Unaccompanied classical violin pieces by female composers

May 21, 2018, 6:42 AM · I believe I will perform next year at a local venue that is quite large. The performers are female only, because their goal is to recognize women in music.
My goal is to recognize classical music, and for this to recognize classical music composed by women, since most people don’t really understand classical, and few realize that there were actual female composers. Also, this province is known more for fiddle than classical violin (Natalie MacMaster, anyone?), so I’d really like to show that it’s not as rigid as the stereotype says around here.
Do you have any suggestions for a piece composed by a woman that is preferably dead, around intermediate level? I don’t know vibrato right now, and I don't know if I will next year (or the end of this one), as I am having a few complications with it. Thus, it probably shouldn't be super slow, which would require more vibrato.
If the piece is one of the ones that absolutely requires accompaniment, I may be able to have a pianist, flutist, or possibly a guitarist, but I’d prefer unaccompanied. It’d be more definite if they allowed male accompaniment, but where it’s all women and about women, I doubt they would.
I think each performer is allowed one-three songs/pieces, so I’ll need a few suggestions!
It’s for July, 2019, but really, the auditions are for November-January, I can’t recall which specific month. So that’s why I need them soon.
Thanks in advance.

Replies (20)

Edited: May 21, 2018, 7:00 AM · I would ask the organizers whether they could help you identify an accompanist that will already be there. One cool idea would be to do the first movement of the D Major Sonata by Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre. That could be performed unaccompanied, but if there will be a cellist who is already going to be there, they could accompany you since the accompaniment is a continuo part. The advantage of this piece is that it's baroque and you won't be needing your "Brahms vibrato."
May 21, 2018, 9:08 AM · Romance by Amy Beach, if you can find a pianist. I've never tried it unaccompanied; perhaps it might work.
Edited: May 21, 2018, 9:48 AM · Here's a bit of a wacky idea, and it will require you to do a little research. There is a theory, I believe related to an inscription on a manuscript copy, that the JS Bach cello suites were actually composed by his wife Anna Magdalena. One of my guilty pleasures most days is playing the famous prelude from the first suite in G, transposed to D, on my violin. Personally, I recall looking at the evidence and deciding, nah, I think JS wrote 'em, but the debate itself raises many interesting issues related to women who were composers, and so I think you could get away with it. It is SUCH a beautiful piece. No need for vibrato. Unaccompanied, of course. Anyway, that's my suggestion. Good luck!
Edited: May 21, 2018, 10:54 AM · Thank you!
I listened to part of the D Major Violin Sonata that Paul suggested, and I loved the bit I heard.
I will have to check on the Romance.
That is an interesting theory, though I've never heard it. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe it's just me, but at least a few of the piece in the Cello Suite never really seemed to be Bach's style. Perhaps that is just me, I don't know. I did learn the Prelude, and I love listening to the first piece in the suite, so I will certainly be doing some research. Thanks for the suggestion.
May 21, 2018, 12:36 PM · Ellen Taaffe Zwilich has a solo violin piece. Joan Tower has also done a few. Although if you're still getting vibrato together, those might be a little bit of a reach.

But see what kind of accompaniment you can get. That could open your field considerably.

May 21, 2018, 3:15 PM · Most of the pieces suggested are probably a stretch at your level. Better to play something you can feel good about.

I suggest you try Mary Cohen's book of "etudes" called Technique Flies High. Each one is a little piece in a certain style (for example, there is a fiddle tune, a gypsy piece, a set of variations, etc.) I believe it is published by Faber. Yes, the focus is technical, but they are nice pieces and your audience would really like them.

May 21, 2018, 6:33 PM · I just now played the Beach Romance (unaccompanied); I think it works pretty well that way.
May 21, 2018, 6:54 PM · Lol @ "preferably dead"
May 21, 2018, 9:01 PM · The Amy Beach Romance is intermediate level; I don't think it's too difficult for the OP.
May 21, 2018, 9:58 PM · Eckhardt-Gramatté's unaccompanied violin music


May 21, 2018, 10:13 PM · Roxana Panufnik wrote a fun piece called Hora Bessarabia for the 2016 Menuhin Competition – worth checking out!
May 21, 2018, 10:17 PM · But is Roxana dead, Aditya? She needs to be dead.
Edited: May 22, 2018, 9:49 AM · https://www.violinmusicbywomen.com/

tons of stuff here for various levels. haven't looked at all of it to know what is hard, what is unaccompanied, etc., but seems like a good place to start!

Edited: May 22, 2018, 6:17 PM · A pianist/organist I know has been quite a fan of Louise Farrenc's piano music (though he's now comparatively healthily fixated by a girlfriend and hasn't mentioned Mme Farrenc at all of late - not that fixation with HER would have been that unhealthy!). I haven't heard her music at all. However, I see a couple of violin and piano sonatas in the list of her compositions.
Fanny Mendelssohn composed a number of songs for voice and piano, which I'm sure you could perform on the violin.
Unfortunately Caroline Herschel never composed.
Clara Schumann: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Romances_for_Violin_and_Piano
There is a violin and piano sonata by Ethel Smyth.
Wikipedia's List of Solo (Unaccompanied) Violin pieces include works by
Grazyna Bacewicz,
Marian Sawa
Hilda Paredes.
I don't know whether any lady violinist of the past composed her own cadenza, but if one did, you could perhaps play that in isolation?

May 22, 2018, 5:57 PM · I guess the Beach could be played without piano accompaniment. But without vibrato?
Edited: May 22, 2018, 7:42 PM · The violin sonata by Amanda Maier is one of my favorites, but it's similar in style and difficulty to the Brahms sonatas, so it would not work without piano and may be too difficult.

Looking earlier: Maddalena Laura Sirmen wrote a number of violin concertos in the Classical era. Perhaps there's something from her that you could use?

EDIT: Sirmen has some violin duos on IMSLP. If you can find another violinist, those may be an option.

Edited: May 23, 2018, 12:41 PM · Elizabeth Reed Smith: I can play some level eight pieces. I think I can manage a few pieces that are level four-seven. As for the ones suggested before your comment, I have played the Cello Suites, the Violin Sonata in D Major seems extremely easy, and the only difficult thing I heard with the Beach Romance is the vibrato. I imagine you're probably thinking I exaggerated my level with "intermediate" because I don't know vibrato, and perhaps I should have expanded on that, but I have "known" vibrato for quite a while. I just haven't been able to master it. But yes, it's much more practical to perform a piece that is comfortable to play. Thanks for the suggestion of the etudes. I will look at those:)
Erik Williams: Lol, I didn't mean anything with that comment, I promise!! I just read your second comment about Roxanna Panufnik. I'm still laughing:)
Andrew Hsieh: I do know a violinist (my aunt), but she's still a raw beginner. Not exactly an option. Perhaps there may be a few I'm not aware of, so I'll check.
Kathryn Woodby: Thanks for that! That's probably exactly what I need.
Paul Deck: Yes, most romances require vibrato, so unless I can master it, I'm assuming I won't be doing that one:(
Stephen Symchych:I CAN find a pianist. As I said, I know of a couple pianists in the area. I just don't like them. If I need accompaniment, I'll deal with it.
Thanks so much for all of the suggestions!
June 9, 2018, 2:27 PM · Does anyone know the level of difficulty for these, and where to find the sheet music?
Grazyna Bacewicz, Polish Caprice for Solo Violin
Eckhardt-Gramatté, Concerto for Solo Violin
Grazyna Bacewicz, Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin
I'm having difficulty finding them.
Also, Aditya, how difficult is the Hora Bessarabia?
June 9, 2018, 9:56 PM · check sheetmusicplus--I've found some Bacewicz there. SHAR usually has a pretty good selection, and often Johnson String has what SHAR doesn't.
June 10, 2018, 11:46 AM · Thank you!

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