Is The Berg Concerto acceptable for auditions and more?

December 13, 2022, 1:44 PM · Berg's Violin Concerto is my favorite piece in the repertoire. I would love to learn it and use it for various things, but I've never heard of that being played in auditions or seen it on repertoire lists. Additionally, I'm curious if it is a valid piece for concerto competitions in university. Obviously it's not something which is as easily performed convincingly as a romantic concerto. I would be curious to hear people's thoughts on its validity as a competition and audition piece. And if you've played it or know it well, how would you say it's difficulty compares to the big 5 concertos?

Replies (10)

December 13, 2022, 3:28 PM · Ryan, something as thorny and demanding of rehearsal as the Berg rules it out as an effective contest piece. The conductor will want cheap parts that are easy to obtain, and will likely allocate 40 minutes of rehearsal for a 25 minute concerto. Knowing that the conductor will almost certainly be on the panel, make their job easy and select a work in public domain that requires very little rehearsal.
December 13, 2022, 3:29 PM · I think with uni competitions and things, it may present a problem as I don't think its in the public domain, so will cost (potentially) a huge amount of money to perform it
December 13, 2022, 4:49 PM · I think it depends on the university in terms of a concerto competition. If we are talking a major conservatory, it might be doable. I would ask ahead of time, though. But at any other university, probably not. Personally, I don't think it makes a great audition piece.
December 13, 2022, 6:00 PM · The opening passage alone will put the jury in your corner.
December 13, 2022, 6:19 PM · Not recommended for auditions.
December 13, 2022, 6:48 PM · The Berg concerto is public domain almost everywhere outside the US.
December 15, 2022, 7:23 PM · Yep. Andrew Sords' comment holds true at the community orchestra level too.
Edited: December 19, 2022, 2:57 PM · If you love that piece, you can study it, anyway. Maybe you are lucky and find some opportunity to perform it, but be prepared that this might as well not happen.
I would never use it for an audition. You might have to audition with pianists without rehearsal, and this is why, in addition to Mozart, only 3-4 concertos are played. And also the panel knows those, very well.
It also looks a little bit odd: If someone is able to learn the Berg, then he should be able to prepare the “normal” concertos, as well. So, why doesn’t he and instead makes the process unnecessarily complicated?
If you want to prepare for a competition, then you can see what you need, for that. For an orchestra audition (at least, in Europe), you will need Brahms, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky (or Beethoven).
Depending on when you plan to do what, I highly recommend that you have one of those ready. In addition to that, you can learn the Berg and simply enjoy. And maybe one day embrace the luck of being able to perform it.
Edited: December 19, 2022, 9:25 PM · Seems to me that an audition isn't about what the player loves but what the jury loves. And if they hated any of the Big Five or Mozart 3/4/5 then probably they wouldn't have become violinists in the first place. Can you imagine someone on the jury for a violin competition saying, "You know, I've never really cared for the Sibelius Concerto."
December 19, 2022, 9:37 PM · An audition, at least one for a professional orchestra, is about finding the best violinist to fit in a section or a titled chair. The Berg concerto does not allow a violinist to demonstrate technique nearly as efficiently as some of the more popular choices.

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