Repertoire suggestions for a 'violin candy' recital/fundraiser?

October 8, 2008 at 05:00 AM · I'm thinking of playing for about an hour with a little bit of talking between pieces. I don't think any piece should be over 8 minutes long. Basically, I'm looking for contrast, charisma, musical conciseness (read: brevity), fun, and a little bit of depth, too. :)

And because several people have already put in a request for the ubiquitous "Devil Went Down to Georgia:" does anyone know of a good violin/piano arrangement in which a vocalist is not necessary? The only arrangements I found had 14 measures of rest, etc... there must be something more interesting out there!

So far, I'm thinking of pieces like Zigeunerweisen (or Tzigane), Tambourin Chinois, the "Blues" movement from the Ravel Sonata, the Chopin/Milstein nocturne (people may recognize it from their cell phone ringtones), perhaps a movement from a Mozart or Beethoven sonata that can stand alone reasonably well, and for a little more gravitas that I hope would go over well, something like the 3rd movement of Prokofiev F minor sonata. Any other ideas greatly welcomed!


Replies (20)

October 8, 2008 at 05:59 AM · Greetings,

A great piece from the Heifetz encores album- Mozkowski Gitarre. Absolute Classic.

Also submit that any one or two pieces from Suk opus seventeen is better than a separate movement froma modern sonata.



October 8, 2008 at 06:34 AM · If you're going to talk, I'm sure something like Devil's Trill would go over well. I've also played Grieg sonatas for kids before, with great success. I honestly think we underestimate (especially young) children's interest in music, and that we can actually play almost any kind of music (length is another story) if we present it in the right way.

EDIT: Oh wait, you said 'young people', not kids. This may all be irrelevant.

October 8, 2008 at 06:53 AM · Oh! Devil Went Down to Georgia. If I had a dollar for every time I played that tune, I would be going to the bank on a regular basis. Maybe you could do the vocal recitation yourself (it is not difficult, even if you may not sing, just recite it like a poem) But to your question: Might I suggest some traditional fiddle tunes. They are short and to the point. Many familiar children's songs are based on old time fiddle tunes. A few good links that is both complete and scholarly are:

These sites will offer both MIDI renderings, and notated music. Maybe in addition to the tunes, you may explain some of the historical events that were taking place and how the tune fits in.

In addition, if your audience is of a younger age group, there are some tunes that you could play where the violin imitates animal noises. One could easily come up with these in a demonstration on the fiddle where you can make pig grunts (playing behind the bridge on the G string, at the frog, very hard pressure), horse whinnies ( a high note played with a very, very wide vibrato technique) and the ever so popular "bird calls". There is even a donkey sound that I used to use for hecklers, back in my day ( playing a fingered perfect fifth on the lower register, with a fluid slide) The children will usually burst into roaring laughter at these, especially the pig sound and the mule.

If the age group is teenagers, try to find out what tunes that they like and I'm sure that you will be able to find the sheet music somewhere. A good mix of music is interesting, but I would avoid "emotionally complicated" pieces of the late romantic period, as I have found that they bore the average teen and can become too long and involved. They will most likely be interested in short works, possibly of a virtuosic nature. Some Paganini, perhaps?

I hope I was of some help.

October 8, 2008 at 12:28 PM · Once I did the 1st movement of the Barber concerto on my student's studio recital, and was very popular with all ages. Very effective piece.

There are always the Gershwin-Heifetz pieces from "Porgy and Bess", or the "Three Preludes".

There is a really nice arrangement of Copland's "Appalachian Spring" for violin and piano, by Bryan Stanley, published by Boosey & Hawkes.

October 8, 2008 at 12:49 PM · Fast part of William Tell. (Must be available somewhere as solo excerpt?). Rodeo. Bartok's Roumanian Dances....short and interesting, all different.

October 8, 2008 at 12:47 PM · I'm sure you'll come up with a great program.

More importantly though, what are you going to talk about? What is the age group? No matter the age though I think the best way to get someone to listen to classical music for the first time is to give them something to listen for.

It's sooooo boring to listen to someone say stuff like "this piece was written in 1789 by a very famous man named Mozart, and he wrote it for his wife." Ok, but so what? What's the theme? What IS a theme? Why is this special? Or how about Prokofiev and how he manages to make it percussive as opposed to Mozart?

October 8, 2008 at 02:17 PM · Seems like a great opportunity to do lots of contemporary pieces. I could suggest Mostly in B-flat by Mark Langford (4 minutes) and Expression in Blue by Bruce Crossman (5 minutes). You can listen to extracts of both of these pieces by going to the SOUNZ site and using their search facility.

October 8, 2008 at 06:44 PM · I agree, people do under estimate the power of music with children and the way it captivates them.

For your program, to make it intereting, maybe a fast solo bach piece like partita 3 preludio, or sonata 1 presto etc.

But I like the idea of tzigane and tambourin chinois

October 8, 2008 at 09:36 PM · Maybe Czardas instead of Zigeunerweisen/Tzigane? I feel like only violinists/musicians like the latter more.

Maybe a Brahms Hungarian Dance (esp number 5)? I played that earlier this year (a quartet arrangement to boot) for kids, and they LOVED it.

Little Kreisler pieces are good, I think.

Wieniawski concerto 2, movement 2 or 3?

Lalo third movement?

Maybe one of the famous Perpetual Motion pieces (either Paganini or Novacek) - I think the kids would dig that.

A fiddle piece like Devil's Dream? The pianist can probably just improvise an accompaniment given the chord chart. Again, I played a fiddle arrangement that included this for a children's concert earlier this year, and it was VERY well received.

I'm probably not adding much to the discussion, but those are just a couple suggestions.

October 8, 2008 at 09:47 PM · "Hot Canary" by Paul Nero

"The Zephyr" by Jeno Hubay, or any of his "Scenes de la Csardas"

"Spanish Danse" from La Vida Breve arranged by Kreisler

La Ronde des Lutins by Bazzini

"Zapateado" by Sarasate


October 9, 2008 at 03:18 AM · Flight of the Bumblebees.

October 9, 2008 at 04:10 AM · aaaargh. They@re breeding.

October 9, 2008 at 05:14 AM · Thanks, everyone! Those are some fun ideas. My roommate at Keshet Eilon this summer played the Hot Canary really well -- she totally sold it. Cute piece, good idea!

The audience will consist of people in their mid twenties through early thirties in Los Angeles. The "talking" I do will obviously be short and hopefully entertaining... I certainly don't plan on dryly reciting dates and lengthy composer names!

Anyway, keep 'em coming! I love hearing about new pieces anytime, let alone when I actually have need...

Thanks again!

October 9, 2008 at 06:11 AM · "The audience will consist of people in their mid twenties through early thirties"

LOL! Just treat them as adults. Don't play down to them at all; give them the real experience.

If they were under 12, sit at about their eye level and pretend you're telling them a story. When I was around 20 I was a folksinger type working for Kelloggs cereal in community centers they'd set up. It was all little kids and moms. The ultimate purpose was to help families sign up for govt. programs to assist them that they didn't know about. A bit hard to imagine today.

Kids that age have an attention span if you're paying attention to them. I used to know a girl who taught reading to underprivileged kids at a VOA store, and the the kids would sit Mesmerized while she read. Nary a peep from them.

October 9, 2008 at 06:05 AM · Whoo, kids in their twenties and thirties, eh? At that age, I wouldn't 'water down' anything. Young adults in Los Angeles I'm guessing have a pretty high level of sophistication, so you can blast them with anything and they should take it. Even if they don't listen to classical music, there are plenty of standard rep pieces which are accessible. On to actual suggestions:

Gershwin (already been mentioned but a good idea)

Some Kreisler pieces for sure.

Heifetz arrangements maybe

Maybe a slow Bach movement or a dance?

Some early-mid romantic piece - a Beethoven or Dvorak romance maybe, or a Hungarian dance.

Hope that's not totally useless information :).

October 9, 2008 at 06:52 PM · I'm a kid in my fifties. :)


October 9, 2008 at 09:34 PM · Hey guys,

I don't intend on "watering down" the programming, or "not treating them as adults;" I simply think it would be more entertaining for this particular audience to have a program consisting of shorter pieces with lots of charm and contrast. My apologies if my intention was unclear.

Thanks again for the suggestions,


October 9, 2008 at 09:56 PM · You might consider talking a little bit about the piece before you play. If you can play a little portion of it and explain its relevance (describe spiccato, bariolage, different bow strokes and why you use them, a little about the composer, what you are doing to the theme, sonata form...) it can make the experience more meaningful to someone who doesn't have much background. It's also really good for you to reinforce having to emphasize certain things...


October 9, 2008 at 10:29 PM · Greetings,

For what it`s worth, I have been expeimenting with this kind of recital program for years now and have found that it is unnecessray to go in with the attitude that crowd pleasers work best. On the whole I have found two other factors that make the who experience a greta dela more satisfying for everyone.

1) Provide contrast through non-mainstream or more acerbic music.

2) Challenge peopel intelligence with new sounds just a little and then do your candy stuff.

I do therefor eplay works by Martinu, Suk, Ives and even go for very short works written within the last few years.

I have never foudn ti patronizing to challenge people nad I do like talking to them about things we share in common.

Just my 2 cents,



October 10, 2008 at 12:17 AM · I'd suggest an arrangement of something not originally a classical piece (ie: west side story, porgy and bess, movie music, etc) These pieces are more recognizable to young audiences, and can be really fun to play

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