Finding New Pieces 3/29

Steven Z -

I started out with the pieces I had prepared for my college auditions: Walton Concerto Mvt. 1, Brahms F minor Sonata Mvt. 1, and Bach Suite No. 2 Prelude and Gigue for viola; Sibelius Concerto Mvt. 1, Paganini Caprice 16 (which I never played during my senior project), Sarasate Zigeunerweisen, Mozart Concerto No. 4 Mvt. 1, and Bach Partita No. 2 Allemande and Corrente for violin.

After finishing the auditions, my teachers immediately assigned me new pieces to learn: Walton Concerto Mvts. 2 and 3 for viola; Wieniawski Concerto No. 2 Mvt. 1, Paganini Caprice 9, and Bach Sonata No. 1 Adagio for violin.

These new pieces needed some time before they could be performed. My options for pieces in the standard repertoire were therefore quite limited. I approached both of my teachers for easy, sightread-able pieces. My viola teacher wouldn’t give me anything less than the “real deal.” My violin teacher, on the other hand, gave me something clearly not sightread-able.

I was off on my own to look for pieces. I first revisited some Suzuki books (standard beginner’s method books) for some of its variety of delightful and accessible pieces. Staples from the Suzuki books, like Dvorak’s Humoresque and Bach’s BourrĂ©e, were charming and easy to play.

Next I turned to IMSLP, a website especially well-known to classical musicians because it contains nearly all music in the public domain. I searched mainly for short “encore” pieces, written or transcribed for violin (because I don’t yet feel comfortable enough to sightread in alto clef; violin uses treble clef, viola uses alto, and since I just started playing viola a little over half a year ago, I wasn’t as used to the alto clef). Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, Massenet’s Meditation, and Saint Saens’s “The Swan” are representative of short encore pieces in my collection.

After acquiring many of the most well-known and beloved short pieces, I continued to search for new pieces in interesting directions.

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