Suggestion of a concerto for college auditions?

May 16, 2007 at 02:34 PM · I am a high school junior and I am trying to plan my audition program for next year. I will be applying to schools such as CIM, NEC, Indiana, and Juilliard. I am having trouble deciding on a concerto. My original plan was to do Prokofiev No. 2, but my teacher is suggesting that I play something more lyrical. Does anyone have any suggestions besides the standard romantic concertos (Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, etc.)? Thanks!

Replies (38)

May 16, 2007 at 02:55 PM · I did Dvorak, and it worked well. It's a pretty good audition piece IMHO--it's part of the standard repertoire, but not one of those massively overplayed pieces like Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Sibelius and whatever else probably has the audition committee cringing and thinking "Oh no, not THIS again." :) Also, it shows both lyrical and pyrotechnic capabilities, and there's a little more room for individual interpretation than in some of the big warhorses (again just IMHO).

May 16, 2007 at 02:59 PM · I like Mozart no. 4. This is required audition material (Mozart concerto in general - not 4 specifically) for many symphonies. Just get a couple concerti with contrasting movements and you'll be fine!

May 16, 2007 at 03:29 PM · not that it's necessarily any more lyrical, but how about khachaturian? it got me into grad school. or maybe barber? those two might not be played as often as most romantic pieces. also, dvorak might be good, too.

May 16, 2007 at 03:46 PM · It partly depends on the rest of your program. If you have a year to work on it (because you are planning well!), try to pick something that suits your strengths but will also challenge you, so you grow with it and don't get bored.

May 16, 2007 at 09:55 PM · Two of my favorite non-standard concertos (both of which I studied at IU in my two years) are the Conus and the Elgar. I volunteer for our auditions and I've rarely heard of anyone performing either. You would definitely be unique to the faculty you play for!

May 16, 2007 at 10:13 PM · Something like Shostakovich can show your versatility if you pair it with Bach. All 4 movements of the Shostakovich have things faculties would look for. First movement for interpretation, second for pyrotechnics, third for lyricism and depth, and 4th for pure excitement. Mozart 4th is also great. If you really like Prokofiev, the first concerto is slightly more lyrical than the second so your teacher might be satisfied by that. Good luck!

May 16, 2007 at 10:47 PM · I like the idea of Dvorak. I might consider that concerto for auditions next year... it's standard enough not to piss off old people but it's underplayed enough for them to remember it if you pull it off.

May 16, 2007 at 11:19 PM · vieuxtemps 4 or 5 are usually good choices

May 17, 2007 at 03:07 AM · Lalo Symphonie Espagnole. It's standard but not annoyingly so.

The Glazunov is similarly known but not overdone, as is the Bruch Scottish Fantasy.

I like the idea of playing the Walton. It's not a standard concerto but it is very beautiful. For the life of me i can't understand why this concerto is not more well-known...

May 17, 2007 at 03:45 AM · Lalo would be ok

May 17, 2007 at 06:23 AM · Glazunov sounds like an interesting choice. What about Dvorak? Both of these are underplayed as well as lyrical.

May 17, 2007 at 07:06 AM · Lalo has the most obnoxious opening in the world.

The slow movement has some beautiful moments, and it is a nice piece.

I've never liked the Glazounov. The man clearly had delusions of grandeur when he wrote the piece.

I remember Andrew Sords recommended I do Scottish Fantasy for auditions, and it certainly was a great idea. Too bad I did Prokofiev 2.....

May 17, 2007 at 07:53 AM · Play whatever speaks to you and whatever you play well.

May 17, 2007 at 10:19 AM · especially the "whatever you play well" part...


May 17, 2007 at 11:00 AM · Thanks for all the feedback! I'm going to take some of these ideas to my teacher and see if any of them jump out at her as pieces I will connect with very well.

May 17, 2007 at 06:47 PM · Please post back. We're all very intersted to hear what piece you have chosen!

May 19, 2007 at 01:47 AM ·

May 19, 2007 at 01:06 AM · Definitely use a concerto that is not often played in the audition setting. When I auditioned for undergrad, I chose the Bruch "Scottish Fantasy", and at two of the schools, I learned that I was the only one to play the Bruch for the auditions. Ask around, and see what concerti people are NOT playing--it does help you stand out. I'm sure if you went into an audition playing (as Adam recommends) the Ernst f-sharp, people would sit up and take notice. The only violinists I know of alive who actually program that concerto are Rosand and Lara St. John...

May 19, 2007 at 03:16 AM · When I auditioned at NEC this spring, the lady who was helping organize the whole day's proceedings asked me what concerto I was playing. When I responded, Dvorak, she immediately said "Oh, they will LOVE you! It's not Sibelius!!" :)

May 20, 2007 at 12:05 AM · Josh, you were at Encore?

May 20, 2007 at 01:15 AM · Yes, I was at Encore, but I wasn't playing Bartok. You're probably thinking of Erin Schreiber. I'm going back to Encore this summer. Are you?

May 21, 2007 at 12:36 AM · Looks like we will all be there this summer. Josh, did you play last summer?

May 21, 2007 at 02:00 AM · Why not play Shostakovich? Do the Passacaglia, cadenza and Burlesqua.

That will show any jury a great deal of what they need to know about your playing.

May 22, 2007 at 02:14 PM · I haven't seen anyone mention Goldmark. Great piece!

May 22, 2007 at 04:40 PM · One thing you want to do when picking a piece for college auditions is to look for one that will show off your strengths. If you're a lyrical player, go for a lyrical romantic piece. BUT dont pick a piece that is solely lyrical because the judges will think you're incapable of playing anything else. For example, a Beethoven romance would be a bad choice.... same with barber because the first movement doesn’t have a lot of technical stuff in it. I consider myself to be a strong lyrical player so i picked the Saint-Saens concerto 3, which got me into CIM.

I would avoid Wieniawski and Mendelssohn because EVERYBODY plays those pieces for auditions. Personally i dont think Wieniawski shows off enough different techniques too. oh yeah and avoid bruch haha.

One think to keep in mind is the judges will only listen to about 3-4 minutes of your concerto because usually audition slots are 10-15 minutes long and they also want to hear your Bach movements and paganini caprice.

Good luck! Maybe ill see you at CIM in a couple years!

June 15, 2007 at 05:46 PM · Thanks for all of the feedback! After much debating, I have decided to work on the Dvorak. Does anyone have a favorite recording?

June 15, 2007 at 05:59 PM · I'm playing the Dvorak for college as well! I really like the Milstein recording-- so fresh and energetic. I've also heard that Oistrakh has a great interpretation of the piece. I heard a little bit of the recording from Vasa Prihoda, and it was fantastic, but I can't seem to get a hold of the full thing. Enjoy working on it-- it's so much fun!

June 15, 2007 at 10:41 PM · de Beriot's concerto No. 9 or hmm... Dvorak has a good concerto or Viotti. There's many that you can find just look em up.

June 16, 2007 at 01:29 AM · Erin,

I think the Dvorak is a great choice. 1,000 years ago, when I was auditioning, everybody was playing Mendelssohn, Bruch, Wieniawski #2, and Lalo. Seems things haven't changed all that much! Dvorak is a great choice, challenging enough to display good technique but also lovely and lyrical.

Good luck, and please update us on your auditions!

PS, are you related to Stacy Phelps??

June 16, 2007 at 02:38 AM · Do whatever you feel comfortable with. I know a lot of people that have used Prokofiev 2 as an audition piece before- it does start out lyrical and it shows off a lot of technical facets of one's playing.

I wouldn't worry too much about whether the piece you play is commonly done or not. When I auditioned for undergrad, I did Wieniawski #2 and the first two movements of the Bach gm. When I did grad auditions, I used the Tchaikovsky and the Bach CM. These are all commonly done pieces and I did quite fine with both sets of audition repertoire. It's all in your playing, not in the piece. Yeah, they like hearing a new piece every once in a while, but if they hear a really great rendition of an old favorite? They'll definitely love that.

June 17, 2007 at 01:06 AM · pieter,

its unfortunate that mr. lalo does not have your approval on the way his concerto starts.

June 17, 2007 at 07:16 PM · If one can't play any piece perfect, which would be better, Play an easier peice 90% well or a difficult piece 70% well? Everyone says play what you can play well. But I would think it is not always easy to be perfect even with an easy piece.


June 18, 2007 at 02:19 AM · Yay Dvorak! My favorite recordings are Sergiu Luca, Vasa Prihoda (especially for the last mvt) and Josef Suk. My top favorite I think is Luca, he's got something really special in his sound, a real passion and fire but also lyrical introspection in his playing. (Yeah, I'm still all preoccupied with the Romanians I guess...)

October 30, 2007 at 05:14 PM · Uh, no offense meant, but--ewwwwww.

October 30, 2007 at 05:15 PM · actually, it would probably be a good idea to play a standard romantic concerto. Isn't that required anyways?

October 30, 2007 at 05:28 PM · Dvorak concerto isn't exactly a triumph of composition either...

In fact I'd rather do Conus because you can just show them your technique with a piece they don't often hear. Dvorak might not be a common audition piece, but it seems like everyone is playing it these days so I'm sure the teachers themselves are sick of it.

October 30, 2007 at 06:26 PM · I agree with Pieter, the Conus concerto is a terrific composition. It is kind of a one hit wonder. I've never heard of any other Conus compositions.

October 31, 2007 at 02:11 PM · Heifetz liked and recorded Conus. He thought it was underrated.

That said, what determines your audition concerto (assuming you live in some ideal world where there isn't a required list) is not your affection for it, but your command of it.

Your teacher is most likely the best person to make that determination.

Don't go into an audition assuming you can fool anybody sitting there into thinking you're better than you are.(And if you can, you probably need to consider another school!)

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