Excerpts when you get to pick

June 30, 2019, 10:13 PM · I'm thinking of trying the sub audition for one of the local freeway philharmonics this fall. Requirements are a concerto exposition, Schumann Scherzo, and "2 excerpts of the player’s choice from the standard repertoire for their instrument".

What would you choose, assuming the concerto will be Tchaikovsky? My inclination would be Don Juan plus either the standard Scheherezade solo excerpts or the Brahms 1's 2nd-movement solo excerpt, leaning Brahms. (All of those are on the list for their concertmaster audition.) This is for the simple reason that I already know them.

Replies (15)

Edited: July 1, 2019, 12:27 AM · Don Juan and Mozart 39, 2nd and 4th movements.

I always want to hear Mozart when listening to an audition. It's so revealing.

Your suggestions of Brahms or Scheherezade, plus a Tchaikovsky concerto, are too much all in the same style.

July 1, 2019, 6:16 AM · I have a question regarding the notion of "exposition" of a concerto. What would be the exposition of Mendelssohn? Simply the first page? (Meaning the high B after the octaves.)
July 1, 2019, 8:57 AM · I think basically up to the first tutti? Anyway in Mozart allegros it's pretty obvious where the exposition gives way to the development. But those are classical allegros.
Edited: July 1, 2019, 10:18 AM · Thanks, Mary Ellen. (I know Mozart 39 from past community orchestra performance.)

Jean, it's the standard place where analysis of the form would say the exposition ends. This gets more nebulous as you move forward in periods. In general, it's safe to make the assumption that it's not more than the first five minutes of the movement.

July 1, 2019, 3:23 PM · ditto Mozart 39, last movement. Beethoven 9- slow movement, 1st violin (of course)the busiest variations.
July 2, 2019, 9:07 PM · That second movement really is a pain. We did Beethoven 9 in my orchestra in this past year, and I spent an annoying amount of time woodshedding that movement.
July 3, 2019, 8:55 AM · I second Mary Ellen's but...you only get 2, and the Mozart would be 2 by themselves.

So it got me thinking--what are typical excerpts that amateurs tend to really butcher? Which ones really bring out a lack of experience or common rhythmic problems? Maybe pick those to show you're at a professional level.

One example from those suggested: Mozart 39, 2nd movement. I've always found this to be a very difficult movement to pull off--perhaps more than Don Juan. You need excellent intonation and sound quality right where it's hardest (high on the D string). Rhythmically, all of those dotted rhythms have to be "just so" and matching. Non-professionals tend to have a hard time with dotted rhythms.

And many have problems getting just the right articulation and feel on the second section march theme.

July 3, 2019, 4:12 PM · There are numerous Mozart 39/II spots used for excerpts. Which measures are you thinking of?

On these "choose your own adventure" auditions, what are committees looking for in the choices made? Is it a better choice to go for the harder excerpts or choose fairly safe ones?

Edited: July 3, 2019, 4:41 PM · The Mozart 39 2nd mvt spot I'm most used to hearing is after the first repeat, forte, F C F Ab Ab G F E G Bb Db etc. with a cut in the repeated notes. Apologies for not having bar numbers handy. Hardly anyone plays the rhythm with the turns correctly after the repeated Bbs.

For "choose your own," you should pick excerpts that you can play well, that show a variety of styles, and that include standard professional excerpts if you can play them (i.e. if you can play Don Juan, you should, but if it's going to sound bad, don't go there). And you should always include Mozart.

Edited: July 3, 2019, 4:57 PM · I'm more used to hearing the first two repeated sections (I think it's 1-28) in Mozart 39 2nd, although it's not uncommon to ask for it to continue on into the forte passage.

I would go with very standard excerpts in choose-your-own, and would advise against concertmaster excerpts just because for a sub audition, the committee is unlikely to care how you would play a concertmaster solo. Seconding Mary Ellen - pick ones you can play well that show different aspects of your playing.

July 3, 2019, 5:07 PM · Oh yes, definitely, NO concertmaster excerpts unless you are specifically auditioning for concertmaster! Otherwise it just comes across as presumptuous.
July 3, 2019, 5:43 PM · Mary Ellen, what do you take as being the correct rhythm for the turns in Mozart 2nd mvt? I think that I've heard both on- and before-the beat interpretations in recordings, but my ears may be fooling me...
July 3, 2019, 6:00 PM · Lydia

In my experience it's important to play it fastest in the world. Might I recommend the opening to Unfinished Symphony fastest in the world?

July 3, 2019, 6:59 PM · Juliana, I like to hear the turn before the beat--in other words, if you first play the excerpt without the turns, and then add the turns, the main notes will not move in relation to the beat.
July 4, 2019, 5:51 PM · Mary Ellen--thank you, that's good to know.

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