Concertos for an Intermediate Competition?

October 2, 2014 at 04:51 AM · I feel kind of bad 'flooding' the discussion page but this is an actual concern that I felt more experienced violinists would definitely have a say about...

So my youth orchestra's Concerto Competition is coming up in January, and I want to get prepared as early as possible. Based on the level I've outlined below, does anybody have any suggestions for a good concerto for me to audition with? It would be a plus if it's written for strings-only orchestra (as that's my group...) but anything's fine.

The minimum audition requirements were these pieces;

Accolay - Concerto in A minor

Bach - Any partita or sonata for unaccompanied

violin, concerti in A Minor or E Major

Haydn - C Major Concerto

Mozart - Concerto #3, 4, or 5 (1st mvt.)

Reiding - Concerto

Seitz - Any Concerti

Viotti - Concertos No. 22 or 23

Vivaldi - Any Concerti

…or comparable selections

I played the first two page excerpt of the Viotti 23rd this summer, which was not bad at all. My teacher and I have been trying to continue on it but I've had All-State to record and seating auditions to prepare for in my youth and school programs, etc. so I've been plowing on through (very slowly) on my own time and have made it unscathed through four pages. I think something more challenging is definitely reachable.

The orchestra a level above mine (our group is second-highest in hierarchy, I'm 3rd chair 1st) has suggestions for audition repertoire like Mendelssohn, Lalo, Bruch (aka actual repertoire >.<) and Mozart 3, 4, 5 as well as Viotti again (?). That's my goal before leaving the program to join the high school's Baroque Ensemble. (The plan, anyway...)

My friend/enemy/friendly competitor is working on Mozart 3, of which I know has much notoriety as "simple yet so difficult to capture musically". Last year, they played the Bach Double phenomenally (two talented sisters in a top rate duet). So the piece levels in the past haven't been impossibly high...

Any ideas? I have none...

Replies (20)

October 2, 2014 at 01:28 PM · Pick something you can play well. If the Viotti is reachable for you now, maybe that's the best choice! Spend time working through it this fall and learning it thoroughly, then make sure it is memorized (a must for concerto competitions) and give yourself plenty of practice auditions/performances before the real one.

It's much better to play what you might consider an easier concerto at a high level than it would be to play a harder concerto with less finesse.

October 2, 2014 at 02:32 PM · Ditto Claire. Don't stretch for a competition, do what comes comfortably. They are not going to pick a mediochre rendition of a difficult piece but could well pick an outstanding one of easier rep.

Would they accept a 'piece' - Vitali Chaconne and Beethoven Romance (1 or 2) spring to mind as excellent show-pieces.


October 2, 2014 at 07:58 PM · If you don't care for one of the ones listed, you might enjoy playing DeBeriot #9, 1st movement. It's roughly the same level as the Accolay but slightly shorter and IMO much more fun. It sounds harder than it is.

Kabalevsky concerto, 1st mvt, is fun and not terribly difficult. I sometimes teach it after Accolay/DeBeriot/Bach a minor.

October 4, 2014 at 05:30 PM · Thanks for the responses. I've talked to my teacher and he's suggested Accolay, Vivaldi, and will be emailing the list of suggested concertos once he finds it. I really do like the deBeriot 9 but I'm not sure if I can get it done in time...

Another point I failed to mention is that the concerto must be for a string-only orchestra which unfortunately cuts down a lot of the possibilities. Is it unheard of for a string orchestra to perform deBeriot with a soloist?

October 4, 2014 at 07:42 PM · I've never heard it done with orchestra but if one of my students ever wanted to use it for a "senior spotlight" solo, I guess the orchestra director would probably take the piano part and arrange it for strings...or pay for someone else to do it.

October 4, 2014 at 08:50 PM · I'd suggest the De Beriot "Scene de Ballet" over No. 9 -- it's fun, it's flashy, and it's not really any harder, if I recall correctly. But I don't know if there's a string-orchestra arrangement of either.

Honestly though, if you're going to do a concerto with string orchestra, I'd suggest doing Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Even a pretty mediocre high school string ensemble will be able to manage a competent accompaniment. It's repertoire that will be useful to have under your belt, always, unlike a bunch of the student concertos that have been suggested (Accolay, Viotti, De Beriot, etc.) or even a less-played work like the Kabalevsky.

The Mozart concertos are written for a full orchestral accompaniment, and you'll really lose something there with only string parts. Ditto the Haydn -- I'd actually suggest the G major if you're going to do a Haydn violin concerto.

October 6, 2014 at 03:31 AM · Vivaldi's Four Seasons are great concertos but they are well beyond the technical level of someone playing Accolay, Bach a minor, or DeBeriot.

Regarding Scene de Ballet, it is perhaps not harder than #9 but it is considerably longer. That can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on context.

October 6, 2014 at 11:29 PM · So, I got the list of recommended ones...

Violin- Haydn G Major Concerto

Violin- Haydn C Major Concerto

Vivaldi Double Violin Concerto in A minor

Bach Double Violin Concerto

Bailes Para la Orchestra by Richard Meyer

The Vivaldi Double is okay, but I need to find someone to play it with...the Bach Double was done last year. I don't know if I like the Bailes very much (the composer's the director of my All-State though...) I've done the Haydn G major but I don't think my teacher feels inclined to go back to that one.

Honestly, I'd rather do a romantic-era concerto but any thoughts on this new development?

October 6, 2014 at 11:56 PM · Don't forget there are two Bach Doubles. The other one was probably originally a harpsichord concerto, but was arranged for violin and oboe, and is often played on two violins. However, the difference in difficulty between the two parts is more pronounced than that between first and second violin in the one normally called the Bach Double. Indeed the first violin part of the Violin Oboe Bach Double has passages that are technically more difficult than anything in the Bach Double Bach Double. It is very rewarding, though.

October 7, 2014 at 04:29 AM · What about the Bach E major, or (if you have a good friend who plays viola) the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante? Or if you don't mind obscure repertoire and really want to do a romantic-era work, the Mendelssohn D minor (an early work, violin and string orchestra)?

October 7, 2014 at 04:40 AM · Since it's a string orchestra, I'd second Vivaldi's Seasons. Though personally I'd avoid Spring. Winter is pretty popular and can be showy/technical enough to impress judges when played well. Summer is also a decent choice. Autumn.. Not the strongest of the 4 Seasons, but fun nonetheless.

October 7, 2014 at 02:04 PM · Lydia, if the Sinfonia Concertante, why not the Mozart solo violin concertos, after all? All involve wind parts in the orchestration.

October 7, 2014 at 10:29 PM · The wind instrumentation on the Sinfonia Concertante is light (two oboes, two horns). My recollection from high school is that it could be put together with just string orchestra and soloists, with wind players stolen from the band for the dress rehearsal.

October 7, 2014 at 11:50 PM · Isn't that the case with the violin concertos as well?

October 9, 2014 at 04:42 AM · Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante is much more difficult than any of his violin concertos, and his violin concertos are harder than many people think they are. Too many teachers give Mozart much too soon. I hate to hear a student who is clearly not ready for it struggle through a Mozart concerto. And all are well past the Accolay level of difficulty.

October 9, 2014 at 06:07 AM · The OP doesn't seem to have really indicated their playing level, other than to say that the Viotti doesn't pose much difficulty, and their teacher made some suggestions off the given list. That doesn't sound like the limit of their technique is necessarily the Accolay, though this seems like a point that the OP should clarify.

(My childhood memories are that the Mozart violin concertos are less easy to accompany, for a youth orchestra, than the notes might indicate.)

October 9, 2014 at 07:02 AM · Clarification: I've been playing for about six and a half years now. I've done Suzuki up to book six but I've since then pretty much ceased with that method. My repertoire isn't very large because it wasn't very long ago that I stopped Suzuki (on La Folia) and I've mostly been busy with orchestral works for my group. I can recall playing the Haydn G along with the other Bk 5 songs but that was over a year ago...I've actually played Bach Double before, but I think that's pretty much it so far. I think my technique is developed enough (a lot more from this past year from a teacher switch) to tackle some more stuff, but really only if I had the time. :(

October 9, 2014 at 11:22 AM · Since you are chronically short of time and have already worked through much of the Viotti 23 - whats wrong with doing that? Both the Viotti are now respected concerti and can sound impressive. I don't seen any sense in starting something new - and particularly none in the Accolay. Personally, I find it a hodgepodge. Its a series of unreated passages - a few of which are great and fun to play - but it makes no sense as whole. Its not in any way a concerto. Given the choice I would FAR rather play the Haydn G which is comparable difficulty but a much better piece in every way. Its written for string orchestra plus cembalo, an extra plus (I performed it with a minimal 'orchestra' of a quartet and piano!).

The Viotti 23 is a complete concerto first movement and certainly feels like it. It is written for violin and orchestra - but according to the parts at IMSLP the only wind instruments are 2 flutes and 2 horns. The former could be reasonably be played by 1st violinists and, hence, only the horn parts would need to be transposed.

October 9, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Elise, I once put a horn part in front of a viola player (who also played the violin and didn't have absolute pitch) with the instruction to read it as though it was treble clef and they had a violin under their chin. If I remember rightly, it was for the Beethoven Septet, and it worked.

October 9, 2014 at 12:03 PM · ROFL! I hope you told them to bow, not blow...

That's a trick worth remembering...

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