Juilliard Audition

January 4, 2021, 10:19 PM · I was just curious and wanted to get some info on the repertoire performed when audition for the Juilliard school in New York City. What did you play?(what concerto, solo Bach, work after 1960, pag caprice, etc.) And were you accepted? Thank you!

Replies (29)

January 5, 2021, 12:49 PM · My son is only a sophomore, so he is just starting to think about this. But I can share the pieces the other kids in his program played to audition for Juilliard (and most were accepted).

Concertos: the ones I recall from the past few years include Dvorak, Korngold, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, and Paganini.

Modern work: some of the ones I have heard recently include Lutoslawski Subito, Red Violin Caprices, and Piazzolla Tango Etudes.

Solo Bach: Really anything goes here, though most avoid Partita 3. I would say most of the kids I know did Sonata 1, 2, or 3. Partita 1 is problematic for auditions because of the doubles and Partita 2 is either easy (first few movements) or very hard and long (Chaconne).

Paganini Caprice: In this category I would say it is more about what not to play than what to play. I wouldn't play 13, 14, or 16, as these are considered the "Easy" caprices. There are a few others that are also a bit too one-dimensional to be good choices (like #6 or #12 for example). And I would probably avoid 24 as well. Other than that, lots of good options. 9, 11, 15, and 18 seem to be favorites around here.

Edited: January 5, 2021, 12:56 PM · One thing to consider: I have had two teachers refuse to teach me the Dvorak Concerto without my even asking.

One (and this is a wonderfully equipped Gingold, Heifetz, and Milstein student) because there is a nasty lick at the end of the first page that he could never get to sound to his satisfaction. His actual explanation was not completely family-friendly.

More importantly, the other said it was because he would be bored beyond belief. At his school, Dvorak had just become a popular piece for auditions, and it was hard to make a jury interested in it any more.

Take that for what it is worth.

PS: I don't think this is true any more, but it wasn't so long ago that Curtis Institute required one of 23 Paganini Caprices. 16 was forbidden.

January 5, 2021, 2:43 PM · Wow Susan your answer was exactly what I was looking for, I’m currently a freshman in high school working on the bruch concerto and hope that I’m going to be able to get myself up too that “level” around when I go off to school.
January 5, 2021, 2:48 PM · Do you think something like vieuxtumps, or prokofiev would fair well in an audition?
January 5, 2021, 3:07 PM · I hope you get in. Then you can be like her:

January 5, 2021, 4:31 PM · Hi Aidan!
My son went through the audition process last year. His audition repertoire was Brahms Concerto, Paganini #20, Schoenfeld's Samba from Four Souvenirs, and Bach Sonata #2.

Other pieces that were part of the "audition" tour were: Ravel Tzigane, Beethoven Sonata #4, Paganini #10, Mozart #4, and scales and arpeggios. It was a lot of repertoire to keep fresh over the five-week span of auditions.

One thing to keep in mind, Juilliard (along with NEC, Colburn and Curtis) do require you to hire a pianist to play for the audition. If he were to do it again, he would have chosen an unaccompanied work to play for the piece after 1960. It was challenging to find a pianist who was willing to learn the Schoenfeld. (only needed for Juilliard) They spent a fair amount of time rehearsing and it was not asked for in the audition. Most will say the after 1960's piece is not asked for during the audition. However, it still must be prepared to performance level.

In the end, he had many great choices. He is now studying at NEC.

Hope that helps.

January 5, 2021, 4:38 PM · Is where I'm at(Mozart and Bruch gm) too far of a stretch to get to the big concertos like Paganini, Tchaikovsky, and Sibelius in 4 years? I feel that I won't be good enough to even be considered at Juilliard, MSM, NEC, etc.
January 5, 2021, 5:49 PM · To add more context to your question, Aidan:

In August 2020 you posted you had just finished learning the Accolay. Your teacher apparently assigned you Mozart 3 after that (according to your November 2020 post). And then you said you would be starting the Bruch soon.

I think the answer to this question is very dependent upon your level of preparedness for the Bruch. I think given the other repertoire you listed in your previous posts, the Accolay-to-Mozart 3 progression seemed right on target. I imagine that DeBeriot 9, Viotti 22, or Kabalevsky would be reasonable next choices, but your teacher might feel like you could stretch to do Bruch with enough work, support, and time -- especially if they only intend to teach the first movement and not the whole concerto.

You've noted that you've done a handful of Kreutzer etudes and at least one etude from Dont op. 37. Students fully ready for Bruch would have already done most of Kreutzer and probably have started working on the significantly more difficult Dont op. 35. It's possible that you've gotten advanced technical foundations in some other way, but it seems more reasonable to assume that you're not yet fully prepared the "Bruch level".

That suggests that you could be spending quite a bit of time learning the Bruch to a true performance level.

For a student fully prepared to learn the Bruch, a reasonable sequence is Bruch, Wieniawski 2 or Lalo, Mendelssohn, maybe one more concerto around that tier (say Saint-Saens 3 or Khachaturian). Then one tier up in concerto difficulty level -- Dvorak or Prokofiev, say. Tchaikovsky, Sibelius et.al. are a tier above that.

I don't think you have to play the most difficult concertos available but whatever you do play, you need to play with absolute command. It's not a question of whether you can get to this repertoire within your high school years, but rather how well you play that repertoire. You shouldn't rush through the repertoire sequence for the sake of rushing.

January 5, 2021, 5:53 PM · Greetings,
isn’t just looking at the repertoire these applicants are chewing up is terrifying. You sound like a very sensible person who is asking very realistic questions about their future in music. I would guess you are not that competitive in the pure violin realm where these days, 8 and 9 years old are eating the Paganini caprices for breakfast and finishing the major repetoire before they go to university. (‘finish’ is a slightly dubious term I suppose...)
So, instead of trying for what may be an impossible long shot (don’t forget , all these elite will have a hell of job getting work after they graduate in the current climate. It wasn’t easy before, but now it is just awful I think. Others jump in please!)
So, if you want a life in the violin, don’t give up but do a lot of reading and research about how the world has become. We are online, we are networking, new demands for unique jobs in music are emerging. So keep your focus on being the best violin you can but be smarter than those superstars and really explore the world until you find your niche. I think it will lead to a much happier life in the long run.
Edited: January 5, 2021, 6:18 PM · Sequentially, both kabalevsky and deberiot 9 come before most people are assigned their first Mozart concerto. One thing to keep in mind is that I have only been "playing" violin for a little bit less than 3 years, however I had played viola prior too and only very recently stopped. I had played through many etudes and pieces on viola up to hoffmeister(a classical concerto very similar to mozarts) so it was just a matter of putting in a little bit of extra work to "translate" the material learned on viola, for violin. Essentially what I'm saying is that I had already played through the deberiot and kabalevsky equivalents on viola.
January 5, 2021, 6:34 PM · I would say Prokofiev would be better received than Vieuxtemps, but either one would be OK if really well played. But I also think it will be hard to get to that level in the less than three years you have.

I think you have a long way to go if you are only at Bruch level as a freshman, but it isn't impossible. You might be more competitive for second or third tier schools, and there are plenty of good ones out there.

Edited: January 5, 2021, 6:39 PM · Keeping mind of semantics can help calibrate these kinds of discussions. When you say "ready for Bruch" that can mean two different things. If "doing a concerto" means preparing just the first movement, then Mozart 3 and Kabalevsky should put you on the doorstep of Bruch. Having done Viotti 22 also will help.

But if you are talking about whole concertos then please bear in mind that the third movement of the Bruch G Minor is a real beast, whereas the third movements of M3 and Kabalevsky are comparable to the respective first movements. I agree with Lydia that a steady diet of studies is called for, and they should be right at your technical limit, so that you are continually pushing that limit outward. As Buri has indicated, you're well behind where you need to be for Juilliard auditions on the usual schedule. You also need a teacher who is capable of preparing you, preferably as demonstrated by having prepared others, AND who is willing to invest himself/herself fully in that process.

January 5, 2021, 7:33 PM · At this level, I would consider viola and violin to be largely equivalent in technique. Hoffmeister is, afaik, an intermediate-level viola work. The equivalent of DeBeriot, Kabalevsky et.al. might be more along the lines of "Harold in Italy".

While where Mozart fits into a pedagogical sequence varies, it is indisputable that it doesn't use the same range of technique that DeBeriot 9 or Kabalevsky demands. Mozart concertos are transparent and have to be played precisely, but Mozart 3 does not, for instance, use the upper positions nor have the kind of double-stop demands of the Romantic violinist-composer concertos.

It's certainly possible. I learned the Mendelssohn one year, and then four major concertos in the next year, and then Tchaikovsky the year following that. But I came to the Mendelssohn having finished both Kreutzer and Dont op. 37, and we covered a good chunk of Dont op. 35 the following year. By the time you start the Bruch or similar work, your fundamental technique should probably be fully set.

Edited: January 5, 2021, 7:57 PM · Funny you mentioned Harold in Italy, I actually recorded the Aux montagnes movement for a competition back in October before I put viola down, it's one of my favorites! But overall I get what you are saying, I have progressed a lot since this time last year.(I was barely able to play Telemann, yikes) I spend a lot of time practicing and Im just going to see where things fall over the next couple years. haha in fact my profile picture was taken during that recording session.
January 5, 2021, 9:09 PM · Aidan - you might want to consider what Buri said. He is very knowledgeable and experienced and writes with your best interests at heart.
January 6, 2021, 7:33 AM · Some fine posts but not having read every word, I want to make sure that at least these points are made:

Contact Juilliard and any other school that you are considering and ask them what their requirements are. So many seem to be afraid to do this.

Have you talked with your teacher about this? That is your primary source.

Let’s say you manage to get in...Juilliard is not magic and not for everyone and you won’t turn into Itzhak Perlman or Harry Potter for that matter. It’s very competitive and not ideal for everyone. Read the book “Nothing But The Best”.

January 6, 2021, 10:20 AM · You might consider reading this sobering account of a 2004 study of classical musicians ten years after graduation from Julliard in 1994: https://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/12/arts/music/the-juilliard-effect-ten-years-later.html. About a quarter of the class were no longer working as musicians. And about another quarter of those with musical careers were not working at the elite level one would anticipate. It's rough for even those at the top of the heap.
Edited: January 7, 2021, 10:36 AM · Not knocking Jocelyn's recommendation, but I'll bet that a pretty fair fraction of folks with a PhD in physics are not working as physicists ten years later. That doesn't mean the education wasn't useful. I think if I had the stuff to get into Juilliard as a high-schooler I would consider it seriously despite all the "warnings" about the job market. Any kid who's bright enough to become a violinist of that caliber can shift gears to business administration, medicine, or law. Of course all of that depends on having pretty much bottomless financial resources to pay for your schooling, but generally speaking Juilliard violin students are not originating from the ranks of the working poor. With an undergraduate degree from Juilliard you can expect the same job opportunities that anyone would have coming from a state university with a humanities degree such as political science, philosophy, or sociology.
Edited: January 7, 2021, 1:16 PM · Paul, this was funny to me: Last summer I was talking with the university Comp Sci department here to get my high school senior son permission to enroll in a restricted-access course as a non-degree student. They asked about his interests - physics and engineering - and I told them that I am strongly encouraging a certificate-level background in Comp Sci as a very useful tool in whatever technical path he follows.

The undergrad counselor responded "Yes, we have a lot of physics PhDs here doing that so they can get a job". :-)

I'm personally having a hard time reconciling the difficult realities of a career in the performing arts right now with what to recommend for my younger child who could be conservatory path. I wish there were one or two slightly more accessible programs like Harvard-NEC where you earn both degrees without compromise.

Edit to add: the problem I see with with switching gears and studying business medicine or law after a conservatory degree is alluded to in the Times article. Except for the couple of kids in the graduating class who have immediate success, most folks are busting their butts preparing for auditions for years then having families as they approach 30. It doesn't leave much time for the switch until much later in life. Harvard-NEC leaves you in a better position for this switch since you already have a fairly prestigious undergrad degree; at least you end up on par with a college basketball or football player who graduates but doesn't end up playing professionally in the end.

January 7, 2021, 2:15 PM · High-prestige university / first-tier conservatory programs aren't all that uncommon. Off the top of my head:


And there are also double-major options at Johns Hopkins (Peabody), Northwestern, Oberlin, Indiana etc. And for a first-tier education and lesser-tier conservatory, there's places like Carnegie-Mellon. And the double major is a reasonable approach at many state universities, if you want to drop down a tier or two in prestige.

January 7, 2021, 6:44 PM · Harvard-NEC is different from what I can tell, for three years you are mostly focused on the undergrad program at Harvard, while taking lessons from NEC faculty but not working on a performance degree. Fourth year is a transition year with increasing music involvement and recitals. But I expect most of these kids have already completed at least a semester or more of college work as AP classes. Once the undergrad degree is complete, you work on a masters degree in performance.

With a dual major you are getting pulled in two different directions at once. My daughter's teacher has had kids at Northwestern which has one of the best cello pedagogues in the country as well as other excellent academic programs (e.g. good engineering school we looked at for my older kid), but not sure I can see most people being able to excel at both at the same time. Harvard-NEC seems a bit like having your cake and eating it too, but I have the idea that it's too difficult for most NEC (or Juilliard) kids to get accepted to.

January 7, 2021, 6:49 PM · @Stan I agree it's hard to do a second entire degree after you've completed one. One of my friends from college earned a PhD in chemistry and then entered medical school and got an MD, and he's still in private medical practice and generally enjoying it. Of course all of those "extended educations" are harder for anyone with a family or perhaps having "fecund thoughts."
Edited: January 7, 2021, 7:15 PM · I had to take my mother to a dental surgeon - this is someone who has done both dentistry and a medical degree. While we were working through consent forms , ( I had to sign on behalf of my mother, so had to produce a power of attorney document) he said he also had a law degree. When I expressed surprise with a flippant comment, he added that also played piano. This man has practice premises in cities an hours drive apart.
I later met someone who knew him, and surprise! He has no personal life.
Edited: January 8, 2021, 5:35 PM · Well, he does have a personal life; it's just devoted to productive "serious" hobbies. :-)

Stan, at the Ivy League schools, AP classes do not usefully count towards meeting graduation requirements. Credit is granted but it's usually so minor it might as well be nonexistent.

The real difference with the Harvard/NEC program is it's not a dual-major program or dual-bachelors program. It's a Harvard AB (BA) plus an NEC MM. Basically, you get to spend three years doing your Harvard degree while doing private lessons and such at NEC. Then you submatriculate at NEC, finishing up your Harvard degree in your 4th year while starting your master's at NEC, and the 5th year is dedicated to your master's. I imagine that because of this, you need to already be playing at a level where you can "coast", reducing your focus on music, for three years, and still expect to be playing at a level of an NEC MM admit by that time.

January 7, 2021, 10:06 PM · Oberlin’s program is double degree, not double major, and it is excellent.
Edited: January 8, 2021, 1:26 PM · It's important to understand, however, that a double degree does not mean 8 years of schooling or 30 credits every term because a lot of your general-education courses will double-count. The thing is that with a double-degree generally there are severe limits on that double-counting. This is why music performance is a good choice for a double degree, because music courses generally aren't going to count toward another program anyway (unless your other program is music education or such). What's always been unclear to me is whether the person on the receiving end of your transcript (when you apply for jobs) will be able to parse the difference between a double degree and a double major, and whether they will care. Sure, the double-degree is more rigorous but there are so many other things about you that I would expect to matter more -- like how well you play the violin if you're applying to an orchestra, or whether you have been productive in research if you're applying to graduate school in a STEM field (for example). Having said that, I would add that it's VERY hard to double major (or earn two concurrent degrees) in music performance together with any lab-intensive STEM field such as chemistry because of the time commitments and the schedule conflicts with labs.
January 8, 2021, 1:28 PM · In terms of a general CV, though, you will have two bachelor's degrees-- violin and, say, economics. If space is limited on the form, you could list the one that matters. And if an interviewer is confused, that is a chance to talk yourself up.
January 8, 2021, 2:32 PM · I do agree that having the two bachelor's degrees can hardly be a negative. The issue of being "overqualified" for any job or graduate program wouldn't apply.
January 11, 2021, 11:47 PM · Another extreme example would be: Albert Schweitzer. He had three earned doctorate degrees: Music, Theology, and Medicine.

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