Bruch Concerto, G minor.

June 29, 2007 at 12:20 AM · I am preparing for competitions this upcoming season and I have been given a choice of music to work on next. Since I plan on using the first movement of the Bruch as one of my pieces, I need another to contrast its style. I want to avoid Bach and Mozart... Anyone have any suggestions? I am interested in an extremely showy and shorter piece, since Bruch, to me, is sort of boring... and hard to win competitions with (atleast in my area).

Replies (28)

June 29, 2007 at 12:41 AM · Well, isn't the last movement of the Bruch still "Romantic"? :) I was thinking Tambourin Chinois - it's pretty showy. I might look into Viotti No. 22, although my friend who did it last season had no success with it at all.

June 29, 2007 at 01:00 AM · if you want something showy, explore the spanish dances by sarasate, or some of the show pieces by kreisler or wieniawski

June 29, 2007 at 01:38 AM · I'm fairly sure it was the piece - as he has won in the past (well atleast he blamed it on the piece). I believe the competition requires a contrasting style/era piece. Kreisler would be "modern", correct?

June 29, 2007 at 01:48 AM · ahhh. The competition I am taking part (Schubert Club) considers Kreisler romantic because he was born before 1880.

"Competitors must perform two contrasting selections, different in both tempo and technique, drawn from one of the three categories: Renissance or Baroque or Classical,Romantic or Impressionist, and Composers born after 1880."

June 29, 2007 at 01:52 AM · Composer's Holiday by Lucas Foss.

June 29, 2007 at 02:03 AM · Joel seems to know what he's talking about. I second the Devil's Trill idea.

Have you already learned the Bruch 1st mvmt? Does the competition require a first movement? I agree with Joel. I would be inclined to go with the third movement of that Concerto over the first.

And, I'm surprised your friend had trouble with Viotti 22. Maybe the judges didn't properly appreciate that concerto. Which category would Beethoven fit under? The Kreutzer Sonata might be nice.

June 29, 2007 at 02:09 AM · Yes I have already learned the first movement, but I cannot play two Romantic pieces. Prokofiev's March looks fun :)

Would the tempo and technique of the March contrast enough with the Bruch?

June 29, 2007 at 03:23 AM · I humbly suggest Bolcolm's "Graceful Ghost" for violin and piano. It's a very cute piece with a ragtime feel, but written in the 70s I think.

June 29, 2007 at 04:16 PM · hey joel thanks for all the suggestions by the way. but stupid schubert club considers the Kreisler Rondo to be romantic, they categorize pieces if arranged I believe by the arranger and not the original.

Any thoughts on march? I'm not very familiar with the piece but i have seen a recording (is it showy, virtuoistic, etc. to you)

June 29, 2007 at 05:09 PM · From: Skowronski: Classical Recordings

To: Bobby Ni

Just to start the ball rolling, consider the Mazurka #1 by Grazyna Bacewicz. Short (2"), knee slappin' lively, composed in 1949 by a woman (right on for 'political correctness' and with-it-ness) and a gem that just a few people know about. And you can learn it in just a few days! (Of course, then you have to pull it off by playing it with gusto and panache!!)

CD with clips available at:

Keep in touch, and good luck.

Skowronski: Classical Recordings

Evanston, Illinois (not too far from Roseville, MN)

June 29, 2007 at 08:15 PM · What about Hora Staccato? That's modern and flashy and fun all rolled into one!

June 29, 2007 at 09:03 PM · That's kind of an odd comment, no offense. None of us are ever going to be Heifetz--should that fact prevent us from playing certain pieces (or heck, from playing the violin at all?)

And personally, though I may be flamed for saying this, I don't even like Heifetz's recording of Hora Staccato...but I've probably heard one too many real Romanian/Transylvanian gypsy fiddlers, a classical imitation can't really compare. ;-)

That said though, Hora Staccato is an awesome piece and can be an absolute joy to listen to even if you aren't Heifetz, Dinicu, Gilles Apap, or a random guy from Szekely country. It also contrasts quite well with the Bruch, especially if you want to avoid Bach and Mozart.

One more idea just popped into my head--if you like the Eastern European stuff, there's a really neat and sadly under-played Mazurka by Dvorak (I don't know the opus # offhand, but I believe it's in E minor) that might also be a good contrast with Bruch. Yay for random thoughts...

June 30, 2007 at 01:34 AM · Okay, I withdraw my suggestion. I knew it was a stupid idea when I wrote it, I should have gone with my gut.

How about a Corelli Sonata or something from Baal Shem--Nigun? Vitali Chaconne would be nice too.

June 30, 2007 at 01:43 AM · "No comment on your Heifetz opinion. If you haven't gotten what he's all about, well, you haven't. Don't despair, you have time."

Your no comment comment rubs me the wrong way. Maura is a very intelligent and accomplished young woman who strikes me as being quite capable of making informed judgments. If I understood her correctly, she was merely saying in her post that she did not enjoy Heifetz's Hora Staccato as much as other performances she has heard. In no way did she disparage or disrespect Heifetz, or "what he's all about."

Are violinists, as a species, destined to re-fight the Heifetz wars until the End Times? Or will a miraculous truce someday be reached?

June 30, 2007 at 01:29 PM · "No comment on your Heifetz opinion. If you haven't gotten what he's all about, well, you haven't. Don't despair, you have time."

This is something that really irritates me, and it's an opinion I've heard many times: that if someone is not especially fond of Heifetz, they are necessarily not understanding something, missing some eternal truth, or not intelligent enough to understand. Last time I checked, a person's opinion about Heifetz was just that, a personal opinion. No one assumes mental deficiency or lack of comprehension if someone doesn't like Szigeti, so why this unusual attitude about Heifetz? He's not my favorite violinist, never has been and probably never will be (although I've heard some recordings of him that I liked quite a bit.) I certainly hope that my personal tastes do not make me somehow a second-class musician.

Emily, thanks for the compliments...

Getting back on topic, I just brainstormed a little bit and thought of something else: Milstein has a lovely transcription of Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor, when played just right it is the most heart-melting thing you'll ever hear. Its quiet, intimate melancholy would contrast well with the Romantic exuberance of the Bruch, and it's not played all that often (so if you're like me and like to play oddball pieces...)

June 30, 2007 at 02:13 PM · I'm not going to jump into the hornet's nest here. Heifetz made an astounding recording of this work as did Dinicu the composer and Michael Rabin. Joel's comments in my opinion were not off the mark. No need to get overly emotional. I think what he was trying to say was how Heifetz is an aquired taste. For some it might take a while to realize who the Father of great violin playing in the 20th century and beyond is. With Heifetz you really have to have great ears to truly appreciate how this guy played on a different level completely from practically everyone else! Also Joel, you're right on, not every person should play the Hora Staccato. You need to have a great staccato! I remember hearing a recording by a very well know violinist (who's playing I enjoy) performing this Hora Staccato. I didn't however get this recording at all. It was done all in spiccato bowing, and it defeats the whole concept of the piece to be played in spiccato bowing.

June 30, 2007 at 02:34 PM · To answer the original question, Bobby, I would recommend looking into the Gershwin Porgy and Bess pieces arranged by Heifetz. Those selection will give you an excellent contrast to Bruch.

June 30, 2007 at 07:20 PM · Valse bluette is a good idea, I think so, too (I have Zimbalist's recording in my mind:)) Hands off Hora staccato - I know neither you nor your staccato, but don't bring that piece to a competition. Maybe Khachaturian Sabre Dance?

Short comment on the Heifetz fight: In his own way he is the best. And this comes from someone who has been more or less addicted to Menuhin (whom you might consider some kind of Heifetz' opposite) for many, many years. It took me quite some time to 'understand' Heifetz or at least to appreciate him to a degree relative to his genius.

June 30, 2007 at 07:57 PM · I'll resurrect the Devil's Trill idea, in hopes of burying the controversy I started. To set the record strait, I'll have to agree that unless you're uncommonly talented, you shouldn't bring the Hora Staccato. I mentioned it a little tongue in cheek I'm afraid. I didn't think anyone would take me seriously.

Valse Bluette is wonderful, but my gut tells me you might do better with Tartini.

June 30, 2007 at 08:27 PM · One last comment on Heifetz: it's ridiculous to try and designate any violinist as "the best". Music is art, not tennis (I'm loving Wimbledon though), you can't rank them best, runner-up, third, worst. For me Szigeti is "the best." For others it's Menuhin, for many it's Heifetz, for some it's Hilary Hahn, and on and on like that. Heifetz simply isn't my cup of tea, and incidentally I mean no disrespect to him by saying that. But the idea that he or anyone else is "The Best" and anyone who doesn't agree with that assessment is either stupid, ignorant or misinformed frankly goes against the very nature and spirit of art.

July 1, 2007 at 01:00 AM · When did I say he was the "best" (although according to most knowledgeable violinists and music crtics like Harris Goldsmith he is)? Artistic critique IMO anymore has become so wishy washy and subjective with less attention paid on objective details. Someone wrote to me earlier and mentioned to me how so often opinions are mistaken for knowledge, and unfortunately not all opinions are of equal calliber. That is so true I think!

From what you have said Maura, I have to agree with Joel, that you really haven't gotten to what Heifetz is all about, yet. I have encountered people with the same opinion about Heifetz and have found that many of them actually have not heard enough different recordings of Mr. H to actually know how he played the Beethoven VC differently from the 1st recording he did of the work in contrast with the second recording.

June 30, 2007 at 11:14 PM · They're just not listening to you Maura... She's allowed to not like Heifetz ok? It's perfectly alright. Yes, he is a great player, and there's some great recordings (and she's mentioned that she likes some of them), but perhaps her style of playing doesn't match the style of playing that heifetz played in. Maybe she prefers someone like Oistrakh or Milstein. That's cool, she doesn't have to like Heifetz.

I'm sure in 20 years we'll still be having this debate however...

June 30, 2007 at 11:27 PM · Devil's Trill, Tartini . . . remember--we're talking about the Devil's Trill . . . I don't hear anything else (with fingers in ears "la la la la la la la").

July 1, 2007 at 01:42 AM · I think it should be pointed out that appreciating a performance and liking it are two different things entirely...

July 1, 2007 at 02:37 AM · I have to admit that I liked Heifetz when I was a kid but not anymore after I heard a lot more other greats. I know I’m ignorant and would like to hear from you Heifetz fans how to appreciate him better. What are the most amazing things about Heifetz musically speaking? Thanks.

Bobby, sorry for digressing.

July 1, 2007 at 03:00 AM · To today's ears, the amazing thing is only his personal style. He was amazing when I first heard him, but that was also probably the first solo violin I heard. Maybe he's a good introduction because he sounds fresh and energetic. Now to me he's like Bob Hope is a comedian and Rich Little is an impressionist, mainly known for being known. Just not interesting. That's a sentiment shared by a few good violin players too. I feel like I know every turn he's going to make. You could also probably debate what he contributed vs. what he removed.

October 25, 2010 at 05:10 AM ·

 Personally I'd say try the Wieniawski Polonaise in D major, but as far as a non-romantic piece, I'm not sure what to say to you. Beethoven concerto?

October 26, 2010 at 12:19 PM ·

A piece i haven't played, but it sounds like a blast, and it's easy enough to find since it's on the first track of Gil Shaham's CD "The Fiddler of the Opera"---> the Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco transcription of the Largo al Factotum aria from The Barber of Seville. IF you have the technique to pull it off ---it sounds VERY difficult--- it'll bring down the house (figuratively speaking only, of course...^^)~

In an entirely different vein, but also nicely contrasting with the Bruch, try any number of the Sibelius late works for violin and piano, or even the Sibelius Sonatina in E+, opus 80.

Still thinking Scandinavian, the Nielsen sonatas might be worth a look, but be warned the two Nielsen works for unaccompanied violin are frightfully challenging. There's a reason they are not played at all often despite their obvious musical merits.

The early Szymanowski violin sonata opus 9 may be of interest, though it's quite romantic and perhaps may not contrast sufficiently with the Bruch. The Mythes opus 30 are very demanding, both musically and technically, but the idiom is entirely different; certainly not romantic at all . If you are advanced enough technically you may even try the Szymanowski arrangement / transcription of 3 Paganini caprices for violin and piano.

Getting farther afield, the Stravinsky-Dushkin transcription of the Berceuse from the Firebird would definitely be in contrasting style.^^

There are any number of Baroque sonatas that would be suitable, whether in musicologically correct original form or in Romantic-era transcriptions by violinist-composers. Admittedly the Devil's Trill has already been suggested, and there are a large number of different versions of La Folia, but i'd like to cast a vote in favour of the Vivaldi-Respighi Sonata in Re (Ricordi edition) 

Finally, as a Canadian, and assuming unaccompanied works are acceptable, i would be remiss without suggesting the Sonatine Baroque by Murray Adaskin, the Sonata for unaccompanied violin by Halgrimur Helgason [written for my former teacher Dr. Howard Leyton-Brown] or for something a little more difficult in idiom, the Caprices by Sophie Ekhard-Gramatte. Please note that i may be in error in regards to the exact spelling of the last composer's name...

 Good luck with whatever you finally choose!



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