Works for Viola

January 15, 2008 at 02:19 AM · What are some of the most famous works for viola that you like, especially concertos? For example, there are so many for violin (Tchaikovsky/Sibelius/Paganini, etc) and several for cello (Dvorak/Elgar/Saint-Saens, etc) so what would the equivalent of these be for viola, besides the obvious of Walton and Bartok?

It seems to me that the most well-known pieces for viola are contemporary so I was just wondering if there were other "staples" of viola repertoire (solo and concerti) that I may have missed, particularly in the Romantic or Classical time periods.

Thanks in advance!


January 15, 2008 at 02:36 AM · I personally love the Penderecki/Walton viola concertos. I also love the Elgar Enigma Variations, the C Minor sonata by Mendelssohn, and the Stamitz concerto. The Suite 1919 and the Suite Hebraique are great as well (Bloch). As far as orchestral music, I like the solo in Enesco's Rumanian Rhapsody no. 1.

Face it; I'm a viola fan!

January 15, 2008 at 02:47 AM · For concertos there's the big three for orchestra auditions and competitions:



Hindemith Der Schwanendreher

The rest that are popular in the repertoire...




Mozart Sinfonia Concertante

Bruch Romanze, Double Concerto

York Bowen

Britten Double Concerto





Short ones with chamber orchestra:

Hummel Fantasy

Britten Lachrymae

Hindemith Trauermusik

I'm sure I have missed a few!

January 15, 2008 at 02:46 AM · Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 13, Arranged for Viola and Strings

January 15, 2008 at 03:10 AM · I like the Walton Concerto, and the two sonatas by Brahms.

My favorite viola piece is Brahms' "Geistliches Wiegenlied".

January 15, 2008 at 06:48 AM · Here is another Viola Concerto. It was written in 2000.....

January 15, 2008 at 07:13 AM · I like "Der Schwanendreher" (Hindemith) and the Ligeti solo viola sonata.

January 15, 2008 at 11:58 AM · The MIGHTY Vieuxtemps, especially the Elegie and the B flat major sonata.

January 15, 2008 at 04:44 PM · I like "Pacific Rock" for solo viola by Martin Lodge. It's a short virtuosic work of around 5 minutes.

January 15, 2008 at 09:29 PM · Well being a violist my teacher always used to say "The perfect fifth is a violist friend. All of those stuck-up violininst think that they are better that we violist. Well, We can use a perfect fifth and play the Bach Chaconne with a C string".

Well, I have played Bach's Chaconne and that is a very, abnormal thing to hear. There are also several solo peices like Henri Vieuxtemps' Viola Capriccio. The people at the Juilliard Pre-College Division loved this peice when I played in my audition. Some others are things like the Bach's Partita No.2 and the Bach Cello suites. I'm not saying that the other partitas and sonatas aren't good for viola but to me that sound "akward" so yeah.

I personal prefer the Hoffmeister, the Walton, and the Telmann. The Bartok and I struck a bad nerve about a year ago I played it once and never again. I also love the Bramhs sonatas!!! great peice

By the way I am not say with my teachers quote that we violist can play anything that you violinist can I know that if you transpose the Tchiakovsky or the Sibelius concert they won't exactly sound the best.


January 16, 2008 at 11:49 PM · I killed the post.



January 16, 2008 at 11:59 PM · Max Reger's three unaccompanied suites (op. 131) are excellent works, often called for at professional auditions. As much as I love the Bach suites, I prefer not to poach on the cellists' turf.

May 1, 2011 at 05:49 PM ·

 I am currently learning some movements from Vaughan Williams Suite for Viola and Orchestra, which is a lovely work. It is possible to buy a version with piano accompaniment, published by OUP. However, most recordings only include the first three movements, which VW called Group 1. There is an excellent recording of all eight movements by Yizhak Schotten.

Okay, it's not a concerto but it is beautiful and unusual.

May 2, 2011 at 11:26 AM ·

Shubert's Marchenbilder is my absolute favorite.

---Ann Marie

May 2, 2011 at 11:37 AM ·

 Waltons Concerto for viola, playedthe first two mvts in orchestra and i loved it. another great one is schumann's marchenbilder, op 113 (fairy tales) another great piece. Those are two of my favorites, as well as the bach suites.

May 3, 2011 at 01:09 AM ·

Bloch Suite Hebraique & Clarke's Sonata are two of my fav's.

May 3, 2011 at 10:33 AM ·

Stamitz Bb or D; Corelli G.

June 10, 2011 at 05:26 AM ·

 Viola Spaces by Garth Knox.

There's also an extensive article written by violist Paul Groh on Viola Spaces here:

June 10, 2011 at 10:10 AM ·

Stamitz, Brahms. Corelli. Bach Cello Suites. I like the Vivaldi a minor transposed for viola in Suzuki Book 4- nicely rich played in d min. Sue

June 10, 2011 at 12:17 PM ·

The Schubert Arpeggione sonata works very well on viola--and you don't have to feel like you're poaching on someone else's repertory, since no one plays the arpeggione.  (Well, someone must have tried to revive it somewhere, but it hasn't exactly caught on like wildfire.)

Also, Ligeti wrote a very attractive sonata for viola solo, and there is a Sequenza by Berio, too.

June 10, 2011 at 12:34 PM ·

 Garth Knox whom I mentioned just above has recorded the Ligeti Solo Sonata. 

June 11, 2011 at 05:09 AM ·

 Three Arachnids for Solo Viola by Paul Groh. The score can be downloaded from, and there are some audio extracts of the pieces.

June 11, 2011 at 07:33 PM ·

If you like relatively modern, Hindemith's music for viola, either unaccompanied or accompanied, is excellent.  Hindemith, one of the great violists, is about the only violist to write for the instrument.

June 11, 2011 at 07:52 PM ·

 Hindemith, one of the great violists, is about the only violist to write for the instrument.

What? Garth Knox and Paul Groh (just mentioned above) are both violists and write for the instrument. Also Brett Dean, and certainly many others.

June 11, 2011 at 09:03 PM ·

Viola is my first instrument and I could write a whole lot here - but - big vote for Glazunov's Elegy.  Words wouldn't do it justice.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

2023 Authenticate LA: Los Angeles Violin Shop
2023 Authenticate LA Shopping Guide Shopping Guide


Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine