Vingt-quatre Violons du Roy

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The Vingt-quatre Violons du Roy , also known as Vingt-quatre Violons du roi , were a famous five-part string orchestra at the French royal court that existed between 1626 and 1761.


The Vingt-quatre Violons du Roy (German: "24 strings of the king") were 1626 under Louis XIII. founded. As an important part of the Musique de la Chambre , they played a major role in the musical design of festivities and official occasions at the French court in Versailles Palace . If necessary, they were reinforced by the wind players of the Grande Ecurie (an ensemble that was primarily responsible for open-air events and military occasions), or they appeared together with the opera orchestra. Members of the Vingt-quatre Violons had to have an impeccable reputation and be Roman Catholic . In addition to tax relief, her privileges included the permission to carry a sword . The members of the ensemble called themselves “Violon du Roy” the leader “Roi des Violons”, membership could be bought or inherited. Among the ensemble members were, for example, Jean-Baptiste Lully , Jean-Marie Leclair , Jean-Féry Rebel and his son François Rebel and Jacques Aubert .

Jean-Baptiste Lully, "surintendant (supervisor) de la musique instrumentale" and "maitre de la musique de la famille royale" (music teacher of the royal family), was not satisfied with the performance and discipline of the violons and obtained from his employer Louis XIV. permission to found a separate, smaller ensemble, Les Petits Violons de Lully , in 1655/56 . It was occupied by 16, later 21 strings as well as two soprano prongs and two bassoons. The orchestra competing with the Vingt-quatre Violons was also known as La petite bande ; the Vingt-quatre violons , on the other hand, were given the nickname La grande bande .

In 1761 the orchestra was dissolved, mainly for financial reasons, and merged with the Chapelle Royale (the ensemble that had been responsible for religious festivities up to that time).


Quinte de violon

The five-part line-up of the Vingt-quatre Violons was formed by five different sized string instruments with the following designation:

  • 6 premiers violons (first violins , tuning : g - d 1 - a 1 - e 2 )
  • 4 hautes-contre, 37.5 cm body length: (tuning: c - g - d 1 - a 1 )
  • 4 tailles, 45 cm body length: (tuning: c - g - d 1 - a 1 )
  • 4 quintes, 52.5 cm body length: (tuning: c - g - d 1 - a 1 )
  • 6 basses de violon (tuning: 'B - F - c - g)

The violins were so-called "Violino alla francese" or "Violino piccolo" and had a slightly smaller body than the Italian model. The middle voices were played by three violas in the same mood, but of different sizes with correspondingly different timbres and volumes, which have disappeared from today's music practice. The two lower violas roughly corresponded to the instrument otherwise known as the tenor viola . The bass instrument (an instrument similar to the violone ) was tuned a whole tone lower than today's violoncello . Lully later changed the line-up; the fourth part was only used three times, the bass part five times and supplemented by two double basses. The instrumentation of the Vingt-quatre violons shaped the style of the five-part string composition that dominated France in the 17th and 18th centuries.


  • Stefan Drees (Hrsg.): Lexicon of the violin. Building history, performance practice, composers and their works, performers . 2nd Edition. Laaber-Verlag, Laaber 2004, ISBN 3-89007-544-4 ( Instrumenten-Lexika 1).

Web links


  1. Description on Les violons du (French)
  2. Interview with Patrick Cohen-Akenine on Arte TV ( Memento from February 18, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  3. ^ A b Walter Kolneder: The book of the violin . Atlantis Musikbuch-Verlag, Zurich 1972, ISBN 3-254-00026-9 .