'Standard' concertos for auditions

August 13, 2008 at 03:45 PM · I'm thinking of auditioning for a symphony in my college town next month. On the list of requirements for the audition, they ask for a first movement of any standard violin concerto. How is a concerto deemed "standard" and how do I know if the one I'm considering (deBeriot #9 in A minor) is "standard."

Replies (23)

August 13, 2008 at 05:33 PM · If you can play deBeriot well, go with it. However, I think it is considered a student concerto rather than a standard concerto.

August 13, 2008 at 05:39 PM · Many auditions will request either a standard concerto or a concerto at the level of so and so, etc etc.

Usually when folks use the term "standard concerto", they think:

Brahms, Tchaik, Sibelius, Wieniawsky, Beethoven, Paganini, Dvorak, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Lalo concerti-or concerti at a similar level of difficulty.

Something like Beriot 9 is on the rather easy end as such.

August 14, 2008 at 06:17 AM · Hi, there is a "standard repertoire". Concertos of that are: Mendelssohn, Bruch, Paganinni, Sibelius, Mozart, and many many more.

The bruch concerto first movement is very easily learned, and i would reccomend going with that.

August 14, 2008 at 11:15 AM · I learned DeBeriot recently and now I'm doing Lalo, which is a lot of fun. However, I did Bruch first (I did them in a strange order) and before that I did Mozart 3 and 5. So maybe you could look into one of those, but I'm not so sure how Mozart is with auditions. The best one to do would probably be Bruch, I hear that's the order a lot of teachers follow.

August 14, 2008 at 01:22 PM · Thanks so much. I was afraid the DeBeriot was a bit too "student-ish" for this. I think I'll pull out the Bruch again!!

August 14, 2008 at 02:47 PM · If you are not afraid to play Mozart or Haydn really well, it is enough for any kind of audition:) I'd not suggest Beriot for auditioning to professional orchestra. They might consider it as "too easy".

August 14, 2008 at 02:56 PM · Oh, sorry... I just read that you will audition for college orchestra. So... maybe Beriot might be OK.

August 14, 2008 at 05:18 PM · In professional orchestra auditions,the most-commonly used concerti are Brahms, Sebelius and Tchaikovsky, after those, comes Beethoven(if you can play it flawlessly), Mendelssohn, Barber, Prokofiev Ni.1 and 2 and Bartok. That's about 90% of what people play on auditions.Mozart concerti are normally asked separately.

August 14, 2008 at 06:58 PM · Hi,

Yes, I think you received a good response from others. I would also add that some places when they say "standard concerto" they mean one of the standard five, which are; Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Beethoven or Prokofiev no. 1 (to this day I can not figure out why Prokofiev 1 specifically) However I think that I would never play an audition with Beethoven or Prokofiev concerto.

In the end play what you know best.

Good luck.

August 14, 2008 at 07:03 PM · Haixin, I see you play in Detroit. I'm curious - at your auditions (or the auditions you've done), do candidates play with an accompanist? It's standard practice here in Germany, and a big part of the reason why pieces like Bartok 2 don't often get played in auditions.

Other than that, our standard repertoire is similar to the pieces listed - Prokofiev is also seldom played, and Beethoven perhaps more often.

August 15, 2008 at 05:53 AM · Megan,

DSO usually doesn't provide pianist in our auditions. The reason being

1. we don't limit concerto choices, candidates can play any romantic or modern concerto as they see fit, (in my opinion,some do work better in an audition setting than others), so if someone comes with a concerto like schoenberg, (which I have seen), it's hard to find pianist to play that.

2. Like you said, some concerto is just easier to put together than the others, with the limited rehearsal time, it's just not a fair and even playing ground.

Personally I think if you want to test the ensemble skill of a candidate, a round of string quartet playing is much more revealing.

I do know there are orchestras, like Philadelphia and Chicago, provide pianists on their audition, mostly at the semi or final rounds.

August 22, 2008 at 09:41 PM · Hi, just commenting again...

When I was auditioning for a youth orchestra, there were 2 or 3 people playing the 1st movement of the Bruch concerto, so I played the third movement which is very virtuosic. So basically it is a good idea to have more than one you can play on the fly... In another audition, i played the sibelius instead of bruch at a last minute switch.

December 4, 2008 at 07:00 PM ·

Oh my... don't forget Saint-Saens third concerto in B minor! Such a monumental piece of music. 

December 5, 2008 at 06:59 AM ·

If your college orchestra requires exerpts those are probably more important than your concerto.  Some college orchestras require minimal orchestral excerpts such as part of one movement of a Brahms symphony, and some require more than one of the standard excerpts (Mozart Symphony, Scherzo from Midsummer Night's Dream or Schumann Symphony, Don Juan or some other Strauss, Prokofiev Classical Symphony, etc.).  If that's the case I would spend my time working on those instead of a new concerto since they're plenty difficult...

If not, its up to you if you think you can prepare a new concerto in time (and how much time you want to put into it).  DeBeroit is not really considered a standard concerto but if you can play it well it may be better than slapping together Saint-Saens, Mendelssohn, or Bruch (those would probably be most within your reach...maybe also Wieniawski 2 if you're really ambitious). 

Standard usually means Beethoven, or a romatic to early modern (late romantic?...like Shostakovich, Bartok, Prokofiev) concerto that's representative of your technical ability (i.e. hard) and musical abilities, isn't obscure by any measure (e.g. Faure Concerto), and means that the cadenzas are performed if applicable.  Mozart is usually excluded because orchestras invariably ask for "1 standard concerto w/ cadenzas, 1 Mozart concerto with cadenzas" but if it's a college orchestra Mozart is also probably acceptible.  Mozart 3, 4, and 5 are the most common and, though I hate myself for saying it,  I wouldn't go for the first or second concerto since they're not as "safe"....

January 11, 2009 at 05:12 AM ·

Joseph, I'm entirely just curious... :)

 

What do you mean by "safe" in regards to the first and second concertos by Mozart?

January 11, 2009 at 07:41 AM ·

When people ask for a Mozart concerto they probably are expecting the 3rd, 4th, or 5th concerti just because most people prepare those.  It's not like they don't want to hear the first two but if they've heard the last three many times I would imagine they would have an idea of what to look for from people auditioning.  Even if that's not the case, nobody can possibly criticize you for choosing one of those three concerti because they're 1) standard and 2) great music.  Anyway I do the third for things that require Mozart because I like it a lot...It's a close call between that and the fifth for my favorite. 

Just a while ago I overheard another student and her professor talking about which Mozart concerto she should work on.  The professor was saying something like, "the first and second would be good because they're not played often enough...but some day soon you will need these for auditions so let's do one of the later ones first." so I know that at least one person who listens to Mozart for auditions often thinks that way even if he doesn't agree with it. 

January 12, 2009 at 05:57 PM ·

To follow on that point: Question to those who have auditioned and judged both student (college) and professional.

If you are given a choice, do you play the most common pieces/arrangement, those most played, or is it better to pick something less played? Also, are certain arrangements considered better to play than others for the student and professional "standards"? Although I realize performers always change bowings, shifts, fingerings etc. Does the basis of which arrangement you start with factor in? As a practical matter, some pieces are recorded and played so often that it could really matter if you pick one of those and the judges are alreay biased toward a certain recording or famous artist. For example a Galamian arrangement is quite different from a Suzuki arrangement and I can only assume many judges would view these with a bias leaning toward the Galamian unless it was a student audition. For example the interpretations by Hahn and Bell on some pieces are so very different and are so popular they would seem to set some type of expectation that a less recorded/played piece would not have.

August 9, 2009 at 09:51 AM ·

I know it's been a while since this post was revived but I thought I'd add my two cents!  Personally, I feel it is best if you play pieces that aren't heard as often.  Think about it this way.  If you go into an audition and five people before you have played Bruch, there's a strong likelihood that one or more are going to play it better than you!  The panel may also be excited to hear something different!  I usually play Shostakovich because although it is standard it isn't heard as often.

August 13, 2009 at 03:28 PM ·

I would certainly consider Mozart 1 or 2. Audition panels sometimes ask for Mozart as it can show up inaccuracies, and I would rather not try and be in the "best 5" playing Mozart 3. Put yourself in the position of the panel - would you rather here yet another performance of Mozart 3 or one you haven't heard today?

Talking on one occasion years back with the principal viola of one of the B.B.C. orchestras, he said he'd rather hear someone play the Telemann well than prove they couldn't play the Walton - and if they could play the Walton, they certainly wouldn't get the job!

The best idea I've heard is from Peter Mountain. He would send out a violin duet (or give you a short while at the audtion to look at it) and then you'd play it with him. Much more revealing. After all, we've all come across people who can play the SIbelius 1st movement but can't play in a section.

 

December 29, 2010 at 11:37 AM ·

 What about Prokofiev 2. and Shostakovich 1. as 'standard' concertos?

December 29, 2010 at 04:24 PM ·

I have seen Prokofiev 2 popping up recently on lists where you are given a choice of concertos by name.  Many of the audition lists say "first movement of a standard Romantic concerto." 

One professional who is already becoming seasoned at a young age told me her perception was that audition panels have some special regard for Tchaikovsky.  If that's true, nevertheless, I don't think I will use it much; I'd rather play something that was more flattering to me in an audition.

Sometimes I wonder about people's motives for wanting to choose something that is dramatically different but juuust squeaks by the rules.  While I imagine a panel would appreciate a well-sold interpretation of a Prokofiev 2 or similar, and the change of pace, orchestra auditions in general are not about how original you can be or making a provocative statement.  You're going to spend your tenure there largely following somebody else's instructions, and I personally wouldn't want to worry that you're going to be a contrarian/rebel/nuisance, mainly if you're not yet well-known or if it's a tie-breaker.  After you have the job, then you can show your colleagues your passion for the obscure or avant-garde. 

Many players who have this urge to do their own thing and set themselves apart go into chamber music.  Some can deal as long as they have other outlets.  Others try to stick it out and end up miserable.  I'm saying this from my experience: a lot of players profess that they really do not like playing in orchestras because they feel it stifles individuality and creativity.  I've also seen really great players whose personality and individuality was just too big to be contained by the ensemble, resulting in more than a few passive-aggressive standoffs, and in a way it was a shame to have to go against a starry destiny and make them conform.

December 29, 2010 at 04:35 PM ·

J Kingston: speaking of preconceived interpretations, occasionally one will require Bach.  This is usually a crapshoot for the performer and not an enviable situation. 

December 29, 2010 at 05:02 PM ·

Oddly, no-one has mentioned one of the greatest concertos of the last century - the Elgar. But as Malcolm and Nicole suggested, if you can pull that one off then your career probably lies elsewhere than within a symphony orchestra.

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