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Laurie Niles weekend vote: What is your favorite student concerto or piece?

May 22, 2010 at 9:44 PM

What is your favorite student concerto or piece?

I have a sentimental attachment to the third movement of the Seitz Concerto No. 2, which is the first piece that appears in Suzuki Book 4. I didn't study the Suzuki books as a child, but I did study this piece, and I was asked to play it at a concert, in front of my entire elementary school. I said "yes" before really learning the whole piece, and I can still remember the panic I felt, certain I could never learn the last page of it! But I worked very hard, and it went well. So I remember it as one of those early wins.

For the list below, I included all the concerti that Itzhak Perlman recorded in Concertos from My Childhood as a starting point, then added a few more pieces that students frequently study. The pieces are in alphabetical order by composer. I purposely left out certain concerti and pieces that students study but that are not really considered "student" pieces, such as the Bach Double, Bach Concerto in A minor; all the Mozart Concerti; Bartok Roumanian Folk Dances, Kreisler pieces, etc. The list is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your favorite below, if I didn't include it! And if there is a story behind your favorite, I invite you to share it.

P.S. Thanks to Andrew Sords for this vote suggestion! Be sure to e-mail Laurie if you have a weekend vote idea.


From Patricia Baser
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Dancla Op. 89 #5 and Jardanyi Concertino.  Once, I got to listen to 44 Accolays that were taped for an all-state audition. 

From Anne Horvath
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 1:57 AM

I teach all the above, except Viotti #23 and Rieding Op. 35.  I have a few more:

At the risk of sounding totally hokey, I like all these pieces, and enjoy teaching them.  So how about "My favorite student concerto is whatever the student is working on."

That said, the Perlman "Indian Concerto" is always popular.  I have yet to teach that piece to a kid that didn't go nuts over it.  (Smiley face here)

From Mendy Smith
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 2:35 AM

I couldn't really vote on any of these since I'm a violist. 

Viola concerto's are far and few between, and often they are not at a student level. Typically violists start with the Telemann, then work their way up through Hoffmesiter, Stamitz, Bach's Brandenburg #6 at an intermediate level, and then finally the Walton and Bartok concertos.

In my Z-A goal, I discovered a viola concerto by Zelter, which can be considered as a student level concerto.  It is in the same style as the Hoffmesiter.  I'm finding it a lot of fun to play.  Yet as in any piece, even a student one, I'm finding that I still have much to learn.

From Royce Faina
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 3:26 AM

I love both Vivaldi's a minor and the Accolay.

From Federico Piantini
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 4:53 AM


I could not vote for all of them!!!!!

I love them all with the same fire, chose Viotti in a minor (#22) (Lautenbacher has a great performance of it, Isaac Stern, Grumiaux, ...................)

they are all good!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 6:14 AM


I`m with you. They@re hokey but I really love the Seitz concertos.

I do respectfully, as always,  beg to differ about the viotti.  Of course Perlman stuck one in with his early cocnertos (I think) but I don`t accept either of those as studnet repertoire in the same sense as the others. Milstein wrote of how he was rendered powerless to stand up after hearing Kreilser play Viotti 22 played by Kreilser.  It is said to have been  wa sa great favorite of Brahms too.  I consider this to be a rather advanced conerto in many ways and would like to see it put back up in the serious repertoire box where it belongs.

Which brings us to the the rather problematic number 23 which I was, ironcially about to write a blog on. When I was a teenager this was the set work for getting into the Guildhall school of Music in London and those were quote tough auditions with the likes of David Takeno and Yfrah Neaman on the panel.  Some of my friend sawere learning this concerto for this purpose and since we were all with the same teacher we perfomred to each other and on one memorbale ocassion the teahcer in question said no 23 was a piec eof junk. Actually he said much worse but I can`T write the word here.   That actually colored my view of the work over the years and it was only recenly I began feeding it to students.  It does sort of appear pedagogic or even rather etudy without the same inspiration on both the first and 20th reading but I have been terribly surprised by the work just lately.  Having had to repeatedly pull it apart with a student who really wasn`t paying attention and didn`t want to play it anyway I suddenly started to feel that many passages had tremedous delicacy and grace and that they made the work cohere into soemthing very fine indeed.

It does actually appear to have a less than inspired second movement (compemsated for by the briliant theme of the third)  but I began to feel this had more to do with finding constantly shifting colors on the same simple notes with all their repetitions.   It was  agreat lesson for me. Treat an apparently less than stellar work with enough care and imagination and it may suddenly take on a significance in the big picture which was not initially obvious.  In this sense I have found 23 to be a hidden masterpiece and I really wish it wasn`t ever called a studnet again in my lifetime;)

Except thta we are all students....



From elise stanley
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 8:50 AM

Here's a link to Perlman playing the Viotti 22 discussed above....

for sure, it doesn't sound very studenty in his hands :o (but what does...)

By the way, it would be terrific for us students if this list could be put in approximate order of difficulty...


From Bart Meijer
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 9:47 AM

I have fond memories of Millies' Concertino in the Style of Mozart. 

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 10:43 AM

 PS Viotti 23 is in g major,  not a minor.


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Bach and Vivaldi!!!

A min, G min, A min and E maj

Just loved these so much because they fit my personality!  You don't need super coordination or very fine technical skills but rather a clean energic bow stroke, a very good sense of pulse (which comes easily for most people with these I beleive), a good intonation and an ability to really make a distinction between pp and ff and the others all the way to make it lively and fun.  (just my advice.  Maybe some would disagree)


From Anna Meyer
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 4:40 PM

The Bach A-minor concerto is one of my all time favourite pieces and it´s very sentimental to me. I LOVE that piece and I must admit I loath it when people refer to it as a "student piece" because it´s such a wonderful piece.

I also love Bach E-Major and feel very priviledged to be playing it right now. It´s such an elusive piece and a true masterwork.

And Vivaldi G Minor has a special place in my violin heart. I played a lot of Vivaldi a while back and I loved the G-Minor concerot from the beginning. It has such a sorrowful and soft sound. I felt shivers when I played because I loved the tone of it. I still feel the same wonder when I play it now.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 11:07 PM

I couldn't listen to the Vivaldi A minor for many years as it was one of these pieces that one spends a lot of time on as a student so that by the end of the process, while openly one is happy to have learned the music, deep inside - you never want to hear it again!! 

Bach A minor and I had a much happier relationship - that music simply spoke to me so much more than the Vivaldi.

Interesting poll and glad to see someone mention the Nardini in the comments, another piece that occupied my music stand all these years ago.

From Michael Pijoan
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 11:15 PM

I'll probably take a lot of grief for saying this but I could never figure out why people like Accolay so much.  The theme sounds just like it was plagiarized from the opening of the Bruch concerto and considering it was written only a couple years after the Bruch that seems very likely to me.  I'm not meaning to put anyone down for liking it but I've never been a fan.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 11:40 PM


actually I have never heard the Bach A minor referred to as a studnet work and if I did I would know immediatley that the speaker had little or no music sensibility.

On the distaff side,  in his wonderful book,  Auer criticizes the outer movements of both the a minor and E major as inferior and states that he does not teach those concertos.  In my opinion there is a grain of truth there in that the middle movements of both are just so glorious the outer movements have aheard time matching up.   It is also worth remembering that in Auer`s day there was little or no performance of Bach in Russia and no real performing tradition to make sense of the music.  This was even true of the S and Ps.

Personally I love the g minor Bach cocnerto and think its slow movement at least the equal of the other two cocnertos with the outer being somewhat superior. I am not sure why this work is so rarely mentioned.  The Szigeti edition (peters I think) is well worth studying.



From Chang Lee
Posted on May 23, 2010 at 11:41 PM

As Elise mentioned above, it would be greatly appreciated if violin teachers here could list the concertos in approximate order of difficulty? I also would like to know the difficulty level of Portnoff's #13, 14 and Russia Fantasy. Thank you in advance. Lee.


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