Help with Choosing a Senior Solo Piece

Edited: March 7, 2018, 5:26 AM · Hey everyone! I'm new to the community but have already found it so helpful. I'm a junior in high school and am trying to finalize a piece to use for a senior solo next year with our school orchestra (which I have to audition for, although I don't have to audition on the piece I'm going to play). There are only two other musicians who would audition and one of them is a pianist.

I have played Preludium and Allegro and the Mendelssohn in E minor prior to now, and am currently finishing up Zigeunerweisen and have started the Wieniawski No. 2.

I will have to audition at the beginning of the next school year, probably in August or September, but would be performing in either a little less than or a little more than a year since our concerts are in February and in May, so two solos would be on the same day (I'm pretty sure, but the schedule fluctuates a bit every year). The other violinist is going to be playing the Saint-Saens No. 3, and the pianist will be playing Rachmaninoff.

I originally thought I would be playing the Zigeunerweisen for my senior solo, but am starting to have second thoughts and kind of want to try a new piece. I have also considered the third movement of Wieniawski No. 2, but don't know if I'll have time to get through the whole work since I don't think skipping movements is possible (or should be done). I have listened to Wieniawski No. 1, but am aware it is significantly more difficult than his second concerto and works like Sibelius or Tchaikovsky might be aiming too high since I don't think it's reasonable and because I want to play well, but this will be the last main work I will be focusing most of my time on. Although I do plan to continue playing in college, this will be my last "major" showcase of my personal progress. I will be kind of busy during the school year since I'm in cross country and track, but senior year will hopefully be a little easier. I plan to devote the vast majority of my time over the summer to my senior solo piece and will make a serious effort to practice a lot on weekends and a bit during the week because it is something I have really wanted for years. I understand it will be hard work, but I don't know exactly how hard is too hard for me.

I am also aware that the selection of potential pieces may vary with my strengths and weaknesses. I am pretty good with technique and intonation, but I have to work harder on technique, and am pretty good at pouring emotion into pieces. I'm not sure how far my teacher will let me jump in terms of difficulty levels. If anyone has any suggestions for other pieces or any guidance regarding whether to stick with Zigeunerweisen or Wieniawski, or try a new piece, I'll gladly listen since I'm on a slight time crunch.

Thank you so much!

Replies (17)

March 6, 2018, 11:01 AM · If the audience is going to be other students and their parents (i.e., not a bunch of post-middle-aged music lovers), it's going to be hard to beat the Zig. With its "accessible" themes and impressive virtuosic passages, that'll be a crowd-pleaser for sure. And since you know it already that'll free up time to work on those more advanced concertos with your teacher at an appropriate pace.
March 6, 2018, 11:35 AM · Have you asked your teacher what you should do about this? Zigeunerweisen is definitely a good choice.
March 6, 2018, 8:04 PM · Personally I find Wieniawski #1 much more difficult than either Sibelius or Tchaikovsky so it's funny that you think the latter two are "aiming too high" but you don't rule out the former.

Your teacher can best guide you but I agree with Paul and Ella that Zigeunerweisen is probably your best choice.

March 6, 2018, 8:06 PM · Is the senior solo with orchestra, or with piano?

With six months to go, if you do Zig, I would probably take a break from it and then come back to it, so you don't totally exhaust your interest in the piece.

March 6, 2018, 8:16 PM · Oops sorry Mary! As you can tell, I'm super busy and not really informed on a lot of this but all the replies have been helpful. Thanks again!
Edited: March 7, 2018, 8:34 PM · You could also consider the Mendelssohn. Since you will play it with an orchestra, it would seem more appropriate than Zig ( which imho is more a recital piece. It is rare to see people playing Zig with an orchestra these days ). Note, both of your competitors are playing “legitimate” concertos.

You should have quite a bit of time working on polishing it and memorizing it.

Good luck and congratulations!

March 8, 2018, 5:59 AM · If it's not a competition, then you should maybe consider playing what your audience will enjoy. That's why I suggested staying with the Zig.
March 8, 2018, 12:22 PM · I have played in orchestra with the soloist performing Zig. If the others are playing only one movement of their concertos, it is perfectly equivalent.
March 8, 2018, 1:34 PM · Which piece do you like more?
March 14, 2018, 10:04 AM · Yes, my school's symphony orchestra will be accompanying me. The only "competition" there is, is when I'm auditioning against other people to get the performance, but the performance itself is not a competition. I thought the Zig was a bit flashy and good for an audience of the other orchestras and their parents. I thought about Paul's point about using Zig for this performance and working on more advanced pieces at an appropriate pace with my private teacher.
March 15, 2018, 11:47 AM · I recommending playing a piece that you are comfortable with and that you know you can play perfectly. I remember going to a bunch of my friend's senior recitals ;although they might have not performed the hardest or flashiest of pieces, it still left me impressed and inspired. Rather than playing a "hard" piece, play one that you are comfortable because that will impress the audience the most. Also remember the effects of performance nerves!
March 15, 2018, 2:20 PM · The hundreds of recordings ( https://www.allmusic.com/composition/zigeunerweisen-for-violin-piano-or-orchestra-gypsy-airs-op-20-mc0002369587 ) that have been made of Zigeunerweisen are testament to its popularity for more than a century. If you can play it well enough it is certain to please and impress any audience.

I remember how I felt the first time I heard it and how it inspired me,

March 15, 2018, 5:21 PM · There's even a 'music minus one' version of Zigeunerweisen available, so you can practice with an orchestra until your fingers bleed!

https://www.halleonard.com/product/viewproduct.action?itemid=400262&lid=129&seriesfeature=MMONE&producttype=physical&

March 16, 2018, 9:28 AM · Thank you all so much!
March 28, 2018, 4:00 PM · Of course, Zigeunerweisen is great. But if you're bored of it already, maybe Introduction and Tarantelle (Pablo Sarasate as well) might be a good choice. Or Introduction and Rondo Capriccio by Saint-Saens.
April 3, 2018, 1:41 PM · Oh no! I forgot, Carmen Fantasy. But it has some slower movements, which is a bit of an issue for probably at least part of your audience, and it's pretty long...
April 3, 2018, 2:07 PM · Carmen Fantasy is very much more difficult than Zigeunerweisen.

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