What ONE piece of sheet music would you take to a desert island?

March 25, 2012 at 07:04 PM · Let's assume you are stuck on a desert island with your violin. Let's also assume you have shelter and plentiful food, blue sky, white sand etc

You are there and have only your violin for company. What ONE piece of music would you like with you?

I'm now going to cheat! I would like to have the SIX Bach solo partitas and Sonatas with me (but in one book so maybe that's ok).

What would you bring?

Replies (58)

March 25, 2012 at 07:33 PM · these pieces all in one book:

- Humoresque - A. Dvorak

- The Last of the Mohicans

- Nocturne - Mendelssohn

- Contradanza

- Yumeji's Theme, in the mood for love - Shigeru Umebayashi

- BWV 1041 - JS Bach

- Concerto in D Major op. 35 - Tchaikovsky

(knowing that i'd be on a desert island i'm not gonna bring difficult pieces than the ones above, as I lose concentration easily in the hot weather. I don't even know if I'll be able to play if I am sweating)


March 25, 2012 at 08:13 PM · I would bring The Last Rose of Summer by Ernst because it's beautiful and very difficult. It would keep me busy for a long time and I'm fond of it enough that I wouldn't mind.

March 25, 2012 at 09:35 PM · Solo Bach.

March 25, 2012 at 10:26 PM · Same as Carlo and Emily. But i would suggest whatever music you have stored in your memory including finger memory play it regularly so you don't forget.

March 26, 2012 at 01:47 AM · what if you break a string? would you fashion string out of coconut hairs?

I also like last of the mohicans, vivaldi's summer, and the Rudy theme song.

March 26, 2012 at 03:42 AM · @Nick, not coconut hairs ... but spider silk?

Well I guess I can't argue against solo Bach but I think I would take the Franck A Major Sonata. There are two movements I can play well, and two that would present some challenge for a while. I just never seem to tire of that sonata.

March 26, 2012 at 01:11 PM · Ah, the desert island question.

Beethoven Violin Concerto (technically, musically, spiritually)

March 26, 2012 at 03:41 PM · Any piece of sheet music by Lloyd Webber, then it can be used as toilet paper ...

March 26, 2012 at 05:34 PM · or as a fire lighter...

March 26, 2012 at 05:36 PM · Peter, my exact responce to your post as I was reading it:


For me, Bach. Though I'd probably leave the violin music at home and bring the Goldberg Variations. Maybe I can build a bamboo piano.

March 27, 2012 at 01:52 AM · solo Bach - Cello Suites transcribed for viola of course. Although, the S&P's would give me more to work on...

March 27, 2012 at 02:28 AM · Elgar violin concerto - from what I can gather, its the longest one of the majors, which would give me the most to work on.

Do I get to take an etude books too (Kreuzer of course), I'm going to need them...

March 27, 2012 at 02:43 AM · "I'm now going to cheat! I would like to have the SIX Bach solo partitas and Sonatas with me (but in one book so maybe that's ok).

What would you bring?"

That was my immediate thought, exactly!

March 27, 2012 at 03:32 AM · A book of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for violin AND the cello suites, ALL transcribed for viola! This would keep me busy for ages...

Although my viola is probably so used to the weather in northern New England that it wouldn't last a day on a hot, humid island:(

March 28, 2012 at 01:17 AM · I would work really hard, and memorize a whole bunch of amazing violin concertos, then I would take the Beethoven violin concerto... and it will be like heaven...

March 29, 2012 at 01:50 AM · @ Peter - great idea

Or how about we just arrange to have all the Weber scores dumped on some deserted island so we'll never have to play Phantom of the Opera excerpts on another pops concert :)

Not sure what one (non-Weber!) score I'd want as my one and only piece of music. I think the people who said they'd take something that they'd have to work on were probably on the right track.

May 2, 2012 at 04:06 PM · I would take the paganini caprice no. 24 because It would take time away learning how to play a difficult piece. That way I wouldn't be thinking of myself all alone in a lonely deserted island.

May 2, 2012 at 05:21 PM · I'd take a (very large) hard drive with the complete works of Mr. Ibert Massanet Sibelius Leclaire Prokofief.

May 2, 2012 at 07:11 PM · I agree to the commentaries of the Angélica and Elise. I would bring with me 24 Whims and Meditation of Thais.

May 2, 2012 at 08:40 PM · ... noone twigged yet...

May 3, 2012 at 11:14 AM · Same as Carlo, Emily, Hendrik, Tim and Raphael. Also Mendy and Emma, except that I'd want violin versions of the material. (The whole lot bound up as a single volume.) Something of a definite picture seems to have emerged. This state of affairs could be stigmatized by saying that in some people the urge to conform is very strong, but I'd prefer the saying 'Great minds think alike'.

May 4, 2012 at 12:58 PM · For the fun of it, I'm going to say Ysaÿe. So that when people come to pick me up in a few years, I can have gone crazy over still not being able to play the sixth Sonata.

On the other hand, Bach is much more likely to keep me sane.. One more for Bach.

In Elise's spirit I might opt for Bartók's sonata for violin solo. After all, one should not waste such an opportunity.

May 4, 2012 at 03:10 PM · Ring Cycle- don't like Wagner at all but it goes on forever and I don't know how long I'll be stuck on the island.

May 4, 2012 at 04:01 PM · ...sigh....

May 23, 2012 at 12:22 PM · The full score of Beethoven's 9th

May 23, 2012 at 12:41 PM · I see noone has cottoned onto my choice yet...

May 23, 2012 at 01:17 PM · Elise, the level of humor has become extremely sophisticated around here lately!

May 23, 2012 at 04:20 PM · it wasn't THAT hard... was it? Or maybe I'm still violining to the (tropical island) wind....

May 23, 2012 at 04:57 PM · Spiegel im Spiegel - it would take me the rest of my life to get the bowing control for this! And I think I would get to know the scale of F extremely well :). It's one of those pieces where there is no place to hide, even on a desert island. See

Anne Akiko Meyers.

[edit added] I've just realized - I interpreted the question as meaning just 1 page of music, which of course Spiegel im Spiegel is.

May 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM · Handel's Water Music to avoid dehydration :-)

May 23, 2012 at 07:37 PM · Not only the Water Music, but (of course) La Mer.

And what about taking books on technique, like the Flesch Scale System, the Kreutzer Etudes, the Dounis Daily Dozen, and Robinson Crusoe's technical manual on how to escape when you're stranded on an island?

May 23, 2012 at 08:04 PM · Good point Sander. How about the Complete Works of Haydn.

I dare say there would be enough material to build a boat...

May 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM · Hey! Many of you are cheating! The deal was ONE piece of music!

Cheers Carlo

May 24, 2012 at 02:46 PM · Hey you did it first! :)

May 24, 2012 at 04:28 PM · A complete set of parts for Mahler 3, for every member of the orchestra and choir.

That ought to be enough for a small vessel. :)

May 24, 2012 at 04:53 PM · ...and a sail to sail her by....

[pretty sail, come to think of it... and with ready made staves...]

May 24, 2012 at 07:12 PM · Bach Partita No.3 in E, I've been trying to get around this one for years! It's an incredible piece of music and to think Bach wasn't even a violinist. If anyone knows of a website with fingerings for it I'd be eternally grateful! Either that or Minor Swing Stephane Grappelli Funkyviolins

May 24, 2012 at 10:43 PM · Bach was a violinist actually... I'd have to take the Saint Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. It's such a beautiful piece. I never get tired of it!

May 25, 2012 at 01:35 AM · Is NOONE GOING TO GUESS MINE.

Stamps foot... [Ouch.]

May 25, 2012 at 04:39 AM · Elise, you made a statement, not a question, so I am not sure what you expect people to say, that you are cheating big time?! ;) BTW, don't forget to bring a solar-powered computer.

May 25, 2012 at 05:12 AM · If I was skilled enough, I'd say Paganini's 24th Caprice. The left hand pizz was what inspired me to take up the violin.

But without a teacher to guide me and without years more experience playing different pieces and performing in concerts, it would be useless. I wouldn't get anywhere with it by myself, even with years of practice. I know my limitations, as a grade 5 and someone who started as an adult.

So that poses an interesting question. What would I take that I could actually use and get something out of?

Maybe Bach's partita 3. I could play the Gavotte En Rondeau really SLOW with no decorations for a year or so and work my way up.

And I love Bach. I have a tattoo of the Bach seal on my chest.

May 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM · Bach seal on chest = orch dork :-)

May 26, 2012 at 01:37 AM · I love my Bach seal tattoo... Passe? Or a salute to one of the greatest music minds in human history? Dorky in the best possible way perhaps.

In certain circles, a love for classical music is a given. Out in the world, you'd be lucky to find someone who sees classical music as more than something that sounds nice in the background of poignant movie scenes. I am glad to be representing for an art form that is more under-appreciated than ever. I've got a photo of myself and some orchestra colleagues in the lid of my toolbox at work.

But, regarding the topic of the thread, I repeat it would really depend on skill level. Perhaps also something you could play with less than 4 strings as one is bound to break!

May 26, 2012 at 02:27 AM · Joyce - oh oh, the topic police are onto me....

I think the post I was talkign about has disappeared over the thread horizon... there let it sink or swim....

May 26, 2012 at 02:52 AM · Ms Stanley, I believe your earlier joke alludes to the IMSLP.

Ibert Massanet Sibelius Leclaire Prokofief, initials spell IMSLP

Quite witty. Sorry I didn't spot it sooner.

May 26, 2012 at 08:15 AM · Bach partitas and sonatas.

May 26, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Daniel, you're a darling!! :))))

May 26, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Thanks, I'm glad I could help.

May 26, 2012 at 03:11 PM · Elise, I had being trying to work out your joke for a while. I too had tried IMSLP but it didn't mean anything to me. I've now gone to their website... looks very interesting.

Cheers Carlo

May 26, 2012 at 04:28 PM · CARLO; HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT IMSLP?????

Its rather more than interesting - think of the Library of Alexandria - but for (postcopyright) music... One of the seven wonders of the Internet (along with Wiki, google, V.com of course...* fill in the rest)...

*I should get a star for that from Laurie... :D

May 26, 2012 at 09:00 PM · Elise, I was buying sheet music long before the Internet. I have a whole wall of sheves full of it. It would have been much easier and cheaper to have been able to download it. Still, violins were cheaper back then.

Cheers Carlo

May 26, 2012 at 11:31 PM · I often buy it anyway - its nice to have the originals, nicer to work off than prints....

Can I come spend a month browsing through your studio? :)

May 29, 2012 at 06:42 AM · I play this game a lot. Mostly with food. If I could only take one food on the island, I would take mashed potato, mmm, mmm. Lately I decided to change that to melted cheese. Then just last night back to mash. I can't have both, that would be 'cheating', just like the rest of you lot.

Maybe there's a mashed potato waltz or something on IMSLP that would cover it all. Can't really think of just one piece I would take. None of the pieces I've been given to learn seem to be more than a few minutes long. That would leave me bored for the remaining 15 hrs and 55 mins of waking hrs to try and fill in.

May 29, 2012 at 06:58 PM · Here's another vote for the book of Bach partitas and sonatas - although if I had a couple of other people stuck with me I might go with the works of Corelli.

Trevor's mention of "Spiegel im Spiegel" was good. I purchased the sheet music recently, but my first attempt at playing it was so terrifying that I've retreated into working on my tone and vibrato before daring to look at it again. Anne Akiko Myers' video makes it look that much more daunting. Pretty amazing for what's nothing more than a sheet full of dotted whole notes...

May 30, 2012 at 04:28 AM · Are there other musicians on this island? Or is it just me all alone. Because if there are, one piece of music is simply not fair! Ha. I'd have to bring like a 5' binder of a bunch different scores. Dvorak 9th, Beethoven 6th/7th/9th, Mendelssohn 4th, Mahler 1st/2nd/5th, just to name a few and that's just the symphonies. Chamber music would have to be in a separate binder. I would also bring extra blank staff paper, for I'm being on a secluded desert island would bring me much inspiration!

May 30, 2012 at 08:28 PM · The one in my head because it keeps changing and is always interesting because I never know what comes the next. This gives me extra room to bring the more tangible things such as strings.

May 31, 2012 at 04:29 AM · Can I take my whole book of Bach S and Ps?

May 31, 2012 at 06:13 AM · sure Laurie - you just have to transcribe it first onto a single sheet of paper, sort of the violinistic Torah ....

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

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com 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

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com 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 Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine