Substantial violin duets?

June 4, 2021, 8:10 PM · Any thoughts on violin duets worth listening to for a semi-serious event? It is a university convocation honoring some mega donors-- there needs to be some kind of processional and recessional, and a bit in the middle of everything where there is nothing but music.

I was thinking the Handel/Halvorsen duo for beginning and end. It is enough of a march to be adaptable to people walking in and out. If need be, it can be repeated ad nauseum, and sections can be excised, the recessional can start partway in, etc.

The worry is getting something worth sitting through in the middle. Violin/viola is easy-- starting with Mozart. But two violins? Some of Chevalier de St George is OK, but it doesn't hold up to much scrutiny. Bartok would need a particular atmosphere that probably won't apply here.

Ideas and disagreements welcome.

Replies (29)

June 4, 2021, 8:21 PM · I would suggest Mazas, op 36 (I think). Its sort of quartety (not sure how to describe)
June 4, 2021, 9:30 PM · Spohr, he wrote tons of violin duets. I particularly like op.67 no.2

Check out Bériot too.

June 4, 2021, 10:32 PM · Telemann Canonic Duos. They’re lovely, as long as both violinists can count.
June 4, 2021, 11:23 PM · Bach of course. Nobody will miss the orchestra
June 5, 2021, 12:18 AM · There is a transcription of Bach's 2 part inventions for vln/vla
June 5, 2021, 1:17 AM · In addition to the Canonic Sonatas, Telemann wrote Sonatas for Two Flutes or Violins TWV 40:101-106. These are standard repertoire for recorder players, but I've met few violinists who are familiar with them.
June 5, 2021, 2:03 AM · In addition to a further vote for the Telemann canons, I'd suggest Boccherini op. 5. There are also some nice duos by Simon LeDuc, but I can't give details as my copy is packed away somewhere. They are 'genuine' duos, not stuff in parallel thirds as is the way with many French composers of the era.
June 5, 2021, 3:03 AM · ...and the duos by Jean-Marie Leclair.
June 5, 2021, 3:51 AM · I have a serious duo in 2 movements which I always like to share, not exactly substantial timewise though...

June 5, 2021, 6:16 AM · Greetings,
There is always the hardcore stuff like Sarasate Navara and Wieniawski. I believe there are some rather nice duets by Shostakovich and deBeriot.
June 5, 2021, 11:28 AM · The Spohr is seriously chuncky stuff - not the sort of music you pull out at the end of a lesson for a sightread, and more suited for concerts. Telemann Gulliver Suite is fun in concert, and you can insert short extracts of Gulliver's Travels in between the movements. Andreas Romberg duets are completely unknown if you want something unusual.
Edited: June 5, 2021, 12:23 PM · Nothing to add, but... why would you want to switch from Vln/Vla (Haendel/Halvorsen Passacaglia) to Vln/Vln? Especially if you think it's easier to find suitable Vln/Vla duets?
June 5, 2021, 12:52 PM · Shostakovich, Five Pieces for Two Violins. I'm not sure if these are doable without piano, but they're lovely.
June 5, 2021, 1:53 PM · Border Crossings, composed for Concerts for Compassion, for 2 violins. Performed by Mariella Haubs and Jocelyn Zhu. If anyone enjoys, the score is available on my website.

June 5, 2021, 4:01 PM · Thanks, all! Some great suggestions to track down.
June 5, 2021, 4:46 PM · I also thought about Telemann. My book says: Sonatas for two flutes or two violins op.2.
Really lovely peaces to play. Not very difficult and most people enjoyed them, also the not-classical-listeners
June 6, 2021, 6:47 AM · Spohr wrote sets of duos really meant for concert performance by him and a peer. I am familiar with the three duos opus 67. On YouTube you find Perlman and Zukerman play these, for example. The first duo even has tenths!
June 6, 2021, 10:21 AM · The Perlman/Zukerman videos are a good source, in general. And on IMSLP, I found some 2-part Invention transcriptions.
June 6, 2021, 3:13 PM · What does "Substantial" mean in the context of your question? The term is subjective so it only means what you want it to mean. The responses are equally subjective to the skills, talents and training of the respondents.

The practicality is a better approach based on the relative skills of the two violinists/musicians who would learn and play the duets.

Are you looking for a challenge, performance pieces, pieces to record, pieces to challenge/develop you collective skills,...? Answering those questions will give all of us a better idea of what to recommend.

Without contest the responses will be about duets the respondent likes or thinks answers your question.

June 6, 2021, 3:36 PM · There are so few good violin duets that any feedback is welcomed. I am still finding out the exact nature of the event. It will be a moderately sophisticated audience but in an unconventional setting not completely devoted to music.
Edited: June 7, 2021, 9:01 AM · My brother and his wife own Hegeduduok Violin Duos, published in 1976 in Budapest. Contents are short, dating from 16th to early 19th century, including composers as obscure as Praetorius, Couperin, Telemann, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert ... Transcribing for violin and cello is on my to-do list (and might remain there if lockdown disappears completely).
Strangely, the English are entirely unrepresented in that book. You are welcome to rearrange my pretty difficult viola solo Dowland's Melancholy Galliard to something much easier for two instruments.
June 7, 2021, 7:49 AM · Gaetano Pugnani wrote some duets that sound very nice.
June 7, 2021, 8:07 AM · I think "substantial" in this context means:
Not Pleyel.
Not Hal-Leonard arrangements of Disney tunes.
June 7, 2021, 12:06 PM · That's a nice definition, Paul, succinct and objective!

I have enjoyed this discussion and learnt quite a few things. Raymond - thanks for the tip about Gaetano Pugnani. I had never heard of him and have found some recordings on YouTube this afternoon. Wonderful!

John, I have a copy of that collection: many enjoyable things there.

Best wishes all!

June 7, 2021, 12:07 PM · I really like James's duets. Those sound like a lot of fun to play.
June 7, 2021, 12:12 PM · I'll second that, Raymond! Stanley's 'Border Crossings' too. I also want to have a hunt for violin/violin transcriptions of some of the two-part inventions.
June 7, 2021, 5:11 PM · James Woodrow-- do you know where to find Romberg's music? Seems to be very much out of print and circulation.
Edited: June 9, 2021, 1:46 PM · Hi. IMSLP 'Andreas Romberg' - go to collections and the duets are there. A not very well known composer. A couple of concertos and sonata recordings out there. I think I was the first person to play the complete accompanied sonatas.
June 10, 2021, 7:31 AM · What Opus are the solo sonatas?

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