A cello concerto (sometimes called a violoncello concerto) is a concerto for solo cello with orchestra or, very occasionally, smaller groups of instruments.
These pieces have been written since the Baroque era if not earlier. However, unlike the violin, the cello had to face harsh competition from the older, well-established viola da gamba. As a result, few important cello concertos were written before the 19th century – with the notable exceptions of those by Vivaldi, C.P.E. Bach, Haydn and Boccherini. Its full recognition as a solo instrument came during the Romantic era with the concertos of Schumann, Saint-Saëns and Dvořák. From then on, cello concertos have become more and more frequent. Twentieth-century composers have made the cello a standard concerto instrument, along with the already-rooted piano and violin concertos; among the most notable concertos of the first half of the century are those of Elgar, Prokofiev, Barber and Hindemith. Most post-World War II composers (Shostakovich, Ligeti, Britten, Dutilleux, Lutoslawski and Penderecki among others) have written at least one.
One special consideration composers must take with the cello (as well as all instruments with a low range) is with the issue of projection. Unlike instruments like the violin, whose high range projects fairly easily above the orchestra, the cello's lower notes can be easily lost when the cello is not playing a solo or near solo. Because of this, composers have had to deliberately pare down the orchestral component of cello concertos while the cello is playing in the lower registers.