The Viola d’amore
is a stringed instrument in
the shape of a viola, only with six or sometimes even seven playing
strings and six or seven sympathetic strings for extra resonance.
The tuning of this instrument
can vary whereas the tuning often was D-major (A D a d' f-sharp' a d'')
in the 18th century. The sympathetic strings give the viola d'amore its
special timbre and mostly match the pitches of the playing strings. The
instrument is held under the chin like a violin or viola. Because of
the extra two or three playing strings and the varying tunings the
viola d'amore needs to be played slightly differently.
The viola d'amore was very
popular in the baroque and classical era with composers like Heinrich
Ignaz Franz Biber, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Carl
Stamitz, Anton Hoffmeister, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Joseph
Mozart and Haydn,
unfortunately did not compose for the viola d'amore, which might be the
reason why the instrument is almost forgotten and rarely heard in
concerts halls around the world. Hopefully modern compositions for this
instrument will cause a renaissance to the viola d'amore.