When did you learn the Bruch violin concerto no. 1?

November 18, 2012 at 06:27 AM · How old were you/your students/your kid when you learned the Bruch violin concerto no. 1? How long had you/your students/your kid been playing before you learned that piece? How hard is it?


November 18, 2012 at 01:23 PM · Now! :) 5 yrs from picking the violin up again (actually been working on the Bruch on and off for the past 2 yrs, but trying to learn it now). So if you figure I played about 6yrs as a child thats a total of 11 yrs (though really its less than that, considering all the time in between for forgetting ...).

I'm guessing thats not the answer you were seeking....

November 18, 2012 at 05:58 PM · you play bruch after 2 years?

November 18, 2012 at 11:22 PM · Do you have a recording? I think it will TAKE me two years... grrr...

November 19, 2012 at 01:43 AM · I learned it when I was 12 (4 years ago); at this point, I'd been playing for 6 years. For difficulty, I would say that it's one of the easiest of the "serious" violin concertos. This does not mean that it's easy, though; it's quite a challenge! Great technique in the left hand is required to work on it (especially the first movement). There are some awkward fingerings in the 1st and 2nd movements, but the third is surprisingly the easiest (in my opinion).

November 19, 2012 at 08:31 AM · Thats impressive Greg - what are you working on now? And with the Bruch, did you get it to the 'performance level'?

November 19, 2012 at 09:57 AM · Nirmal: Thats great, congratulations to you and your teacher. Its obviously not only your teacher who must be good, but also you and your family.

Learning the violin late has some advantages, while it also has some disadvantages.

May I ask you if you played another instrument before?

I think Bruch is a concerto for around 5-7 years into playing. If you start very early it adds some time.

I myself never performed this concerto, but I know it very good and played it for fun some times. Its definetely not my favorite concerto, but I heard some great performances who tell me it can be more than the "easiest" violin concerto played by all the b-soloists and advanced students.

November 19, 2012 at 10:18 AM · As Gregory and Simon noted, it took many young people (from pre-college/junior divisions of music colleges - like Gregory) 5-7 years to perform the Bruch in a public recital or to a music society.

This is not a criticism nor is it intended to be in any way one, and yet, I am not sure anyone (including the magical Midori who did) can easily say, one has learnt to play the Bruch in 2 years or so from day one, unless he/she had performed the Bruch to the general (or paying) public?

I realise this proof of the pudding when a friend's daughter (a lovely talent from pre-college junior division) had believed innocently that she had learnt the Bruch, early? She was thrilled to be invited to perform it (in whole) in public. When she did perform it, she made various mistakes, and sadly, that shook her self-belief and confidence.

November 19, 2012 at 12:57 PM · Elise:

I'm currently finishing the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 and starting the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.


I think you were mistaken by my comment. I had been playing violin for 6 years when I began the Bruch violin concerto. I worked on the concerto itself for about 10 months.

November 19, 2012 at 01:07 PM · Fantastic. But what do you mean by 'finished'? You mean you can play through it non-stop - or you have it to the point where you can perform it at concert speed?

Perhaps I'll be able to play this within 6 yrs of returning to the violin...

November 19, 2012 at 01:38 PM · Jana,

I was 17 (grade 10 student) when I learned it and played all 3 movements during my final high school exam / performance. Some of my peers played it a bit before, so it all depends on the talent and technical abilities of the player.

It is so well written that most of the music comes naturally, so that helps a lot. Keep in mind that it is the musical challenge, the depth of emotions and expressiveness, not the technical challenges. Anyone can learn to play notes, a bit of double stops, chords and so on. But music in this particular concert, touching other people with it, is sometimes beyond young student's reach.

November 19, 2012 at 01:58 PM · Elise:

By finished, I meant being able to play through the entire concerto from memory, at concert speed, with accompaniment, and as close to flawlessness as possible.

November 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM · Gotacha Gregory. You must have thought about performing it though - I mean with all that work!

November 19, 2012 at 06:04 PM · Hi Gregory,

Please have a second look at my comment again - I actually fully agreed 100% with both you and Simon, that it has taken btw 5 to 7 years for many very talented pre-college youths I know like yourself.

My reservation was in relation only to someone else's belief which might possibly be a mistake to consider that a novice can master the Bruch in just over 2 years from day one, meaning, from starting violin from scratch, although this is possible if the newbie is already advanced in some other instrument beforehand, like say, the guitar?

November 19, 2012 at 06:13 PM · I was 52 when I played the Bruch Concerto. (I'm 47 now.)

November 19, 2012 at 06:22 PM · Thessa:

Sorry, I misread your comment. I thought that you had said it took my 5-7 years to learn the concerto, not to be advanced enough to play it.

November 19, 2012 at 07:15 PM ·

November 19, 2012 at 10:02 PM · Thats nice Nirmal. But do you not play the violin anymore? Why?

I believe you that you played it with a musical background after 2 years but its still quite close to unbelievable.

Also there are different approaches in what a student should play at a certain stage. Some teachers believe in rushing through repertoire, some are trying more to go for perfect intonation, interpretation etc.

I have actually a student, who can play about everything AND memorize it too. But he is 10 years old and his intonation, tone production and bow control needs a lot of work still. Those are the parts wich take time and in the end count in my eyes. I try to take care of that, because he will rush through repertoire later if he continues to play violin.

November 19, 2012 at 10:21 PM · "a series of notes doth not music make"

hehe, I was so pleased with that I posted it on FB.... Its always a bit alarming to see great music referred to as if it was a stepping stone to technical perfection. I'd rather hear a musical 'Twinkle' than a mechanically perfect tchaikovsky violin concerto...

November 20, 2012 at 12:19 AM · Are you talking about performance anxiety or in general?

Performance anxiety is to a certain dose a healthy motivator to listen critically and improving oneself. But it definetely should not stunn you.

If performance anxiety is the reason you take a break, you should maybe rethink the repertoire. Don't perform too hard pieces. Also don't do too easy pieces. The balance is important. Maybe your teacher wasn't holding you back but trying to get you on a safe path!?

November 20, 2012 at 04:35 PM · "Mozart ... requires so much attention to interpretation in every measure."

As opposed to Bach where you only have to pay attention every third or fourth measure...

November 20, 2012 at 06:54 PM · Paul, you may be being fascetious but there is a certain truth to it. You can get into 'the swing' of Bach but with Mozart I agree, you have to treat each note as a precious jewel. Seems the more you take care, the more you find to take care of!

November 20, 2012 at 07:17 PM · I actually think the complete opposite. It is so easy just to get started on Bach and then go into "auto-pilot" mode, and play through Bach without given every note the attention it's worth. Every note is leading somewhere, and every note is coming from somewhere (ever the 1st note needs to come from the right place, depending on the mood of the work).

November 20, 2012 at 07:31 PM · I think the point is that Mozart doesn't have the same "obvious nuance" -- the subtleties of the Mozart 3 must be dug up and refined by the player. The composer didn't do as much of the work, the player has to do more. Put another way, perhaps, the Mozart 3 is just not as good of a concerto as, say, the Bach A minor, and if you want to make it good then you've got to apply a lot of your own "Sterno" as one of my teachers put it. (His admiration of Stern rubbed off on me.)

November 20, 2012 at 09:54 PM · I'm finding it harder - probably because I don't have the depth of etude training that I should have. However, I'm also finding that it is working as a series of amazing etudes and I'm learning an enormous ammount. I'm also working on Mozart V - but find that technically and much easier than Bruch - but I find them both easy musically. The point with the mozart remains, you can get so far with it fairly easily but then it digs back at you ...

November 21, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Maybe, Jana, the more etudes you have endured beforehand and the longer you have been playing the violin, the shorter a time you will take to learn the Bruch. At least I know someone who took about 3 months before performing it for a music society's recital. I bet it helps if you have a public performance deadline. You cannot alter the date [forward] and you also cannot get out of it [by cancelling] short of hospitalisation... unless you have a reliable substitute at the last minute.

Thus a performance opportunity is a healthy motivator to FOCUS on the piece and thereby learn more efficiently (or faster).

How long have you been playing the violin, Jana?

November 24, 2012 at 03:55 AM · Thessa,

I've been playing for about 8 years. I just started working on this piece.

November 30, 2012 at 10:12 PM · I started playing violin at age 7 but only started to practice seriously at the age of 11. I started learning the Bruch Violin Concerto when I was 12/13

November 30, 2012 at 10:21 PM · and when did you finish it Kevin? Assuming you have...

November 30, 2012 at 10:31 PM · Paul anticipated my answer, which would have been along the same lines but with different figures.

When? I would hope to make a start on Bruch 1 in a year's time. The measure I'm using is when I reach the same level of ability on the violin as I achieved on the cello. It's currently within shouting distance.

December 2, 2012 at 01:45 AM · Hummm, is this what we're talking about ?


And that's supposed to be one of the simplest concertos?

I've been learning for 2 years, and it will be a long long time before I can tackle anything like this!

December 2, 2012 at 03:10 AM · thats it Roger. Did you start from scratch 2 yrs ago or return to the violin after a long break? Also, have you played any other instruments?

Some of it is pretty daunting (half way down the third page takes a bit of figuring out and patient hand training) but, as mentioned above, the notes are actually mostly 'friendly' to the fingers which is why its both difficult and not so difficult. IMO the de Beriot Scene de Ballet is a great lead up piece for the Bruch - similar kind of 'easy on the fingers' while introducing fast high-position work.

December 2, 2012 at 03:04 PM · tx Elise; while I played a little classical guitar and penny whistle, I never played violin before. I started on my own for a few months to see if I liked it enough, and 2 1/2 years ago, decided to give myself a 50th birthday gift consisting of a 1/2 decent instrument and bow, and weekly professional lessons. Over this time, I worked my way through the first 4 Suzuki books, and now working on my first "real" concerto, the Bach Double Concerto in D min. Work and life gets in the way of practice of course, and I couldn't possibly practice 5-6 hours a day as some have stated herein. 1-1.5 hr/day is about all I can do, so progress is understandably slow(and age isn't on my side), hence this concerto looks rather very daunting to me and I shrug at the thought that this is one of the simpler ones ... so far to go, so little time !

December 2, 2012 at 11:36 PM · The Bach double is fantastic training but even top violinists have a hard time pulling it off well so its what I would characterize as learning, not really performance material.

You might want to do what I did. Get a copy of the Haydn G major concerto. Its truly an entry-level concerto and also a lot of fun to play. [And - again IMO - much more satisfying than alternatives such as the Accolay (not my fave)]. I actually played this with a tiny orchestra for my (big) birthday.

Are you on FB?

December 3, 2012 at 05:07 AM · Tx for the suggestion Elise, that is nice. I know what you mean about the Bach Double Concerto as a "learning" material. It definitely pushed me to develop both left hand and bow technique, and it will take a quite a while before I can play at performance speed. I finally got through the first movement w/o to many major faults after a month, can't remember exactly. And that's at slow speed (1/8 = 120).

No FB I'm afraid... one of these days I'll have to join the club ;-)

December 3, 2012 at 05:50 PM · I think the Bach Double would be a better performance piece if (a) people did not play it so darned fast, and (b) people performed it more with piano accompaniment (reduction) rather than chamber orchestra with harpsichord. I think there is a lot of nice stuff that gets lost in the tutti forest.

I agree the Haydn is a nice piece to study but can you go there right from Suzuki Book 4? Not sure...

December 3, 2012 at 10:09 PM · Perhaps you're right Paul - but I don't understand how the bach double can be in suzuki 4! Perhaps a suzuki teacher could respond - are students really ready for it?

December 4, 2012 at 04:46 AM · I've found indeed that the step to the Bach Double Concerto (last piece of Vol 4) was rather steep, but achievable. The interesting thing is that while Vol 4 has the Second Violin part, the First Violin part is the last piece of Vol 5, yet they don't seem all that different in difficulty listening to them. Perhaps the proposed fingering is more challenging though.

December 5, 2012 at 09:59 PM · In my lesson today my teacher and I discussed what fairly significant piece I'd like to start on in the new year. It didn't take me long to suggest the Haydn G major as a good entry point into the classical concerto repertoire (as distinct from the baroque concertos whose number is legion).

For the avoidance of doubt, I must point out that my choice was not influenced in any way by Elise's posts of Dec 3rd, which I hadn't seen since until a couple of minutes before writing this post. Must be another instance of "great minds ... etc" :)

December 5, 2012 at 10:29 PM · Hi Trevor - really pleased to have not influenced you! You won't regret it, its really a terrific piece- but don't do as everyone else does and only play the first movement, the second is a real treasure.... (and contrast). The third, well ah, if you like fast stuff...

Oh and also do a cadenza - perhaps your first chance?

December 5, 2012 at 11:05 PM · Elise, many thanks for that kind advice. I did write a cadenza once. Many years ago when I worked on Haydn's C major cello concerto, I wrote my own for the first movement because I didn't like the one on offer in the printed score (presumably it wasn't Haydn's because performers usually wrote their own in his time), and it was too short anyway. So in due course I expect I'll do my own for the violin concerto.

A few weeks later I performed the first movement of the cello concerto in public, with piano accompaniment. It was probably the first time that many in the audience had heard any part of that concerto because it had been discovered only a few years previously.

December 6, 2012 at 02:49 PM · Elise, I agree that the Bach Double is a pretty hard piece to have at the end of Suzuki Book 4. The piece immediately preceding it is the Vivaldi A Minor Concerto (Allegro and Presto movements). The Vivaldi A Minor is not a super hard piece overall, but there are a few sections that do require a fair amount of work to get really polished. I would say that a student who can play the Vivaldi A Minor *well* is probably ready for the Bach Double.

By the way one possible reason for splitting the two movements of the Bach Double in the Suzuki books is to avoid confusion in memorization.

January 17, 2013 at 12:15 AM · LOL!

And, along those lines, I'd rather be on the honoured spot in your teching studio than on the program at carnegie hall...

Well I think so... I'm pretty sure.... Can I do both?

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