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Anner Bylsma (b1934)

Anner Bylsma’s admirable attitude towards historically-informed performance is demonstrated in some fine period-instrument recordings. His insistence on using gut strings on a spikeless cello for pre-twentieth-century repertoire is indicative of a thorough approach and he was pioneering in his use of the five-stringed violoncello piccolo for certain viola da gamba works, including Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6. He is unusually outspoken about his aesthetic agenda; of the term ‘authenticity’ he says: ‘(this) is used as a weapon by some to exclude fellow musicians, and as a marketing tool by record companies to help sell records, even when the performance is not “authentic” at all. This word actually means whatever one wants it to mean.’ He accuses modern musicians of destroying rhetoric via an obsession with long, legato lines and says that ‘modern string players also bellow too much […] In a well-designed hall, you can play with much nuance, and the audience will hear it clearly. We need to stop making excuses for insensitive playing.’

Bylsma was introduced to the Baroque cello during his student years. After graduating he spent several years as an orchestral principal in Holland, during which time he began to gain an international profile as a soloist and chamber musician, forming a trio with Frans Brüggen and Gustav Leonhardt and later establishing the chamber ensemble L’Archibudelli.




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