidt, Catherine Jones, Guy Fishman, Joanna Blendulf, Eric Edberg, Josef Luitz, Tomasz Zięba, and Jonathan Ruck.