Paganini Violin Concerto 1 tips

May 6, 2019, 2:13 PM · Rn im starting with paganini's violin concerto 1
Can someone give me any tips to make my life easier with this concerto?

Replies (12)

May 6, 2019, 2:28 PM · Practice slow and deliberately.
May 6, 2019, 2:41 PM · For anything by Paganini, first identify the spots with the maximum stretches or extensions, things like fingered octaves and tenths, or worse, and make sure that you can physically do them. Don't hurt yourself. A lot of really good pro players do not do Paganini.
May 6, 2019, 3:24 PM · My teacher marked out all the tenths sections to practice first. As noted, be careful with practice time spent on the extensions.

I really like Sevcik's exercises for the concerto. You can get them in a Stephen Shipps edition: https://www.sharmusic.com/Sheet-Music/Violin/w-47-Piano/Sevcik-Otakar---Niccolo-Paganini-Violin-Concerto-No-1-in-D-Major-Op-20---Violin-and-Piano---Analytical-Studies-Exercises---Edited-by-Stephen-Shipps.axd

May 6, 2019, 4:56 PM · Slow, slow, slow practice.

When you are playing tenths, the thumb should be in the position with the fourth finger, and the first finger stretched back. Tenths are playable if you're stretching your first finger back, unplayable if you're trying to stretch your fourth finger up.

May 7, 2019, 8:20 AM · Thank you guys!
May 7, 2019, 3:52 PM · Love this piece! For the first movement, I took the first page a couple of measures at a time for quite a while before I went on to the rest, and I worked on one octave, then two octave scales in thirds separately and before working on the first part in thirds.

Hint, notice carefully the number of different hand frames used in the thirds. To play one octave scale in thirds starting, say, in C major from the C on the g string, you need only two different hand shapes (alternating). Add on the next octavem and you're using all four hand frames you will ever see in in-key scales in thirds. I found this breakdown very helpful mentally, and also very helpfully in building up left hand independance and strength.

The first page of so of this piece remains for me one of the biggest technical watersheds I ever encountered and a wonderful etude or warmup riff - but don't be afraid to take your time with it. I probably worked on it a month or two (just the first page and one-octove scales) before I tried to read much beyond.

Beyond the first page, tenths can be tricky but there's lots of separate advice on them. I find the harmonics in the third movement to be murder (in a very interesting way) too. There are some other interesting little tricks that are hard to describe without notation (like adding extra harmonics for certain jumps, which we know Paganini did liberally), and I have not yet seen an edition that uses solutions for the harmonics I am very happy with. I've been working on my own but am not sure they are all right :-)

Edited: May 12, 2019, 1:55 PM · here's a video of current Belgian pride Sylvia Huang, playing this concerto with beautiful tone when she was ten:

https://youtu.be/E1NKi3kRVL4

Sylvia is 25 now. just last week she successfully passed through the semi-finals of the Queen Elisabeth Competition. she will play her final on May 20th.

May 19, 2019, 3:26 AM · To instantly improve intonation in the scales in 3rds, figure out which fingers move the farthest and think of them. In the first 4 notes of the first passage for the first two 1/3 fingerings, the third finger moves the farthest (d/f# to f#/a) for the 2/4 fingerings, the 2nd finger moves the farthest (e/g to g/b). You can also use the same practice methods in the 10ths. It will save you tons of time.
May 19, 2019, 9:52 AM · Bruce's tip for thirds is one I haven't heard before! I'll have to try it.
May 21, 2019, 5:16 PM · It's a great tip but isn't that just a shorthand way of recognizing where you have major vs. minor thirds? I find knowing which flavor of third I'm playing -- and transitions between them -- is critical in working out any passage in thirds (but since I'm not very good at it yet, I'm keen to apply Bruce's method!)
May 22, 2019, 3:36 AM · The most natural way of moving the fingers is for all of them to move together (as, for instance, picking a piece of fruit). In violin playing we have to learn to move them in different ways at the same time, for instance lifing and putting down, moving laterally, or sliding back and forth.
Edited: May 22, 2019, 3:57 AM · many thanks Bruce as always for sharing your knowledge with us!


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