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Level of Difficulty : Accolay

Teaching and Pedagogy: For those of you who have taught or studied the Accolay Concerto, how many years of study, on average, has a student usually undertaken before this piece is assigned?

From Elizabeth Mehlman
Posted September 16, 2004 at 09:28 PM

For those of you who have taught or studied the Accolay Concerto, how many years of study, on average, has a student usually undertaken before this piece is assigned? Do you know what Suzuki level is comparable, and what pieces usually come after the Accolay? Thanks.

From pratik desai
Posted on September 16, 2004 at 10:27 PM
well i'm not sure as to the level of difficulty that the accolay requires... but i'm in the ninth grade and have played for three years now, and i just finished the accolay about a month ago... hope that helps
From Nick Bleisch
Posted on September 17, 2004 at 01:07 AM
According to the Royal Conservatory of Music syllabus (1999) the Accolay is a grade 8 piece--similar pieces (acc. to RCM syllabus) are the Bach A minor (I think that's Suzuki book 7, right?), the Haydn Concerto in G Major, the Rieding Concerto in E minor, Kreisler, Liegsfreud, Schon Rosmarin, Sicilliene and Rigaudon, Monti, Csaras, Mussorgsky, Hopak, Ten Have, Allegro brilliante. Hope that's helpful. Anyway, congratulations on playing it.
From Cynthia He
Posted on September 17, 2004 at 01:19 AM
I played it in 7th or 8th grade, which was....let me think....my 3rd or 4th year of violin.
From Jude Ziliak
Posted on September 17, 2004 at 03:42 AM
The Accolay may indeed be on about the same level as the pieces Nick mentioned, but it is frequently assigned before those pieces. It is often set to be a serious challenge to developing players. Attractive though it is, it's almost never played except by students for whom it's really hard. Like the Vivaldi A-minor, it's too hard for most who play it! But that's not a bad thing. It's a great teaching piece, with considerable technical challenges. Many passages are rather akward, and for the Suzuki-bred (like I was), it's a good introduction to the art of Romantic, lyrical phrasing.
I played it at age 12, after Dancla Airs Varies, and before the Bach A-minor. I was midway through Suzuki book six. (That was the end of my Suzuki career, I'm glad to report!)
From alberto sanjur
Posted on September 18, 2004 at 01:31 AM
i think it could go like for a 4th year violin... my teacher let me play another concerto similar the Seitz No I in D mayor but really is a good concerto
From Rita Livs
Posted on September 19, 2004 at 02:04 AM
To compare to Suzuki level, Accolay is in the same row as Suzuki Book 6, because in this book students first time meet practicing in 6th position. This time student's mind is already prepared to play romantic compositions (ex.: Shumann-B.1; Brahms-B.2; Dvorak, Becker-B.3; Seitz-B.4;Weber,Dittersdorf-B.5). I would apply this concerto right after Handel's 3rd Sonata.
From Rita Livs
Posted on September 19, 2004 at 02:34 AM
Just looked to previous post...Jude mensioned Suzuki B.6 too.
After Accolai, Rode #8 is the best.
From Alex Belai
Posted on September 20, 2004 at 08:07 PM
id say accolay can be done on average from 2-4 of serious violin training. i gues aroud book 5 or six level.
From Matt S.
Posted on September 21, 2004 at 03:15 AM
A rather beginner's piece, like the Seitz pupil concerti.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 21, 2004 at 05:25 AM
It really depends on your definition of "beginner." As a teacher I would not give it to a "beginner." In fact, I've found it to be a good challenge for the Book 5 and even above student. It's a nice romantic piece to throw at someone who has been over-Baroqued by Suzuki.
From Lauri Kotila
Posted on September 21, 2004 at 07:10 AM
My teacher makes his students play the Accolay concerto for tonde production and sound development, vibrato etc. at the stage it's not anymore challenging technically. After playing it I played, de beriot nr. 9, kreisler-pugnani prelude and allegro, and finally Symohony espagnole after 1 1/2 years.

He just wanted to make learning Beriot easier, and it worked pretty good, on other students too.


From Nick Bleisch
Posted on September 22, 2004 at 05:08 AM
According to Barbie Barber in her Solos for Young Violinists series, Accolay is Book three with pieces like Souvenir de Sarasate by Potstock, Mazurka by Mylnarski and Bohm Perpetuo Mobile. Book four has the Haydn G major and the de Beriot 9. Book five has Csardas by Monti and book six has Scene de ballet and Zeigenerweisen. (I haven't looked at it, maybe the Zeigenerweisen is simplified. The earlier books have simplified versions of pieces, blech, like the Brahms Hungarian Dance #5 simplified in book one or two).
From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 22, 2004 at 04:33 PM
Her book three, yes? Not Suzuki Book 3.
From Nick Bleisch
Posted on September 22, 2004 at 06:23 PM
Right, Barbie Barber, Solos for Young Violinists, Book 3
From Mina ...
Posted on October 10, 2004 at 07:21 PM
Hi.. Im 12 years old and i've played in 7 years.. I think :P.. I play Accolay now(with the cadenza by E. Górskiego) and I think its a good way to study double stop! If some of you have played the same cadenze please write to me..


From boyd x
Posted on October 10, 2004 at 08:01 PM
i played acoolay when i was on suzuki 4
From Sean Sullivan
Posted on October 10, 2004 at 09:48 PM
Overall this concerto is not too difficult if you have a good foundation in positions one through four; the part of this that I found to be the most difficult was the third page that is written in 4/4 time but sounds like it should be written in 3. Definitely focus on that section when practicing.
From Christopher Ciampoli
Posted on October 11, 2004 at 10:40 PM
My teacher's method was Suzuki 1-5, Bach A minor, then Accolay. So, Accolay I wouldn't say is a "beginner" piece. It's more of a nice step for developing intermediates.
From Molly Pappenheim
Posted on December 27, 2004 at 12:06 AM
I'm playing Accolay right now, actually... I'm starting Suzuki book 8, but at this point, my teacher isn't really focusing on the books. This piece takes tremendous bow control, as well as a good ear and great coordination. In fact, I believe it played a pretty big role in causing yet another bout of tendonitis... :)
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 27, 2004 at 05:03 AM
also an anagram of coca -ayl which is not a cocktail for the faint hearted,
Happy Christmas,
From Andrew Pridjian
Posted on March 8, 2005 at 02:51 AM
I played accolay my 7th year. My teacher doesn't let students pick their music. Most of his students play the exact same concertos/exercises in a certain order. He doesn't let us perform a song until we can really, really play it well. I think this method is great for the student in the long run, but sometimes hard. I could have played accolay in my 3rd or 4th, but it wouldn't have been near the same as how I did in my 7th.
From Mark L
Posted on March 8, 2005 at 02:55 AM
I don't want to offend an institution, but I would like to voice one opinion I have held which may be controversial. I have come to dislike the Accolay concerto and what it represents; many of the beginner pieces are actually no easier than some more "advanced" works that teachers prevent students from playing, for fear that the students will "butcher" a "great work". In my opinion, a musically interesting work inspires students, while too many "student concertos" that are never performed on a recital/concert stage can hurt their love of the music. This is not to say that student concertos are not worthwhile, but as a young player, I always felt that my teacher was being excessive getting me to play numerous Reading concertos, followed by numeous Seitz concertos, then the Accolay, and finally a succession of Viottis and Spohrs. The latter are indeed musically interesting, but the monotony would have been pleasantly broken by a Schubert sonatina or Beethoven's Spring. The fact is that some students are musically more advanced than they are technically, but many teachers assume technique inherently precedes development of a musical sense. Just my very humble opinion, having never taught personally, and so only speaking from the place of a formerly picky student.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on March 8, 2005 at 03:49 AM
I think this is a good point.
Although the question of `butchering` does arise in a lot of cases it is much harder for the purist to then say exactly when one should play a `masterpiece.`
My personal reaction to that list of `easy` concertos is to question the reasoning behind them. I sometimes think this kind of stuff is being prescribed on the asumption that they form a systematic means of developing a good technique through playing pedagogiclaly inspired pieces.
There is a lot of truth in this appraoch but it seems to me that most students are capable of recognizing that learning the violin is very much cocnerned with more mechanicl skills too that are not so much fun in the short term but pay huge dividends in the long run. If the scales and exericses mean that the technique is at least at the level required ot play the piece then a studnet can work primarily at musical aspects which would surely be mnore satisfying and not neceesitate so many beginner works.
From Alan Wittert
Posted on March 8, 2005 at 05:24 AM
I am stunned at the erudition displayed in these responses. Stunned. (And confused...but that's only because I'm stunned.) I will write more following recovery.
From Lauren Smith
Posted on April 4, 2005 at 10:52 AM
I love the Accolay concerto. I played the Bach A Minor last year (an amazing piece which really helped my bow control) and now I am just finishing off the accolay, I think another month and it will be ready to perform. The piece has such a sweet melody and should be a part of any students repetoire as it gives such great confidence when the double stops etc are acomplished.As for massacre of great works, surely it is the players interpretation and how much the peace helps them improve aspects of their playing that counts?
Just my humble opinion...


From Lauren Smith
Posted on April 4, 2005 at 10:52 AM
I love the Accolay concerto. I played the Bach A Minor last year (an amazing piece which really helped my bow control) and now I am just finishing off the accolay, I think another month and it will be ready to perform. The piece has such a sweet melody and should be a part of any students repetoire as it gives such great confidence when the double stops etc are acomplished.As for massacre of great works, surely it is the players interpretation and how much the peace helps them improve aspects of their playing that counts?
Just my humble opinion...


From Philip Hirst
Posted on April 4, 2005 at 12:37 PM
How long have you been playing Lauren?
From Patty Rutins
Posted on April 4, 2005 at 03:44 PM
I think I first played the Accolay around age 12, after I'd been playing for 4 years or so. I think it was around Suzuki book 5 (I went all the way through the Suzuki books (book 10, not to performance level --though I'd still like to since I love the Mozart Dmaj-- skipping some pieces after book 6).

I still pull it out and play it, 22 years later. I also still play the 3 Seitz movements from Suzuki book 4, though I never got around to finding the full concerti. Again, I'd still like to. I love the student concerti, and I love the Accolay -- it's a marvelous piece to just rip off when you're in a good mood.

From Josh Hunton
Posted on April 4, 2005 at 04:02 PM
I haven't played the Accolay, but I really wanted to last year. I think I was probably at that level at that time, but my teacher had me play something else. Now, I'm very interested in the Viotti No. 23 and Kabalevsky concertos. Right now I'm playing the Mozart No. 3. My teacher gave me a choice between the three, and I chose the most technically and stylistically challenging. I love the Franko cadenza. It sounds similar to some solo Bach in my opinion.
From D Kurganov
Posted on April 4, 2005 at 04:05 PM
i disagree with all of you! accolay - 3 months into violin
From Christian Vachon
Posted on April 4, 2005 at 04:56 PM

It's not about after how many years of study, but where you are at in your learning process. As a teacher, I usually stick the Accolay in between the Bach A minor and the Viotti 23.


From Sue Donim
Posted on April 4, 2005 at 08:04 PM
Christian's absolutely spot-on, I think; I have a student who's been playing for eight years (not with me, btw) who still can't read basic notation in first position, so studies elementary pieces. Another has been playing the same length of time, and is working on the Bach E major Gigue. Other students may be on another level entirely. As long as every student is a separate case and progresses at a different level, this kind of question is unanswerable. Also, it doesn't take into account the *quality* of the student's playing - and that's something which cannot be conveyed in writing as we all have different standards.
From Lauren Smith
Posted on April 5, 2005 at 10:46 AM
I am 16 and have been playing since I was 7 but I was a bit of a late starter as I never practised and couldn't play a recognisable tune or read music properly until I was 11. I took my grade 1 ABRSM exam when I was 12 and now I am preparing to take my grade 8.So I have had lots of work to do in a very short space of time.I'm working hard to and am hoping to go to a London college of music (not sure which one yet). I'm really enjoying my playing at the moment which is wat really counts : )
From Rennie B.
Posted on May 17, 2005 at 09:59 PM
Hello, this is Rennie. I'm in my 4th, soon 5th year of violin, and I am just starting to play accolay, concerto in a minor. well...i still have to buy it >_<
Hope everyone is well,
From Joe Maj
Posted on May 17, 2005 at 11:21 PM
I'm starting the Accolay in my 16th month of violin playing. Can't say that I was real enthusiastic about it when the teacher handed it to me, but now I see it's an accessible introduction to romantic style.
From Danielle Goatley
Posted on May 21, 2005 at 07:08 PM
I just started it with Bach in A Minor and I've been playing with a teacher for 1 1/2 years
From Natasha Marsalli
Posted on August 14, 2005 at 07:03 PM
I'm fourteen, going into Bk. 8 (actually, am repolishing the Bach A min.) and I performed the Accolay with an orchestra for a concerto competition last year, even though I had learned the piece years ago. It's a wonderful piece to introduce the romantic style! I learned the notes/rhythms around oh, Bk. 4/5 but when I pulled it out last May, I found it challenging to play REALLY REALLY WELL. It's such a beautiful piece, though, that every violinist should play it!
From Joseph Galamba
Posted on August 15, 2005 at 06:12 AM
I'm gonna get flamed for this...but

People don't respect the Accolay enough, there's a reason Itzak recorded it. It's still a valid piece after you've done other stuff. I didn't do Accolay till year 7. That was probably a little slow, but I know I played it EXPONENTIALLY better than a 4th year. Those student's sound...really bad. I don't know how many times I've made the same post (prolly 4 or 5), but the Accolay is a difficult piece. The high notes, arpeggios, doubble chords, it's not easy stuff. The Barbera Barber books suggest that it be done during book 8 of Suzuki (which in the same conservative ideal that se follows is many years into musical study).

Personally after Accoaly I did Mozart 3 then Mendelssohn. I found them very hard (as I sould have), but with LOTS of hard work, I found that I probably was ok to start them.

From elise stanley
Posted on July 7, 2010 at 08:28 AM

I found this topic through google and just had to dig it up again as it was not archived.  Its a fantastic discussion about the 'intermediate' level concertos and their place in the learning 'sequence' (though I confess I have no sequence, I try everything at the same time :) ).


From Lisa Fogler
Posted on July 7, 2010 at 02:49 PM

I can't help you, I didn't learn it until I was old!

From Royce Faina
Posted on July 7, 2010 at 03:04 PM

I just started working on it at the begining of June this year.  I have been neglecting practice up untill now due to high priorities.  Happy I am that I did run through the Thais last night.  it is a neat Concerto!

From Alison Daurio
Posted on July 7, 2010 at 05:36 PM

For me it was Suzuki up to book V, Dvorak Sonatina, Accolay, Wieniawski Legende, Mozart No. 3, Beethoven Romance No. 2, Kreisler P & A. I was never told Accolay was considered a "student concerto," and personally I do like the piece. I still listen occasionally to the recordings. I played it after 4 years of lessons, I think.

From Josh Thomas
Posted on July 7, 2010 at 05:51 PM

I did the first four Suzuki books, then worked through books 2 through 4 of Barbara Barber's Solos for Young Violinists. Accolay's at the end of book 3, around Suzuki level, oh, maybe 6. After Accolay, I did the entire Bach A Minor Concerto, the Haydn G Major first movement, and the De Beriot 9 first movement. Now I'm working on the Mozart G Major and the Haydn C Major.

From Michael Crawford
Posted on July 7, 2010 at 07:45 PM

I didn't find out about the Accolay concerto until I had finished the Mendelssohn and Bruch concertos, but I would say it's around Suzuki Book 6 or 7, which would be after 4-5 years of playing.

From elise stanley
Posted on July 8, 2010 at 12:58 AM

I think with practice I can do the Accolay - except for those rapid double stops - my fingers are too large for the second set!! Grrrr... I need help there.  Funny how we are all playing the same pieces - also working on the Bach A minor, Mozart G, - have to look up some of the others.  Or maybe I shouldn't since I seem to have way too many pieces at the same time!

From Cyril Millendez
Posted on February 5, 2012 at 02:26 AM
My teacher assigned it to me, along with Barbara Barber's Solos for Young Violinists Book 3, after Suzuki 5.

Personally, I love the concerto. It's such a joy to play and listen to. It's a shame no one really knows much about Jean-Baptiste Accolay, though. :/

From Gene Wie
Posted on February 5, 2012 at 04:08 AM
It's a good work for the right student at the right level. Put those A minor arpeggios to work!

The only thing I truly dislike about it (from a musical perspective) is that "hoedown" in thirds at the end. :P

From elise stanley
Posted on February 6, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Accolay, a personal perspective. Pluses: a piece (in contrast to baroque say) where you can really let go and express (i.e. romantic as above); great intro to shifting freely into higher positions; 'feel' of a concerto; broad variety of bowing techniques (also mentioned above). Beautiful theme that its hard not to fall in love with :)

Negatives: characterized as a 'student concerto' and some parts are way harder than others. However, my biggest peeve is that its really NOT a piece at all but a pastiche of short independent themes. This is not a concerto at all but a bunch of interesting technical and musical challenged snippets tacked together to make one piece of paper. It doesn't actually say anything.

IMO a far far better introduction to violin concertos is de Beriot's Scene de ballet. This has better themes, better technical challenges, and real cadenzas - and even more variety of bowing. Most significant, it feels like you are playing a piece that has a definite story - it would be fun to perform (I can't say that for the Accolay).

IMO, while its terrific that Itzack took the trouble to make a CD of these pieces (including the de Beriot and accolay) its a realy shame he titled it 'concertos from my childhood' - giving the impression that these pieces are not just technically but also musically for pre-teens. It does sound rather as if he did not want to be associated with them as repertoire. A title such as: 'Introduction to the Concerto Form' or something akin would have achieved the same effect for their technical demands while not denigrating their musical ones.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 6, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Wow, look at the date on this thread. Ha, Elizabeth is soo over this topic.
From elise stanley
Posted on February 6, 2012 at 10:54 AM
I was wondering the same - is she still playing Accolay? :D But there will surely be an endless stream of accolayites following her that may be interested....
From Andrew Victor
Posted on January 12, 2013 at 02:54 PM
For those who have returned to ths 8-1/2 year old stream of posts, I'd like to point out Roy Sonne's DVD of this concerto that could be very helful for those trying to develop expressive playing:


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