Yes, there are modern etude collections of substance

March 1, 2012 at 06:18 PM · In my hunt to determine what came before Wohlfahrt I ran across a wonderful thesis that analyses the classical "set" of violin etudes and considers the question "are there modern complements to violin study that better suit modern performance?" This thesis does a wonderful job of answering this question and I thought it worth sharing here. Here's the URL to thesis:



Replies (29)

March 1, 2012 at 06:31 PM · Most of the etude books he discusses are well out of reach for those skipping Kreutzer.

March 1, 2012 at 07:21 PM · matthias - I don't think he was looking for an modern alternative to all etudes, just for etudes that would prepare for modern (specifically atonal) types of music. I have not read the thesis but from the introductory paragraph it would seem that this is about an extension, not replacement of the etude repertoire.

March 1, 2012 at 07:38 PM · In reference to your subject description: It's not that Kreutzer is THE bible of violinist study, it is one prominent chapter in the bible of violinist study. The rest include: Sevcik, Wohlfahrt, Schradieck, Kayser, Dancla, Mazas, Dont, Rode, Fiorillo, Gavinies, Paganini and ultimately Ernst. Those are the standards but come to think of it we've also got Whistler, Sitt, Trott, Locatelli. I probably even left a few out. I realize you're talking about 20th century music but if you want to get technical about the "bible" of violinist study, this is what most modern players' technique is built upon.

March 1, 2012 at 08:24 PM · So, what bright spark is going to collate all of these chapters into a sequential series for the path to violinistic enlightenment?

[And think of the horror of climbing that mountain without any formal music (notwithstanding the musical quality of the etudes themselves of course)]

March 1, 2012 at 11:00 PM · My bigger question is what did early students have before Wohlfahrt? I don't normally see Wohlfahrt and Kayser spoken to as much as I see just Kreutzer as the foundation or first set of etudes. Did the violin snobs leave out or not give Wohlfahrt and Kayser credit? I am doing Mazas etudes because they sound good but I haven't started Kreutzer. I have it but I've only looked at it. I am doing long bow study now and son-file and I am thinking about starting Kreutzer No. 14 first because of the legato work.

Someone please comment about your knowledge prior to Wohlfahrt. I'm curious what the classical study was prior him. I've read a lot about Locatelli and bowing. This is very interesting.


March 2, 2012 at 02:17 AM · There are easier Kreutzer etudes depending on the tempo you choose. No. 2 and 3 are very good for bowing and intonation because they are in C major which is neither the friendliest nor the least friendly key on the violin. No. 8 and No. 10 are enjoyable to play and actually are nice pieces. I'm told Heifetz once used the No. 8 (E major) as a recital encore.

The worst etudes I've ever played are Sitt and Alard. As a kid I hated those, they were just so unmusical.

March 2, 2012 at 04:23 AM · Elise- I probably misunderstood :)

David - There are LOTS of studies that are simple that where written before Wohlfahrt, including some written by Spohr. But we must realize that for a dedicated student there really was (is...) no need for much in etude way before Kreutzer. A student with good consentration, little distraction and good guidence that practices about one hour every day can start with Kreutzer within a couple of months and will be doing 3 octave scales within 6-12 months.

The modern trend to play too simple pieces for too long is not a way to make virtuosos, but a way to make a lot of violinist. Not that it necessarily is a bad thing.

March 2, 2012 at 05:43 AM · The earliest actual violin method book that I know of is "The Art of Playing the Violin" by Francesco Geminiani, which was published in 1751. There is also a collection of etudes from the Baroque era which are variations on a theme. It's "The Art of Bowing" by Archangelo Corelli.

As for the sequence of violin etudes, I don't think everyone does them in the same order but I personally thought Rode, Fiorillo and Gavinies were the most useful in preparing for later studies. I did Kreutzer too and I think it's a great book but I especially enjoyed Gavinies. They feel good in the hand and are excellent compositions in my opinion.

March 2, 2012 at 05:54 AM · lets not forget those other most important early etudes: Cant, Wont, and Shouldnt.

(sorry, couldnt resist)

March 2, 2012 at 05:58 AM · Greetings,

Michael, your posts are intersting and imformative.Thanks. Just a few small hair splits from my perspectibve.

1) I dobn`t rank Scradieck or sevcik as etudes. They are exercises for me. Not everyone will agree, but an etude has a muscial element for me.

2) The Paginin Caprices are neither studies or etudes. They are fine music that has a techncial orientation. The use of the word caprice tends to imply an extra muscial aspect as far as I can see.

3)Heifets emphatically stated that the Kreutzer @are the violinsts bible.`

It is certainly true that there are violhist who have done perfectly well without them, but there is an awful lot of anecdorttal evidence from great players which s8uggests these should be ranked above the others . Not just old players either. In his `Way They Play ` interviews Bron states that his studnets learn the Kreutzer etudes twice at variuous stages in their development.

My own perosnal experience has been that a loit of Kreutzer etuders simply do0 the job better than other books even though those may well be fantastic in their own right.

This discussion may reflect a small but discernable split between traditional violin schooling and the approach exemplified in Drew Lecher`s book on tehcnique which utilizes small and highly powerful chunks of technical work. I am a big fan of his work but they need to be used with caution and I doubt if they ultimately provide the grandiose style of violin playing and sewciritry of the tried and tested master etudes (Kreutzer/Rode and Dont) followe dby the music of Paginin.

In part I think they represnet a reaction to the down side of the traditional approach: the mindless force feeding of too many etudes at the wrong time to studnets just because they are @in the book.`

Anyway, the traditional route certyainly doesn`t seem to have done you any harm.



March 2, 2012 at 06:04 AM · Mendy: Hey, those are still around today. I have some Cant etudes in my cabinet (oh, how I hate thee Ernst).

Kreutzer is quite possibly the first set of etudes a student works on after graduating from introductory level Suzuki.

Are there replacements? Probably... I mean, you can always use Nel Cor Piu instead of Last Rose of Summer (yet another Cant etude) to learn the left hand pizz. But they're very good for left hand expansion/contraction, shifting, e.t.c. Which are necessary to play any upper-level repertoire (I see people flounce around because they can't stretch enough, or can't shift fast enough).

March 2, 2012 at 06:33 AM · Greetings,

>Kreutzer is quite possibly the first set of etudes a student works on after graduating from introductory level Suzuki.

Just my opinion, but I think Kreutzer is a lot more advance dthan that. Have heard too many just slightly out of tune Kreutzers over the years maybe?



March 2, 2012 at 08:26 AM · I'm only using myself as a measure, and therefore I have no idea. I wandered away from Suzuki after book 5, and by the time I was starting Kreutzer I'd already played everything but Chaconne from Partita II. Looking at my friends, however, it seems that after introductory Suzuki (meaning I can play a movement or two from some of the concertos), they start Kreutzer.

March 2, 2012 at 01:17 PM · You can peruse an early edition of Spohr through the Sibley Library of Music at the Eastman School. I know. I found it at a flea market and donated it to the rare-books section :) Sue

March 2, 2012 at 01:21 PM · I think its crazy to start Kreuzer before working through Wohlfhart. And, of course, that is exactly what I did (without a teacher at the time). Indeed, the 'Introduction to Kreuzer' etudes are absolutely terrific, evenif you don't do all of them they allow you to focus on technical elements that you will definitely need.

I think the 'problem' with Kreuzer is that it is deceptively simple if you just look at the notes - the usual indicators of difficulty - high position work and fast speed - are not there but they belie the artful fingering and timing issues that are so cleverly hidden in each etude.

As Buri pointed out some time ago: starting a new piece (etude) before you are technically prepared is likely to lead to burned-in errors that take tremendous effort to correct. Much as is the case with every aspect of this cursed/blessed instrument!

March 2, 2012 at 02:55 PM · So, Buri (or Michael, or whoever else has a good opinion!)--if we were to boil it down to say half a dozen etude essentials, what would they be?

context: a young teacher who didn't systematically work through etudes and wants to make sure I'm giving my students what they need: where to start!!! :) I'm actually studying with Drew Lecher now, LOVE his book and feel like it does fill in a lot of the holes on its own, saving me from experimenting through myriads of cant and dont :) and having my kids buy a bazillion etude books....but I do think I want some of the essential supplements around.

(though for me personally, I guess I'm looking at the beginner-intermediate essentials--maybe up to early kreutzer--most of my kids are beginners up to strong Vivaldi and mostly now in Whistler and Wohlfahrt, but I want to think up through approximately late Seitz/early Bach concerto level as that's about as far as I hope to take them before sending them on up :))

What are the top recommendations as far as essentials? If I were to guess: Wohlfahrt, Whistler, maybe Trott, Hrimaly, Sitt?

March 2, 2012 at 02:57 PM · And, at the upper levels (now I'm talking for me), could you get away with, say, Basics+Drew's book+Kreutzer and be pretty well-rounded?

March 2, 2012 at 06:55 PM · Regarding Kreutzer as the next logical step after Suzuki, I think it depends which Kreutzer etudes we're talking about, and how you plan on playing it, especially with respect to expectations for tempo. My daughter is learning Bach Double Second Violin Part and the first couple of pieces in Suzuki Book 5. Her teacher assigned Kreutzer No. 2. She is to play it slowly with just back-and-forth bowing for now, and make sure her bowing is even, straight, and with best possible tone, and to become confident in the intonations of certain "unfriendly" notes like F natural and C natural, and to learn to play a few shifts very cleanly. The next one will likely be No. 3 the same way. Many top-level pieces could be used this way, such as some of the Doubles and Gigues from the Bach unaccompanied. I see no harm in this for a young student as long as they do not try to play too fast and start with simple detache bowing. In the very same lesson she was started on Hrimaly which will seem crazy because it's considered so much "easier" than Kreutzer, but a three-octave G flat major scale and arpeggio seems to me much harder than Kreutzer No. 2 played slowly with detache bowing.

I noticed there is a lot of praise of Wohlfahrt but nothing about more modern things (supposedly the point of this thread) like Melodious Double Stops. I had one when I was a kid called Developing Double Stops which was part of the Whistler series. It was too hard for me and I hated double stops after that and avoided anything that had double stops. With kids these days they are eased into it using open-string double stops (Seitz Concertos, O'Connor Method, Souvenir de Sarasate, etc.) My daughter does not have the same fear that I had. Someone above said that the gradual way does not produce virtuosos, but for most of us virtuosity is not the point. The pursuit of happiness is the point.

March 2, 2012 at 08:38 PM · Greetings,


if you are studying with Drew you don`t need my opinion.

In the end the answe probably lies in the needs , interests and ambitions of the students. Michael and myself for example, had/have a predilection for etudes and will cheerfully chomp though the standard sequence which is fairly easy to identify.

In another case, adults who want to play pieces they highly focused work in Drew`s book is ideal.

These days, rather than Kreutzer I use a few minutes of exercises from Drew to maintain and improve technique. They are very powerful.

Iy is certainly possible to teach a youngster using only this book, and for studnets wo are clealry not intending to be pros it can remove a greta dela of the supposedly endless series of studies that used to be de rigeur.

However, I would be just a tiny bit cautious about more hard core students. No disrespect to Drew`s book, but there probably never will be a a single volume that covers everything in such a way that it ca meet the technical -and - musical- needs of all.

That is a point we tend to forget. Etudes are a means of devoping -musical- style if used properly. One can, and should make a disitnction between the way Kayser (German) and Mazas are playe. On a more detailed level the very first book of Wohlfart is wonderul because the studnet is playing all kinds of genres and learning the relationship between them and specific rythms. This book in particular teaches technique -and- interpretation from the beginning.

A ceratin numberof Mazas studies are very importnat. Number 5 fot instance is in my opinion the place to really start working on detache. Not Kreutzer no2. The other feature of Mazas is it requires a great deal of thought about sensitive bow distribution and speed to bring out the music. This is not necessarily found to the same extent in Kreutzer and it is`t in Drew`s book either (so far).

The other point about etudes is that they develop stamina and memory. These are things that a promising young player should be offered. I think it was Vadim Brodsky who said that as a result of being made to memorize Kreutze rwhen he was younger her never had problems memorizing concertos. I belief one absorbs the fundamental patterns of music through etudes and that these are a great aid to memory.

I respectfully disagree with the idea of giving Kreutzer no 2 to the average student. The reaosn is to my mind that it is actually rather hard to play in tune. I`ve hera dit once too often slightly out. Its actually much more difficult than people think. Thats why I use the mazas.

Of the Kreutzer there are so many powerful etudes it is hard to know where to start . the trill studies are somewhat neglected but one of our greatest weapons. really!!!

The f major has historically been used by many great violnists to warm up or improve technique. I think everyone shoudl have that one. And of cousre no 2 for daily bowing. I actually prefer Polo double stops tokreutzer for myslef;)

I don@t think we have got to the stage when a student /aspiring pro can afford ot miss out out Rode oir Dont. Indeed the studnets who study the so called `preparatory to Kreutzer ` Dont book (actually some of it is harder) seem to have some kindof edge. There is something about Dont that other books don@t have. zeryng said he played the number one from opus 35 most of the days of his professional life. taht is how much he calued them. The big Dont is indeed one of the keys to cracking major cocnertos more easily.



March 2, 2012 at 08:56 PM · Haha-in other words, there is no easy answer :) i am totally learning so much from both drew and his book and i am actually leaning toward going that route with most of my students rather than hopping through a ton of etudes! I guess i'm just trying to figure out which ones i should do my homework on anyway, since i really have very little experience in this area!

@ OP-sorry if i sidetracked your thread! However, i wonder if Drew's book (violin technique: how to master) and Simon's books (basics and practice) might be relevant to the discussion anyway. They are more exercises than etudes, but i'm thinking that they way they posit technical exercises which can then be applied in to the most basic or the craziest variations, is probably very practical for modern music.

March 2, 2012 at 11:06 PM · Kathryn, my teacher has her students study Wohlfahrt Op. 45 book 1, Kayser & Trott, then Mazas' Études spéciales and Études brillantes (International) before Kreutzer.

Here is Dorothy DeLay's sequence (Mimi Zweig uses the same sequence).

Linda Cerone's: "For a beginner, in progressive order: scales and arpeggios, Sevcik Op. 3, Trott Double Stops, Levinson “Introducing the Positions”, Sitt etudes, Mazas two etude books, Dont Op. 37, Kreutzer..."

You can find Buri's list from 2004 here. (Don't know if he has changed his mind since.)

March 3, 2012 at 12:19 AM · Thank you Buri for your thoughts regarding my post. I do agree with you about the etudes and exercises, but since both were part of the curriculum that I had to follow I sort of lumped them all together. I realize that the Paganini caprices are very musical and refined pieces of music. I have to admit though that sometimes from my point of view I forget about their musicality because in order to learn them I have to pick them apart so much to grind out the technical work. I do love them though and coming back to previous ones a second time has proven to unlock many happy musical details that I had missed the first time when I was working too hard to smell the roses. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate them.

March 3, 2012 at 04:44 AM · Buri thanks for the suggestion, of course I have the Mazas etudes and I like them very much, I will look at No. 5. I totally agree with you about Dont. They are very good studies and definitely not easy. I also like the No. 1 study in Op. 35! It has charm. Unfortunately probably that's the only thing I've got in common with Szeryng.

March 3, 2012 at 05:29 AM · Charm??????????

I find you much more charming.....



March 3, 2012 at 04:06 PM · Buri, I checked out Mazas No. 5 and I agree it's easier to play in tune than Kreutzer No. 2 and better for staring detache, but I'm going to stick with my daughter's teacher's recommendation because I think part of the purpose of assigning No. 2 was to work on just those aspects of her intonation. She's been working on it for less than a week and it's improving quickly. Kids are amazing this way. Maybe we can do the Mazas too but she's already got a lot to work on right now.

And regarding the Dont studies I have to apologize because it seems you've been talking about the Op. 35 and I just looked at my book and it says Op. 38 so I guess we're not talking about the same studies. Now I ask you to look at Op. 38 No. 1 and see if you agree it's charming. :)

March 3, 2012 at 09:08 PM · Greetings,

Dont opus 37 is the intermediate ish set that is supposed to prepare for Kreutzer . It is one of the most neglected books around in my opinion. The first study in that book is one of my favorites. The Galamian edition is excellent.

The high level Dont is opus 35. Each one is a major work in its own right that contributes to th highest level of cocnerto paying. Heifetz uses them with his students in the masterclass DVDs. The one szeryng played so much is no1 in that book. One would, for example, be much better off mastering(?) that one and then learning the Fugues from the Bach solo sonatas rather than the other way around.



March 3, 2012 at 09:37 PM · Buri, what a coincidence! That's what I just ordered I think. Here's a snip from the email notification.

Dont: Twenty-four Preparatory Exercises to Kreutzer and Rode Studies, Op. 37 for Violi...

Sold by: Fabre M. Sanders

Condition: used - good

I have the Kreutzer but I keep being hesitant about starting. My teacher and I do a 1/2 hour because of the cost and I may or may not continue after June. Not sure. But, right now I've asked him to help me correct mistakes in foundational technique. I am doing long bow, the Galamian square, triangle, and point. Long sustained notes with "even" tone. I really hurt my left thumb on the Bach Giga, second section. I was doing too much, bowings, intonation, speed, shifts, etc. I should have focused on less but the 1/2 hour lessons feel like I'm not progressing at a good rate. I am though.

I hope that all the exercises I'm doing might prepare me for the Prokofiev Op. 115 Sonata Second movement for a recital in the Spring. I love that music.

I should get the Dont etudes soon. I have Wohlfahrt, Kayser, and Kreutzer but right now I jump around the Wohlfahrt and Kayser playing ones I know. I need to try a new one each practice and quit being intimidated.

March 4, 2012 at 03:40 AM · The wikipedia page for Jakob Dont mentions three main sets of pedagogical studies -- Op. 35, Op. 37, and Op. 38. There is some descriptive text there for each as well. I have been playing the Op. 38. Considering my skill level I suspect they are the easiest. I don't have the others, maybe I should buy them.

March 4, 2012 at 06:34 AM · Greetings,

yes, I played those years ago. Youcan down loa dthem for free from IMSLP> Not used so much I think thes edays. All good stuff though



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