Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro

December 12, 2005 at 06:32 AM · I started this piece the other week and I am looking for hints tips and practice points etc etc for any part of this piece... i also just want to let you know how much fun i find the last 5 lines.... :D

Replies (57)

December 12, 2005 at 06:48 AM · Greetings,

1) Practice slowly.

2) Separate the left and right hands so you practice the bowing on open strings.

3) Practice slowly.

4) Remember that heavy bowing can distort the intonation of the first page even if the left hand is in tune.

5) Practice slowly, but don`t use the kind of finger contact you would use for a slow piece. IE if you are practice the fast passages with strong finger pressure you are practicing a differnet thing and it will work against you.

6) This is a great piece for applying one of the most importantpractice techniques around: overlapping. This is used when the left and right hand are not coordinating in fast passages. The cause is that the right hand is moving faster than the left or, if you like, arriving first before the left hand has prepared the note. Thus one practice the first note and the second slurred together as a dotted quaver semiquaver (only shorter) and then the second and third slurred as a dotted rythm then the third and fourth and so on. Actually the dotting should be extreme so that the short note is very short. Can you see what this is doing? It forces the left hand to change note before the bow changes direction. All one has too is practicehis with the metronome until you have got it as fast as you possibly can (try to go from

very slow to off the end of the scale) and then when you play the piece straight the coordination problem will be resolved.



December 12, 2005 at 10:06 AM · I have young Yehudi playing this, and love it. I had no idea it was so technical. How does that little kid on Violin masterclass manage it, then? (She's not as good as Yehudi, though). are there other good recordings of this piece.

Excellent spelling, by the way, Buri.

December 12, 2005 at 11:15 AM · Buri - thanks for your post i love this piece so much. Just wondering about one thing you said though.... separate the left and right hands so you can practice the bowing on open strings.... do you mean to not do any fingerings at all and just change strings normally with the bowing, but without any actual left hand at all? sorry, a touch confused.


December 12, 2005 at 07:25 PM · DEFINITELY separate the hands out in that way (this also works for Paganini caprices and many other pieces where the bow and left hand are both technically challenging). I just did this piece on my junior recital- it's a lot of fun. Make sure you also learn to block your chords on the third page (the one with the alternating open E every three notes). You want to have the sixths prepared so that as you're changing strings you won't get a gap. Practice that very slowly every day- it's hard to memorize if you are just sitting there trying to memorize it, but if you practice it every day slowly it will slowly become ingrained into your head. And don't forget about the first page (the quarter notes). They look rather easy, but it's easy to play them out of tune and unmusically. Make sure that you block out chords (aka, the first two notes, B on g string and E on d string, should form a perfect fourth, then the E on the d string and the B on the a string should form a perfect fourth). It's easy to play these out of tune and it is very apparent because of the sparse piano accompaniment Just have fun with the piece though- it's very playful and fun.

December 12, 2005 at 07:44 PM · Memorize this piece. Practice the Allegro passages so that you can play them in your sleep. If it's not automatic, it's too easy to get lost in the middle of all that... STUFF.

Find your phrases; not only will they help you keep your place, they'll also keep it from sounding like an etude. It's such a brilliant piece, I'm sure you won't have any trouble doing this naturally.

Practice the sixths as double-stops (as someone above said, block them). Boy, does this work!

Make sure you're performing at less than your top playable speed. Better that it be a little slower and sound easy than that it be lickety-split and sound like you're struggling.

Above all, have fun. And...

Don't Panic!

December 12, 2005 at 08:19 PM · The intro is very musical if you think about the phrasing. When I played this years ago, I just remember my teacher going "More bow! More Bow!" So all I was thinking about basically was more bow, and that's probably what it sounded like. The intro should be declamatory in a way, but understand what the natural phrasings and dynamics should be. It's pretty cool.

December 12, 2005 at 10:58 PM · Greetings,

Lucy asked

>Just wondering about one thing you said though.... separate the left and right hands so you can practice the bowing on open strings.... do you mean to not do any fingerings at all and just change strings normally with the bowing, but without any actual left hand at all?

Yes, yes and yes. This is one of the most fundamental practice techniques around. I have no idea why violinist are so dumb on this issue. Piano players have no qualms about practicing hands separately but soooooooooo many students keep hacking away, paying attention to the left hand and have -no idea whatsoever- about where the bow is supposed to be in relation to the strings, if the arm level is correct and so on. This is not just a beginners technique either....



December 12, 2005 at 11:35 PM · Wilkomirska's recording of this work is phenominally good too

December 13, 2005 at 01:24 AM · Hi - After doing the double stop sixths slowly, practice this passage as broken sixths (across the strings - alternating A & E strings) slowly - then faster. Eventually, you can get to the written passage as Kreisler wrote over that pedal B in the piano. Regards - Lee

December 13, 2005 at 01:24 AM · Hi - After doing the double stop sixths slowly, practice this passage as broken sixths (across the strings - alternating A & E strings) slowly - then faster. Eventually, you can get to the written passage as Kreisler wrote over that pedal B in the piano. Regards - Lee

December 13, 2005 at 02:06 AM · Greetings,

the previous message was double stopped...



December 13, 2005 at 02:43 AM · Maybe he wanted to emphasize its importance >_>

December 13, 2005 at 03:12 AM · Kreisler was a genius!

Especially in the way he uses a tonic and dominant (2 notes), and makes a whole melodic introduction out of it, by leaping up and down. (CLUE: 1st step- think in group of three's not two's as you are playing the opening. For step 2 and so on, use longer units to make a nice big phrase).

If you practice it softly, and imagine yourself as a jazz violinist (for example), think how long of a phrase can you make out of those 2 notes?

With that in mind, everything else in the intro falls into place. Bring out the high points and the low points of this intro.

Let me know your result(s) (email if u want), and I can give you some more pointers on the Allegro.

December 13, 2005 at 03:38 AM · Where's my help for Soldan's Quartet for violin alone Gennady?

December 13, 2005 at 03:41 AM · i didn't know you needed any? :)

December 13, 2005 at 03:43 AM · tehe, I don't...I'll get this scanned in for you tomorrow, I think you'll get a kick out of it!

December 13, 2005 at 03:55 AM · Really analyze the patterns of fingerings and rhythms the same way you would do with a Bach Sonata.

December 13, 2005 at 04:18 AM · BTW Lucy,

Doesn't your teacher have anything to say?

It will get awfully confusing with all of the incoming info.

Might need a Reboot after a while:)

December 15, 2005 at 09:10 AM · I am currently learning this piece and other than what you guys have said, my teacher told me something very interesting about the first page. She said that if you give yourself goosebumps while playing, you will also give the audience goosebumps. She said every time she had performed this it worked. With a strong bow and lots of vibrato, changing to a narrow width as you play the high notes you can create this sensation.

Just curious...has anyone else experienced this? I am waiting for a chance to perform this so i can see if it really does work.


December 15, 2005 at 09:15 AM · Kate,

I know exactly what you mean! Though my teacher has never told me exactly what you have pointed out, its amazing it happened to me once a couple of years ago. I was experimenting with vibrato in my lessons at the time and i had a performance coming up. I used extra intense and narrow vibrato on one note, though i can't remember what the piece was that i was playing (damn!) and i gave myself goosebumps. When i went back into the audience, my mum who was watching said that note had given her goosebumps as well!

now this is all literal. It is amazing. I think it all goes along with the line of 'if you enjoy it, the audience also will'

try it... it works!!!

December 15, 2005 at 09:24 AM · I have heard various recordings of this piece... i just love the way on the 2nd and third pages how violinists string the phrases together creating waves of sound.... especially the semitone sequence halfway down the last page. I've put recordings on repeat so many times just to try and pick the notes they accent in this bit.... but can somebody PLEASE tell me how you get that wavy sound.... you know the one im talking about.. its slow practice, more slow pratice..... and WHAT???

And at the risk of sounding totally out of it... could someone pleaseexplain the term 'blocking' in terms of chords to me? thanks :)

December 16, 2005 at 10:35 PM · Blocking is when you put all of your fingers down on the chord as if to play a double stop. Instead of playing the seperate notes with string crossings, play them like a double stop scale. This allows you to hear the chord precisely and where it is is out of tune. My explination isn't too good but I hope it helps.


December 17, 2005 at 03:50 AM · Greetings,

Lucy said:

> but can somebody PLEASE tell me how you get that wavy sound.... you know the one im talking about.. its slow practice, more slow pratice..... and WHAT???

I think one has ot be careful with expressions like `practice slowly.` In of itself it is utterly meraningless and can do more harm than good. One has ot ask the question `what is the purpose of slow practice?` Basically practicing is the programming of your mind and body to respond to a musical wish. The purpose of slow practice is to make space available to create the most efficient programming possible. In essence, it gives you time to think things through at incredible depth. Unfortunately many stduents practic eslowly becuase they know that is what one is supposed to do but are not entering appropriate and uiseful commands. They are actually making their playing worse. You might even have to take the level of programming down to talking to yourself ``this is an a major arpeggio played with the first then second then third fingers. It is played three times. It sound slike this (sing it in your head or aloyud.) Play it once. `oh dear the c sharp was flat. What action did I do to cause that note to go sharp. Do I need to just practice this one note making sure I don`t do this action. etc. etc.`

You will also need to practice at a slow tempo with every ounce of expression you would like to be hinted at at a more rapid tempo IE in a rapid tempo you are just vaguely thinking `crescendo to the next bar,` but at the slow tempo you are analyzing each note in relation to the preceding one and the following, exactly where you play it in the bow, exactly how much bow you are using, exactly the width and speed of vibrato you wnat and so on.

Then you need to do slow practice at a fast tempo , one way of which is to repeat a small chunk over and over, then the next , next next, conmbine two chunks and so on. I also explained overlapping to you earlier which is an absolutely fundamental technique.



December 18, 2005 at 11:31 AM · Thanks kate and buri

really does help


December 19, 2005 at 04:36 AM · Lucy,

I didn't read all responces, so if I repeat somebody's thought... my apologize, please...

When you practice this fragment from the last page with alternative E string, regroup all 16th notes by three (not four as written), or pretend you play triplets (open E will be the 3rd note of 'triplet'). It will help you a lot, especially if you have some difficulties with memorizing. So you will find the very well organized sequences. Kreisler's notation is very smart. In spite of he actually made triplets he organized them by regular groups of four 16th. Probably he made it to avoid emphasis of first beat of triplet. Also written triplets could destroy motion to chords. It is like cadenza with use of pedal point.

That's true to practice by sixth. Also I'd recommend to play them without open E, and organize them by 3/4, so each double takes one beat. It will take 14 'measures'; 15th will take just two beats and rest section you can organize by 4/4.

When you do it well enough, go back to four 16th (forget about triplets!) But your hands will not forget what to do. And now you can think about those nice sounds you wrote about. I'd add them short vibration.

February 25, 2007 at 12:52 AM · I’m practicing this piece right now and getting both goosebumps and sweats a lot:^) I wanted to use the whole bow for the 1st page intro, but my teacher kept telling me to use less bow to make the sound more substantial. Does this make sense to you?

February 25, 2007 at 10:06 AM · I love this peice! It was challenging but so much fun to play. Ditto everything Stephen said up there...

February 25, 2007 at 03:32 PM · Hi,Yixi, Yes, your teacher's comment makes sense to me. It sounds like a variant of dig into the string, play through the string, etc. W/o hearing you, I suspect your teacher is trying to help you find a very deep and resonant tone. Too long a bow stroke could be introducing an airy tone, or worse, skid noises. Think how it feels to slide on black ice. You're standing up and moving fast, but there's that disconcerting feeling of there being no solid ground underneath. Sue

February 25, 2007 at 04:16 PM · The airy tone with too much bow, that's exactly the problem I've got! Thank you Sue for making it so crystal clear for me.

February 25, 2007 at 11:32 PM · Greetings,

Yixi, one way to explore this is the following exercise:

Play a few bars or whatever using the least amountof bow posisble in the middle of the bow. Now expanfd the length of bow you are going to use by slighly increasing the range of motion in either direction. Then a little more, then more, always increasing the bow use equaly in either direction and maintianig the quality of tone. The reverse procedure is also possible.

Another way is to pracitce on all five soundpoints using whole bows or half bpw or whatever. If you kepe the bow length the same your variation in weight, speed (and therefore tempo of piece ) is going to be huge. Working exclusively in individual lanes like this has a strong effetc in sensitizing the ear and body to using the best possible soundpoint which is generlaly the ultimate arbiter of what oen does with the bow,



February 26, 2007 at 02:12 AM · I played this piece recently also-- I had the same problem- not enough of the digging in w/ lots of sound. Fun piece, though

February 26, 2007 at 03:11 AM · Buri, I tried the method. It’s fun! I’ll add this exercise on my daily routine.

My teacher is generally more concerned with my left hand than the right one. In terms of my tone production, she told me to just use less bow, otherwise it’s fine, but I believe I’ve got a lot to work on my bowing techniques. If I can't make each sound absolutely beautiful, who cares about the notes made by the left hand? Hopefully this piece will give me lots of opportunities to do this.

March 9, 2007 at 07:49 PM · What helps a lot is on the last page to practice the difficult section as double-stops sixths and practicing the shifts from one set to the next.

March 10, 2007 at 03:05 AM · Thanks for your comment Gennady. That's the first new idea I've had in approaching this piece for a while. I had never considered thinking of the intro in terms of threes stringing out the phrase like you suggest--that should give me a new color. Thanks! Fantastic tidbit. Count me in on your hints for the Allegro too.

Oh, and Lucy, my only bit of advice is this: don't play Praeludium and Allegro like you have Multiple Personality Disorder. Have you heard performances like that? I have.

March 10, 2007 at 01:31 AM · I'm working on the allegro as well and any tips, especially on how to memorize the middle part of the 3rd page (the part with a lot of open E string notes before the last fine lines), will be greatly appreciated.

March 10, 2007 at 05:29 AM · take out the open E's and you're left essentially with a series of ascending and descending 6ths. practice these 6ths for intonation.

to ease memorization try to stick with a predictable fingering - for example for the first several measures of this 16th note passage use 34..23..12 (shift) 34 ..23..12 (shift) 34 ..23..12... and so on.

March 10, 2007 at 06:11 AM · How brilliant! I tried and worked. Thanks Jim!

March 10, 2007 at 06:55 PM · You know, that bit on the last page (the broken sixths section) is actually one of the easier spots in the piece, IMHO--once your fingers know it. The page I continually fight for is the second (two string crossings in particular give me pains). When I finish this piece I feel the burn in my right half.

March 10, 2007 at 07:38 PM · kimberlee, so true! The broken 6th on 3rd page does'nt look too bad now once I've adopted Jim's fingering -- I guess the fingering is 90% of this part. I find the 1st half of the 2nd page is much harder: string crossing and the double stops with all notes clean and play in tempo with lightness.

I almost gave the whole thing up when I first tried the 2nd page, as the first a few lines looked easy on paper but really not so! After a lot of encouragement from my teacher and some soul-searching on my own part:), now I'm glad that I stick it through -- lovely music and bagfull of techniques to learn.

March 12, 2007 at 09:36 PM · IMO by far the hardest passage is the semi-quaver arpeggios which start with a trill on the first beat. If you can play this with perfect control and phrasing, slowly, you shouldn't have any problem with the rest of it.

March 12, 2007 at 10:15 PM · Jim,

Good to know this. This is one of my favourate parts, but I don't find it as hard as the first 1/2 page of the page 2, which seems to require different techniques from that of the trill pasage. Not really?

Right now I have some difficulty doing the string crossing spiccato in the 1st three lines of page 2 and later repeated at the bottom of page 2. I want it to be fast, clean and light. Is there any good preparatory etude for this one?

March 12, 2007 at 10:15 PM · The whole thing is just fine until you decide to play it at breakneck speed AND control it. Slowly, Jim--I thought you were Heifetz' namesake . . . what's this slowly stuff? It's gotta be fast, and it's gotta be perfect. String crossings that weren't such a big deal at 88 become a bigger deal at 120+

March 14, 2007 at 09:35 PM · Well it's easier to 'busk' it at speed, I find. Yixi, if that's the bit with the 4ths and 2nds then, with my limited ability, I'd tend to play it on the string and mash the notes together, play the first chord of each bar very long.

March 15, 2007 at 03:48 AM · Jim, how do you 'mash' the notes together? Is this a special kind of technique?

March 15, 2007 at 04:37 AM · Greetings,

yes, I learnt it from Alan Alda,



March 15, 2007 at 09:32 PM · Yixi--a lot of artists have recorded it that way (mashing the notes with a big long chord at the beginning of each 16 note section--that's normally how I've heard it played). Because you're playing it so fast, the individual chords tend to "mesh" together so they're not as distinct. Does that make sense?

My greatest challenge in this piece, besides those two nasty string crossings I mentioned, is playing this chord section as cleanly as I would like, as fast as I would like without distorting the rhythm--so I'm essentially trying to do an "anti-mashing-technique." That's been a challenge. I haven't conquered it yet. Clayton Haslop has a good recording on Youtube. His chord section is close to what I'm aiming for. I take the Allegro the same speed as Mr. Haslop.

March 16, 2007 at 02:38 AM · Thanks for explaining it to me, kimberlee, but I still don’t quite understand how people are doing the mash. Do they use one bow to play all the notes together or the notes are played with separate bows as they are written?

As for the tempo, do you really have to go as far as 120? Can you not slow down at least during the chords part a bit? That’s what I’m doing. I’ve got both Midori and Stern’s recordings. Stern played the whole Allegro molto moderato part at 92-95. The chords part is significantly slow than the rest. Midori is a bit faster but not much faster.

March 16, 2007 at 02:23 PM · Yixi--the chords are played as written. I'm thinking what Jim meant by "mashing" was that some performers choose to let the chords fly fast enough they fall into each other without careful articulation. For me, it came as a natural consequence of speed. Not mashing them together at that speed requires the control.

Speed? A totally personal issue. I only know one person capable of playing Praeludium and Allegro wonderfully well at 120 (actually, I think he plays it a little faster). I've been toying around with the Allegro at that speed, but it's now time for me to get real, stop being an idiot and slow it down so it will sound decent! I can keep it clean at the speed Clayton Haslop takes it--and that's on the fast side of things, but it certainly doesn't have to be played that way, just my personal choice. I've heard Praeludium and Allegro performed equally well fast, less fast and fastest.

March 17, 2007 at 03:32 AM · Thanks kimberlee, you are always helpful and patient in explaining things.

In terms of speed, I tend to think there should be a limited number of ways to play a piece correctly and we are not supposed to change the tempo too much regardless what we take to be the original intent of the composer. I might be wrong about this.

I don't think I've ever heard people doing mash. I asked my teacher during my yesterday's lesson and she didn't know this either (she is professional violinist and has a Master's in violin performance, among other things). Until I see that technique, I'll stick to the un-mashing. I viewed Mr. Haslop's performance on his Youtube. His techniques are quite amazing.

March 17, 2007 at 09:03 PM · "Mashing" is not a specific technique, it's just an adjective describing the way some people play. It was only brought up because of the nature of playing this particular section. There are many difficulties, one of which is speed.

I take Allegro to mean "fast." But, as in all other things, interpretation is in the hands of the artist. If one is too concerned about experimenting with music, the music loses its life. It sounds like you have a good teacher, and if what she's doing helps you achieve your greatest freedom, great!

March 18, 2007 at 12:26 AM · Thanks kimberlee for explaining to me again and for being so gracious. I've got Allegro molto moderato (which I take it to mean fast but very moderate) on the page 2 and 3 of my sheet music and that was why I wondered about playing faster.

I like my teacher a lot, even though she doesn't teach me how to mash:)

March 19, 2007 at 06:29 PM · Allegro Molto Moderato it is, Yixi. Thanks for pointing that out. I suppose the only way to sound moderate while playing fast is to be very controlled . . . at least that's how I would interpret it . . .

And, of course that brings us right back to the artist, who must make the decision and live with the consequences.

Maybe it's not those nasty string crossings after all? Maybe the toughest part of the piece is deciding how to play it? There's so much room for exploration--so many ways it might be played, so many opportunities, it leaves room for many decisions.

March 24, 2007 at 04:18 PM · ooh, for me it is the nasty string crossings, but I finally got it this morning! I think the trick for the technique is no trick at all: just a lot of slow-fast-slow practice. Eventually, the body learns it.

March 24, 2007 at 04:43 PM · Yixi, I think the secret of this (not that I've ever mastered it) is to be very quick so you have already moved the bow into position on the new string. Check out videos - eg Brahms last mvt or Saint-Saens Havanaise, where the students have to play each note several times to get the string crossings to work. Clayton is pretty slick in this respect.

October 22, 2011 at 02:55 PM ·

My daughter, age 9. started this one this week. She is reading all of the posts here and they are very helpful indeed. She has played the first page and I have the feeling that she will be rushing this piece, like so many others, without too much thought on the details. Her intonation is usually very good and she has a great ear so she can't wait to sound like a recording. She has promised the teachers that this will be the piece she learns slowly and carefully "like Itzhak Perlman" but I see Speedy McGreedy hiding under those little fingers! It would be great to see her pay attention to the detail. Will post again after the process! 

October 26, 2011 at 01:55 PM ·

My collegues and my answer noel Amarad and everybody. I"m a experince 20yrs old violin player Know retired pleaseth Allero and Prealudiom of kreisle the first page begins in Octaves b to b e to e and so . The round wll entonated proyected and entonation of the first page or nyone no matter how old is the person is dificult. Try going to anothe piece becouse as th peice goes on its get more and more dificult to play and if you are a begginer (If you are a  born genuis) still difficult. if that the peice that you are working on practice sLOWLY its takes a lot PACIENCE and again SLOWLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 29, 2011 at 11:39 AM · finally the piece is dificult. Open ornot oen strings the most importat is SLOW AND SLOW AND TOSE LAS MOMENTS SSSSSLLLLOOOOWWWW!!!!!!!!!!

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