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Famous Polish and Eastern European Composers & Violin Dances?

Repertoire: Can you introduce me to some traditional Polish / Eastern European violin music?

From Duncan Gravill
Posted February 11, 2011 at 10:48 PM


My knowledge of Polish and Eastern Violin music is very poor. However I like that style of violin playing a lot and would like to try and learn a few pieces. I'm interested I think mostly in short dances, traditional Polish and Eastern European violin music. I think some of them maybe have some dischordant double stops in them, that sort of thing.

Can anybody point me in the right direction?




From Trevor Jennings
Posted on February 12, 2011 at 05:29 PM

Duncan, since you're in the UK this is an easy one for you get hold of  -  Pete Cooper's "Eastern European Fiddle Tunes", 80 Traditional Pieces for Violin. Published by Schott. ISBN 978-1-902455-90-1.

It covers virtually all E. European countries from Russia to the Balkans and comes with a CD of all the pieces played by Pete. There are several pages of very useful notes on technique - including scales and modes (some of which you won't find in most classical music), fiddle chords, position shifts, and asymmetric rhythms (11/16, 13/8 and the like). There is more information on styles and detailed background notes on all the individual tunes on Pete's website http://www.petecooper.com.

My teacher frequently uses it as a source book for 5 minutes of fun playing at the end of a lesson (I think it's no coincidence that her band has toured a few times in Hungary!).

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on February 12, 2011 at 06:08 PM

Many if not most of Bartok's  44 Duets for Two Violins are based on dance tunes.  Are the Brahms Hungarian Dances too commercial?  The Bartok Roumanian Folk Dances are great, too.

From Nicole Stacy
Posted on February 13, 2011 at 06:24 AM

Hard to think of more classic dance forms than the polonaise and the mazurka -- which you'll find all the time in Chopin and Wieniawski.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on February 13, 2011 at 02:35 PM

Hi, there is one very popular Russian (or eastern Europe) folk dance that we hear everywhere.

It's called "The black eyes"  but I don't know who is the composer... I dislike very much the signing versions!!!  All of them! (well, I mean, it's just my personal taste...)  But I once heard a violin only version and it was a fantastic score.   Someone with a good ear and paper can surely make his own version...  These musicians themselves often play by ear!   

That's a violin only version on youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi0DI4MQTis

I also have the very easy score of Portnoff Russian Fantasy and everyone loves that peice whenever I play.  Just let me know if you want it. (I have the piano part too)  Maybe it's on IMPSL too? 

Good luck!


From Duncan Gravill
Posted on February 14, 2011 at 07:21 PM

Thanks for everyones replies!

Trevor, I shall definately purchase a copy of the book you suggest, thanks for the pointer.

And thanks to everyone for the information on composers and pieces.

From David Baptista
Posted on February 15, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Gundula Gruen of the London Gypsy Orchestra also has a book with Eastern European tunes over at magicviolin.co.uk, also with notes regarding performance, musical style etc. But I really second Bartok's 44 Duets, there is so much music in there.

From Duncan Gravill
Posted on February 16, 2011 at 02:51 PM

Thanks David,

Do you know who publishes Bartok's duets or where I can get a copy?



From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on February 17, 2011 at 05:09 PM

Boosey & Hawkes publishes the Bartok duets, and they're pretty easy to find.  Any well-stocked purveyor of sheet music should have them.

From Duncan Gravill
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 09:01 AM

Thanks Lisa.

I have a copy of the 80 Eastern European Fiddle Tunes now and it looks excellent by the way.

From Duncan Gravill
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 09:06 AM

Thanks to Anne-Marie too!

Thanks for your link. And I have just figured out what IMSLP is, you spelt it IMPSL and I couldn't find it. But now I have and it looks excellent!