"Monsieur Duport, you will make me believe in miracles,
for I see that you can turn an ox into a nightingale."



  • Born on October 4th 1749 in France

  • Before becoming a cellist, Jean Louis played the violin, he then learned cello with his elder brother, Jean-Pierre Duport, a student of the founder of the French school of cello: Martin Berteau.

  • His career as a cellist started after a successful debut at the concert spirituel in Paris in 1768 (19 years old).

"Monsieur Duport (the young), student of mister his brother played a cello sonata wih acompaniment by Mister Duport the elder, his playing was very precise, bright, astonishing… full, mellow sounds, flattering, a strong and bold playing announcing the best talent, the one of the virtuoso, at an age usually set to studying." Le Mercure de France (mars 1768)

  • In 1789, because of the French revolution, he moved to Berlin/Potsdam to join his elder brother Jean-Pierre, first cellist of the court of King Friedrich Wilhelm II.

  • During his years in Berlin he wrote the "Essay on the fingering of the violoncello and on the conduct of the bow" published in 1806. That same year moved to Marseille, France. 

  • 1812/3: he came back to Paris and became teacher at the Paris conservatory as well as first cellist of the Chapelle Imperiale.

  • He died in Paris on September 7th 1819.

ETUDE Nº7 : His Most Famous Composition... 

This etude is about the Arpeggio, a basic figure of the 17th and 18th century, specially found in the baroque repertoire. Here, all the arpeggios have the same pattern, the edute can be practiced with a lot of different bowings. 

 Be careful, it is tricky for the left hand... you can easily hurt your left arm if you press to hard and don't keep the arches of your hand up :) 

(Your muscle can be sore after a lot of playing / practice time but let them rest and cool down before you start playing again.)


  • For your left hand
 - In this etude your left hand moves by chords.
- Because these chords are full of fifths you might have a tendency to close the arches of your hand if you don't have enough muscles in your hand. The arches make your finger independants, allow you to get a stronger articulation, and less tension in your tendons, this etude will make your hand stronger if you have a good posture.
- I recommend to learn the fingering of each chord before trying to play through ;)
* When learning the fingerings and how to go from one chord to the other, practicing the chords in pizz is a good solution to reduce the tension on your hand.
That change of chord is not easy.. first practice without your bow the fingering from 4-1-2 to 3-2-4 : to make it simple keep 3 and 1 down, only 2 and 4 are moving. (see at the end of the video)

* You can divide the etude in different sections. For exemple Day 1: you work on section 1. Day 2 section 2 and then you try to add section 1. Day 3 you work on 1 and 2. Day 4 you add section 3 and try to go once through 1,2,3, Day 5 you work on 1,2,3 etc... 

  • The right hand : the bowing and the bow hold.

A point to take in consideration:

When Duport composed these etudes, the set up of the cello had a lot less tension. This means you had to add less weight on the string to make a sound on your cello, getting more resonance but less projection than nowadays. The bow they used (like the Tourte model) were lighter, it bow was held a little forward on the stick in order to be well connected to the tip (see duport description below).
-> If you choose to practice these etudes at the tip of your bow on a modern cello, you will have to transmit a lot of weight to the tip in order to get a good vibration from your cello, but you might get tired after 4 bars... Try the Duport bow hold and it will feel a lot easier ;) 
Feel free to make up bowing paterns depending on what you want to improve. If you need ideas check Feuillard daily exercises the lesson 35 (page 42) or Loeb / Haufman suggestions of different bowings for this etude.

Andre Navarra used this etude with all of his students to teach them spiccato, bow changes and general bowing technique. This tradition has been going on for generations now.

Here, a link to a video of 7 of his students playing this etude arranged for cello octet by Roland Pidoux for the 100 anniversary of Navarra's birth (with Philippe Muller, Genevieve Teulliere, Valentin Erben, Christophe Coin, Daniel Raclot et Marcel Bardon, Roland Pidoux and Yvan Chiffoleau.)


Excerpt from J-L Duport "Essay on the fingering of the violoncello and on the conduct of the bow"


Find ideas for different bowings ...


A daily 5 min exercise who will make a difference in your playing

Travelling with a cello on board


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