Bruch's done(for now), what's next?

February 3, 2018, 3:28 AM · My teacher and I finished working on the first movement of Bruch's g minor concerto before the June of last year, and we then we started to work on Bach's solo pieces, Kreutzers, Donts and Mozart No.4.

By the end of November, we went through three Bach movements, and several etudes, but we were sort of forced to put the Mozart on hold right before we reached the cadenza as a local competition was coming up and a showpiece was needed. So, from then on we have been - and will be - working on and polishing the infamous P&A and the Bartok Sonatina Sz.11 until the end of February, when the competition will take place.

As the competition approaches, my teacher is letting me decide what to play next as my main piece. Our options are as follows:

1. Learn the Mozart No.4 Cadenza and relearn the concerto
2. Lalo Symphonie Espanyol first movement
3. Mendelssohn E minor first movement
4. Paganini Moses Fantasy

My teacher said that she would prefer me finishing the Mozart since the last classical concerto that I played was Hyden G major, and I never played a lot from the classical era in general. I would personally prefer either Mendelssohn or Lalo, because I find them to be more challenging. Paganini's Moses was a piece that we have planned to learn but never got beyond the theme before we started to practice for the competition. Whichever we choose, we would still have etudes, scales and Bach's on the side.

Quite honestly, I really want to have a crack at Tchaikovsky d minor, but both my teacher and I agree that I am not ready for it as of now...

Replies (17)

Edited: February 3, 2018, 5:56 AM · Do the Mozart. It's important to have one of those in your rep. Polishing it will do you a lot of good. After you've done the Mozart you can go back and learn how to spell Haydn.
February 3, 2018, 7:53 AM · I don't think it's a great idea to learn single movements out of works.

The Paganini Moses is considerably more difficult than any of the other options.

"Tchaikovsky d minor"? You're not talking about the concerto, are you? (The concerto is in D major.)

Edited: February 3, 2018, 10:11 AM · A little adjustment to the punctuation in the title gives, "Bruch's done for, now what's next?"

I've been there a few times, although not yet with the Bruch ;)

February 3, 2018, 10:23 AM · I don't entirely agree that it's not a great idea to learn single movements out of works. The exception, I think, is the slow movement which is often capable of standing on its own and being used as an item in a recital. It will also teach a lot about slow playing, tone control and interpretation when the student may not be quite ready for the spectacular stuff in the outer movements.
February 3, 2018, 10:26 AM · Mozart! Its the most satisfying musically and the second movement is lovely. Which cadenzas are you learning?

February 3, 2018, 10:42 AM · You haven't finished the Bruch; you've only learned the first movement. And you haven't finished even the first movement of the Mozart. I suggest you pick one piece and learn it in its entirety, and my vote would be for the Mozart.
Edited: February 3, 2018, 12:16 PM · Trevor, but in that case, why not learn a slow standalone work instead? There's no shortage of them, and better yet, they are generally intended for recital performance, and they have piano parts that were written for the piano, rather than orchestral reductions -- and are generally thus more satisfying musically when played with piano, as well as more pleasant for the pianist.
February 3, 2018, 12:59 PM · What are the requirements for the competition, anyway? Maybe you can only do a single movement. You could do another movement from Bruch, do Mozart, or pick a movement from Lalo. Which piece do you like the most, musically-speaking?
Edited: February 3, 2018, 2:16 PM · The primary reason to teach the entire concerto as a whole is musical coherence. You get an understanding of how the music develops, which informs your interpretation, that is deeper than you can really get from just listening to the whole work.

I think the concert-hall repertoire should be treated differently than the pedagogical concertos, where if a student needs to learn just a single movement for the sake of applying some particular technical lesson, great.

February 3, 2018, 3:34 PM · I get the point. My teacher tends to take out single movements (for instance, I went straight for the 4th movement of Lalo without learning any other movements), but I guess there's other approches, too.
February 3, 2018, 3:48 PM · Paul, I see what you mean, and I agree in general. It's just that I think there is a need for me to learn the more technically demanding romantic concertos to improve my technique. And it also seems like that I really need to proof-read before posting anything...
Edited: February 3, 2018, 4:02 PM · Lydia, I generally agree with you, but, for some reason, the more common course of progression in a typical, modern Hungarian school of violin playing is to first build a diverse repertoire, ie, single movements of concertos and sonatas. Solid, and rigorous repertoire building usually then happens during the years at the Academy or the Conservatory, or so I was told.

Quite interestingly, my teacher actually learned the Moses Fantasy before she learned Bruch or Mozart. So perhaps she found it beneficial for her technique to be able to play on high positions on the g string, and would thus like me to follow that. Also, my teacher found P&A to be significantly more difficult than Bruch(the first movement anyways), which I was told is uncommon.

And, yes, it's D major. I really need to get in the habit of proof-reading...

February 3, 2018, 4:12 PM · Trevor, funny enough, what you said was almost identical to what my teacher told me when I asked(nagged) her to let me play Tchaikovsky. She told me that she would teach me the second movement, as I was not ready for the outer movements. Despite our plan to learn the second movement, it never really went beyond two lessons of, basically, sight reading, before we somehow managed to forget about it...

February 3, 2018, 4:21 PM · Katie, in all honesty, I think Mozart seems to be the most viable plan for now.
But I don't think my teacher will teach me the second movement though, as we usually don't really go beyond the first movement. The last time we finnished an entire concerto was Rieding quite a number of years ago...

And we still haven't chosen the cadenza yet, I think it's either going to be Joachim's or Auer's, but not quite sure. As we wrote the cadenza for the Haydn concerto ourselves, there might also be a chance that we would write one again if we found their cadenzas to be disagreeable.

February 3, 2018, 4:29 PM · Indeed, Mary, I have not finished the Bruch nor the Mozart 4. However, I am planning to learn the rest of Bruch some other time, as the 3rd movement is, according to my teacher, quite a bit more challenging than the options I have listed in my post. As for Mozart, I want to learn the entire concerto during college where I plan to do most of my "real" repertoire building. For now, at least, I think it would be more beneficial for me to improve my technique and my familiarity with different types of music by playing a large variety of pieces.
February 3, 2018, 4:35 PM · Ella, the requirement for the competition is an unabridged piece that is no longer than 6 minutes with a prescribed piece from a list set by the board of judges, which is the Bartok Sonatina in my case. Although concertos are accepted, as a single movement is generally more than 6 minutes, most performers wouldn't choose it. And plus, my teacher advised against slow Bach pieces or anything by Mozart as any imperfections are immediately noticeable.
Edited: February 3, 2018, 4:44 PM · I think it's a teaching philosophy, where the OP is coming from. Do agree complete works work "better", but maybe we don't have a big say in the matter.

I would suggest doing advanced scale works, so everything becomes relatively easy moving forwards, be it Moses Fantasy, Tchaikovsky, or Mozart. Yes, rep can be use to gain fluency, and it often does work, but doing scales properly help facilitate the process. Single string scales, thirds, octaves (adding fingered when you are able to), and tenths. Harmonics, double harmonics, etc. The idea is being "more advanced" in scale-work, so nothing in the repertoire takes you by surprise, becoming "easy" in comparison. Which is why the technical passages are "difficult" at first (and often for a long while); the brain is not used to all the "new" commands and patterns.

There are exceptions with some advanced repertoire, but most hurdles can be overcome by daily, conscientious scale work, in addition to practicing difficult repertoire passages as technical etudes of a sort. Of course, balance is important (some can be overzealous in their technical work), but it's important your brain realizes things are "not so difficult", and I deem scales/technique too essential to just ignore in favor of an "all repertoire" approach.

(As *my* own personal rule, I try to never sacrifice daily thirds and octaves, single string scales, and fluid bow work.)

(Learning a perfectly played, musically nuanced Mozart 4 with cadenza is quite a challenge, even at a high playing level. I would also suggest you follow your teacher's advice in this, and "re-learn" the whole thing-along with cadenza- rather than the first mvmt. alone... if you are allowed to of course.)

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