Zigeunerweisen or Bach???

June 6, 2016 at 10:36 PM · So for those who have seen my last post, it was pretty ridiculous. So my teacher and I decided not to do the Tchaikovsky for now. So I asked her what? She said if I can do two.

Meditation and Zigeunerweisen

Meditation and Bach Concerto in A minor

Which combo do you like better? I like both, but Zig may sound a little better.

Replies (29)

June 6, 2016 at 10:57 PM · This is another case where the difficulty levels are wildly different. Given your recent Accolay-and-Csardas, the Bach A minor is of an appropriate difficulty level, as is the Meditation from Thais. Zigeunerweisen is much more difficult; it's not even vaguely on the same level as the other two pieces.

David, does your teacher have a lot of students at your level and above? Or are you her most advanced student? I'm still puzzling over why she would have agreed to Tchaikovsky under any circumstances (even if it was your suggestion), and the Bach-vs-Sarasate question here is almost as mind-boggling. It's making me wonder how often she teaches this repertoire or at this level, where an orderly, thoughtful sequence is the norm.

June 6, 2016 at 11:00 PM · Im not sure. Yes, she has plenty of students who are better, such as some from North VA, where the competition is crazy.

June 6, 2016 at 11:15 PM · Greetings,

I have hesitated to join this discussion because it has been so confused in general. Personaloy I dont think the OP is anying more than a sincere young man who has not been getting good information about the violin as an area of study in general.

What Lydia says is absolitely correct. Zigeunerweisen is off the planet relative to the other repertoire you mention and frankly speaking if you are being given tis kind of confusing advice no wonder you are all over the shop.

David, i don't know if you are accidently misunderstanding your teacher or what the cause is , but at the moment you are simply not being guided sensibly at all. Reluctantl as I am to avis eanyone to follw the advice of anyone on the Internet at anything .... I strongly recommend yoi reread all Lydia's posts and thinkk over your current si

tuation very carefully.

She knows what she is talking about.



June 6, 2016 at 11:21 PM · Yeah, Lyndia seems like she knows a lot.

June 7, 2016 at 11:52 AM · Bach. The technical difficulties of zigeunerweisen notwithstanding, I feel the Bach is a rite of passage as a violinist. While it isn't considered as difficult as later romantic concertos, it is challenging to play well and difficult to master. It's a fun work and even 20 (ish) years later, I still go back to it.

June 7, 2016 at 12:17 PM · I agree 100% with Lydia. The OP is not being guided well with repertoire. Play the Bach.

June 7, 2016 at 03:35 PM · Per Jenny's commentary, your teacher needs to be ensuring that you have a good technical foundation. I've seen some teachers do this with repertoire alone, but it does not appear like you're on that path.

At your level, I was doing Flesch scales (and arpeggios, and double-stops, etc., not just the 3-octave scale), various Sevcik exercises, Trott double-stops, and Kreutzer and Dont op. 37 (the easier Dont) etudes. Then there was solo Bach (we started with the D minor partita), along with a primary piece of repertoire (sometimes a short work, sometimes a concerto). That was on 45 minutes a day of practice. If I'd been practicing two hours a day, I expect my teacher would have taught a short work and a concerto simultaneously.

This period in your development is actually the most vital. It's where your core fundamental technique gets established, determining whether or not you're going to be a competent player with a solid, reliable, dependable, control over the mechanics of playing, or whether you're going to be sloppy in ways that make later teachers despair and force you to spend tedious torturous hours unlearning bad habits at some point.

June 7, 2016 at 05:53 PM · Good advice. (RE Lydia). If I were you I would forget the Zig and concentrate on other works and studies to give you a secure technique (Eg. Rode Caprices, Kreutzer etc).

June 8, 2016 at 08:18 PM · I'm now morbidly fascinated by the fact that David's just said (in his I-hurt-myself-with-pizzicato thread) that his teacher has decided on the Zig, which is how he managed to injure a finger.

June 9, 2016 at 12:58 AM · Does anybody else think David is playing with us? He has a recent post about an injured right pinky (he says it's most likely due to incorrect bow hold), a separate post about an injured right index finger (bad plucking form), and then he manages to pull off the Zig. This all belongs in the comedy section

June 9, 2016 at 01:13 AM · Not comedy.

Lydia is feeling morbid and David's finger may be a morbid condition so what we actually have is an excess of morbidity.

I am going to Zig zag out of it.



June 9, 2016 at 01:29 AM · My pinky was very temporary.

June 9, 2016 at 02:58 AM · Is this your channel?


June 9, 2016 at 06:24 AM · Dexter,

It's only a matter of time before age catches up with all of us! My diagnosis for this case would be progeria ;-)

June 9, 2016 at 06:39 AM · This is a family show.

June 9, 2016 at 11:21 AM · Yes, Christian. Right side progeria in the case at hand

June 9, 2016 at 03:11 PM · I'm out.

June 9, 2016 at 10:06 PM · I'm with Christian on this one. Years go by.

And I would steer it up further, (and stick to the point)

Supposedly that one can handle both pieces, I would never add classical or baroque to an audition repertoire just by myself. Don't get me wrong, it's not a matter of preference. I'm just pointing out a strategic flaw that we may fail to see. I think we all know how many chances there are for someone to encounter weird folks on committees, who have a personal approach on Bach or Mozart and turn down everything else.

Yes, hitting the notes correct on the Bach is easier than the Zig. But it's easier to sound indifferent as well. And then nobody would care wether you've memorized the score or not.

David, I infer that you are trying to build up an audition repertoire, gradually. It's ok to make plans. However, most auditions would require Mozart (maybe a sonata or a concerto part) and of course Bach, usually solo violin. Do yourself a favor and don't add more similar parts. Play Bach, tons of it, at home, with your teacher, with your friends, at a concert etc. But on an audition day...play only the "absolutely necessary Bach". That would apply for Beethoven as well imho.

To sum up, you may chose to play Bach at an audition. And you could be amazing, or you could mess it up. There is no other option in between. And that's a trap I would avoid.

June 10, 2016 at 12:49 PM · It is interesting how the perception of certain pieces change (sometimes radically) over time. I can recall, decades ago, reading a review of a famous violinist (I believe it was Mischa Elman) recital which included this reviewer's comment: "And then there was the usual Zigeunergarbage."

Ah, well.

Cheers, Sandy

June 10, 2016 at 02:45 PM · Zigeunerweisen and Sarasate in general get classified as bonbons. I can't remember the last time I heard a Sarasate work on a mainstream recital program, except as an encore; recitals have become serious affairs with serious sonatas. I think it's kind of a pity, really, since the bonbons are what make a recital really fun to watch.

June 10, 2016 at 03:28 PM · Bravo. I agree.

June 10, 2016 at 07:35 PM · Part of the blame for that can be laid at the feet of competition judges who sometimes seem to prefer to hear a kid slop through some very difficult piece at supersonic tempos, than to award the prize to a well-executed less-difficult piece.

Of course, the OP is going to have the problem that if he plays competitions, there will be no shortage of kids his age that can do the Zig well. So there's no real competition advantage to him playing a piece beyond his capabilities. He'd have to butcher Bazzini to get far enough ahead in difficulty. ;-)

June 10, 2016 at 07:47 PM · I feel the same as both sides. I really want to play showy pieces like the Tchaikovsky and Ziguenerweisen, but I need to play my foundational pieces. I think that the OP and other students like the fast and virtuosic pieces more than the Bach and Mozart. I do want to point out, for the OP, that the Mozart concertos are foundational and pretty technically difficult, especially with the 4th and 5th (I'm talking about 3,4, and 5). They are also fun, so I encourage you to get through the Bach so you can get to the Mozart faster. Playing Zig won't really get you to where you need to be. It is a piece that is not needed for learning. Mozart and Bach usually are.

June 10, 2016 at 08:09 PM · To the OP -Just get on with it and learn some basic repertoire and get things sorted out. You just need to work things out from the bow arm to the left hand and forget the fancy virtuoso pieces - plenty of scales and basic studies. You can't run before you cam walk!

June 10, 2016 at 08:17 PM · Maybe this is putting the cart before the horse, but I think one is not yet ready for the Mozart concerto if s/he cannot play the cadenza at a reasonable level.

I wonder who is at the driver's seat for the OP's progress. Teacher? Parent? Himself? As an ex-Suzuki dad, I have seen so many kids struggle with pieces that are well beyond their current skill level. I pity those kids.

June 10, 2016 at 10:23 PM · ANECDOTES:

I agree with the posters here who advocate that our teachers should have prepped us with appropriate studies before we tackle tough music BUT--

1. When I was about 18 months into cello lessons my teacher had performed the Haydn D Major concerto with our community orchestra and I expressed the wish to study it. After pausing for a moment he assented and we started to work on it and worked on it for many months, learning the techniques required as I progressed through it - and made it through all 3 movements. (This was before the Haydn C Major had been resurrected - that would have been much easier to learn.) (I had played violin for 14 years by then and had worked my way through some major violin concertos (in addition to 3 of the Mozarts - but still, cello left-hand technique is a lot different than violin, even if the bowing 'principles' are pretty much all the same.

2. My father-in-law, a life-long cellist, claimed to have known a local violinist who could play only one piece - and that was "Zigeunerweisen." Doesn't seem possible, but 'there you go!'

3. In grad school, we physics students learned the math we needed when we needed it, not before hand. To learn "all the math" a physicist might need ahead of time would have been impossible - that's what the math PhDs do. It's the same principle in a way.

Just saying.


June 10, 2016 at 11:45 PM · Andy,

These days a math PhD does not know what the others are doing even in the same department. Tackling much harder works from time to time, just for fun is harmless and often useful in gauging one's musical progress though.

June 11, 2016 at 09:26 AM · or, you have to zag before you zig.

June 11, 2016 at 03:15 PM · "And then there was the usual Zigeunergarbage."

Well. It would be fun to recall what the rest of the recital included. I frankly have no idea, but sometimes people mix pieces in weird ways. I prefer it when I watch a performance with some cohesion, rather that a random mix of "what-I-believe-I-can-do-better-than-other-folks". And this latter common practice could have produced the "Zigueunergarbage" which as I get it neither refers absolutely to the piece, nor the performer.

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