Player Or Just Listener?

January 26, 2004 at 01:05 AM · Hello everybody!

I read the postings here for some weeks and noticed that most of the users here are playing the violin.

I do not. Are here some other guys with this missing ability, but who do love listening to violin music? And you guys: What sort of violin music do you prefer?

All the best (also for all violin players ;-) )


Replies (20)

January 26, 2004 at 06:53 AM · Tobias,why don't you start learning to play the violin? Its never too late


January 26, 2004 at 07:06 AM · Hello Tobias

I certainly lack the ability (LOL), but I still play! My favourite music is chamber music: quartets, trios, Lieder. I love a good concerto too. I've never been as much into symphonic music (though some of it is wonderful), which is a bit of a problem for a violinist.

I think my brain isn't up to fully appreciating 'texture' etc as you're supposed to in symphonic music. I just love a beautiful (or dramatic or exciting or sad...) melody, so I guess that's why I love chamber music best.

Having said that, Strauss's 4 last songs blow me away: melody, texture, complexity: everything so perfect.

January 26, 2004 at 04:42 PM · I like Kronos Quartet's album "Early Music" or other standard chamber music. This week I am into Shostakovich's trio in E minor. I also love Strauss's tone poems. In terms of violin...I like the contrapuntal and complex threaded into the lyrical and contemplative. Love neoclassical music. "Apollo" by Stravinsky is one of my all-time faves. I also love Prokofiev's sonatas, and the Berg concerto. Then I also love medieval music and the Talking Heads. I could go on and on.

January 26, 2004 at 08:14 PM · Thanks for your answers! I see most of you is more interested in chamber music. That is understandable, because the sound is (perhaps) more pure and intimate.

I prefer the orchestral music with violin. You got the voluminous sound and the loveliness of the violin. Especially the modern sound after 1900 is my favourite. Someone here with this special interest?


January 26, 2004 at 11:24 PM · Tobias; Susan: If you want to discuss chamber, Im a specialist (have about 1400 CDs of it). For example, ¿did you ever listen chamber works by Georg Demus, Antal Dorati or Hermann Scherchen?

January 27, 2004 at 12:03 AM · I'm probably close to being just a listener. Back in my teenage years I had aspirations of becoming a professional player and I was encouraged very, very strongly indeed by both my violin teacher and music theory teachers to become a professional player.

However, despite the opinions of my teachers, I did not consider myself good enough to become a professional. I figured if people were going to pay to listen and watch me then I had to be at a standard good enough such that I myself would have been prepared to pay and watch me. I certainly passed all the practical and theory exams with flying colours, but there is a world of difference between passing exams and being a player of international calibre. In my own defence, it did not help that I was introduced to the violin at 13, and then had nearly two years of very ordinary quality tuition. At 15, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful teacher who was an ex-Ivan Galamian pupil. I had to start everything again - from absolute zero - at age 15. In my opinion, one is never going to become a top player unless one starts before 7 years of age. The fact my teacher got me through an 8 grades of study - with honours in every exam - says more for her than it does me. I simply did not have the talent required to go terribly much further, and the fact I had not been able to build up muscle memory from 6 or 7 years of age would have taken it's toll at the higher calibres of the profession. So nowadays I get the bulk of my enjoyment from listening to the best players in the world.

btw, I know quite a few people like me and they all went on to have very successful careers in the business world - without losing any of their love of music.

January 27, 2004 at 03:46 AM · Greetings,

a few years ago I read a study of brain usage among listeners who were professional musicians and those who just listened for pleasure.

The professioanls often demonstarted a very narrow @left brain/analytical orientation while the listeners activated a wider spectrum of grey matter which was more right brain and pleaure oriented.

In essence, it seems that many professioanls end up being trained not to enjoy/experience musc to the full,

An emergency airlift of prunes is called for,



January 27, 2004 at 03:53 AM · That's interesting...I do scrutinize recordings of pieces that I've played, and I also tend to "enjoy" pieces that I am unfamiliar with, or that I can't play. e.g. I could not read poetry while listening to solo Bach, but I could listen to the Well-tempered Clavier II and read just fine (since I am not a pianist), though it's not like I am unaware of what is musically going on. I do analyze or think about my own playing, or harmonic movement or phrasing, etc.

Tis a shame, indeed, it's brainfry to "listen" so intently...I would love to appreciate solo Bach or anything embedded into my psyche, from a non-players' perspective for a change.


January 27, 2004 at 04:19 AM · Buri,

That is indeed interesting, but I don't really find it surprising either. I can personally vouch for the fact that being not having to deal with the constant pressures of being a professional means that I probably get to experience the real pleasures of music. Certainly as far as violin playing is concerned, I wouldn't rade my amateur status for anything in the world. Somehow the still regular doeses of technical exercises, scales and studies are actaully quite fun when you know you no longer constantly have a point to prove.

I guess the only point we continue to disagree upon is that there is no need for prunes (nature's prozac?) in my little corner. I'm still doing fine on the cranberry juice.

January 27, 2004 at 04:25 AM · ...unless the prunes will help me check my spelling and grammar before posting :)

January 27, 2004 at 02:27 PM · I agree with the idea that if one person wants to learn the violin, why not? Is good to listen (I do a whole lot of that), but playing it a little will increase even more this love for music, even if not pursuing a proffesional carrer. Also, there are MANY things you could do with the violin other than being a soloist or a top orchestra player...

January 27, 2004 at 03:47 PM · Listener then player. I was sucha big fan I had to start playing. Im still not that good but I love it so much. There is nothing like taking a piece of music and shaping it the way you want.

January 27, 2004 at 07:32 PM · Tobias,

I play, but i only just started. I'm trying to let my enthusiasm from years of listening carry me forward.

I prefer violin with orchestra too. I like some sonatas and some quartets, but they never seemed as interesting to me as a listener. I like finding 'forgotten' concerti.

Korngold is one of my favorites. Castelnuovo Tedesco is also. Among the standards, the concerti in the grand Romantic traditions appeal to me. I'm always looking for new stuff, though practice everyday is reducing the time I have to enjoy it.

Just about my favorite chamber combination is violin and organ. Love Biber's Rosary Sonatas.

What concerti do you like?

January 28, 2004 at 06:26 PM · Hello Joseph,

nice to find someone with the same interests! I also enjoy the Korngold and Castelnuovo-Tedesco (I think you mean the second "I profeti"), especially the Castelnuovo-Tedesco is really good and I am looking forward to recordings of the other violin concertos by him.

My interest is split in different interests: On the one hand I love some "classical" pieces like the Castelnuovo-Tedesco or Peterson-Berger, Iver Holter or Paul Juon. On the other hand I enjoy listening to really "avantgarde" like Dieter Kaufmann or Rolf Riehm. And between these extremities there are a lot of great concertos: Chavez, van Rossum, Cooper, Harris, Rorem, Hamel,... I could go on with a few dozen names more.

What concertos do you know from the "contemporary" time (perhaps after 1960 or so)? Do you like something from that period?


January 28, 2004 at 11:14 PM · I'm a flute player.

January 29, 2004 at 05:43 PM · I prefer to listen to violin music rather than attempt to play it because:

a) you do not have to put any work into listening to music

b) you don't get frustrated with not being able to play it

c) I am rubbish at playing the violin full stop.


January 29, 2004 at 09:40 PM · Tobias,

I have trouble 'understanding' many contemporary works. Many of them I haven't heard, partially because the CD's are so expensive in the stores. People I'd like to hear are Schnittke, Bolcom, and Penderecki, but I'm afraid of not liking the music. Avant-garde - well, I guess I'm just a romantic at heart. I like Shostakovich, and Khachaturian and Kabalevsky. That's about as modern as I've gone so far, and my mom is always like, "How can you like that?"

I do, though.

I have heard some music of Chavez and Santorsola, but never felt at home there. Same for Villa-Lobos.

There's an Argentinian composer who writes a lot of tangos and stuff - I forget his name - but I like his stuff a lot, from what I've heard.

I spend a lot of my time in used music stores hunting for recordings of forgotten works. Like Joachim's Concerto #3, Mendelssohn's Violin and Piano concerto, Pixis Violin and Piano Concerto, Godard Concerto Romantique. Right now, there was a new recording made by violinist Mark O'Connor which features the violin concerto of Eduard Manen, who was a Lalo contemporary and more famous than him in his lifetime.

I suppose i should mention that one reason I stay on top of modern stuff at all is that I am a 'devotee' of Ann-Sophie Mutter, who of course plays a lot of new stuff.

I still like to explore. I was raised under the impression that 'modern' meant 'bad'. I'm finding that's not always the case. But some things, like Ligeti or Stockhausen, I just won't listen to.



January 30, 2004 at 10:14 AM · Just a fan of music in general and parent of a violin player (student)

January 30, 2004 at 02:37 PM · Joseph,

if you are a fan of Mutter you perhaps know the violin concerto by Andre Previn? I think you will like that really contemporary concerto (contemporary means here the date of composition not a modern style).

If you like Shostakovich, Khachaturian or Kabalevsky, why not listening to more from that period of time? What do you think about Prokofiev? Milhaud?

Did you ever listened to Ligeti or some other avantgarde composer? It sounds like that you are declining that music without listening. I also don't like Stockhausen, but I tried him. I also listened to Ligeti and that is some great music. But that is personal taste for sure.

Do you listened to the Manen concerto? It is on my "to buy" list and a review would be helpful.

All the best,


February 1, 2004 at 01:58 AM · I'm actually a casual and fiddle player rather than a violin player.

When I am listening to violin I tend to listen to the instrument quite intensely, as well as the music. Sort of a split brain thing. I can be riveted by the music and yet this little voice goes off "B on the A string is a bit wolfy on that box." Quite amusing to have this all going on in my head.


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