They would actually recompose it during rehearsals and change it wherever they thought was necessary, in order to improve the performance. This is perhaps the reason that early music is often referred to as being 'performer oriented'.
Early music also had an abundance of musical instruments of every conceivable category and type, and some of the more common ones were the stringed instruments which could be plucked, bowed or strummed, and the wind instruments, which could be played by blowing one's breath into a hole, while the fingers would play the melody. The viola da gamba, an early precursor of the violoncello, was one of the easier to play stringed instruments of the early times, which retained its popularity even during the nineteenth century. It is in fact across between a violin and a guitar; while it is fretted like the guitar, it is bowed like the violin. A typical renaissance viol consort would consist of two soprano, or treble viols, as they are also known as, a tenor viol, as well as a bass viol.
The violoncello was used in word painting extensively during the nineteenth century. If Germany were taken into account, it would become evident that this was where the violoncello happened to gain in prominence and this was also the place where the instrument was used in many word paintings of the time. One of the better known proponents of the instrument was Anton Kraft, who was born in 1752 in the tiny Bohemian town named Rokitzat, in Germany. Although he happened to study law, he was indeed a talented violoncello player, and he was remarkably proficient at the instrument. He subsequently joined the Imperial Hofkapelle, and Joseph Haydn appointed him to the orchestra of the Prince Esterhazy. It was much later, in the year 1773 that Anton Kraft created the Schuppanzigh String Quartet, which he used to diligently play every Friday morning at the house of the Prince Lichnowsky.
Of all Kraft's compositions which happened to be published, some of the more popular ones were six Sonatas for Violoncello, with Bass -- Op. 1 and 2, and about three concerted Duets for Violin and Violoncello -- Op. 3, and also one Violoncello Concerto, with orchestra, -- Op. 4 and two Duets for two Violoncellos -- Op. 5 and 6, and a so called Divertissement with Bass. One of the more famous and renowned pupils of Anton Kraft was Henrich August Birnbach. Nicholas Kraft, the son and another famous student of Anton Kraft, led an illustrious and creative life, and he in fact began his musical career at the age of four, when he started to play on a large tenor that happened to be in his possession, the tenor is something like a violoncello, and he started to give concerts with his father at the age of eight. He was engaged in the year 1809 as a solo cellist for the Imperial Opera, but was at the same time restricted by the Prince Lobkowitz who laid down the condition that he must not play or perform anywhere except in the Palace, without his express permission.
Nicholas Kraft went on from success to more success until the time when he inadvertently injured his finger, after which he found that he could not play his beloved instrument any more. He composed for the violoncello four Concertos, nine Duets, a Polonaise, a Bolero, a 'Scene pastorale,' a 'Rondo a la chasse,' and two Fantasias, of which one is an arrangement of airs from the 'Freischiitz.' Nicholas Kraft, the son of Anton Kraft, had a son who was named Friedrich. Although he too was a clever cellist, nothing much is known about him. Another violoncellist, named Joseph Linke, was also popular at around the same time that Anton Kraft was popular. Some of his better known compositions include a Concerto, three books of Variations, a Polonaise, a 'Rondoletto,' and a Caprice on Rossini airs.
Both Linke and Anton Kraft seem to have played the violoncello more form an artistic point-of-view than the virtuoso style, while Joseph Merck played on the virtuoso side. This individual was a person who was training to be a violinist, but unfortunately, was bitten so very seriously by a dog that he found that he could never play the violin again. He therefore took to playing the violoncello, for which he was given instruction by Philippe Schindlocker. He was an avid learner, and he progressed well with his lessons. In the year 1816, he became the first Violoncellist in the Grand Opera at Vienna. Some of his renowned compositions are one Concerto, one Concertino, one Adagio and Rondo, one Polonaise, four books of Variations, 'Vingt Exercises' -- Op. 11, and Six Etudes -- Op. 20.
Karl Leopold was yet another famous violoncellist of the nineteenth century, and he was the musician to the Prince of Furstenberg. He produced a Concerto, Duets, Fantasias, Variations,