Dark and Angry Violin Solo

April 10, 2007 at 09:28 PM · I have a 13 year old male student who asked me last night for a dark and angry solo. His level is around Suzuki 4 and 5. I couldn't think of anything off the top of my head. Any suggestions would be great.

Duets would probably be ok too.

Replies (45)

April 10, 2007 at 09:57 PM · You could always give him a crash course in the Bartok sonata.

A very slow crash course...but hey, I am sure it'd teach him a lot.

April 10, 2007 at 10:43 PM · Which Bartok? Both violin+piano sonatas and the solo sonata are....ummm...a wee smidgen above Suzuki book 4/5, I would say.....and the duos aren't really dark and angry.

I'm right now taking a break from practicing Zigeunerweisen (again), and the opening of that is pretty kick-ass. Again, maybe too hard.

Hmm. Now I need to think about this....interesting dilemma....

April 11, 2007 at 01:56 AM · Not angry but more dramatic and probably suited to your student's technical level-Bohm Sarabnde in g minor or Seitz Concerto #3 in g minor. If it is not a festival solo he is looking for, why not a play-along cd of something like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

April 11, 2007 at 02:28 AM · Interesting that it's so hard to come up with anything! Perhaps this is a symptom of our desire to ingrain habits of neatness and prettiness in players from an early age?

If the student is talented, Monti Czardas might not be too big a leap up, if he really wants to do it. Desire and felt emotion are great motivators of technical progress; if he wants to be able to do it, he may be able to learn to.

Less optimistically/recklessly, certain movements of Bartok's For Children might satisfy his hungry heart.

April 11, 2007 at 03:06 AM · Except "For Children" is for piano, there are some rather tricky transcriptions of parts of it by Szigeti, but they're all pretty cheery anyway. (What's with the stereotype of Bartok as always gloomy and dark?!) :)

Bohm Sarabande would be good, I loved that piece. I was rather angst-y and dramatic when I played it too. :)

April 11, 2007 at 05:24 AM · I've been finishing up the Sarabande from BWV 997 sketch-wise. Segovia (and I ;)) do it on guitar, so I assume it was for lute. Anyway, it's beautiful on violin, and the challenge in getting the detached notes, as well as the double stop type detache measures near the very end are pretty cool, in the spirit of duplicating it's original intent. But, I'm only in the middle of Suzuki 3. The piece is both dark and light, it moves through minors and majors along with the challenge of treatment in such as way that though I've played it for several years on guitar, I like it even more on violin I think. No, I'm sure I do....

I'm currently finishing the last measures, and seeking how to create a couple chords that grab at least three of the notes from guitar on the very first measure, first theme. I learned it originally using tablature, but now am transcribing it to e-m for guitar by ear in real time rather than putting it on the keyboard and then continuing, so maybe that's why it's so challenging for me.

Nonetheless, it's an excellent song for violin..

Beyond that, I messed around with some of Vivaldi's mandolin concerto back in December doing the same thing, and they have thoughtful/dark things going on.

April 11, 2007 at 04:45 AM · I've heard this before. A student with something inside to express. I encourage improvisation.

Teach octaves. Tenths. Major seconds. Tension and release. Saltando bowing! Huge sounds! Whispery harmonics.

If he wants something let him tell it in his own sounds!

April 11, 2007 at 05:49 AM · Michael--yes! How cool. I've lived my life contrasted to formal thought, in my own improv world largely. I'll likely never ask what to play next.

April 11, 2007 at 09:55 AM · Yes, Maura, the Bartok-Szigeti transcriptions are what I had in mind (they're not very far removed from Bartok-- the two performed those transcriptions together). And notice that I said "certain movements." Nobody's making gross generalizations!

April 11, 2007 at 02:00 PM · I have the recording of them playing it together, Bartok was an amazing pianist. I'm just not convinced that any of the movements are the kind of "dark and angry" this guy is looking for.

April 11, 2007 at 03:38 PM · Thanks guys!

Czardas was the first thing I thought of and I played it for him and he was like, I want dark and angry not wierd and kind of cheesy. Personally I love Czardas, but ok, he doesn't.

Michael, good thought on the improv, I didn't think about that. 10ths should be fun for him...

Bartok, maybe he will like that... We shall see.

Thanks again

April 11, 2007 at 03:45 PM · You can always dangle Ysaye #2 in front of him and say, see, this is what you get to play once you work really hard and get really good. :) That's probably one of the darkest pieces in the violin repertoire, what with the Dies Irae and all.

April 11, 2007 at 03:49 PM · Hope,

What a hysterical request... but I second everyone's suggestion to dangle repertoire in front of him; maybe burn him a CD with some of the pieces people recommended. Gotta love 13 year old boys.

Best wishes,


April 11, 2007 at 03:53 PM · The opening movement of Schubert opus 137 #2 can be played in a very dramatic way. It also seems to be the right degree of difficulty.

April 11, 2007 at 04:08 PM · From: Skowronski: Classical Recordings

Don't know how good this 13 year old is but, you might bait him with Stravinsky's ELEGIE......pretty gloomy and lugubrious stuff. Its for SOLO fiddle, too! No sense haunting the entire neighborhood.

Good Haunting, or is it hunting?!

Best to all,

Skowronski: Classical Recordings

April 11, 2007 at 04:17 PM · This might be a bit easy (1st & 3rd pos.), but Rieding's Concertino in A Minor, Op. 21, the "Hungarian" student concerto has some really intense minor sections. It is a real barn-burner of a student piece. It has lots of 16th note running passages. I really enjoy teaching it, and kids love it!

April 11, 2007 at 06:46 PM · Eligie is beautiful, I think that will work for him. It will be a little hard, but we will see.

Maura, if I dangled any Ysaye at him, I think he would smash his violin over my head and run out screaming... Maybe in a few years I will show him that.

I like Rieding Concertino in a--I never did that one myself, so I never even thought about it. He really likes songs in minor keys. He is a big fan of the vivaldi in a. Except it isn't "dark" enough...

Thanks again for all the suggestions.

April 11, 2007 at 07:14 PM · Dark and angry? Hmmmmm.

Actually, a couple of the Bartok duos are indeed dark and angry.

And how about the last movement of the Vivaldi "Winter" Concerto from The Four Seasons?

(Weren't "The Four Seasons" a doo-wop group?).


April 11, 2007 at 07:24 PM · Sander,

just curious--which Bartok duos sound the most dark-and-angry to you?

I'm completely inured to their dissonance by now, so sometimes it's hard to tell. :)

Non sequitur: I remember a year or so ago I was sitting in theory class while our very strange professor was trying to convince everyone that the perfect fourth is a dissonance. Everyone else just kind of nodded bewildered acceptance, but I was irate: "that doesn't make any sense! How can a fourth be a dissonance, just listen to it!" which was the cue for the Prof to fire back: "Well, you've just been listening to too much Bartok then! You know, you shouldn't be running around with those wild Hungarian composers, that's dangerous for a young lady like you...."

Of course, then the next semester, after this theory prof who thought I was too radical because I wanted to write like Bartok, I got a composition teacher who thought I was entirely too conservative and old-fashioned because I wanted to write like Bartok. :) Ah, Béla, when will the cruel world ever understand us...

April 11, 2007 at 09:22 PM · I forget the numbers (of the Bartok duos), and it's been years since I've played them, but I seem to recall a couple of them. You'd have to skim through them.

PS. I always thought that a "perfect 4th" had something to do with a bridge game.

April 11, 2007 at 09:39 PM · What about the Bach Double Concerto? The second violin part is in Book 4, and the first part is in Book 5. That is a dark piece, but also a joy to play!

April 11, 2007 at 09:42 PM · Sander,

"Bánkódás" from the third book is definitely the darkest, but I don't think it's the kind of dark this kid is looking for. :) Might try the "Arabian song", it's rather intense.

April 11, 2007 at 10:05 PM · Two folk tunes: The Devil take the War and Hector the Hero? Wieniawski Legende, Tartini Devil's trill sonata?

April 11, 2007 at 10:20 PM · Bartok 44 Duo Suggestions:

# 6 Hungarian Song

# 7 Rumanian Song

# 15 Soldier's Song

# 18 Marching Song

# 22 Mosquito Dance

# 28 Sorrow

# 32 Dance From Maramaros (angry pizz)

# 34 Counting Song

# 38 Rumanian Whirling Dance

# 44 Transylvanian Dance

Disclaimer: These songs aren't all dark and angry, but they are all pretty intense. I'll let The Gerety provide the Hungarian translations of the titles.

April 12, 2007 at 04:23 AM · Ah an idea based on Maia's comment. Make him play Minuet in G--then he'll really appreciate dark and angry! ;)

April 12, 2007 at 04:42 AM · The darkest and angriest piece that immediately leapt to my mind was Fantasy & Fugue in G Minor BWV 542. OK, it is for organ, but I think it could be adapted and simplified to be satisfying for a dark and angry 13 year old boy...

April 12, 2007 at 09:57 AM · What if you use the piano version and arranged a couple movements from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition as a duet?

April 12, 2007 at 01:39 PM · On the dark side, though not angry- Kol Nidre. Or how about the Bumblebee? That always seems a little sinister to me. Some kids like the competition with self to get it buzzing really agressively. Sue

April 13, 2007 at 12:55 AM · Dark and angry for solo violin? Milstein's

arrangement of Liszt Mephisto walz No.1 But of course it's

not for a student. It's not even for professionals. I thing

that it's not for this world.

April 13, 2007 at 01:12 AM · He just means something not for babies. He doesn't really mean dark and angry. This is not meant for women to understand.

April 13, 2007 at 01:12 AM · I've been trying to hear the violin transcription for Mephisto Waltz but have never been able to find it....anyone know if it's on youtube or anywhere for download?

April 13, 2007 at 01:53 AM · Armand, "Mephisto Valse # 1" , arr. by Milstein, is published by Schirmer, and is available at many fine internet retail outlets.

April 13, 2007 at 03:38 AM · Jim, Ha! I like that. Except he specifically said dark and angry, not just not for babies. Before the Vivaldi in a minor he worked on Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the allegro mvmt. I just think he got too much happy with mozart and somewhat melancholy with the vivaldi, and now wants something completely different. Dark and angry...

April 13, 2007 at 03:43 AM · I found mephisto valse on sheetmusicplus.com.

It is the Schirmer arr. by Milstein, and it is only $4.00!

April 13, 2007 at 03:48 AM · Transcribe some of the easier movements from Bach's Cello Suite in C minor. That's a pretty dark piece if he can handle it.

April 13, 2007 at 04:13 AM · Like I said, it's just not for women to understand. You see, the male ego cannot face head-on the dilemma he now faces. To tell you his true desire, that he doesn't want baby songs, would be to bare his soul, to expose it to scrutiny he does not believe it can withstand. Saying he wants dark and angry on the other hand, substitutes an external mechanism for achieving the aim of his subconscious for the internal component which must not be expressed directly at all costs. It's the same reason if a woman starts screaming emergency, she doesn't want you to save her, she just wants somebody to talk to.

April 13, 2007 at 04:54 AM · Interesting take on the situation, Jim, but even if we accept your account of gender differences, your point hinges on the designation of Vivaldi as a "baby song."

April 13, 2007 at 04:48 PM · How about Bartok Romanian Dances #1 without the double strops?

April 13, 2007 at 05:03 PM · *sigh*....again with the "angry Bartok" stereotypes.... :) (speaking of Hungarian stereotypes, did anybody see the Colbert Report last Tuesday? LOL!)

No, seriously, the first Romanian Dance might actually be close to what he's looking for. :) And even the cheery movements are pretty white-hot intense, so it might be just the thing. Hope, do you think he's just looking for something intense, or is he really looking for some kind of hard-core teen angst kind of thing?

April 13, 2007 at 05:08 PM · Or maybe a Jimi Hendrix transcription? :) I don't know if it's ever been done for violin, but I've heard Matt Haimovitz play Hendrix on the cello and it's awesome.

April 13, 2007 at 05:42 PM · Probably a little beyond him, but how about the first violin part to Beethoven's Quartet in C minor, Op. 13 #4? Sounds dark and angry to me!

April 13, 2007 at 11:11 PM · Maura, I saw the Colbert Report! I was laughing so hard at the Bartok reference. Made me feel like less of a dork when mainstream comedians make jokes about Bartok...or at least reference him, anyhow.

April 14, 2007 at 08:01 AM · In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg should be perfect (although it is an orchestral piece) - it starts off menacing and builds up to a frantic climax. Enough said.

Also Summer Storms from the Four Seasons is pretty scary, but the second violin has all the thunder.

April 14, 2007 at 05:40 PM · Emily,

Was it not the best episode ever?! I am now officially a paprika-snorting goulie, a Buda pest, and a mitten-handed Magyar who can't play the guitar. :)

Edit: for anyone who is wondering just what in the heck we're talking about, see http://www.pestcentric.com/archives/2007/04-12-paprika-snorters-stephen-colbert-strikes-again.html

April 15, 2007 at 02:16 AM · I gave my student Stairway to Heaven and Eleanor Rigby. He liked both of them, not that either are really dark and angry, but he liked them. I also showed him the Bartok duos, we are going to try them at his next lesson.

Thanks for all the suggestions...

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