Road to Tchaikovsky

October 20, 2017, 6:36 PM · I'm currently working on my "Road to Tchaikovsky", the road that most serious student find themselves developing to achieve their dreams, and have come across something odd.

I've heard from a few seniors in my orchestra that they played Brahms Concerto right before Tchaikovsky, and while Tchaikovsky is known to be the hardest concerto, a myth I do not believe with others such as Berg and Sibelius, I feel like Brahms would equally weigh in difficulty.

What are your opinions? Is Brahms easier than Tchaikovsky to the point where it is worth playing before? I would love to play both, but with my timeframe, I would not be able to finish both by senior year probably.

Replies (7)

October 20, 2017, 7:10 PM · I can't play any of them so I can only parrot what I've heard and that is that Brahms is harder than Tchaikovsky by more than just a little.
October 20, 2017, 7:51 PM · Brahms is more difficult than Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky lies better in the hand than Brahms, which is sometimes annoyingly pianistic (and has more difficult sequences of double and triple-stops). Both are endurance battles, but Brahms is worse than Tchaikovsky in that regard, I think -- the Brahms is more thickly orchestrated.
Edited: October 20, 2017, 8:12 PM · There are quite a few concertos harder than Tchaikovsky, certainly including the Brahms.
October 20, 2017, 9:36 PM · In the end, I would play your personal faves.
October 21, 2017, 12:16 AM · Tchaikovsky requires fast fingers and Brahms requires more strength. Some people are more likely to tense up playing the Brahms concerto. I think the Brahms is more difficult than Tchaikovsky.
Edited: October 21, 2017, 11:05 AM · Brahms is definitely more difficult than Tchaikovsky. In an interview, Sarah Chang was asked what she would say to Brahms if he were alive. Not missing a beat, she said she would ask him why he wrote such a difficult concerto.

As a practical matter, I have seen far more high school violinists who play Tchaikovsky than Brahms. For most average non-music-major high school students, both are out of reach, except the second movements.

Edited: October 21, 2017, 11:06 AM · Brahms also requires fast fingers. I don't know if "strength" is ever really a trait for violinists, though I suppose it could apply to right-hand power.

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