Intermediate violin-piano duet material?

July 31, 2019, 7:28 AM · I have a bit of a problem.

I can't claim real depth of knowledge about classical music, but am itching to have a go at it. Thing is, it's a whole other world from fitting improvised lines into 3- to 6-chord progressions amidst a variety of other instruments, and that's been my usual musical environment for basically ever.

The promising part: I have one friend who's a good pianist and an ace sight-reader with a healthy classical background. She likes the idea of kicking around some violin-piano duet material. My natural inclination is more toward internal parts--e.g. second violin or even viola, though alto clef tends to trip me up--but that ain't happening anytime soon because I'm literally the nearest approximation of a violinist accessible without getting on an airplane.

So, duo it is. I guess we'd say intermediate level, in that I'm fairly competent at reading treble clef, am comfortable in first through fifth position, and am willing to work towards competence in higher ones although 7th and above, right now, are guaranteed train wrecks.

Apart from the obvious and in-progress option of soliciting my friend's suggestions, I would appreciate tremendously any repertoire recommendations y'all would care to offer, or even mumbles and gestures in some general direction.

Thank you!

Replies (13)

July 31, 2019, 8:07 AM · There are many music books that are collections of popular classical tunes that you can find online or in a violin shop. Here is one example but there are many:

My favorite when I started doing what you are was called something like Easy pieces for violin and piano (but I can't find it on line). A marveous collection with pieces like Minuet by Beethoven, Traumerii by Schumann etc etc. Note however, that there is a lot of overlap between the anthologies so that buying many is diminishing returns....

July 31, 2019, 8:44 AM · There are three standards that offer student difficulty -- 1st and 3rd position mostly -- but first-rate music.

Handel 6 sonatas
Schubert Sonatinas
Dvorak Sonatina in G.

July 31, 2019, 8:50 AM · A second on the Dvorak Sonatina -- lovely little piece and not too hard for either person.
July 31, 2019, 8:58 AM · Works by these composers ("Concertinos") may be of interest:
George Perlman
Oskar Rieding
Leo Portnoff
July 31, 2019, 9:37 AM · Another vote for the Schubert sonatinas and the Dvorak sonatina.

The Handel sonatas are more difficult for both piano and violin.

July 31, 2019, 11:11 AM · Thanks so much to everyone for the great suggestions! Just a week from today I hope to visit Shar and will have a number of these set aside ready for pickup.

Elise, that looks like a really handy book. I can see what you mean about diminishing returns, too; some pieces seem to show up in almost every collection.

Thomas, Susan, and Mary Ellen: The Schubert and Dvorak Sonatinas will definitely be in the mix. For a recommendation to achieve near-unanimity in this crowd says a lot! Handel’s sonatas look like good one to shoot for too. Dvorak in particular got my attention, admittedly because I’ve had his Symphony from the New World on persistent loop for the past few days. :)

Charles: I’ll check those out for sure. None of the names ring a bell, and that in itself means their work is potentially interesting.

Again, huge thanks to all of you!

July 31, 2019, 11:23 AM · Good luck with your search - tell us what you choose!
July 31, 2019, 12:27 PM · Will do!
July 31, 2019, 1:36 PM · I second Schubert and Dvorak, especially Dvorak which is one of his best works. Never mind that he composed it for his daughters.

Handel's sonatas vary wildly both in difficulty and quality IMO. I do not think they are more difficult than the other two; this depends on what you have played before. (Plus, Mary Ellen, Handel did not write a piano part, just the figured bass. The difficulty for the pianist depends on how the bass is realized in your edition; my father--not even a midlevel pianist--had no problem with the Doflein edition, some fast movements excepted).

However since you are comfortable in positions 1 - 5 you can expand this list. I'd say most of the Mozart sonatas (or all?) are within that constraint, also Beethoven's earlier ones; I don't think they ever go higher than 5th position at least from op. 12 to the Spring sonata.

Another entry from the baroque would be Vivaldi's sonatas op. 2. They--like Handel's--vary in quality but the best of them (IMO 6 out of the 12) are very good indeed.

July 31, 2019, 3:46 PM · Thank you, Albrecht, for the additional suggestions.

Here, so far, is what's piled up at Shar waiting for me to show up:

Wier Violin Pieces The Whole World Plays
Handel Six Sonatas Complete Betti
Schubert - Three Sonatinas Op. 137 / Fischer
Dvorak Sonatina in G Major Op. 100 Fischer
Perlman-Israeli Concertino for Violin and Piano BK/CD
Rieding - Concertino In D Major Op. 25
Rieding-Concertino in Hungarian Style Op 21 A Min
Portnoff-No1 In A Minor-Russian Fantasia
Miniature Fantasias Russian Fantasia in D Minor Violin Piano
Herfurth-Rodgers and Hammerstein Favorite Melodies
The Very Best of John Williams - Violin

Some show tunes and movie music added because why not? The fact that lots of people recognize them doesn't hurt.

This ought to keep us amused for quite a good while. :D

Also having a good look at Mozart, Beethoven, and Vivaldi.

July 31, 2019, 7:24 PM · Have fun!! And don't forget to listen to some great violinists playing these tunes - always more than one so that you can get ideas about expression.
July 31, 2019, 8:29 PM · Great suggestion, Elise. With any luck, at least some good renditions of these will have made it onto YouTube by now--and if not there, then iTunes.
August 1, 2019, 4:26 PM · Have fun at Shar. It is a wonderful place. The showroom staff all have some kind of music degree - often from U of M and all are willing and able to give you great musical advice and suggestions.

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