What are must-learn pieces in standard repertoire, in progressive order?

July 24, 2006 at 03:22 AM · What are the top must-learn pieces at each level of playing ability? Here’s what my teacher used, in the order learned as best I can remember after the pieces in Suzuki Book 5: Mozart Concerto in D (#4), Kreisler Praeludium & Allegro, De Beriot Concerto #7, Saint-Saens Intro and Rondo Capriccioso, Bruch; with some Bach Partitas too. What are some good alternatives to these that would make up a similar progression?

Replies (11)

July 24, 2006 at 04:05 AM · While I hate to burst you'r bubble Jane, (as much as you would love to tackle the Beethoven) I highely recommend you stear clear of Beethoven for a while. There are many other fine concertos I might recommend you try first. I know you said you didn't really care for mozart, but here is the order I would suggest: Mozart G Major, Mendelssohn, Weinaiwski no. 2, Conus, Vieuxtemps No. 4, Saint Saens B minor, Lalo Symphony Espagnole (spelling?!?!) Khachaturian, Barber, Dvorak, Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms, and Sibelius (there are some others you could possibly do inbetween Barber and Tchaikovsky like, Paganini, both Prokofiefs, and the Korngold and possibly the Berg, but the list above was the "shortened version") This list was given to me by Alamita Vamos when I tried to get into her studio. She told me that I should first learn these in that order and then come back to her. This was of course when I was in highschool and had only done the first four somewhat out of order, but I take her list seriously now because I see the pedagogical benifit in each. If you really want to get to those big concertos soon, I might suggest going through the Mendelssohn and Saint Saens... and then going for the Tchiakovsky. Have fun and good luck!

July 24, 2006 at 12:52 PM · thats a great list, I will definatley copy it for my records.

Is the Barber really that hard, I thought it was more Mend. level

July 24, 2006 at 12:57 PM · Where would you place the other Mozart concertos? Near the G Major?

I'd also like to hear of lists from other teachers as I'm sure they vary a bit.

July 24, 2006 at 02:02 PM · I'm less a teacher these days than a performer, but I would caution anyone from relying on any list or order. For example, that's a surprising list from Mrs. Vamos and truthfully if someone gave me such a directive I would assume that they were just too busy to take me. Nothing wrong with that!

I like this discussion in terms of mapping out some very general checkpoints (for example, Brahms is probably far down the road!) but of course the order and the time spent on each piece depends totally on the student.

I must admit that although I make my living performing I have never studied Conus, Vieuxtemps 4, Khatchaturian, or Saint-Saens 3. I'm sure I would be better for it had I performed all of these, but the fact is that there is only so much time in the day. Even at conservatory, I only got through 3 or 4 major concerti in a year (plus many other little projects). Some of my friends got through more, some less. My teachers did what they thought was right at the time.

I hope this is constructive to this thread, because I also get stressed when it's time to move on to the next piece with each student. But someone else's must-learn may be redundant for a particular student, or it may be entirely unrealistic.

July 24, 2006 at 05:57 PM · Nathan,

only 3 or 4. That's at least 2 more than I got through.

Bully for you.

In general: lists are depressing. They don't into account the needs of the student, and from what I've observed and understood about teaching on this continent is that it has played a part in creating a lot of souless, factory made playing.

July 24, 2006 at 08:02 PM · when list like those are posted, are they usually referring to the whole concerto? like all 3 movements of the barber concerto would be more "difficult" or higher ranked than all movements of the wieniawski #2?

and i apologize if it's completely irrelevant but do people usually all movements of a concerto? i found myself jumping from concerto to concerto without actually learning all of the movements... so when i see a list like that or when i find a new privaate teacher, i dont know if i should consider going back and actually finishing stuff or just moving on.

July 24, 2006 at 09:03 PM · Yes Peter, 3 or 4 definitely seemed like all I could handle (and sometimes more than I could handle!) I said "only" because I was trying to imagine how many years it would take someone to finish the above-mentioned Vamos list.

As far as finishing pieces, generally I think it's a good idea to do so. For one thing, it's annoying to have a movement or two kicking around in your head as "unfinished", as the last mvmt of Prokofiev 2 is for me. If I ever perform that now, I'll have to learn the movement from scratch. Plus, it's often easier to learn the movements of a piece at the same time because you're immersed in the language already. The only exceptions I would find useful are when a teacher dips into a piece to strengthen some part of technique. For example, Barber last movement could be assigned rather than some other perpetual motion etude. But learning only the first movements of Mendelssohn, Sibelius, etc? I don't love that idea.

July 24, 2006 at 09:24 PM · Thanks for that list; that's enough to keep me busy until I'm 80! lol -- My initial question though was on "student" concerti and concert pieces: after the 1st violin part for the Bach Double, say, and prior to the Bruch G minor. What would your #1 choices be for that list and in what order of technical/musical difficulty? (I think it would be important musically to teach/learn all the movements of a concerto.)

July 24, 2006 at 09:27 PM · Greetings,

Zhakar Bron teaches a small part of each movement -siultaneously- to avoid this gorrible phenomenon of oly playing a couple of moveents. A work is, after all, an organic whole.

The lst in question is I thin, just a checklist and I doubt if Mrs. Vaos would be delighted to see it put forward as a cocnrete methodology. At this level it is impossible to specify what order a studnet needs things. The wrong cocnerto can be a disater.

Order of concertos is also colored by the perspective and experience sof the teahce rot some extent. For example;

>Mozart G Major, Mendelssohn, Weinaiwski no. 2, Conus, Vieuxtemps No. 4, Saint Saens B minor, Lalo Symphony Espagnole (spelling?!?!)

I don"t consider Wieniawski 2 a diifuclt concerto (I playe dit after DEBeriot 9) and I certyainly think that both it , the vieuxtemp and the Lalo should preced the mendelssohn which is a work played too soon by many students.

Saints Seans 3 suits my particluar strengths veru well so ot is also reatively easy for me, whereas Mozart four and five are mmurderously difficult to play well.

It is probably a good idea to consult a smany lists such as ASTA a sposisble to get a rough idea of how difficult pieces are and in what order they go but it ismostly uselss speculation to do anything othe rthan generalize at this level

Cheers,

Buri

July 24, 2006 at 09:38 PM · Nate, I might do Prok 2 for grad auditions, and I'll probably relearn (from scratch) the last 5 pages of the 3rd movement...

July 25, 2006 at 12:24 AM · I think what Mrs. Vamos's list is suppossed to suggest is an overall degree of difficulty based not only on techinical dificulty, but also interperative difficulty. For example, Mozart can be somewhat easy to interprate because most of the chords are self explanitory and after the student gets the hang of the first page or so, the rest of the piece is usually very easy to put together (I know I know, a lot of people disagree and say that Mozart is much more difficult to play than some other concerti but, I still stand by my opinion that chordaly and tonally, Mozart is "easier" than say Conus or Tchaickovsky.) Now, I also agree that every student is different and that teacher's should never simply follow a list because it's a list, but they should choose pieces based on pedagogical value to their students. I also totally agree with playing one movemtent of a concerto at a time (sort-of treating it as a serperate piece) as each movements, while very related tonally, also poses very different technical obstacles that may benifit students at different times of their musical careers. For example, the second mvt. of Weiniawski 2 is a slow and lyrical mvt with a huge octaves shift at the end. If the student is working on their octaves, this mvt. might be a good choice because there is only one "difficult" spot (so to speak). As for some other little pieces that could be learned either along side concerti or before them (inbetween Suzuki) I might suggest some other Kreisler stuff, Csardes, Meditation from "Thais", Scherzo and Tarantella, you could also introduce a Paganini caprice--maybe five or sixteen to start, Baal Shem, and of course, starting movements from Bach Partitas and Sonatas are always benificial (that way, even if the first time through a sonata/partita is not particularally impressive, the second time around, it will be much easier for the student to get a good hold of them). I might also suggest the Orange Blossom Special and/or some Mark O'Connor tunes as a fun side to classical. I hope this helps as I know that choosing repetoire is always difficult. But, don't forget that Suzuki still has some good things even after book five, and you don't necessarily have to go in the order they suggest.

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