What could I do next?

March 2, 2016 at 08:50 PM · Hello! I am currently working on the Mozart concerto in G (#3) and am working with the Kreutzer studies. My question is: what could I study next? I want to study the Kabalevsky concerto, but I don't know if I'm read for it.

Replies (54)

March 2, 2016 at 09:06 PM · Mozart 4?

March 2, 2016 at 09:10 PM · Kabalevsky is easier than Mozart IMO. What does your teacher say?

March 2, 2016 at 09:14 PM · Many students do the Kabalevsky before Mozart 3, so if you are playing Mozart 3 at a high standard, then you should be fine. The first movement is fast, that's probably the hardest thing. Also look at Viotti No. 23 and Spohr No. 2. Have you done any solo Bach? Mozart Sonata K304? Beethoven Spring Sonata (No. 5) also a possibility. Ask your teacher.

March 2, 2016 at 10:01 PM · I have done the Presto from Bach's 1st sonata, but never really worked on it enough. The Mozart is my first concerto, and I am using it for college auditions. I feel like i will master the Mozart quickly since it is not too difficult for me. I asked about the Kabalevsky and my teacher said that it might be too difficult for me. I am not sure however.

March 2, 2016 at 10:15 PM · How much Kreisler have you done? Have you done Praeludium and Allegro, for instance?

Have you done De Beriot's Scene de Ballet?

March 2, 2016 at 10:21 PM · I've done neither of those.

March 2, 2016 at 11:05 PM · Bruch..Mendelssohn..Barucaba Variations!.. Conus Concerto.. Wieniawski :-)

March 2, 2016 at 11:35 PM · Jude is kidding, in case it's not obvious.

Jacob, is your teacher giving you the choice of the repertoire to do next? Do they have a couple of suggestions that you're being asked to pick from? Or some general goals they'd like to accomplish? Or is this filler repertoire to some degree while you focus on really polishing stuff for your upcoming college auditions, and your teacher is encouraging you to pick some stuff you really want to play?

March 3, 2016 at 02:40 AM · I am given a choice. I chose Mozart 3 for my college audition piece and I'll do some Bach stuff as well. I will also ask if I can do the Kreisler Praeludium and Allegro. I took a look at the music and sight read it. It seemed ok until the 2nd and 3rd pages, but they seem manageable. I think that it will be a good piece to practice since my teacher said I should master 5-7 positions. That is another reason I am doing Mozart, as of now, I is one of the only "real" concertos that is doable for me.

March 3, 2016 at 03:22 PM · "It seemed ok until the 2nd and 3rd pages". Heh, I know what you mean.

The Kreisler P&A is not purely a left-hand study by any means, but if you have not yet "mastered fifth through seventh positions" then there are some sections, especially the cadenza-like section on the third page, that will require careful work.

The question is whether your second college audition piece (if you need one) should be a fast number like the P&A, or whether it should be something 'slow and sensitive' like the D Minor or B Minor Sarabande from the Bach Solo S&P. I don't know much about college auditions but there are folks on here who have deep experience in that area. The Mozart 3 is kind of "intermediate" so I suppose either the P&A or a slower piece could be seen as "contrasting."

March 3, 2016 at 06:08 PM · Kreisler's Variations on a Theme by Corelli is an excellent pedagogical piece as well, for its use of a broad range of intermediate-level technique.

March 4, 2016 at 07:59 PM · I asked today during my lesson and my teacher is learning the kabalevksy so she can teach me it. And to those who doubt her ability (since she is now learning the kabalevksy) she has done the Bruch, Mendelsshon, Mozart 3,4,5, a bunch of sonatas including Brahms and Beethoven, and unaccompanied Bach.

March 4, 2016 at 09:46 PM · Wait a moment here. You're saying that she's *taught* that repertoire to other students, or is that the limit of the professional-level repertoire she herself *knows*?

Has she taught other students preparing for music careers, which appears to be your intent?

March 4, 2016 at 11:11 PM · She has never played or taught kabalevksy. I asked her what she played in college and she told me a few pieces. She frequently teaches and prepares students for college auditions.

March 4, 2016 at 11:16 PM · It doesn't surprise me that she hasn't played or taught the Kabalevsky -- not everyone does. Most of my previous teachers never taught it, though my current one loves it and teaches it frequently.

Hopefully your teacher has done concertos beyond Bruch, Mendelssohn, and the Mozarts -- Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, etc.

March 5, 2016 at 01:50 AM · I don't think she has. I'll study with someone else once once I'm in college anyways. She told me today that she wants to study more pieces as well. Probably bigger concertos. I'm so excited to do the kabalevksy after the Mozart. The kabalevksy is one of my favorites

March 5, 2016 at 04:09 AM · That's very interesting. You live in a rural area, I'm guessing, where she's the only teacher that teaches more advanced students?

March 5, 2016 at 04:26 AM · I'm a little baffled by needing to learn the Kabalevsky before teaching it. It shouldn't be that hard for somebody who's played the major concertos. I never studied it as a student either, but I jumped right in to start teaching it. It's sight readable for a pro though certainly not for a student. I often teach it between De Beriot #9 and Mozart G Major.

March 5, 2016 at 05:23 AM · Mary Ellen's comment made me curious, and I just glanced at it. Certainly sight-readable for me, and I'm not a pro.

Contemplating, though: If someone's edge of technical ability is at the Bruch/Mendelssohn level, especially if those concertos are a struggle rather than relatively comfortably in their grasp, I suppose the Kabalevsky might require a little bit of work?

The interesting side question: How much above the technical level of a work does a teacher need to be, in order to teach that piece capably?

March 5, 2016 at 03:27 PM · I'm sure she can sight read it, but in order to teach a piece, I personally believe that the teacher needs to know the piece. Just because someone can sight read something doesn't mean they can teach it. They might be able to help a bit, but learning a piece and mastering it would be much better than teaching a piece that you looked at for the first time.

March 5, 2016 at 04:17 PM · Well, if we look at Ivan Galamian and Robert Lipsett, many of their students are/were probably more accomplished players than them, so that is not necessarily a prerequisite, but those figures did/do have a deep involvement and understanding of technique and difficult repertoire and were pretty accomplished performers at one point. It sounds as if the OP might need to consider another teacher given that said teacher has NEVER learned the more difficult standard concertos and gap-year might be in order.

March 5, 2016 at 04:57 PM · Gap-year?

March 5, 2016 at 05:35 PM · A gap year is a free year students sometimes take after high school before going to college. It could buy you time to prepare for auditions and/or acclimate to a new teacher if things don't pan out this year.

March 5, 2016 at 05:57 PM · I have 2.5 years to prepare. I might take a gap year to ensure I am ready. I was thinking about maybe waiting to apply/audition so I know I'm ready. I also want to say that my teacher I chose, I chose because she can get me through many of the pieces I'd need to have done before moving on to the bigger works. I don't plan on being able to play Tchaikovsky or Brahms until in college. Those are big goals. I am planing to double major in performance and pedagogy so I might need to learn those eventually. I feel as if I haven't really been clear with what I've said, and that confused some. The important thing is that I have a capable teacher who can help students prepare for college auditions.

March 5, 2016 at 11:51 PM · Now you've said something else that's kind of odd. You have another 2.5 years until auditions, but you've already prepared the concerto you're going to use for them now? That makes no sense. Two years from now you should be playing significantly more advanced repertoire. You should audition with that repertoire, not what you're playing now.

What's the rationale that you / your teacher have for using much older repertoire for those auditions?

March 6, 2016 at 12:54 AM · i was mistaken. i thought we were preparing the concerto for the audition, but it turns out we were not yet. we were just doing mozart as an option. I was also confused at first.

March 6, 2016 at 02:59 AM · Listen to Jenny on this one. It would also be interesting to know what colleges your teacher's other students have auditioned for, what they played, and how well they did in those auditions.

On further thought, given that you've got another 2.5 years to go before auditions, you practically have most of high school left to work on stuff. So it's not filler repertoire that you're looking at. Your teacher should have a very firm idea of what skills they want to build for you, and what they're going to teach in order to build those skills.

At your age -- and I wasn't even planning to do conservatory auditions -- my teachers were thinking seriously about how to equip me to do auditions anyway (whether for undergrad or if I changed my mind later, for a master's) and what I'd need for professional orchestra auditions. Your teacher should absolutely have a plan to equip you with the right skills, and it doesn't sound right now like she does.

March 6, 2016 at 04:06 AM · She has a plan that she told me a bit of. The whole kabalevsky deal was quickly discussed at the end of the lesson since I had to go to my next class (I have lessons at school for an hour), so I could've been wrong when I said hat she needs to learn the kabalevsky. I have not outgrown my teacher yet. The last few solo pieces I've done were Fioco's Allegro and an attempted Bach Presto from Sonanta 1, so the Mozart is my first "real" solo piece. I also just began with this teacher a few weeks ago, having outgrown my first teacher. I hope that this helps a bit more. I apologize for my terrible attempts at saying what I want to say clearly. Reading your responses say clearly shows I am not communicating effectively.

March 6, 2016 at 05:40 AM · Most students do not go from the Fiocco Allegro to Mozart 3. You might go from Fiocco to the Accolay A Minor or the Bach A Minor. Have you prepared those to a performance standard? Have you performed any Handel Sonatas?

On the other hand, there is certain repertoire that tend to occupy pedestals, and this repertoire includes Mozart 3 and solo Bach. People often say you shouldn't do any solo Bach until you're "ready for it" but you can hardly wait until you've already done two or three romantic concertos. When to start? Probably now. What to start with? Probably not the G Minor Presto!! The notion that Mozart 3 is hard to play properly -- well, we hear that a lot, but so is a lot of stuff. At least for me. :(

What makes the Mozart hard, at least as far as I can tell, is that if it is not really clean then you can't convey it's nuance. And without the nuance there's really not a hell of a lot left. The melodic content of the first movement is not so incredibly compelling that it can stand on its own despite slightly flawed execution. Contrast that to, say, the Mendelssohn or even the Kabalevsky for that matter.

I have to agree with Jenny and Lydia that it sounds like your teacher does not have a very robust plan in place for you.

March 6, 2016 at 07:12 AM · I suspect the Presto from the G minor sonata was taught because it is relatively simple, especially when played below tempo -- most of it can be played in 1st or 3rd position and there are no chords other than the cadences at the end of sections.

The usual entry point into solo Bach is the Allemande from the D minor partita, though. Students can play selected solo Bach long before they're technically ready for a Romantic concerto.

I find it interesting that Jacob says he "attempted" it, though, and more specifically that he didn't "work on it enough". I'm curious to know why it was dropped. Sometimes pieces fall by the wayside when a student is learning a lot of different things at the same time, but it doesn't sound like that's the case here.

The other thing that makes Mozart hard is that it's dreadfully exposed. If you are out of tune, you will know it, and the whole audience will know it. If it's not clean, it will be obvious it's not clean. So technically butchering it will really distract from any musicality you're trying to convey.

I'm not convinced that it's necessary to do repertoire in a particular sequence. People can take seemingly huge jumps forward in repertoire if the necessary technique has been prepared in other ways, like a healthy dose of Kreutzer.

March 17, 2016 at 01:08 AM · How does the Kabalevsky compare to De Beriot 9.?

March 17, 2016 at 02:55 AM · De Beriot 9 is definitely harder, by a significant margin. It's still in the category of preparatory concertos to the big romantic concertos, though -- along with the concertos of Viotti, Rode, etc.

March 17, 2016 at 03:28 AM · Ok. I listened to it today and fell in love with the part of the third movement where the soloist has the octave sixteenths before the coda. I'll see if my teacher thinks I can do that. If I can't, I'll just do kabalevsky. Eventually I want to play it.

March 31, 2016 at 11:07 PM · Do you think I could do Mozart 4 or 5 next? I know that next I could play the Beethoven romance in f. I asked my teacher.

March 31, 2016 at 11:21 PM · I think of both Mozart 4 and 5 as somewhat (not-insignificantly) more difficult than Mozart 3, but I don't think everyone agrees.

August 31, 2016 at 02:53 AM · Well at long last, after many months of being busy, I am finishing up the first movement of the Mozart, working on the Handel E Major sonata, and am going to finish off the Mozart. I think next will be Kabalevsky, but I'm not sure. The colleges I'm looking at accept Mozart, but two require a 19 or 20th century concerto. If I play a 20th, I bet it will be Kabalevsky. If I do a 19th it will probably be Mendelsshon. My teacher said she teaches it before Bruch. How good is Kabalevsky for a college audition? I feel like it could work.

August 31, 2016 at 03:11 AM · Since you are using this for a college audition, we are probably to understand that you are not preparing a concerto, but rather a concerto movement, more than likely the first movement of something? Kabalevsky is fine but I think it is considered easier (and displaying a narrower range of violinistic and musical skills) compared to either Bruch or Mendelssohn. My personal feeling is that Bruch is easier than Mendelssohn if you're only considering the first movement of each.

Another concerto you could consider is Spohr No. 2. I believe Spohr did not start writing violin concertos until 1803. I don't know whether such concertos as Spohr or Beriot are considered appropriate to an audition. Based on "finishing Mozart 3 first movement at long last" and "working on Handel E Major Sonata" my worry is that Bruch and Mendelssohn will be stretch goals.

August 31, 2016 at 03:39 AM · How many hours a day are you practicing, Jacob? Six months is a really long time to learn the first movement of the Mozart 3, even if you are doing a sonata at the same time.

Kabalevsky is typically considered a student concerto. I would avoid playing it for a college-level audition unless you really can't manage anything else. When they ask for standard 19th and 20th century concertos, for 20th century they are probably thinking Prokofiev, Shostakovich, etc., or on the easiest end, maybe Barber.

August 31, 2016 at 12:28 PM · I have been extremely busy since I started the Mozart. Everything has calmed down now, and I can continue working on solos. I practice at least 2-3 hours a day. I plan to practice more. I don't know if I would be capable of Bruch or Mendelsshon, but I do not feel like either are too unachievable. I am going to finish the whole Mozart concerto with cadenzas, not just the first movement. I believe I will also do the whole Handel. My teacher said her plan is to give me a big piece, a concerto, and smaller pieces as I work on big ones, the Handel in this case.

August 31, 2016 at 02:15 PM · If you're serious about future auditions, even when stuff is "extremely busy", you still need to be putting in 2+ hours a day. It needs to be your top priority. More broadly, improving your playing has to take precedence over orchestra, chamber-music, etc., even when there are auditions involved.

August 31, 2016 at 04:20 PM · Yeah. I agree. I was participating in too many things. Now I feel I can Handel my current activities.

August 31, 2016 at 06:08 PM · I have quietly watched this thread continue for 6 months. For me, during the many years I have played, if I wanted to play something I would get the music and read/play through it. One reading makes it very clear whether I could work it up within my skill set or whether I needed some technical growth AND whether I thought I was capable of that growth within the time and effort I could devote to it - AND whether that devotion would be worth it to me. That simple!

All of this was before IMSLP.org (or the www itself) existed. Now that we have IMSLP and YouTube it is easy to hear/watch most music performed at no cost and download free scores to play it.

August 31, 2016 at 06:51 PM · I agree with Andrew. Get the music and spend 20 minutes trying to play through it. I would only add that if you are considering the Bruch, although the edition on IMSLP is pretty good too, I recommend you check out Bruce Berg's edition too. It's very good and you don't have to wait 15 seconds to get the PDF. :)


Another concerto that is in the same general vicinity of Bruch and Mendelssohn is Lalo.

August 31, 2016 at 07:49 PM · Lalo is often mentioned together with Bruch and Mendelssohn, but it's a moderate step up in difficulty above those two.

August 31, 2016 at 08:11 PM · Are there any other pieces that are not too difficult that are 19-20th century? The only others I know of are are Beriot, Rode and maybe Kchaturian.

August 31, 2016 at 08:28 PM · The concertos of de Beriot, Rode, Viotti, and Spohr are often taught to students. They're all 19th-century works. Strictly speaking they qualify as "19th century concertos", but a lot of auditions will use the language "a standard 19th century concerto" by which they generally mean "chosen from the common professional repertoire". You won't generally see those concertos in the modern professional repertoire, although Heifetz did record Spohr 8.

Khachaturian is similar to Lalo in difficulty -- a step up from Bruch and Mendelssohn. Barber is around the same difficulty level as Bruch -- less difficult if all you're playing is the 1st movement.

August 31, 2016 at 10:49 PM · I've worked on Spohr No. 2. It's definitely a "student concerto" with a predictable minor-key theme. If you are familiar with de Beriot No. 9 then you've got the idea: A series of technical problems organized according to a rather pedestrian musical framework and set to a truly miserable accompaniment.

September 1, 2016 at 12:39 AM · The first movement of Lalo is easier than Mendelssohn in my opinion.

September 1, 2016 at 07:45 AM · Paul wrote: Spohr #2 .." series of technical problems organized according to a rather pedestrian musical framework and set to a truly miserable accompaniment."

Wow, well put, that's exactly it and also fits both popular Viottis (not to mention Accolay, although the latter has its musical vignettes). I find these all deadening to work on, indeed, many etudes are more interesting - I'd much rather work on something just outside the technical abilities that charms and challenges my mind...

September 1, 2016 at 09:56 AM · Nitpicking, many of Viotti's concerti are 18th not 19th century. I think 22 and 23 are still played - both 1790s. In any case, I quite like them, and I do intend to learn them someday ;)

September 1, 2016 at 10:58 AM · great to see you back Elise!

September 1, 2016 at 04:08 PM · The funny thing is that those concertos were all written as virtuosic vehicles by their composers -- written for themselves to play for an adoring public.

In that regard, Paganini is no different. I'm not sure if he's better regarded because he's a more interesting composer, or because his technical problems are more challenging. :-)

September 1, 2016 at 04:44 PM · Viotti and de Beriot are considered student concertos these days because the average playing ability of violin students has gone up so much since their composition. Even Bruch and Mendelssohn are treated as almost mundane among youth orchestra crowd.

Musically I don't care much about Viotti, but I like de Beriot #9, which has charming moments.

September 2, 2016 at 07:20 PM · My teacher told me the plan for now. I'm going to finish the whole Mozart concerto then the whole Kabalevsky. After that I can work on the romantic concertos.

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