Late 20th Century / Early 21st Century Violin Pieces?

February 24, 2019, 9:16 PM · Everybody is familiar with the classics: Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms, etc. but what about some newer pieces for violin?

I have to admit I am not familiar with the last 50 years or so of classical music, but I would like to hear some recordings of violin virtuosos playing some modern (post-modern? contemporary?) concertos and sonatas, etc.

Phillip Glass comes to mind, but he's about all I know for modern classical music plus the recent Grammy winning piece that James Ehnes recorded.

What else should I listen to to get a good idea of what modern music classical music sounds like?

(film scores don't count, although there are some great ones)

Replies (15)

February 24, 2019, 9:23 PM · You may want to start with John Williams, who is better known for his film scores, but has also written a very good violin concerto.
Edited: February 24, 2019, 9:47 PM · Alma Deutscher & Gerry Joe Weise (check out Blue Concerto for orchestra - I love this.).

A lot of the great string music of the 21st century is probably destined to be film music, that's where the jobs are.

Honestly my interest in contemporary music is mostly choral, so I'll be following here as well for listening ideas.

February 24, 2019, 10:48 PM · Pärt- Fratres

Ligeti- Violin Concerto

Saariaho- Nocturne

Berio- Sequenza VIII

Corigliano- Violin Concerto No. 1

Schnittke- Stille Nacht

Takemitsu- Hika

Henze- Violin Sonata

Sciarrino- 6 Capricci

Xenakis- Mykka

Gubaidulina- Offertorium

Lutoslawski- Partita

A lot of these aren't particularly digestible for the unexposed ear (the easiest to 'get into' are the Pärt, Saariaho, and Schnittke), but they're all works I've enjoyed and are from after 1969.

Edited: February 25, 2019, 12:10 PM · Some groups/individuals that peform a lot of new music:

Ethel, Alarm Will Sound, Kronos Quartet, Jack Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Jennifer Koh, Miranda Cuckson, Curtis Macomber, Bang on a Can, Roomful of Teeth, So Percussion, Tim Fain, Todd Reynolds, off the top of my head. There are lots more.

Some composers (no particular order): Judd Greenstein, John Luther Adams, Caroline Shaw, Michael Gordon, Kaija Saariaho, Kenji Bunch, Nico Muhly, Steven Mackey, Sarah Kirkland Snider, David Lang, Gabrielle Lena Frank, Aaron Jay Kernis, Shulamit Ran, Osvaldo Golijov, Julia Wolfe, Unsuk Chin, Missy Mazzoli, Jennifer Higdon, Joan Tower, Bryce Dessner, Phil Kline. Marcelo Zarvos, Augusta Reed Thomas.

February 25, 2019, 10:12 AM · In 150 years or so we'll have a good handle on whether the stuff they wrote is any good. About the same time the Greenland Ice Sheet makes Florida disappear.
February 25, 2019, 11:14 AM · Florida, you say? Sounds like a win-win to me, Paul!
Edited: February 25, 2019, 1:53 PM · John Cage's 4:33 is a good one, but I bet you've heard that before
February 25, 2019, 2:20 PM · Gloria Coates has some really interesting quartets.

For some sheer brutality you should check out Galina Ustvolskaya. There's a number of videos online with Patricia Kopatchinskaja playing her work at last year's Ojai festival, as well as one for Dies Irae, written for piano, 8 double basses and a large wooden box. It's powerful stuff!

A friend turned me on to this rather mind blowing piece by Georg Friedrich Haas:

Edited: February 25, 2019, 3:46 PM · Xenakis composed a piece for the final stage of an international cello competition. None of the finalists could cope with it. You have been warned!
February 25, 2019, 5:06 PM · If you'd like a nice overview of contemporary quartet material, search youtube for the JACK Quartet...they do only contemporary repertoire, and you can hear the work of several of the composers mentioned here. My daughter did a master class with them last week, interesting group.
February 26, 2019, 12:58 AM · Not all modern composers go around modernist styles. I like very much and recommend Jorge Grundman.

Or Marjan Mozetich

Among others.

February 26, 2019, 8:40 AM · I second the suggestion of 4'33. A truly touching and beautiful piece.
I also recommend Cage's ASAP, or As Slow As Possible.
February 26, 2019, 8:42 AM · Michael - Deutscher's violin concerto is good, but some of it is parts from recognizable pieces. I don't know how that happened, whether it was intentional or accidental (haha!), but I'm a bit skeptical about it, though it was a nice piece.
Her piano concerto is very much superior, in my opinion.
Edited: February 26, 2019, 8:44 AM · And check out John William's Tuba concerto.
Not a violin piece, obviously, but I was fascinated by it.
February 26, 2019, 3:55 PM · @Louis Dhoore - that Lutoslawski Partita is great, I'll be digging through some more of your suggestions shortly. Thanks for sharing!

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