The Chamber Music Network

Dvorák Cello Conversion Kit

The Dvorák Cello Conversion Kit is now available for download!

Download ZIP File


It was common practice for 19th century composers to use the treble clef for cello passages in the high register, intending them to be played an octave lower.  While these passages have been transcribed to tenor clef in Beethoven, for example, this false treble notation (dubbed "trouble clef" by a friend who is an amateur cellist) persists in much of Dvorák's chamber music.  We realize that there is some reasonable doubt about the meaning of the notation in Dvorak, but the common performance practice is to play these sections down an octave.  This kit allows you to replace the false treble clef with tenor clef, or true treble clef where necessary.  It fixes the following:

  • op. 21 piano trio (International)
  • op. 23 piano quartet (International)
  • op. 26 piano trio (International)
  • op. 34 string quartet (Robert Lienau)
  • op. 48 string sextet, cello I (International)
  • op. 51 string quartet (International)
  • op. 65 piano trio (International)
  • op. 80 string quartet (International)
  • op. 81 piano quintet (International)
  • op. 96 string quartet (International)
  • op. 97 viola quintet (International)

The following are commercially available without false treble clef:

  • op. 9 string quartet (Kalmus)
  • op. 61 string quartet (International)
  • op. 77 bass quintet (International)
  • op. 87 piano quartet (International)
  • op. 90 Dumky piano trio (International)
  • op. 105 string quartet (International)
  • op. 106 string quartet (International)

This packet contains a number of sheets to be cut up and pasted into the parts on top of areas containing false treble clef.  We suggest that you start by copying your fingerings.  You can use glue or tape that sticks on both sides.  If you use tape, put it on the back of the page of corrections so that it covers the lines but is mostly inside.  Try to cut just inside the lines.  If you cut too far inside you may fail to cover something that should be covered up.  Of course, you should try not to cut off any marks inside the lines.  The last step is to position the replacement on top of the original.

We have purposely introduced one change to op. 96.  According to the definitive Eulenburg edition of the score, the 5th note of the 17th bar of the 2nd movement has always been incorrectly printed as an E.  We have corrected it to D.  In addition, a few errors in op. 23 that are not covered by replacements are pointed out so you can correct them in your part.

In case you wish to make further copies, which you are welcome to do, please note that the originals are on "cream" colored opaque paper, except for op. 21 which is white.

Please feel free to send any comments, corrections, etc. to:

Eve and Don Cohen
2815 Haddington Drive 
Los Angeles, CA 90064

The entire conversion kit is presented here as a downloadable ZIP file containing seven volumes in two formats: as a Microsoft Word document and as an Adobe PDF file.

Download ZIP File


Contents by file:
  • Opus 21: Dvorák Opus 21
  • Opus 23: Dvorák Opus 23
  • Opus 26: Dvorák Opus 26
  • Opus 65: Dvorák Opus 65
  • Opus 96: Dvorák Opus 96
  • Misc: Dvorák Opp. 34, 48, 51, 80, 81, 97
  • Haydn: Haydn Op. 50 #4, Op. 55#2