Bachelor's Degree in Basso Continuo

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The Conservatorium van Amsterdam is the only conservatory in the Netherlands to offer the specialist subject of basso continuo at the bachelor's level. Dutch harpsichord, organ and fortepiano bachelor students having completed their second year of study may specialize in the principal subject of basso continuo in their third and fourth year. CvA students are admitted to the programme based on the results of their harpsichord solo and basso continuo examinations, taken at the end of the second year.

Candidates from other countries will be admitted in the third year after they have passed the entrance examination on condition that they hold a bachelor's degree in harpsichord, organ or fortepiano, or demonstrate an equal level of proficiency at their instrument. Candidates who do not hold such a degree must be able to produce a certificate proving that they have completed the general theoretical subjects.

Programme structure and credits

The bachelor's degree programme in basso continuo should be seen as a specialization originating from the more general field of 'historical keyboard instruments' (organ, harpsichord and fortepiano). The following components are included in the principal study:
* basso continuo accompaniment of chamber-music repertoire
* basso continuo accompaniment of opera and orchestra
* partimento (solo continuo above a bass line without an upper voice/soloist)
* improvisation

Candidates specializing in basso continuo are required to take the following subsidiary theory courses:
* Historical Harmony in Performance Practice (two-year course)
* Historical Treatises (two-year course)

Instruments as subsidiary subjects


* harpsichord
* organ
* clavichord

admission requirements for the principal subject

During the entrance examination, which lasts around twenty-five minutes, candidates are required to play a number of solo compositions for harpsichord and chamber-music accompaniment parts in various styles. The solo harpsichord programme should consist of a selection from the following categories:

* toccata by Frescobaldi or Froberger, or a prelude non mesuré
* several movements from an English suite, partita, or prelude and fugue by J.S. Bach

Candidates will then perform movements from chamber works in French and Italian/German style by eighteenth-century composers such as Hotteterre and Telemann or Handel.