What to play after Bach A minor (recurrent theme, I know...)

December 20, 2021, 5:18 AM · Hi all, my daughter just turned 10 and has finished Suzuki book 6. She is now studying the Bach A minor concerto (she already performed the first movement almost a year ago) and has performed a few other pieces, such as Souvenir de Sarasate.

For her next piece, the teacher wants her to choose among Accolay, Czardas, Haydn G major, Mozart 2, Viotti 23 (for the last three, only the first movement). I know similar questions have been asked many times and I've read the threads, but any help in choosing is appreciated. Some questions on our mind:
- How would you rank in difficulty the three classical concertos?
- Is Viotti 23 considered essential and why?

Thank you.

Replies (28)

December 20, 2021, 6:16 AM · My daughter played Viotti 23 then Bach A minor
Edited: December 20, 2021, 6:32 AM · Haydn G would be typical.
If you search "violin repertoire" you'll find Mimi Zweig's list, which usually has Delay's attached.
I think my daughter did Mozart 3, then 5, rather than 2. They are the last couple books of Suzuki as I remember.
I believe my daughter did Bach E Major after A minor. She skipped Viotti 23.
Both of her teachers have been adamant about her learning entire concertos rather than single movements. The Mozart's are not in order of difficulty.: I think it is typically 3 than 5 than the others......
Just a parent.
December 20, 2021, 7:46 AM · If your daughter is already so advanced at age 10 she must have a very good teacher. If that teacher now lets her choose, she probably means your daughter can listen to the options and just pick what she likes. So I wouldn't fret on what is the smartest pedagogical choice, as the teacher must have taken that into account already and lets your daughter choose! Sorry to give my frank opinion.
December 20, 2021, 9:13 AM · From a pedagogical standpoint, I would probably say Haydn then Accolay then Viotti. Haydn is pretty easy apart from the cadenza, but is critical in teaching classical style. Accolay is a lot of fun but definitely has more shifting and double stops. I would recommend completing the full concertos -- learning the slow movements is actually quite important, and the third movements often have interesting technique as well.
December 20, 2021, 9:13 AM · From a pedagogical standpoint, I would probably say Haydn then Accolay then Viotti. Haydn is pretty easy apart from the cadenza, but is critical in teaching classical style. Accolay is a lot of fun but definitely has more shifting and double stops. I would recommend completing the full concertos -- learning the slow movements is actually quite important, and the third movements often have interesting technique as well.
December 20, 2021, 9:43 AM · Nothing is "essential". The teaching order of a given tier of the intermediate repertoire doesn't really matter that much, as long as the skills are covered.

I do think that it's important to play all three movements of a concerto. (Viotti 23's best movement is its third movement, in my opinion.)

Csardas is fun, and it's a piece that most players will want in their repertoire, as it's the kind of thing that's easy to pull out when you want to show someone that you can play the violin. So of that bunch, that would be my pick for nonpedagogical reasons.

Edited: December 20, 2021, 4:56 PM · Not Accolay. IMO its an awful piece that is really a bunch of oddities strung together with no real musical purpose other than survival. For musical value (and hence fun playing) I would rank the Haydn far above the Viotti - but both have their teaching value. Mozart 2 is, I think, much harder than the others and not my choice to start studying his concertos. Of the four the Haydn and Mozart may figure in one's future repertoire.

Else just what Lydia said about the Csardas. What a great piece to let go and channel your inner Roma!

December 20, 2021, 5:07 PM · I learned the Haydn as a kid (just a little bit younger than the OP's kid) and found it enjoyable, but it's not a great show-off piece that will make a kid feel like a "real violinist" (and it's not impressive for most competitions).
December 20, 2021, 7:42 PM · How about the Bach E Major Concerto or Mozart Concerto #2?
Edited: December 20, 2021, 10:16 PM · I agree with Elise that Accolay is not fine literature. But the thing is that kids enjoy playing it and performing it.

When I read the list in your original post, I thought, "Hmm. Good pieces... do them all!" But if choices must be made, my preferences lean toward the Haydn and the Czardas. The little cadenza by Kuchler that is often provided with the Haydn can be a challenge for a student who has not much experience with double stops, but fortunately it is very short. Student: practice slowly. Parent: Be patient.

When you are in range of the Mozart 3 and 5, you will find Viotti No. 22 nearby. The No. 23 is a predictable slog. No. 22 is a charming, well-constructed work. My opinion, of course. Here is a version that I like very much, with a lesser-known female violinist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1f7mK6USW8

I listened to Mozart 2 (Arthur Grumiaux, link below) and although I've never worked on it, it doesn't look or sound any easier than No. 3. The No. 3 sits on a very high pedestal among violinists and violin teachers, which has some disadvantages.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaIuSAZd2uo

The last piece in Suzuki Book 7 is the "Corelli Allegro." I recommend this lovely work to any student. It is a nice workout for the fourth finger. Put it in the etude category if you will, but it's a particularly fine one.

Another piece to consider before Mozart 3 is the Beethoven Romance Op. 50 in F Major. But I would definitely do the Haydn first.

Be sure to check back when your daughter reaches the "Bruch Level."

December 21, 2021, 8:10 AM · Both the Czardas and the Souvenir de Sarasate were pieces my daughter loved learning and gave her a feeling of accomplishment to learn and perform. In part because they are "likable" and seem impressive to a general audience.
December 21, 2021, 10:32 AM · Thanks everybody, I appreciate the replies. After reading them and listening again to everything with my daughter, we are leaning towards Haydn G major or Mozart 2, and possibly Czardas right after.

The first movement of Mozart 2 seems to me a bit harder technically than that of the Haydn, but not that much (I'm just an intermediate late starter). Musically we both really like both, maybe the Haydn more.

Yes, a full concerto would be ideal. One reason why the teacher is suggesting a single movement is that my daughter will also be studying (and memorizing) various Suzuki book 7 pieces, but the main reason is that she'll perform the chosen piece (with piano accompaniment or possibly with orchestra) at a couple of events in which other students will play, and a whole concerto is too long (especially the Viotti). Also, it may be pushing the limits of her stamina and concentration.

Jean, indeed the teacher is excellent and I trust her completely. But my daughter is asking for my help in choosing. I'm still quite involved (hopefully for not much longer!) in her practice. The choice is hers but if I like the piece, all the better for me!

Matthew, I did search various lists, usually these pieces are grouped together and when they are not, their placement changes from list to list. For exemple in Mimi Zweig's list all the four concertos are suggested as complementary material for book 8, and Czardas for book 6 (strangely there are no suggestions for book 7), while the european Suzuki association lists Accolay and Haydn for book 7, and Czardas for book 8. And yes, my daughter loved playing Souvenir de Sarasate too and it was a big success.

Nate, she's played a lot of Bach and baroque (and will continue to do so, as Suzuki books 7 and 8 are still heavily baroque), so better pospone the Bach E major. Mozart 2 is one of the suggestions of the teacher. It does seem a bit harder than the Haydn, and there is more dialogue with the orchestra.

Elise, I agree with you about the Accolay. Yet, some parts of it are strangely catchy...

Paul, thanks for the suggestions for future repertoire. I'm also underwhelmed by Viotti 23. The first movement has a couple of nice themes but the rest feels to me redundant and disconnected. I wouldn't want to listen to it every day for two months. On the other hand I just listened to Viotti 22, in the recording you posted. Beautiful music, especially the orchestral opening! That's a piece I would love hearing around the house.

Lydia, Czardas is indeed fun! As I said maybe the best solution is to learn both Haydn G major and Czardas, which are also the shorter two pieces of the bunch, or maybe Mozart 2 and Czardas.

December 21, 2021, 2:02 PM · thanks for getting back to us Erik, all my best wishes!
December 21, 2021, 4:06 PM · Elise, I take offense to that. I like Accolay. It's fun. It's not like "boy paganini" is fine literature either.
December 21, 2021, 11:41 PM · If this will be with orchestra, I'd strongly suggest the Haydn G, which has nicely transparent, straightforward orchestral accompaniment. It can be done with a string orchestra.
December 22, 2021, 12:22 AM · Roy Sonne has done a nice little commentary about the opening of the Accolay on youtube.
Cheers,
Buri
Edited: December 22, 2021, 6:18 AM · Roy Sonne has a whole 4-part masterclass on the Accolay, his videos are full of warmth, generosity, modesty, and feeling, but with very clear explanations, and firm exhortations! This is really the teacher you want and the way he looks at you while playing is priceless! He has many other such masterclass videos. What a great service to the community.
December 22, 2021, 6:11 PM · My daughter did haydn and accolay and they both propelled her to the next level. I would enthusiastically vote for doing those 2 first, especially not skipping over accolay. Your daughter will learn and reinforce a lot of technique with that piece. In contrast, Czardas is not nearly as important pedagogically even though it's going to be more fun. Viotte 22 is harder than the ones you mentioned.
December 22, 2021, 8:25 PM · Oh heck I like playing Accolay, and I'm supposed to be a grownup musician! All good choices, but I do think Viotti would be the most difficult. I'd say make sure there is a good balance between challenge, motivation and fun.
December 22, 2021, 8:58 PM · Greetings,
I also think the Accolay is worth doing and, as Laurie noted, Viotti 22 is actually rather difficult. It’s borderline mainstream repertoire which was highly rated by DeLay (among others) as a higher level technique builder. Comparisons with Viotti 23 will probably not be too enlightening. 22 was played on the concert stage rather a lot in the past . Kreisler, Spalding and Shumsky , not to mention Perlman very now and again….
23 was set as an entrance piece to the guildhall School 30 odd years ago. I hope they have higher standards now. Having said that, I actually do like it quite a lot. It also has enormous pedagogic value without being as difficult to pull off as 22. It can grow on you if you try and play it with all the passion and devotion that you would pour into it if it was the Beethoven concerto.
Rode no 7 is also a fantastic piece for around this kind of level. Wieniawski thought enough of that work he wrote a cadenza for it which is also worth learning…
Cheers,
Buri
December 22, 2021, 10:21 PM · I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I agree with the people above. I would do Haydn G major and then Accolay A minor. I also like the Accolay concerto. I think it's quite charming as it's one of those first concertos that gets students playing in a more Romantic style as opposed to the more Classical style like Haydn.
December 23, 2021, 5:53 PM · I hate to sound grouchy but those intermediate pieces were not fun. My daughter's teacher made sure she knew how to play them but I don't remember spending much time on them except for Haydn in G which she polished for audition. Haydn did help prepare her for Mozart concerti so that'd be my suggestion.

The shorter showpieces kept her going, I think.

December 23, 2021, 6:23 PM · I think Haydn and Accolay are both good choices and fun to play. There are some questions around the authorship of the Haydn; honestly to my ears, I don’t quite hear Haydn’s voice in this piece. But it’s wonderful music nonetheless with a good dose of bravura and wit.

The Accolay sounds very French to me; it reminds me of Massenet in particular.

December 24, 2021, 3:51 PM · Actually, Haydn's voice evolved over the years. Compare the G-major concerto's first movement with those of the C-Major and even the A-Major concerto, the C-Major cello concerto (the one that Rostropovich used to champion) or the first movements of most of the quartets from op. 9 or 17. You'll see that this type of slowish allegro with lots of 32nds and dotted rhythms in it is quite typical of early Haydn. Plus the adagio is so beautiful that only someone of Haydn's caliber could have written it.
Edited: December 24, 2021, 11:10 PM · My little one is more about modern pieces and she struggles to connect to early music. Her attitude/reaction basically was, "it's pretty music that's easy to play but that's so BORING." She was not at all happy that her teacher chose it as an audition piece.

I think the entire episode was a life lesson for her as a person and as a young musician.

Anyhow, daughter played all the pieces in the original post including all movements on the concertos. Mozart #2 is harder than the other 2, IMHO. Around this age, it's good to read as much music as possible. Violin duets or piano sonatas would be nice too.

December 24, 2021, 5:44 PM · Greetings,
Kiki, I think that is a crucial point here. Anyone can recommend a fairly reliable order for beginner to intermediate pieces but, it is the teacher who really knows if the student needs to knuckle down and learn how difficult baroque/classical technique is or leave the imperfections aside for the moment and push the child’s technique hard while playing on a general tendency to want to show off on the violin. Balancing these things is the hallmark of a good teacher.
Cheers,
Buri
January 2, 2022, 10:28 AM · Well, she's been learning the Haydn for a couple of weeks and enjoying it quite a bit! I think it will done soon and then on to Czardas. Kiki, funny you should say that, my daughter actually likes baroque and classical more than modern music. I tried to get her to play some jazzy pieces but no chance.
January 6, 2022, 4:35 PM · It sounds like she enjoyed Haydn. Czardas is a fun piece to learn.

My daughter was a huge jazz fan as a baby and she still likes to listen to it but she isn't so interested in learning how to play it either on violin or piano. It's funny how their music taste evolves.

Looking back, I really think the intermediate years were more about covering as much music as possible to get ready for the next stage well prepared. It sounds like that's what your daughter's teacher is doing.

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