Viola repertoire

August 31, 2023, 12:56 PM · Every day when I practice viola, I play a movement of one of Telemann's 12 Fantasies for Basse de Violle (viola transcription - and one movement of a Bach Cello Suite as sort of a warmup before playing the main music I am working on. I think I have had about enough of the Telemann Fantasies at this point, and would like to find something suitable as a substitute. I would be grateful for any ideas anyone has. Thanks so much!

Replies (22)

August 31, 2023, 1:15 PM · Tom, my "fun" warmup pieces on viola have been the ZELTER concerto and Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante. I just love them both!

I came to viola kind of late, 40 years ago and played it rarely for the first 30 years (probably a total of 100 hours including 7 performances). But during the past 10 years (excepting the COVID years) I practiced regularly and played it regularly in 2 (and sometimes 3) weekly or bi-weekly ensembles.

I have played the first 4 Bach Suites, Schubert Arpeggione Sonata and Elgar Cello Concerto on viola, all of which I had previously worked up on cello. I also had fun with Telemann and other Baroque composers when "my" pianist started to have hand arthritis problems and took up playing recorder for our weekly sessions.

August 31, 2023, 4:23 PM · @Andrew - thanks for the ideas. I am working on the Sinfonia Concertante because I have a violinist who is interested. But I do not consider that a "warmup" piece. I have also learned the Arpeggione (although I haven't played it in a few years), but again, not a warmup piece. I have never heard of the Zelter concerto, and I have not looked at Elgar. Again, these do not strike me as warmup pieces.

Do you have any particular Baroque pieces other than the Bach Suites and the Telemann Fantasies that would be good warmup material? thanks.

August 31, 2023, 6:33 PM · Eccles sonata or Bach Gamba sonatas. Also, there is a volume edited by Forbes called something like Baroque Pieces for Viola that has some nice intermediate level pieces.
September 1, 2023, 6:12 AM · @Susan - thanks for the suggestions. I do the Bach Gamba sonatas periodically. I am unfamiliar with the Eccles and the Forbes. I will look for them.
September 1, 2023, 9:11 AM · The JC Bach concerto (which is really by Casadesus) is fun.
September 1, 2023, 10:31 AM · Many of the Campagnoli etudes are fun, musical, and good warmups.
September 1, 2023, 1:11 PM · @Mary Ellen - would you say the JC Bach is a warmup piece? Thanks.

@Karl - thanks.

September 1, 2023, 1:16 PM · I can't say that the JC Bach concerto is a warm-up piece, but from what I can tell, it's probably technically easier than many of the Campagnoli caprices, although the caprices might be more warm-up piece like.
September 1, 2023, 3:19 PM · @Ella - thanks for you comment. I am going to look into the Campagnoli.
September 1, 2023, 8:31 PM · Anything can be a warm-up piece, depending on your needs and skill level.
September 1, 2023, 9:03 PM · Hmm. The Schumann Adagio and Allegro could make a nice warm-up piece.
September 2, 2023, 2:16 AM · @Andrew - adapts well, doesn't it? Makes me wonder about the KonzertstĂĽck for four horns...
September 2, 2023, 7:36 AM · For my level the Bach Gamba sonatas or any of the first four cello suites, although I don't choose the hardest movements. The Telemann that you mentioned should work fine though.
September 3, 2023, 2:57 AM · The Zelter is not too hard. That should do fine as "warm up" if thats what you want it for. It can work on a number of things
Edited: September 7, 2023, 12:09 PM · Mary Ellen, you mean the "Handel"-Casadesus (which passed as genuine Handel for many years, including when I was taught it) is NOT fun? I think it's a fine piece of work in its own right, even though its slow movement shares its first 7 notes with that of the Telemann in a similar way to Sibelius 1 sharing its first 7 notes with Borodin 1 (Actually, even when studying it, I was a bit suspicious of the last movement).

OP, Paul Doktor also published a book of viola pieces. You could also try any movement from the Märchenbilder, barring 3.

September 4, 2023, 12:37 PM · No, I mean the concerto attributed to JC Bach.

Edited: September 7, 2023, 5:27 PM · Mary Ellen, it seems I confused you by my parentheses. What I was actually asking was whether you meant that the "Handel"-Casadesus was NOT fun.
I can't imagine anyone these days even thinking of attributing a work like the one to which you directed me to J C Bach - It's far too deep musically, and the reappearance of the first movement theme at that end of the work is totally atypical of the period. And the minor key is pretty atypical for JCB.

C P E Bach, perhaps, because he composed with more depth and really was an innovator and I couldn't confidently put anything past him.

Edited: September 11, 2023, 12:07 AM · Hi Tom, I also often warm up viola playing a movement of the Bach suites. Another one that works well for me as a warm up is my transcription into alto clef of the Columbi Ciacona. I blogged about it ages ago, and last year got it out again and memorized it as a warm-up and something to play on the balcony. It's only a little over 2 minutes long but it hits a number of different techniques: arpeggios, string crossings, double stops.
September 11, 2023, 11:08 AM · @Karen - thanks so much for alerting me to the Columbia Ciaccona. I will see if I can find the transcription.
September 20, 2023, 9:56 AM · Perhaps I am a little slow on the uptake, but are the "warm-up pieces" you are referring to things that you choose AFTER scales, shifting exercises, etc-or are you launching into playing with Bach, for example, at the very beginning of your practice session?
Edited: September 20, 2023, 12:21 PM · For me "warm-up" involves what I do before practicing my current "target piece." I always start warm-up with scales and maybe some arpeggios and double stops. Some days Warm-up is all I do, just to see if I still can. (These days my "target piece" would be either a violin or viola part that I play in a weekly chamber orchestra [depending on who will be absent from the next rehearsal]. That's my only remaining outside "gig" and it is only about to restart after meager pickings during COVID.)

At my advanced age I can no longer do the kind of 30-minute warm-ups I did 50-30 years ago. I don't have the energy and my left hand cramps up and I want to reserve that for target pieces and not wreck it too early.

September 20, 2023, 1:27 PM · @Lewis - that phrase refers to pieces after doing scales and the like but before Bach and whatever else I am working on seriously.

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