What pieces to play at Grad audition?

November 14, 2004 at 07:34 PM · Hi! I need help picking rep. for graduate studies. Im thinking Tchaikovsky concerto/some pagaini caprice and bach gminor adagio/presto. What paganini should i do? ANy other suggestions?

Replies (9)

November 15, 2004 at 12:03 AM · Good evening,

You know, most people tend to do something flashy like the famous Paganini and Tschaikovsky pieces, and then taper it with a well known Bach piece.

Yes, they are flashy, they are well known to be difficult, which is the precise reason why I would advise you to go against your initial instincts.

Judges are tired of the same-old, same-old, hearing an aspiring virtuoso churn out notes exactly as their teacher/mentor/favourite pedagogue dictates. And many of them get in. Because that is what the standard has been "raised" to, a regular, rank and file, smooth, yet toneless sound.

The greats, Sarasate, Kreisler, Milstein, Heifetz, Elman, Menhuin, Oistrach, Pearlman, have distinct tones; they allow themselves to bring out their distinct, recognizable sound from within. It is the defining characteristic of what makes them great and the rest of us average. Keep this in mind as you prepare to audition.

Now, back to repotoire. Bring something in that they haven't heard in a while, because it is not what you play, but how you play it (please, folks, do not take this to its illogical extreme and believe that I am talking about plaing 4'22 or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!).

Paganini, I would go with, because most of his pieces will show them that you are a technician (unless you play one of the Sonata's-they are plain dolce). Don't go with caprices nos. 1, 5, or 24. I'd suggest something more along the lines of 21. 21 will give you a beautiful melody while still showing them that you control the bow.

Next, go for a baroque piece. Go with one of the Fuga's from the sonatas and partitas. The C majour is less frequently played and dismissed as a "beginner" or "easy" fuga. This is utter nonsense. Don't be delicate with this piece, play confidently.

Lastly, go with a light Mozart sonata. You have the technique down with Paganini. You have your intelligence of music and genius of interpretation with Bach. Mozart would contrast the two nicely, because it brings out delicate notes and playfulness the violin is capable of.

Hope this helps,


November 15, 2004 at 01:13 AM · I disagree. People seem to think that the C Major is the hardest fugue of them all.

And doing standard rep that everyone plays isn't such an awful thing. It works for a lot of people.

November 15, 2004 at 02:05 AM · Greetings,

I think the a minor is the most difficult personally but I don`t know many people who dismiss Bach as easy either,



November 15, 2004 at 03:20 AM · Out of curiosity, would caprice 4 be a good choice for Paganini?

November 15, 2004 at 03:42 AM · Greetings,

I thought you were playing...



November 15, 2004 at 03:47 AM · Future reference, of some kind

November 15, 2004 at 04:41 AM · If you can pull off a good 4th caprice, then obviously yes it would be a good choice. The same goes for almost any other piece.

November 16, 2004 at 01:20 AM · Fourth is extremely technically demanding, but if you can pull it off (and by this I mean give a stunning performance, not hack through it), use it in place of the twenty-first.


November 16, 2004 at 03:36 AM · If you have good articulation and good fingered octaves do 17. If you have a good up bow staccato 21 or 7 is good. No. 4 is good if you are comfortable with tenths and other double stops. I wouldn't do caprices 6, 13, 14, 16, or 20 for grad school audtions. My advice is to find a caprice that shows off your technical strengths rather than musical.

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