Violin and Viola

April 3, 2021, 11:09 AM · What pieces do you recommend for violin and viola that are intermediate to advanced difficulty?

Replies (25)

April 3, 2021, 11:48 AM · Michael Haydn Duets for Violin and Viola. (Mozart completed the set of 6 with two of his own as MH had become an alcoholic and was unable to complete the set).
Edited: April 3, 2021, 1:05 PM · The Handel-Halvorsen duo has some advanced moments, some more intermediate.

Otherwise, Mozart is the go-to in this lineup.

April 3, 2021, 11:55 AM · I would second the Michael Haydn suggestion. I know of some by Spohr and Robert Fuchs, but I am unsure of their difficulty
April 3, 2021, 12:20 PM · The violin duets I have played by Spohr (who incidentally invented the chinrest) are very hard. I don't know the violin/viola duets though.
April 3, 2021, 12:27 PM · I can imagine they would be haha. His vln/vla duo is op 13 if you wanna check it out. Ignaz Pleyel has 2 sets of duos as well (1 set of 3, another of 6). Again, however, I'm unsure of the difficulty of them
April 3, 2021, 12:53 PM · Sibelius also has a nice little piece for vln/vla in C major. It was used as a teaching tool by him I believe
April 3, 2021, 1:05 PM · There's a set of Carl Stamitz duos whose difficulty I would rate at upper intermediate to lower advanced.
April 3, 2021, 1:07 PM · I think Janine Jansen recorded the 2- and 3-part Inventions of Bach. Not sure if there is a good published source for that, or if she converted the left hand to viola clef herself.
April 3, 2021, 1:16 PM · Stepehn there are IMC editions of Bach's 2 & 3 part inventions. At least there is for the 2 part as I own it aha
Edited: April 3, 2021, 1:27 PM · Given how much I trust IMC, might be worth getting a look at the Baerenreiter or Henle edition of the keyboard part, just to be sure you don't want to make changes.
Edited: April 3, 2021, 1:23 PM · Having a look through my sheet music collection, Fuchs also has 2 terzets (op.61) for 2 violins and viola. Havibg a look through the parts, I'd say its upper intermediate-low advanced. Same goes for his op 60, which is 12 duos for vln/vla which I have also just found
April 3, 2021, 2:06 PM · Joseph Haydn also.
And Hoffmeister.
April 3, 2021, 2:24 PM · The 2 part Bach Inventions are available on IMSLP arranged for violin-viola as are a good number of other Bach works. Do a search for "violin, viola arr)
And off course the Mozart kv 423 and 424 duos are among the best for these instruments.
There is also a collection of 6 duos from the second part of the 18th century by an unknown composer which were found in the University Library in Lund. They are quite nice and with at least as much to do for the viola as the violin. Also available on IMSLP - edited by Johan Tufvesson.
Mozarts 12 horn duos have also been transcribed for violin-viola as has the Beethoven sonata for basoon and cello.
Edited: April 3, 2021, 2:47 PM · Spohr's op. 13 is a very nice piece. It is however full of double stops in both instruments--though I would judge it to be a little less difficult technically than most of his duos for 2 violins.

The 2 duos by Mozart are extremely rewarding and easier than the Spohr though not exactly easy (harder than most parts in Mozart's chamber music) but I would still rank them as "intermediate to advanced".

Edited: April 3, 2021, 3:40 PM · For those who like the Passacaglia by Handel-Halvorsen, its sister work, the Sarabande con Variazioni in D minor by Handel-Halvorsen, might also be worth a try. It's also available on IMSLP.

And one of my absolute favorites for these two instruments: the three duos (E-flat/F/b minor) by Franz Alexander Pössinger, an Austrian contemporary of Beethoven. Almost as good as the Mozart duos and much better than the ones by Haydn. And yes, the Spohr duo is lovely music, too.

April 3, 2021, 3:54 PM · 3 Madrigals by Martinu, originally intended for Josef and Lillian Fuchs. I had that one ready to go for a concert a year ago, then the virus shut-down hit.
April 3, 2021, 4:01 PM · Joel, I was under the impression the madrigals were really difficult? I may be wrong though
April 3, 2021, 4:07 PM · The Martinu Madrigals are not easy, but if I can play the viola part, they could not be that difficult. The hardest part for me was all the double-stops with added trills, in the second movement;-tedious and hard to tune. Page turns are a problem.
April 3, 2021, 7:31 PM · It may be possible to play a lot of baroque duos (like Bach double concerto), and since the fingerboard was shorter back then, it probably won't exceed the viola's range.
April 4, 2021, 12:26 PM · The 2nd part the two Bach doubles are playable on viola.
Edited: April 5, 2021, 7:26 PM · If you have not played Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante you are in for a treat. It does have a piano or orchestral accompaniment. Although the violin and viola parts sound of equal difficulty, the viola part is actually easier because it requires less shifting. Being in Eb Major it is relly the best key for viola playing (in my opinion) but some people retune the viola to play scordatura in a different key - for me and my viola that makes no sense. I've only ever played the viola solo part with a violinist and piano accompaniment but our chamber orchestra was rehearsing it when COVID-19 struck last year (I was not one of the soloists for that, just one of the tutti 1st violinists.

Honestly, to me this is one of those pieces that came down to us from Heaven to bless humankind.

April 5, 2021, 7:45 PM · Ya know, I was just thinking about how the Erbarme Dich, from Bach's St. Matthew's Passion could be done completely straightforwardly between keyboard, violin and viola (or two violins, but the timbre might be nice). The viola could play the alto part and you wouldn't need any transcription at all.
April 5, 2021, 9:30 PM · Good call!
April 6, 2021, 3:26 PM · I have found it easy to read the gamba duo facsimiles of Couperin, Sainte-Colombe etc on violin and viola. Often the facsimiles have alto clef and bass clef, which being a fifth apart, can be read directly as treble and alto clefs, only needing new key signatures.
April 6, 2021, 4:09 PM · If you are looking at baroque violin-duets and thinking of playing them on violin-and-viola, note that sometimes the first violin part will make relatively sparse use of the G string, in which case the piece can be transposed down a fifth so that the violist is not deprived of the use of his or her C string. Every kid learns how to play "down a string" so they can have Twinkle play-ins with their cellist classmates.


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