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wonderer

Most difficult Piece??? and youth orchestra questions

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wonderer   

Hi guys I was wondering what are the most difficult pieces and If I was to audition for a youth symphony what song would a person play if they wanted to be a first violin in a top orchestra??????/// thanx in advance for any help you may offer me.

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All works have both technical and interpretive difficulties. In order to really play something well, you have to be able to handle both. However, frequently, students end up working on pieces that suit their technical capabilities, but which they do not yet have the interpretive flair to play to a high standard. A work that is not phenomenally difficult from a technical standpoint can be considered to be more difficult than the notes themselves would indicate, if the violin line is particularly exposed, as is true with the later Mozart concertos -- any slight imperfection is glaringly obvious.

That said, experience suggests that, to get into a top youth (high school age) orchestra in a major city in the US, the minimum repertoire standard is the concert-hall concerto repertoire. The Mozart No. 3 is about as easy as you are likely to get away with, and you will probably encounter many students playing Mendelssohn, Bruch No. 1, Paganini No. 1, Sibelius, Glazunov, etc. or shorter works by Sarasate, Wieniawski, etc. (I'm not talking about just people who will end up in the front chairs, either -- I'm talking about ALL the violinists playing at this minimum standard.)

I believe that many such youth orchestras make the repertoire standard explicit; it's worthwhile to check out what yours requires/suggests.

It is certainly not a requirement to play the most technically demanding thing that you know, as long as you meet the minimum repertoire standard. (Indeed, beyond a certain point, progression through repertoire becomes decidedly non-sequential, and students often just play whatever it is they're currently working on, which might be less technically challenging than previous works they've done.)

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wonderer   

thanx a lot. yeah I am working on the bruch and the accolay right now I know the bruch could get me in and is that along one of the most difficult technical ones???? I am pretty good at my interperetations and expressions and I am sure if I listened to a cd I could get it down pat. Is the Accolay considred difficult??? I am having a really good time with that one it is pretty easy and oh yeah what about saint saens intro and rondo caprisioco???? sorry to be a botherI just really wanna learn and you all seem to have a wealth of knowledge on these subgects

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The Accolay is a student concerto -- not difficult.

The Bruch No. 1 is probably the easiest of the commonly-played Romantic concertos; it seems to be, quite frequently, the first "real" concerto people play, other than the Mozart No. 3. My advice, though: Listen to CDs but DON'T imitate them (though of course you'll occasionally hear something that you hadn't thought of, think, "hey, I like that", and incorporate it into your own interpretation); imitation stifles your own creative voice. I would judge the Saint-Saens I&RC to be slightly more difficult than the Bruch No. 1.

In high school, students seeking to show off technical pyrotechnics seem to gravitate towards Paganini No. 1. (Or at least this was true in the area I grew up in.)

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Umm... I don't know where Lydia lives, but it must be somewhere VERY competitive. The youth orchestra in my are is fairly good (this quarter its major works are Jupiter from Holst's The Planets and the Theme and Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma variations). In the orchestra if you were to play the Bruch 1st movement well, you would certainly make it into the first violins if you wished, and if they didn't need experienced 2nd violins. Perhaps you wouldn't get as good a seat, but demonstrating your ability in those higher positions and the double/triple stops would cue in our auditioner. Unfortunately, people don't always end up sitting where they wish. If you end up sitting second violins, enjoy it... I always enjoy playing inside parts more (2nd violins/viola)... it's so much more important (really... just ask any conductor). Good luck with your audition. The Cadenza for the Bruch might be a good choice... if you know the third movement that would be nice too.

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Lymond,

I grew up in Chicago, but a glance at the websites of the best of the local youth orchestras here in the Bay Area show the same kind of repertoire standards. If you look at the top youth orchestras, which I believe includes Chicago, New York, Boston, and San Francisco (no surprise they're in cities with world-reknowned symphonies), the standard of playing is very high, and the majority of players go on to conservatory study.

Cadenza for the Bruch? What cadenza? The last few lines of the first movement is somewhat cadenza-like (I suppose one could get away with calling it a very short, written-out cadenza), but it's not anywhere near long enough for most auditions.

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jake   

play whatever it is that you can play the best.

If you play a hard piece (like paganini or carmen fantasy) you just WONT sound as good as if you play something a bit easier like Bruch or Mozart. (yeah I know Mozart is "hard"). Play something where you can shine and impress someone, they might just think you are foolish if you get up there and play a hard piece adequately.

Obviously you shouldn't get up there and play Twinkle, so you need to use some common sense. But what I'm getting at is know your limits. I wouldn't suggest a challenging work such as Sibelious or Brahms.

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Flyboy   

I would agree with Lydia on repertoire in youth orchestras of major US cities. Most if not all auditioning violinists will be able to at least passably play most if not all the pieces she mentions. (I grew up in NYC, plenty of talented folks there.)

However, keep in mind most conductors or section leaders will ask you to sight read in an audition, and in my personal opinion that has a higher weight than your audition piece. In a youth orchestra, even though you get plenty of time to learn the performance pieces, conductors and section leaders still respect good sight readers and ensemble players, and only very rarely do you get players with interpretative depth, solid technique, and good sight reading in one "package" w/in H.S. population.

I know many good impressive, technical players without good complementary sightreading skills. To the best of my knowledge it is relatively rare for those who are "handicapped" to get one of the hotly contested front seats.

Also, depending on orchestra, your first audition might not dictate performance seating. You still have to earn it during the "halfway" review. Many conductors do this to make sure you aren't sleeping on the job and resting on your laurels...

[This message has been edited by Flyboy (edited 11-07-2000).]

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As a side-note reply to Flyboy:

Chicago's best youth orchestra has an audition to get in (after which you're permanently part of the orchestra 'til you graduate from high school), and then a seating audition every semester.

At least until about ten years ago, to get in, you do two prepared works, plus sight-reading something cold, and then you get another sight-reading passage that you can spend a minute marking up before you try to play it (and they might give you two chances, allowing you to mark the music in-between). Presumably this gives them an idea of how quickly you might learn something just by playing through it in a rehearsal -- and whether or not you can keep the rhythm even though you might not be getting all the notes.

Seating auditions are then based on prepared orchestral parts; they take excerpts from the longer work, but you're not told what they'll be. (This encourages the kids to learn the entire work, usually a symphony, before the first rehearsal of the semester.)

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fatcat   

quote:

Originally posted by Lydia Leong:

If you look at the top youth orchestras, which I believe includes Chicago, New York, Boston, and San Francisco (no surprise they're in cities with world-reknowned symphonies), the standard of playing is very high, and the majority of players go on to conservatory study.

I was in the New York Youth Symphony nearly two decades ago and a good portion of the players (nearly ALL of the wind players, including myself) were current conservatory students or even graduates - you could play until age 21 or 22 (don't know if that is the norm for other youth symphonies). The string players seemed younger but they were very good. Our concerto winner one year was the very young Nick Eanat who was probably a DeLay student at the time. He has just become concertmaster of the (I think) Met Orchestra.

Anyway, my point is that standards vary - but in the major cities/top youth orchestras you will need to be able to perform the standard concerto repertoire.

Best luck.

Stacy

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wonderer   

ok I am trying out for milwaukees youth symphony so the standards arent as high as bay area and all but is the sibelius as hard or hatder then the mendelssohn and bruch??? is mozart 3 harder then 4 and 5???? when i auditioned the first time i played eccles sonata and he stopped me in the middle so I dont think i will even play the whole piece the sightreading piece I did horrible on it was the fireside dances or something like that and I only had to play a minutes worth of each movement.

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Stephen   

Mozart 3 is not as hard as 4 or 5, but it will show up musical and technical weaknesses almost as quickly.

Sibelius generally thought to be harder than Mendelssohn, which is usually harder than Bruch. Be careful about blanket statements (including this one), however. Some people have an affinity (or lack) that makes certain pieces more or less hard than their reputation. I had no real trouble with the Beethoven when I finally did it, but find certain showpieces considered no big deal by the average conservatory graduate to be a real pain.

Why ask us about Sibelius, however, when you are just finishing with Accolay? Finish that up, use it (or the Bruch, or whatever) to show off what you can do well. Anyone who can play a clean, disciplined, vibrant, passionate performance of the Bruch should be welcome in any orchestra.

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wonderer   

I am only still on accolay because my teacher died and had me doing certain fingerings and all that and now my new teacher has me doing different fingerings i have accolay pretty down pat and have just finished the mendelsoohn. Would the vitali chaconne be too easy to play??????????

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I would categorize the Sibelius as significantly more difficult than both the Mendelssohn and Bruch No. 1, in terms of technical demands.

My impression, just from sight-reading through the Beethoven, is that the notes are straightforward enough -- it's scales, arpeggios, and similar sorts of passages that you've devoted years to getting your fingers to execute automatically. The problem is that it IS scales, arpeggios, etc., and therefore difficult to make convincing as music.

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jake   

Beethoven is a tricky subject. His notes usually look fairly straightforward, but there is the possibility for tremendous musical expression (in his later stuff anyway). It takes a very mature individual to play Beethoven's violin concerto, it doesn't sing on its own quite the way an easier piece such as Bruch does... there is a reason why its often considered one of the very hardest of violin concertos.

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Nick Eanet is a former pre-Juilliard classmate of mine.

I haven't heard him play recently, but I'm sure he's a good modern violinist based on his training.

wonderer, why don't you play unaccompanied Bach (e.g. Chaconne) or Paganini (e.g. Caprice #24 or "Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento"?

Difficulty level is always taken into account.

I think that the biggest reason the Beethoven Violin Concerto is difficult is because it was not meant to be performed on the "modern" setup.

Instead, Beethoven had written this concerto with the intent of it being performed on period setups (with "baroque" bow, lower pitch, and minimal vibrato).

Occasionally, I'll take my 18th century violin and tune it down half-a-step.

It's nowhere near the same as playing on a real period setup, but pieces written by Mozart and Beethoven sound COMPLETELY DIFFERENT when performed as they were meant to be performed.

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wonderer   

I have played the 24th caprice and yeah I have only been playing for 5 yrs, but I guess I am good for that time but there are a lotta people better then me, that I am sure of

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fatcat   

Hey Wonderer:

You sound like you've done really well for the amount of time you've been playing. Here's what I would do: play the hardest piece that you feel COMPLETELY COMFORTABLE playing. Make it as perfect as you can. Try not not worry about difficulty level - be as musical as you can. There is really nothing more you can do.

One thing: if you don't make it, it only means you haven't reached that level YET (or you didn't play as well THAT ONE DAY!)! In the end, youth orchestra seats don't mean that much.

Stacy

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Flyboy   

To wonderer:

In my opinion, Vitali Chaconne (virtually regardless of edition, and there are many of varying difficulty) is considered warm-up to Bruch and Mendelssohn. At least that was so in my case.

I'd also second fatcat's suggestion regarding piece that is solidly w/in your grasp (technically and interpretatively). The _choice_ of piece is relatively immaterial. Think of those people auditioning you as well. If you play something that is slightly off the beaten track, it will be a welcome respite for them. (I mean they hear the same war horse audition pieces over and over again and a certain jadedness creeps in.) In my early days I'd _start off_ the audition with Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata (it was one of my favorite audition pieces in my early days in addition to Bruch and Mendelssohn), and I must say it served me equally well or better than those folks who auditioned w/ Paganini or other pyrotechnic concerti. If you can hold the auditioning panel's attention for more than the minimum time then you're in good shape.

Isaac Stern said it best in "My First Sixty Years:" It was something to the effect: "A good performer draws the audience, rather going to the audience." A compelling performer will be able to hold the audience's attention and make them want to find out what happens next, even if the audience is intimately familiar with the pieces.

Flyboy

[This message has been edited by Flyboy (edited 11-08-2000).]

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Wonderer,

I have to say that the class A songs for the Wis. solo/ensemble list is a bit disagreeable. Having Accolay(ASTA rating of 4) in the same catagory with the Mendelsohn (ASTA rating of 6).

I personally would go with a unaccompanied Bach piece. Just one movement, I tend to like the Partitas.

Good luck.

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wonderer   

What songs could I play off the beaten track that would be about the same as an A class piece??? there is only one judge and you go in there he doesnt ask for the music you play your song and he stops you like a third into the song and then you do a third of whatever movements your playing, then you do scales and then the dreaded sightreading which is only a couple lines and they have some ladies talk to you in the hallway before your audition and they are like spy's to see your level of maturity and the whole process takes only 15 minutes.

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I'm only thirteen but i have been in a branch of the Australian youth orchestra for two years, it is called young symphonists, it is for 12-18 year olds, but anyway, the hardest peice i've ever come across is Bartok's Divertimento for Strings. It was a great piece though.

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