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Performer Guides: Viola

Use this guide to find resources for music performance, including LC call number browsing ranges for repertoire, books, and journals..

Virtual Browse for Scores:

You don't have to visit the Wilson Music Library to browse our shelves! The Library Catalog supports virtual browsing. Once you find a score that you're interested in, scroll to the bottom of the catalog record to see other scores shelved in the same row.

Screenshot of the virtual browse feature at the bottom of the catalog record for John Musto's Quiet Songs.

Finding Repertoire:

If you're looking for new repertoire to perform, it is often helpful to browse the Music Library's scores. The following call number ranges are for viola music; individual works within these numbers are arranged alphabetically by composer or arranger:

M45-M49, Viola alone
M224-M228, Viola and piano
M351, String trios
M452, String quartets
M1014, Viola with orchestra (full score)
M1015, Viola with orchestra (piano reduction)
M1114, Viola with string orchestra (full score)
M1115, Viola with string orchestra (piano reduction)

Online Resources for Viola:

American String Teachers Association - ASTA is the membership organization for string and orchestra teachers.

The American Viola Society - The professional society for American violists.

The International Viola Society - "The Association for the Advancement of Viola Performance and Research."

Books on the Viola:

Cover of The Violin and Viola with color picture of a violin or viola.

The Violin and Viola

Comprehensive view of the violin and viola by a professional violinist, teacher, and author details the historical development and changing structure of the two instruments. Text covers the contributions of Stradivarius and the legendary Cremona school of makers; techniques and improvements advocated by such celebrated teachers as Geminiani, Tartini, and Leopold Mozart; the great schools of players — from Corelli to Paganini; and the demands imposed by the growth of the 19th-century orchestra. Includes music examples and 11 diagrams. 24 halftones.

Pale lavender cover of The Early Violin and Viola with drawing of a performer in Baroque costume with wig playing a violin or viola.

The Early Violin and Viola

This practical guide is intended for all violinists and viola players who wish to give - or to understand and appreciate - historically aware performances of early music for their instruments. It comprises discussion of the literature, history and repertory of the violin and viola, the myriad relevant primary sources and their interpretation, and the various aspects of style and technique that combine to make up well-grounded, period performances. It also considers various related family instruments, contains practical advice on the acquisition of appropriate instruments, and offers suggestions for further reading and investigation. Many of the principles outlined are put into practice in case studies of six works composed c.1700–c.1900, the core period which forms this series' principal (though not exclusive) focus. Music by Corelli, Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms is examined with a view to recreating performances as faithful as possible to the composer's original intention.

Cover of Lionel Tertis with color photograph of Tertis playing the viola.

Lionel Tertis

Lionel Tertis (1876-1975) stands in the company of Ysae, Kreisler, Casals, Thibaud and Rubinstein as one of the greatest instrumentalists - and arguably the greatest viola player - of all time. Such composers as Arnold Bax, Holst, and Vaughan Williams all wrote significant works for him; he was a member of a number of prominent string quartets; and he was later to design and promote his own 'Tertis model' viola. He is virtually synonymous with the increasing importance of the viola as a solo and recital instrument alongside the violin and the cello. This biography, the first full-length survey of his life, tells how he rose from humble beginnings to become 'the father of the modern viola'. It explores in detail his long and distinguished career, persuading composers to write works for the viola, arranging existing works for the instrument, editing and performing the music, teaching and coaching in Great Britain, and his performances in the United States. 

Dark green cover of Playing and Teaching Viola with a close up color photograph of a bow on the strings above the bridge of the instrument.

Playing and Teaching the Viola: A Comprehensive Guide to the Central Clef Instrument and Its Music


"As its name suggests, 'Playing and Teaching the Viola' is truly a comprehensive resource for violists--and those who want to be. We [the publishers] are convinced that this must-have volume of more than 230 pages will become known as THE definitive source of practical information on the viola. In the words of its editor, 'Students of all ages who refer to this book will have opportunity to share the wisdom of artist-teachers who prepared the major chapters on beginning, intermediate, and advanced playing. Hundreds of practice tips accompany the skills and exercises discussed in the text. Teachers will profit from new ideas, detailed explanations, photographs, and drawings to complement the exercises that describe specifics of playing, learning, and teaching.'"--Publisher's website.

Cover of Music for Silenced Voices with a black and white photograph of Shostakovich and two other people.

Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets

Most previous books about Dmitri Shostakovich have focused on either his symphonies and operas, or his relationship to the regime under which he lived, or both, since these large-scale works were the ones that attracted the interest and sometimes the condemnation of the Soviet authorities. Music for Silenced Voices looks at Shostakovich through the back door, as it were, of his fifteen quartets, the works which his widow characterized as a "diary, the story of his soul." The silences and the voices were of many kinds, including the political silencing of adventurous writers, artists, and musicians during the Stalin era; the lost voices of Shostakovich's operas (a form he abandoned just before turning to string quartets); and the death-silenced voices of his close friends, to whom he dedicated many of these chamber works. Wendy Lesser has constructed a fascinating narrative in which the fifteen quartets, considered one at a time in chronological order, lead the reader through the personal, political, and professional events that shaped Shostakovich's singular, emblematic twentieth-century life. Weaving together interviews with the composer's friends, family, and colleagues, as well as conversations with present-day musicians who have played the quartets, Lesser sheds new light on the man and the musician. One of the very few books about Shostakovich that is aimed at a general rather than an academic audience, Music for Silenced Voices is a pleasure to read; at the same time, it is rigorously faithful to the known facts in this notoriously complicated life. It will fill readers with the desire to hear the quartets, which are among the most compelling and emotionally powerful monuments of the past century's music.

The Standard Viola

Historical basis and Vatrinate for a standard Viola, for players and Violinmakers.

Plain blue book cover used as placeholder when no other cover image available.

Works for the Viola by Pulitzer Prize Winning Composers

The Pulitzer awards in music have been representative of America's best composers since 1917. Prize winners have written compositions for viola solo, viola with keyboard, and for viola with orchestra. This annotated bibliography catalogues each Pulitzer award winner's compositions for these instrumentations. Only compositions originally designed for viola solo, viola with keyboard, and for viola with orchestra are included.

Plain burgundy cover of A Bibliographical Guide to Spanish Music with text in gold.

A Bibliographical Guide to Spanish Music for the Violin and Viola, 1900-1997

Meeting the existing need for a resource on Spanish violin and viola music, this guide provides the teacher and performer with information on approximately 300 works for violin and viola in solo, with piano, and with orchestra. The annotated entries provide practical information with regard to level of difficulty, musical language, and duration and number of movements. An overview of Spanish music in this century, including a brief examination of violin and viola activity in Spain, places the work in historical context and introduces major names in Spanish musical history. Short biographical sketches on composers complement the historical information presented about Spanish viola and violin music of the 20th century. Each entry contains a list of the composer's compositions and is annotated with information pertaining to the publisher, musical style, and date of the premiere. 

Cover of String Syllabus v. 1 with a picture of a musical score against a dark green background.

String Syllabus, Vol 1

This follows the popular ASTA String Syllabus, Vol. One: 2003 Edition, which has been ASTA's top seller and most requested publication for the past five years. The new version was carefully and thoroughly updated and revised by David Littrell, ASTA past president. Members will also appreciate that new material was added for Alternative Styles. 140 pages.

Cover of the String Instrument Owner's Handbook with a painting of a luthier crafting a string instrument.

The String Instrument Owner's Handbook

In The String Instrument Owner's Guide, Michael Pagliaro surveys the complete "ownership life cycle" of bowed string instruments. A touchstone work for uninitiated and advanced players, The String Instrument Owner's Guide provides a roadmap for every step of the owning process, from selecting and buying (or renting ) to maintaining, repairing, modifying, upgrading and even re-selling your instrument. The String Instrument Owner's Guide answers, chapter by chapter, such key questions as: Where did string instruments come from? How do they work? What are the different kinds of string instruments? How they are made? How should you choose one? How do you care for string instruments? What accessories are needed and what do you need to know about them? How do string instruments compare to one another? How does one learn to play? And so much more. This work should sit in the library of not only every professional musician but also of students, teachers, technicians, and parents.

Looking for Something Specific? Use Library Search:

Excerpts, Etudes, and Method Books:

Excerpts and instructional materials are classified in the MT range and housed in the same location as books:

MT280, General works
MT282, Systems and methods
MT285, Studies and exercises
MT286, Orchestral studies (excerpts)