What are your favorite violin sonatas?

May 2, 2008 at 05:47 AM · I'm sure this question has been covered in previous discussions, but I'll ask it anyway. :D

What is your favorite violin sonata, and why? :)

Violin sonatas are kind of the undervalued part of our repertoire. They're chamber music, not concertos, and I think this can be somewhat off-putting.

I've been listening to a lot of sonatas lately, and I really love the Debussy. I like all three Brahms sonatas, as well.

The Debussy has those wonderful open harmonies that he is known for, and it straddles the line between Romantic and modern music. :D

I'd love to hear about your favorite sonatas, so please feel free to share!

Replies (82)

May 2, 2008 at 06:11 AM · Greetings,

I can`t choose one. I think the handel sonatas have become prgressively undervalued over the years as more and more young people are able to access them but fail to do them justice because they are just considered annoying milestones en route to Symphony Esopagnol (1st movement) and the Bruch. But Auer was right in saying that any violinst worth their salt should ahve two or three of thes ein their regular repertoire. Inetresitng that Milstein played the A majopr in his last recital. The D major is the biggie for me.

The Vienna period Mozart sonatas contain some incredibly complex and esoteric experiments that can be really shocking even to modern ears.Try the one that starts with load sof single note triplets- f major I think. Some very scary fugues.

The Schubert sonatinas are actually soantas and I consider them utterly wodnerful, especially the d major.

Of the Beetjoven no7 seems unjustly neglected to me and a complete masterpiece. very subtle.

Tartini`s -other- sonata (dido abandothingummyjig) is a gorgeous piec eas long a sone omits the crappy arrangement of another work that is often assumed to be the third movement and clean up the atrocious piano parts in the shoddy editions available.

The Schumann sonatas are real fun to play and then one of my favotite ones for just goign for broke is the Elgar. The second movement of this requires a huge range of delictae colors to make interesting. A very good challenge for anyone.

Franck and debussy will always be beloved of course.



May 2, 2008 at 07:12 AM · Hello!

Yes, I played a few of the Handel sonatas (I can't remember which ones, though...maybe E Major?). :)

I haven't done any Mozart sonatas, so I'll definitely look into those.

I played the Schubert D Major Sonatina for a chamber performance this past summer! It's an adorable piece, and it's so short and cute. :D

I agree - it's hard to pick just one favorite sonata!

Thanks for responding!


May 2, 2008 at 08:01 AM · It's not a violin Sonata, but a viola one that I've been working on .... the Rebecca Clarke. A very interesting piece that I'm still trying to understand better.

May 2, 2008 at 08:44 AM · I just got done practicing the Schubert D this evening. Love it, can't stop playing it.

May 2, 2008 at 10:49 AM · ysaye and brahms

May 2, 2008 at 12:28 PM · Vivaldi wrote wonderful sonatas.

May 2, 2008 at 12:25 PM · Brahms 1 will always be first. Then the six Bach sonatas (with Cembalo), then Franck, after that Brahms 3 and 2.

And I do have a soft spot for the Elgar. It should be played, and studied, more often.



May 2, 2008 at 12:30 PM · » It's not a violin Sonata, but a viola one that I've been working on .... the Rebecca Clarke. A very interesting piece that I'm still trying to understand better.

Oh yess!

That is a wonderful piece, and most rewarding for the listener. I didn't know it until last week, when I heard it in a viola recital by Julia Neher, the future solo violist of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Great music, full of passion and wit.

Definitely deserves a "honoris causa" nomination here.



May 2, 2008 at 02:38 PM · Strauss and Elgar.

May 2, 2008 at 03:31 PM · Ysaye

May 2, 2008 at 03:04 PM · Walton, Bartok #1, Janacek, Prokofiev #1

May 2, 2008 at 03:46 PM · I love the Franck sonata!

May 2, 2008 at 04:00 PM · Stravinsky's Duo Concertante and Ravel's Sonata count among my favourites...

May 2, 2008 at 06:28 PM · Brahms G-major and d-minor. But they are still out of reach for me, it´s a long term goal for me to play them.

Lately I discovered the Fauré Sonata in A major and immediately fell in love with it. It's very passionate and colorful, and it's not so difficult to play, so this is my next piece that I will study.

I love the sonate posthume by ravel too, it's a lesser known piece, but very beautiful. Sadly my sheet music (is this the correct expression?) has gotten lost (you should always make a note when giving sth. to so.)

May 2, 2008 at 07:31 PM · Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, I like the Grieg Sonatas (particularly the infrequently performed G Major.)

May 2, 2008 at 07:52 PM · I love sonatas! I'm playing the Franck right now, which is one of my favorites. Other ones I love are the Prokofiev, Brahms, Janacek, Beethoven, Ysaye, and Saint-Saens. There are probably more I am not naming...

May 2, 2008 at 07:58 PM · Brahms #3 especially the transition from 1st movement and the second one.

May 2, 2008 at 11:03 PM · I love the Ysaye Ballade - it's a little overplayed, but it's so exciting when it's played well! :D

May 2, 2008 at 11:04 PM · Brahms!!

May 2, 2008 at 11:11 PM · Beethoven #10

May 2, 2008 at 11:22 PM · I second the Grieg Sonatas...on youtube someone uploaded a recording of Kreisler and Rachmaninov playing the third sonata...it's out of this world


I cry most times I listen to it and I don't think anythign else affects me like that

May 2, 2008 at 11:27 PM · I love LeClair's sonata in D major, Mozart's Sonata No. 10 (I think) in B flat, and one in D major (am not looking up numbers at the moment) Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, all of the Brahms, The Franck, Ravel, Debussy, Prokofiev in D major, Copeland...

Also love the Bach Sonatas and Partitas, particularly D minor and A minor. I'm missing a lot I am sure--I love the Sonata repertoire in general.

May 3, 2008 at 04:47 AM · I love Bach's Third Partita. Although it is technically not a sonata, it is still gorgeous and allows plenty of room for self-expression!

May 3, 2008 at 05:03 AM · All the Beethoven are my favorite, especially G maj (No.3?), Spring, Kreutzer, and No.10 (not Downing St; the one with the famous 8 bar piano intro in the slow mvnt). Also Brahms of course.

May 3, 2008 at 07:45 AM · Busoni No.2, Delius No.3, Howells No.2, Ives No.3, Milhaud No.2, as well as many already mentioned!

May 3, 2008 at 02:03 PM · As a rarities collector, I recommend violin

sonatas by:

Joseph Wieniawski

Medtner "epique"

Alf Hurum

Leo Weiner


Sir Hubert Parry

Sergei Taneyev

Saint-Saëns first (Heifetz!!!)

Karen Khatchaturian op.1

There are dozens more,of course.

May 3, 2008 at 03:22 PM · Prrokofiev #2 (D), Debussy, Beethoven #7 (and others), Brahms #1, Bach unaccompanied Gmin, Dmin, E, Mozart G K.301, Schubert D.

May 4, 2008 at 12:38 AM · Ah, I love the sonata repertoire! Here are some especial favorites:

Brahms (especially the G Major)

Elgar (!)

Prokofiev Solo Sonata



Mozart K301 (G Major) and K304 (e minor)

May 4, 2008 at 03:22 AM · Saint-Saens First (last mvt!)

Kreutzer (variations mvt!)

Brahms G major (1st mvt!)

Two of those I used to play the piano part to...

May 4, 2008 at 04:23 AM · (note: I play the piano)

Brahms - all 3 of them


Beethoven - Kreutzer (although it is rare to find an amateur violinist who is up for it)

For warmup exercises: Beethoven Spring, or Dvorak Sonatina.

I've done Debussy and one of Grieg's (don't remember which one), and for some reason they don't titilate me.

It may sound sacrilegious: all other Beethoven Sonatas and all of Mozart is boring. Which doesn't mean that I don't end up playing them often: As duo partners that can handle the romantic repertoire are rare, I end up playing more of the classical stuff instead.

The absolute most fun I can have with a violinist (with the clothes on) is actually not a sonata: Ravel's Tzigane. There have only been two violinists I've played with who were willing to take that on.

In the department of piano duos (which is of great relevance to me, and probably totally irrelevant to violinists): The two Rachmaninoff Suites, and the Saint-Saens variations on a theme by Beethoven.

May 4, 2008 at 04:45 AM · In no particular order:



Mozart K.304

Beethoven 4

Grieg 3

Handel D major

LeClair D major

Brahms A major (why don't more people enjoy this piece?)


Schumann A minor

Saint-Saens #1

May 4, 2008 at 04:58 AM · The Frank Sinatra.

May 4, 2008 at 01:39 PM · Oh yes, I totally forgot the Ravel! Love that sonata. The Schubert "Arpeggione" is also lovely.

May 4, 2008 at 05:13 PM · This one? :)


May 5, 2008 at 12:29 AM · I am currently learning the Handel D Major Sonata (after having learned the F Major), and I think these sonatas are wonderful in their complexity. I confess, the chords in some of them are a little scary (although they're not as tough as unaccompanied Bach, I guess), but I'm looking forward to learning all of them. I really love these pieces. Of course, I may change my mind once I have learned other sonatas! :-)

May 5, 2008 at 12:38 AM · My favorite sonatas for violin AND piano, or piano AND violin, are currently:

Faure A Major

Brahms G Major

Schubert D 385

Beethoven # 8 and # 9

Mozart K 304

Bartok # 1 and # 2

List subject to change with future mood swings. I also agree about the Kreisler/Rachmaninoff recordings of the sonata literature. Divine stuff.

May 6, 2008 at 04:02 AM · My favorites would have to be the Franck, the Debussy, Grieg No. 1, and the Brahms G Major. OH, and the Bach sonatas, of course.

May 6, 2008 at 04:15 AM · In the realm of wonderful sonatas by British composers, I've enjoyed the Walton Sonata and Edmund Rubbra's Second Sonata, written as a gift to his violinist wife. As for American sonatas, Charles Ives No. 2 was also fun to learn with its barn dance fast movement and a wonderful hymn-like final movement.

A nice challenge with its perpetual motion final movement is Saint Saens First Sonata.

June 1, 2008 at 07:20 AM · Just finished Mozart G K.301. Absolutely love it! I'm working on Schubert D right now and like Emily, I can't stop playing it either:)

June 1, 2008 at 02:45 AM · I adore all of the Brahms, Bach and Ysaye sonatas, but I think my favorite is Janacek. There's something so marvelous about that piece I could listen to it every day for the rest of my life and on the day I die I would still be speechless with awe at Janacek's genius.

June 1, 2008 at 05:03 AM · May that day be far off, Mara!

June 1, 2008 at 05:23 AM · The Dvorak Sonatina in G Major is also really charming.

June 1, 2008 at 11:45 PM · Hmmm...I LOVE chamber music, concert pieces, and sonatas (quite a bit more than concertos, actually)!!!

Some of my favorites are:

Franck Sonata in A

William Bolcom's Stramba sonata (especially the 4th movement).

Prokofiev 5 melodies (maybe it's not exactly a sonata, but I absolutely love these pieces)

Copland Sonata

Bloch's Baal Shem

June 2, 2008 at 01:50 AM · He's not very popular these days, but I love Corelli.

June 2, 2008 at 12:46 PM · A really beautiful sonata nearly nobody

plays and very few know is Busoni's No.2.

Kavakos had a splendid recording.

June 2, 2008 at 05:59 PM · My 17 yr. old daughter and I (both players) were reading this list and she wants me to chime in and add the Brahms Sonatensatz (Scherzo, Op. Posth.). She is working on it now, and it's wicked cool. One part Beethoven and one part Debussy, in my opinion.

June 4, 2008 at 02:39 AM · Dottie...

You said wicked cool.

I say wicked cool. I was made fun of by everyone at college from downstate BECAUSE I said wicked cool.

I think wicked is a great slang term to use in that way. :)

June 5, 2008 at 05:11 AM · My favourite: Mozart sonata for violin and piano in E minor. I couldn't possibly play it yet, that's a long way away for me ;p

I like the sonata I'm working on at the moment: Vivaldi sonata no. 5 in B minor from his Op. 2 Twelve Sonatas.

June 5, 2008 at 04:46 PM · >I love the Ysaye Ballade - it's a little overplayed, but it's so exciting when it's played well!

Oh, I just love this too (as a listener only). I found a great CD of Chopin transcriptions, called something like Saint-Saens, Ysaye: Rare Transcriptions for Violin and Piano. It includes the Ballade and also a FABULOUS transcription of Chopin's Waltz in E. The most perfect melding of piano and violin music I've ever heard. (I'm a big fan of Chopin.)

And Anne H and Tobias - good call on the Fauré in A major - I've recently fallen in love with that as well. Just LOVE listening to that first movement. I like the Debussy and Saint-Saens sonata works as well; I pretty much like every French sonata recording I've ever heard. Oddly, for being such a big fan of Brahms, I haven't gone wild over his sonatas, although I do enjoy listening to them. I sense it's a matter of time and then one will finally speak to me and not let me go and I will be in love and forced to blog about its hold over me. (Piece that currently has this kind of hold over me that I listened to for a full year before falling smitten: Dvorak's Romance in F Minor. Sigh...)

June 5, 2008 at 05:12 PM · wow, i have not heard of most of these...

time to youtube it!

June 5, 2008 at 06:23 PM · All the sonatas picked out so far are great. In addition to those, I particularly love Bach's sonatas for violin and continuo. Mozart K.304 is also a favorite.

June 5, 2008 at 07:34 PM · When I first answered I only mentioned the Beethoven 10 but I also love the Brahms Gmajor, the Faure A major, Ysaye Ballade--the greatest ending qua ending of anything I know. I'm also very fond of the Schubert Opus 137 Sonatas as well as the Prokofiev flute sonata opus 100?? which was rewritten for Oistrakh. NOt as extensive as some lists, but it's where my loves lie.

June 5, 2008 at 08:26 PM · I hope some of you have courage and

imagination to investigate works not in

the "repertory", as the sonatas of RVW,

Nielsen, Goldmark,Leo Weiner,Medtner,

Khatchaturian (Aram or Karen), Taneyev.

Joseph Wieniawsky and so many others.

June 5, 2008 at 10:45 PM · Greetings,

give me a break Carlos. I play the Nielsen. But you need a fat piano player;)



August 7, 2010 at 06:52 AM ·

Beethoven No10 Op96 is the best of all the Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin or for violin and piano.  All the others are strident, dramatic, No10 has everything - resignation and fantasy are missing from the others I think.

The three great French sonatas Faure, Franck No1, Saent Saens No1

Brahms Nos 1 and 3.

I'm looking for sonatas to play.  Thanks for the other postings. 

August 7, 2010 at 07:13 AM ·

Does anyone know the Turina ("Spanish") sonata? How is it?

Edit: it's on Youtube.

August 7, 2010 at 08:19 AM ·

Being a simple violinist I like simplicity, especially that of The Spring Sonata :o)

August 7, 2010 at 08:53 AM ·

what a wonderful topic - and wealth of info and suggestions.  I just looked up th schubert sonatina - the music is on IMSLP (just google, fastest way there as long as you include the composer, opus and 'sheet music') and it looks quite doable.  There is also a lovely recording on youtube



I might do this as a study next week, doesn't look too hard..

August 7, 2010 at 11:38 AM ·

Brahms all the way but what about the Beethoven Sonatas for violin and piano.

My favourite one is 'Spring Sonata' No.5 it's in F major

August 7, 2010 at 01:24 PM ·

Bach: all partitas and sonatas

Beethoven: 9-10

Brahms 1-3

Bartok solo violon sonata  They are the best ever written and masterpieces...... does not mean I do not like Fauré,Ravel and Debussy and Franck and so many others...

August 7, 2010 at 05:44 PM ·

Devil trill!!!

Also Frank, Brahms no 3, Leclair (very lively) also Kreutzer


August 7, 2010 at 06:36 PM ·

Beethoven romance in G

(and best study for double stops I've found yet - they are so gorgeous you can't stop playing them)

[and am I the only person that doesn't really like the Spring sonata?  its pretty and I can play through the first movement at least pretty well but just don't find it engaging... whats wrong with me music doc?]

August 7, 2010 at 10:10 PM ·

I love the Poulenc Violin Sonata.  He dedicated it to Ginette Neveu, the French violinist who was tragically killed in a plane crash.  There is everything you would want in a violin sonata.  The melodies in the 1st and 2nd movements are soaring and beautiful.  I love the contrast between the opening melody and the second subject in the 1st movement.  In the second movement, the violin just floats over the piano and the sound is just ethereal.  The last movement simply put is tragic.  I have Midori's rendition on CD and I highly recommend it.

August 7, 2010 at 11:18 PM ·

The original score is at the Boston library and you can see all the annotations of Ginette Neveu...  Poulenc changed the sonata after the tragic death of Neveu to make it sound like "Icare" who brokes his wings,according to the legend, and killed himself, refering toNeveu's abrupt ending...

August 7, 2010 at 11:18 PM ·

Not violin, but Glinka's Viola+Piano in Dm is one of the most fantastic things I've ever heard.  If I can EVER play that, I'll be in heaven.

August 8, 2010 at 03:49 AM ·

 Ravel.  It's all about the seductive second movement dripping sugary sweetness and mischief.

August 8, 2010 at 03:58 AM ·

I'm not sure I'd characterize all the other Beethoven Sonatas, except no. 10, as "strident". The Spring Sonata does not seem strident to me. But anyway, my favorite French sonatas are Faure No. 1, Franck, and Debussy. Of the standard German/Austrian  repertoire, I like especially Mozart  Sonata in B-flat,K, 378, and the E-flat, Sonata, K.  481 and the great  Tempo di Menuetto from the E minor sonata, K. 304. Beethoven Sonatas 5,6, 9, & 10; and the 3 Brahms sonatas, and Schubert's Sonatina in D ( the duo) and the larger a major sonata and the Arpeggione sonata. I also think the Allegretto tranquillo movement of the second Grieg Sonata in particularly is quite beautiful and the 3rd Grieg Sonata in C minor. Of the Baroque repertoire, I especially like the first three Bach Sonatas- there's an amazing canon in the second one, and there will always be a place in my heart for the Larghetto of the D major sonata and the opening movement of the A major Sonata. As for twentieth century sonatas, there's Prokofiev # 2 ( the one also for flute and the William Walton Sonata and Edmund Rubbra's second sonata, a work deserving many more performances and hearings than it has had. )Well this list is getting long- there are so many wonderful sonatas- it's hard to narrow it down!

August 9, 2010 at 09:10 AM ·

Wow Ronald, thats quite a list, perhaps you could put them in a blog and tell us what the attractions are of each? 

Each time I read a reply here I think I downloaded the score from IMLSP - to the point where my computer is in danger of overflowing :D

August 9, 2010 at 09:49 AM ·

I think one must be very in love in order to play or appreciate Brahms A major sonata well, therefore few people like it as much as they like G major or D minor.

My top sonatas:

1. Brahms violin sonata in A major,

2. Brahms violin sonata D minor,

3. Beethoven' Kreutzer sonata,

4. Franck violin sonata in A major.

August 11, 2010 at 12:58 AM ·

 Okay, I know I replied to this thread previously, but it's been two years so I think it's okay.

I've got to put in another plug for the Prokofiev #2--it seems otherwise unnoticed here.  Listen to Kogan or Oistrakh play it if you get the chance.  It is an extraordinary piece of music and I think it is one of the greatest sonatas played on the violin (it was written originally for the flute).


August 11, 2010 at 03:38 AM ·

Zoltan Kodaly wrote a beautiful Adagio for viola and piano , which he himself also transcribed for violin or cello.  It is in CM ; available from editio musica budapest 1972

There is a Mendelsohn  violin/piano sonata, a later work, quite gorgeous.

August 12, 2010 at 04:30 AM · for me, there are bethoven spring sonata & mozart violin sonata kv.301. both sound so warm and beautiful.thx.

January 7, 2015 at 06:55 PM · We just added the first movement of the Franck Sonata to Cadenza (the app that accompanies you in real time).

Cadenza for iPad


January 8, 2015 at 12:14 AM · John C: Well it's only been about 5 years since you asked about the Reger sonatas. They are definitely not atonal noise! But not "easy listening" either. In a lifetime of listening to classical music stations I can only remember hearing any of the Reger sonatas being played on the air one time, and that was decades ago. But it caught my attention and I remembered it. Now I have them on CD and have listened to them repeatedly to see if/how they'd grow on me. I still prefer the six by J.S.Bach and the three by Brahms. I wish I could play them.

January 8, 2015 at 01:56 AM · Paul ... do you have it for Android too?

January 8, 2015 at 12:54 PM · Neil, I wouldn't want YOUR "favorite" Sonata on MY violin - It's suffered enough damage already - The violin, I mean.

Beethoven Op 12 No 2, mainly for its slow movement.

Brahms 3, but the scherzo needs, I think, to be played jocularly, German humour, with rude glissandi, etc - It's different from the other movements.

PURCELL G minor!!!!!!! That slow movement climax ...

My list also contains other Brahms, Bach, Franck, Schubert A minor, etc.

I don't know Arpeggione at all well, but was recently completely bowled over by the Bashmet-Argerich YouTube clip accessed from elsewhere on this site.

January 10, 2015 at 07:31 AM · Not my favourite medium for some reason - I tend to prefer string quartets or piano trios.

With Keyboard

JS Bach - F minor (not sure what number). The pathos in that first movement! (Listen to Oistrakh play it - used to be on Youtube).

Handel - F major

Beethoven Op96 - more than a hint of 'late Beethoven here

Beethoven Op 10 No 3 (E-flat). [Edit- I actually meant OP12 no 3 but the typo prompted some interesting discussion....] The breadth of the first movement, and that wonderful modulation into C-flat (and the key) always make me thing of 'second period' Beethoven and the Eroica particularly.

Brahms G major - no comment needed


Dvorak in F (the sonata, not the sonatina) Mainly for the last movement which I find irresistible

Without keyboard

Bach - all of them

Ysaye - 2 and 6 - way beyond my technique but I enjoy listening to them

To be investigated:


Mozart - I know some of them, but not well

Handel - I haven't played/listened to these since my student days.

January 10, 2015 at 02:11 PM · Peter, Beethoven Opus 10 No 3, is indeed great. Its D-minor slow movement is some of the best music ever written, and the following minuet and trio fit perfectly. I recommend anyone, who doesn't know that slow movement, to get to know it - I used to be able to play it myself and might be able to train myself to play it again (I struggled with the minuet and trio, and the outer movements are beyond me). The nearest to it elsewhere is the slow movement of the above-mentioned Opus 12 No 2, which IS a violin sonata!

Op 10 in your post couldn't have been a typo for Op TWELVE by any chance, could it? Definitely supraFreudian, as far as I'm concerned!

January 11, 2015 at 07:45 AM · John, you're right - I meant Op 12 no 3!. I will check out op 10 no3, whatever it is, right now, and correct my earlier posting. Apologies for confusing anyone.

....Aha, a piano sonata. There are Youtube recordings by Horowitz and Annie Fischer so I'll start there, later. Thanks for the tip, and for pointing out my mistake.

January 11, 2015 at 08:32 AM · Greetings,

for what it`s worth these are the sonatas I would take to my desert island to practice and listen to.

Handel A major / D major

Bach accompanied sonata no1

Tartini Devil`s Trill

Schubert Sonatina in D (really a sonata)

Mozart E minor.

Mendelssohn Sonatas.

Beethoven Spring

Elgar sonata

Ravel sonata OR Debussy

Franck sonata

Prokofiev no.1

Very traditional but about all I can cope with.



January 14, 2015 at 08:30 PM · Doesn't the Franck just mean that you have a really good pianist? Hah!

October 30, 2015 at 05:06 AM · My favourite sonatas of all time:

Bartok #1 and #2 (especially #2)

Prokofiev #1 and #2





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