Hardest violin concerto/opening/piece

January 2, 2020, 9:12 PM · Hi guys! So I understand that the title may be asking a lot. But I’m just curious on what you guys think. So I was wondering what is the hardest violin concerto, hardest opening to a concerto, and the hardest piece in general for a violin.

Thank you guys so much. And any opinion is wanted!

Replies (10)

January 2, 2020, 10:08 PM · Hardest opening: Beethoven.

The rest of the questions are subjective, I think, depending on your own weaknesses as a player.

January 2, 2020, 10:51 PM · Hardest opening: Wieniawski 1

Hardest concerto: Ginastera

Edited: January 3, 2020, 1:57 AM · One of my favorite articles on this exact subject by a brilliant violinist: https://www.natesviolin.com/violin-concerto-toughest-opening/
Obviously, totally subjective, but I agree with his comments and I love his wit.
January 3, 2020, 3:06 AM · I agree with Julie. I saw a Facebook ad for this video masterclass thingy on my newsfeed. So I decided to click on it. The teacher said in the ad, by ‘knowing octave scales’, he didn’t need to practice the opening of the Beethoven, because it was ‘in his hands.’ He then proceeded to play the opening of the Beethoven, completely out of tune.
January 3, 2020, 3:23 AM · Clara - good article by Nate - thanks for that link. But he's omitted the Nielsen concerto - one chord intro then a big and difficult-sounding cadenza. I'd be interested to know where a top violinist would rank that.
January 3, 2020, 8:58 AM · I actually think it is really hard to start the Mendelssohn. You have almost no introduction and you have to play pristinely in tune in the key of e minor with all your ringing tones and shifts perfect.

Hardest: Ligeti maybe? But sometimes it is hard to tell if it is just hard or weird.

January 3, 2020, 10:06 AM · Toughest openings: Dvorak and Mendelssohn...probably followed by Mozart 4.

My two cents, of course.

Edited: January 3, 2020, 11:34 AM · Different for every player depending on your strengths, both physical and mental.

I 100% second the Nathan Cole article, not least because he is a player that has probably actually had to PERFORM all of the listed concertos and can speak from the experience. People may disagree with his scale here or there, and you may as well, but everything on there has its own bit of logic and thought and experience.

That being said, I saw an interview once (I want to say it was Ehnes but I could be remembering poorly) that said that opening of Tchaikovsky is way harder than it gets credit for when you have to play it in a concert hall and convincingly hit over a full symphonic tutti while making it sound super elegant until you hit the subject.

In my personal experience as an amateur, given the pool of rep I have played, it's got to be Mozart 4. Blehhhhh.

As to what is the hardest concertos, it's probably one of the less-tonal modern ones like Schoenberg or Britten, but I've never heard either performed or even really talked about, so I can't speak. I certainly can't play at that level.

Edited: January 3, 2020, 3:42 PM · I like Nate's article. Obviously, there will be a few who pick nits based on their own strengths and weaknesses.

I had a teacher who refused any further contact with the Dvorak because it was "a hard m%)(*f869094." He could play anything he wanted, actually, but that run on the first page never sounded right to him.

And his teacher, Heifetz's, comment on the Mendelssohn shouldn't be forgotten. Apart from transparency and very little room for fudging, it provides very little of the obvious technical anchors. Going from second, to fourth, to 6th position in the very first phrase can leave one at sea.

Edited: January 3, 2020, 6:31 PM · In my personal opinion, I think Wieniawski (excuse my spelling) 1st concerto is the hardest with those tenths and just how fiendishly difficult it is. But I also wouldn’t doubt Beethoven! Those octaves can be a pain to get in tune sometimes XD

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