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Prerequisite

Candidates for Grade 6, 7 or 8 exams must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz instrument. For full details including a list of accepted alternatives, see Regulation 1d.

Syllabus

Cello Grade 8 Cello

Cello Grade 8 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Cello Grade 8 (2020–2023)

Pieces

Musicians learn to play an instrument to explore and perform repertoire, which is why pieces are at the core of the exam – candidates are asked to present three at each grade. The syllabus repertoire is organised into three lists which explore different traditions and styles, dating from the Renaissance period to the present day.

Choosing one piece from each list gives candidates the opportunity to play a balanced selection and demonstrate a range of skills. In this syllabus, the pieces are broadly grouped into lists by the characteristics of the music:

  • List A pieces are generally faster moving and require technical agility
  • List B pieces are more lyrical and invite expressive playing
  • List C pieces reflect a wide variety of musical traditions, styles and characters.

Most of the pieces require an accompaniment, as interacting with other musicians is an important musical skill, but there are also opportunities to choose solo pieces and develop confidence with unaccompanied playing.

We hope that by offering this variety in the syllabus, candidates will find music that inspires them and that they enjoy learning and performing.

Grade 8 Pieces

Candidates choose three pieces, one from each list (A, B and C) – 30 marks each. The full requirements and information for the pieces are explained after the lists.

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 J. C. F. Bach Allegro
2nd movt from Sonata in A
J. C. F. Bach: Sonata in A for Violoncello
Amadeus (BP 1733)

More details
2 J. S. Bach Prélude (SOLO)
from Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007
J. S. Bach: Six Suites for Violoncello Solo
Bärenreiter (BA 320)

More details
J. S. Bach: Six Suites for Violoncello Solo
Peters (EP238)

More details
J. S. Bach: Six Suites for Violoncello Solo (Urtext)
Peters (EP9054)

More details
3 J. S. Bach Adagio And Allegro
1st movt And 2nd movt from Sonata No. 2 in D, BWV 1028
PP. 7–8 from J. S. Bach: Three Gamba Sonatas, BWV 1027–1029
Henle (HN 676)

More details
4 Boccherini
trans. Bazelaire
Rondo
Boccherini: Rondo, trans. Bazelaire
Leduc (AL 16 769)

More details
5 H. Eccles Präludium And Courante
1st movt And 2nd movt from Sonata in G minor
H. Eccles: Sonata in G minor
Schott (CB 66)

More details
6 Geminiani Andante And Allegro
1st movt And 2nd movt from Sonata in C, Op. 5 No. 3
Geminiani: Six Sonatas for Cello, Op. 5, Vol. 1
UT Orpheus (PEG1)

More details
Geminiani: Six Sonatas, Op. 5
Peters (EP9033)

More details
7 M. G. Monn
arr. Schoenberg
Allegro
1st movt from Concerto in G minor
M. G. Monn: Concerto in G minor, arr. Schoenberg
Universal (UE5351)

More details
8 Telemann Lento And Allegro
1st movt And 2nd movt from Sonata in D, TWV 41:D6
Telemann: Sonata in D, TWV 41:D6
Bärenreiter (HM 13)

More details
Cello & Piano 1, arr. Pejtsik
Editio Musica Budapest (Z. 14636)

More details
9 Vivaldi Allemanda
2nd movt from Sonata in G minor, RV 42
Vivaldi: Complete Sonatas for Violoncello
Bärenreiter (BA 6995)

More details
10 Vivaldi Allegro non molto (Andante)
1st movt from Concerto in C minor, RV 401
Vivaldi: Concerto in C Minor, RV 401
Ricordi (129356)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Arensky
arr. Pejtsik
Chant triste
No. 3 from Quatre morceaux, Op. 56
Cello & Piano 2, arr. Pejtsik
Editio Musica Budapest (Z. 14637)

More details
2 Bloch Prayer
No. 1 from From Jewish Life
Bloch: Prayer for Cello
Carl Fischer

More details
Bloch: Music for Cello and Piano
Carl Fischer (O5482)

More details
3 Borowski
arr. Wells
Adoration
Principal Cello
ABRSM

More details
4 Bosanquet Elégie in memoriam Joan Dickson
Bosanquet: Elégie for Cello
SJ Music (D1995–6)

More details
5 Brahms Allegretto quasi menuetto and Trio
2nd movt from Sonata in E minor, Op. 38
Brahms: Sonata in E minor, Op. 38
Wiener Urtext (UT50039)

More details
Brahms: Sonata in E minor, Op. 38
Peters (EP3897a)

More details
6 Delius Romance
Delius: Works for Cello and Piano, Vol. 31c
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200209)

More details
7 Fauré Elégie
Op. 24
Fauré: Elégie, Op. 24
UMP

More details
8 Le Beau Romanze
Op. 24 No. 1
Le Beau: Five Pieces for Violoncello, Op. 24
Furore Verlag (10005)

More details
9 W. Lloyd Webber Nocturne
W. Lloyd Webber: Nocturne
Stainer & Bell (H374)

More details
10 Rachmaninoff Andante
3rd movt from Sonata in G minor, Op. 19
Rachmaninoff: Sonata in G minor, Op. 19
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200107)

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Beethoven Scherzo
2nd movt from Sonata in A, Op. 69
No. 3 from Beethoven: Sonatas for Piano and Violoncello
Henle (HN 894)

More details
2 Capuis Presto
3rd movt from Vª Sonata
Capuis: Vª Sonata
Furore Verlag (3850)

More details
3 Rebecca Clarke Passacaglia on an Old English Tune
Rebecca Clarke: Shorter Pieces for Cello
OUP

More details
4 Goens Tarantelle
Op. 24
Goens: Tarantelle, Op. 24
Editio Musica Budapest (Z. 13595)

More details
5 Hubicki Rigaudon
Principal Cello
ABRSM

More details
6 Nikolay Kapustin Elegy
Op. 96
Nikolay Kapustin: Elegy, Op. 96
Schott (ED 22848)

More details
7 Aaron Minsky Broadway
No. 3 from Ten American Cello Etudes
No. 3 from Aaron Minsky: Ten American Cello Etudes
OUP

More details
8 Prokofiev
arr. Rémy
Montagues and Capulets
from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64
No. 10 from Cellowise 2, arr. Rémy
Spartan Press (SP962)

More details
9 Saint-Saëns Allegro appassionato
Op. 43
Saint-Saëns: Allegro appassionato, Op. 43
Durand (2094)

More details
Saint-Saëns: Allegro appassionato, Op. 43
Schott (CB 186)

More details
10 Mark Summer
arr. Cheney
Julie-O (SOLO)
Solos for Young Cellists, Vol. 5
Alfred (212X0)

More details

Cello requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C). In the exam, candidates should tell the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form for this.

Every effort has been made to feature a broad range of repertoire to suit and appeal to candidates of different ages, backgrounds and interests. Certain pieces may not be suitable for every candidate for technical reasons or because of wider context (historical, cultural, subject matter of the larger work from which it is drawn, lyrics if an arrangement of a song etc.). Pieces should be carefully considered for their appropriateness to each individual, which may need consultation between teachers and parents/guardians. Teachers and parents/guardians should also exercise caution when allowing younger candidates to research pieces online (see www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety).

Accompaniment: A live piano or string (where the option is listed) accompaniment is required for all pieces, except those which are published as studies or unaccompanied works (these are marked SOLO in the lists above).

At Grades Initial–3, candidates may perform some or all of their pieces with a string accompaniment. Pieces that are published as duets (or with string accompaniment only) are marked DUET in the lists above. Pieces that are published with piano and string accompaniment options are marked PF/VC in the lists above, and may be performed with either accompaniment in the exam.

Candidates must provide their own accompanist(s), who can only be in the exam room while accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may accompany (examiners will not). If necessary, an accompanist may simplify any part of the accompaniment, as long as the result is musical. Recorded accompaniments are not allowed.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription (appearing as ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ in the syllabus list), the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam. For all other pieces, editions are listed for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable). For full details on sourcing exam music, see Obtaining exam music.

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, bowing, metronome marks, realisation of ornaments etc. do not need to be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are encouraged to interpret the score in a musical and stylistic way. Examiners’ marking will be determined by how control of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Vibrato: The use and control of vibrato, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome. Pieces that are heavily reliant on vibrato for their full musical effect tend not to appear in the syllabus before around Grade 5.

Repeats: Unless the syllabus specifies differently, all da capo and dal segno indications should be followed but other repeats (including first-time bars) should not be played unless they are very short (i.e. a few bars).

Cadenzas & tuttis: Cadenzas should not be played unless the syllabus specifies differently. Accompanists should cut lengthy orchestral tutti sections.

Performing from memory: Candidates may perform any of their pieces from memory; if doing so, they must make sure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to. No extra marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. Candidates (and accompanists) may use an extra copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below) to help with page-turns. Candidates and accompanists at Grades 6–8 may bring a page-turner to the exam if there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn (prior permission is not required; the turner may be the candidate’s teacher). Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorised photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission should be brought to the exam.

Cello Grade 8 Cello

Cello Grade 8 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Cello Grade 8 (2016–2019)

Pieces

Three pieces: one chosen by the candidate from each of the three Lists, A, B and C - 30 marks each

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 J. S. Bach download download Prélude
from Suite No.3 in C, BWV 1009
 
J. S. Bach: Six Suites for Violoncello Solo
Bärenreiter (BA 320)

More details
J. S. Bach: Six Suites for Violoncello Solo
Peters (EP 238)

More details
J. S. Bach: Six Suites for Violoncello Solo (Urtext)
Peters (EP 9054)

More details
2 J. S. Bach
trans. Siloti
download download Adagio
from Toccata in C for Organ
 
The Casals Legacy
Carl Fischer

More details
3 Berteau (formerly attrib. Sammartini) download download Grave and Allegro
2nd movt and 3rd movt from Sonata in G
 
Berteau: Sonata in G
IMC (2093)

More details
4 Boccherini download download Affettuoso
3rd movt from Sonata in A (G4)
 
No. 6 from Boccherini: Six Sonatas for Cello
Ricordi

More details
5 Geminiani download download Andante and Presto
1st movt and 2nd movt from Sonata in D minor, Op. 5 No. 2
 
Geminiani: Sonata in D minor, Op. 5 No. 2
Peters (EP 7296)

More details
Geminiani: Six Sonatas for Cello, Op. 5
Peters (EP 9033)

More details
6 Telemann download download Lento and Allegro
1st movt and 2nd movt from Sonata in D, TWV 41:D6
from Der getreue Musikmeister
 
Telemann: Sonata in D for Cello
Bärenreiter (HM 13)

More details
Cello & Piano 1, arr. Pejtsik
Editio Musica Budapest (Z. 14636)

More details
7 Vivaldi download download Largo and Allegro poco
1st movt and 2nd movt from Sonata in A minor, RV 44
 
Vivaldi: Complete Sonatas for Violoncello
Bärenreiter (BA 6995)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Albéniz
trans. Maréchal
download download Tango
Op. 165 No. 2
 
Albéniz: Tango, Op. 165 No. 2, trans. Maréchal
Eschig

More details
2 Borowski
arr. Wells
download download Adoration
 
Principal Cello
ABRSM

More details
3 Brahms
arr. Forbes
download download Sonata Movement
 
Brahms: Sonata Movement, arr. Forbes
Stainer & Bell (H195c)

More details
4 Bridge download download Scherzo or Mélodie
 
Bridge: Scherzo & Melodie
Faber

More details
5 Debussy download download Scherzo
L. 39/(26)
 
Debussy: Intermezzo & Scherzo
Henle (HN 945)

More details
6 Fauré download download Romance in A
Op. 69
 
Fauré: Romance in A, Op. 69
Hamelle (HA09168)

More details
Fauré: Romance in A, Op. 69
IMC (3499)

More details
7 F. Strauss download download Nocturno
Op. 7
 
F. Strauss: Nocturno, Op. 7
Universal (UE 31455)

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Bloch download download Jewish Song
No. 3 from From Jewish Life
 
Bloch: Jewish Song for Cello and Piano
Carl Fischer

More details
Bloch: Music for Cello and Piano
Carl Fischer

More details
2 Britten download download Marcia
4th movt from Sonata in C, Op. 65
 
Britten: Sonata in C, Op. 65
Boosey & Hawkes

More details
3 Cassadó download download Sérénade
 
Cassadó: Sérénade
Universal (UE 8131)

More details
4 Aaron Minsky download download Truckin’ through the South or Laid-back Devil
No. 2 or No. 4 from 10 American Cello Etudes
 
Aaron Minsky: 10 American Cello Etudes
OUP

More details
5 Nin download download Vieille Castille and Murcienne
1st movt and 2nd movt from Suite Espagnole
(mute optional)
 
Nin: Suite Espagnole
Eschig

More details
6 Squire download download Tzig-Tzig (Danse magyare)
 
Principal Cello
ABRSM

More details
7 Mark Summer
arr. Cheney
download download Julie-O
(for solo cello)
 
Solos for Young Cellists, Vol. 5
Alfred–Summy-Birchard (212X0)

More details

Cello requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C) in each grade. In the exam, they should inform the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Accompaniment: A live piano accompaniment is required for all pieces, except those which are published as studies or unaccompanied works. Candidates must provide their own accompanist, who may remain in the exam room only while accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may act as accompanist (examiners will not). If necessary, the accompanist may simplify any part of the piano accompaniment, provided the result is musically satisfactory.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable).

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, bowing, metronome marks, realization of ornaments etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner. Ultimately, examiners’ marking will be determined by consideration of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance, and how control of these contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Vibrato: The use and control of vibrato, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome. Pieces whose full musical effect is heavily reliant on vibrato tend not to appear in the syllabus before around Grade 5.

Repeats: All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.

Cadenzas & tuttis: Cadenzas should not be played unless the syllabus specifies otherwise. Lengthy orchestral tutti sections should be cut.

Performing from memory: Candidates are free to perform any of their pieces from memory; in such cases they must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary. No additional marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. A variety of solutions for awkward page-turns exists, including the use of an additional copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below). In cases where candidates believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may apply to bring a page-turner to the exam. The request must be made to the Syllabus Department no later than the closing date for entry, and details of the piece, edition and nature of the difficulty should be given. If permission is granted, a confirmation letter will be issued which must be taken to the exam as verification. Examiners are unable to help with page-turning. In a Grade 8 exam, a candidate’s accompanist is permitted to bring a page-turner to assist with page-turns in the piano part (prior permission is not required).

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorized photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam.

Publications & audio

Supporting applications

Speedshifter

A practice tool that allows you to vary the speed of audio without altering the pitch.

 

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