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Cello or Violoncello, large, low-pitched musical instrument of the violin family, held between the player's knees. It has four strings tuned to C G d a (C = two octaves below middle C; a = the A below middle C). Its enormous range extends over more than four octaves. The earliest surviving cellos are two from the 1560s by the Italian violin-maker Andrea Amati. Until the late 18th century the cello was primarily a supporting instrument, playing bass lines and filling out the musical texture. Johann Sebastian Bach composed six unaccompanied cello suites around the year 1720, and also in the 18th century Antonio Vivaldi and Luigi Boccherini wrote cello concertos, though Mozart wrote no solo music for the instrument. In the 19th century, works for the cello include concertos by Johannes Brahms (the Double Concerto, with violin) and the Czech composer Anton?n Dvor?k. In the 20th century, composers such as Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich further explored its solo capabilities, while Edward Elgar wrote his elegiac concerto, one of the most popular in the repertoire. The most prominent 20th-century cellist was the Spanish-born Pablo Casals. A close rival must be the Russian-born virtuoso Mstislav Rostropovich.

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