The 100 Hardest Violin Pieces

Edited: April 18, 2021, 11:39 AM ·
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbS5Z3mqs4Q

A fairly approximate ranking of the major violin repertoire. Hopefully there aren't too many controversial choices

Replies (11)

Edited: April 19, 2021, 9:35 AM · Just a one word response......wow !!!!
(feel free to multiply that response by 100)
Edited: April 20, 2021, 7:39 PM · Nice List. I was encouraged that some pieces that are beyond my abilities are considered "most difficult". And puzzled that some pieces that I can play are on the list. Of course, concertos by Mozart and Beethoven require an extra level of technical control.
Modern violin concertos have the extra difficulty of tuning and memorizing in a non-chordal context.
Edited: April 21, 2021, 1:19 AM · Must have been a nightmare to put together! Good effort. There are a ton of things that I disagree with though.

Here goes:
-The generalization of Paganini's caprices (there are some really easy ones, No. 14 and 13 for example)
-Wieniawski VC 1 is easier than Paganiniana?!
-Barber concerto needs to have a higher number because it is not harder than the Mendelssohn E minor!
-Khachaturian needs to have a higher number than the Mendelssohn.
-And actually, most of my complaints lie with the high number of the Mendelssohn. Its difficulty is underestimated. Due to the oversaturation, it is hard to find any soloist who plays it in a compelling manner. It is also really hard technically. Heifetz once said that the beginning is the hardest to play in tune.

I do realize the immense effort put into creating a list like this, and I definitely appreciate and applaud your effort regardless.

April 20, 2021, 3:30 PM · Your annotations are pretty interesting, but the actual ranking aspect seems pretty arbitrary. I agree with Mike's points.

Also, are the Cage etudes even music, just because someone with too much time on their hands actually called Cage's bluff and decided to try and record them? They seem like more of a conceptual artwork, like "look at the calligraphy on this page".

Edited: April 20, 2021, 5:13 PM · Those square root symbols are either that or somebody's heart flatlining from the terrible noises.

April 21, 2021, 5:55 PM · It seems to me that the first couple are "hard" JUST because they're fast. Fast doesn't have to be difficult. Two Set always say "if you can play it slow, you can play it quick"
April 23, 2021, 12:16 PM · I did perform one on the list, Brahms Op 100, virtually no more unsuccessfully than anything else I've ever performed - it may have helped that I had the best pianist I've ever played with (a blind fellow student, named Tom). I never had occasion to perform the Cesar Franck, but I think I would have managed that too (I've played it through with, I think, a couple of pianists). I had two Mozart Concerto 1st movements to play for exams (III for Grade 7, and V for my AL).
I don't think I'd ever get anywhere near playing the Hora Staccato, except with separate bows or slurred.
Are the Chausson Poeme and The Lark Ascending really easier than what's on the list?
I note that OP has also compiled lists of the 100 Hardest Piano Works (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTWg-jHXOdU), and also of the 100 Hardest Piano Concertos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrBzppVWR48). Is he also a pianist?
Edited: April 27, 2021, 10:17 PM · I am indeed a pianist (in conservatory) but I played violin for 9 years and I played in the university orchestra.

Of course the ranking is very approximate and at times—as others have noted—arbitrary. I don't pretend to have learnt every piece on the list but they are simply very general levels of difficulty. What's more, even if I did learn all the pieces, everyone has a different conception of difficulty.

No.15 is obviously harder than No.60, but there is much less difference between, say, No.53 and No.58.

About Cage: They're music, but that doesn't mean they are "good" music. I personally wouldn't listen to them in my free time but no list of "hardest" violin works would be complete without them, because they are close to impossible.

April 27, 2021, 10:14 PM · The Chausson Poeme and The Lark Ascending are very close in difficulty to the first five works on the list. They could've made the list in all fairness, taking out Vivaldi and Novacek.
April 30, 2021, 8:24 AM · I would put Lark Ascending somewhere in the upper 80s myself, it's firmly in the "more difficult than it looks" category because it has a lot of extremely exposed perfect intervals.

Falla's Danse Espagnole, by contrast, I don't think should be in at all - it is easier than it looks (and it doesn't even look THAT bad...)

But it's a great list - lots of inspirational pieces as well as some weird and wacky ones!!

Edited: May 1, 2021, 4:10 PM · When I saw the title of this post I thought "yawn" but I just played the video and watched it the whole way through! Very interesting and entertaining video, many thanks for making it! With lots of discoveries!


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