Basso Continuo

The Conservatorium van Amsterdam is the only conservatory in the Netherlands to offer the specialist subject of basso continuo at the bachelor’s level. 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.

External candidates 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 theory subjects.

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
* improvisation (teacher: Miklós Spanyi)
* regular evening group recitals
* coaching
* participation in masterclasses
* lectures
* attending the rehearsals and concerts of acclaimed orchestras and ensembles

This principal subject includes the following subsidiary theory courses:
* Historical Harmony in Performance Practice (two-year course)
* Historical Treatises (two-year course)

Admission requirements
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.



After the two-year course, students will be ready to enter the professional music world at the highest level. The student will acquire the in-depth knowledge intended in the master level degree programme by choosing to study a particular area of repertoire which will be examined in a more profound and comprehensive way than is possible during the bachelor's degree programme.

Admission requirements

CvA Students
Upon taking the final examination for the bachelor's degree programme for harpsichord, CvA candidates must have received the distinction 'eligible for acceptance to the master's degree programme.

External Candidates
1. Bachelor's diploma in harpsichord.
2. During the entrance examination, which will last approximately 30 minutes, the candidate must demonstrate that he/she possesses above-average, high-minded qualities as a harpsichordist and basso continuo player, a good overview of the chamber music repertoire and a solid mastery of the various main styles.
3. The candidate must submit a list of repertoire with a proposed programme for the entrance examination to the CvA study secretariat before 15 February. This programme will include a variety of musical styles. The admissions committee will evaluate the proposed programme and make any necessary changes. Programme guidelines may be obtained from the department co-ordinator.