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Performer Guides: Violin

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

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Finding Repertoire for the Violin:

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 violin music; individual works within these numbers are arranged alphabetically by composer.

  • M40-44, Violin alone
  • M217-223, Violin and piano
  • M351, String trios
  • M452, String quartets
  • M1012, Violin with orchestra (full score)
  • M1013, Violin with orchestra (piano reduction)
  • M1112, Violin with string orchestra (full score)
  • M1113, Violin with string orchestra (piano reduction)

Excerpts, etudes, and instructional materials are classified in the MT range and housed in the same location as books about music (MLs):

  • MT260, General works
  • MT262, Systems and methods
  • MT265, Studies and exercises
  • MT266, Orchestral studies (excerpts)

Digital Score Apps:

The Wilson Music Library provides Blair students, faculty, and staff with free access to nkoda and Henle through our subscription. Follow the instructions below to start using these popular apps today.

Selected Books on the Violin and Violinists:

Purple cover of The Cambridge Companion to the Violin with color picture of a violin next to a piece of sheet music.

The Cambridge Companion to the Violin

The Cambridge Companion to the Violin offers students, performers, and scholars a fascinating and composite survey of the history and repertory of the instrument from its origins to the present day. The volume comprises fifteen essays, written by a team of specialists, and is intended to develop the violin's historical perspective in breadth and from every relevant angle. The principal subjects discussed include the instrument's structure and development; its fundamental acoustical properties; principal exponents; technique and teaching principles; solo and ensemble repertory; pedagogical literature; traditions in folk music and jazz; and aspects of historical performing practice. The text is supported by numerous illustrations and diagrams as well as music examples, a useful appendix, glossary of technical terms, and an extensive bibliography.

Cover of Bach's Solo Violin Works with color picture of two violinists playing on a stone balcony next to a large flower arrangement.

Bach's Solo Violin Works

Long admired for his interpretation of Bach's six Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin, Jaap Schröder, a leading international soloist, here provides a detailed but informal guide to their performance. Bach’s sublime solo violin works have long been central to the baroque music repertoire. No serious violinist can avoid studying them, and few concert artists can resist the temptation of performing them. This is a book for advanced students and performers. Using it is an experience akin to a master class conducted by a uniquely accomplished practitioner. The text is devoted almost entirely to practical matters--bowing, phrasing, ornamentation, tempi, and so on. Schröder strongly recommends the use of a baroque violin and, especially, baroque bow, but his interpretive insights and suggestions are equally applicable to modern violinists.

Black book cover of The Violin with close-up color photograph of a violin.

The Violin: A Social History of the World's Most Versatile Instrument

In The Violin, David Schoenbaum has combined the stories of its makers, dealers, and players into a global history of the past five centuries. From the earliest days, when violin makers acquired their craft from box makers, to Stradivari and the Golden Age of Cremona; Vuillaume and the Hills, who turned it into a global collectible; and incomparable performers from Paganini and Joachim to Heifetz and Oistrakh, Schoenbaum lays out the business, politics, and art of the world's most versatile instrument.

Teal and black cover of violin secrets with black and white photo of a violin.

Violin Secrets: 101 Strategies for the Advanced Violinist

In Violin Secrets: 101 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Violinist, author and violinist Jo Nardolillo surveys the cutting edge of current violin technique, combining tradition and innovation in one volume. Blending traditional strategies that have produced generations of legendary performers with modern ideas, Nardolillo reveals the secrets of today's most sought-after master teachers, garnered through her decade of study at top conservatories across the nation. With more than a quarter century of experience teaching at the advanced level, she has refined and distilled these essential concepts into clear, concise, step-by-step instructions, complete with original illustrations and helpful tips. Violin Secrets is an indispensable resource for any and all serious violinists. The first chapter tackles the toughest challenge on the wish list of every established professional, dedicated student, and passionate amateur: understanding why immaculate intonation is so difficult (and exploring ways to achieve it). Further chapters address the advanced techniques of fingerboard mapping, mastering spiccato, controlling vibrato, playing into the curve, small-hand technique, and navigating comfortably in high positions. An extensive section on practice strategies blends concepts from learning theory, sports psychology, and Zen, and the chapter on artistry offers insight on creating expressive phrases, connecting with the audience, and developing a unique artistic voice.

Pale cream cover of The Canon of Violin Literature with a picture of a violin.

The Canon of Violin Literature: A Performer's Resource

As part of Scarecrow Press's Music Finders series, this go-to reference source provides pertinent information about the standard repertoire of works heard today in the great concert halls and recorded by the most prominent professionals. Drawing on extensive research of musical programs performed on the world's stages, Nardolillo selects only those works performed and recorded by great performers and regularly studied in conservatories by students of leading pedagogues.Organized alphabetically by composer, each entry in The Canon of Violin Literature includes the title, date of composition, date and performer of premiere, key, duration, instrumentation, and movements of the work. In addition, entries include brief notes offering historical, technical, and performance information crucial to study of the work. Finally, each entry offers information on the publishers, editions, and editors of the sheet music, concluding with a list of several recordings by famous artists and recommended books for further information about the piece. Appendixes include a chronological listing of the works, a grouping by genre, an index of piece titles, an index of performers, and a bibliography of other reference books for violinists. 

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: A Practical Guide

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.

Black and cream cover of America's Concertmasters with black and white photographs of various concertmasters in the background.

America's Concertmasters

This unique book, based on extensive research on more than 180 concertmasters and dozens of interviews, looks at the training and personality traits that have yielded great leaders in the string sections of orchestras in the United States and Canada. Includes in-depth profiles of twenty-two of the men and women who are the recent and present occupants of the first chair in these symphony and opera orchestras.

White cover of the Beethoven Violin Sonatas with a sepia photograph of a violin and text in blue.

The Beethoven Violin Sonatas: History, Criticism, Performance

Beethoven's ten violin sonatas have long been cornerstones of the chamber music repertoire. The Spring and Kreutzer sonatas are the best known of these works, which stand at the pinnacle of music for violin and piano. Lewis Lockwood and Mark Kroll's volume The Beethoven Violin Sonatas is the first scholarly book in English devoted exclusively to the Beethoven sonatas, and deals with them in unprecedented depth. It presents seven critical and historical essays by some of the most important American and European Beethoven specialists of our time. The authors examine the sonatas within the history of the genre, the social and cultural context in which they were written, their significance within Beethoven's life and works, and the issues they raise regarding performance practices of the period.

Pale lavender cover with color photograph of a violin.

The Violin and Viola: History, Structure, Techniques

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.

Black cover of the Contemporary Violin with purple silhouetted image of a violin.

The Contemporary Violin: Extended Performance Techniques

Written by a composer and a musician, The Contemporary Violin offers a unique menu of avant-garde musical possibilities that both performers and composers will enjoy exploring. Allen and Patricia Strange's comprehensive study critically examines extended performance techniques found in the violin literature of the latter half of the twentieth century. Drawing from both published and private manuscripts, the authors present extended performance options for the acoustic, modified, electric, and MIDI violin, with signal processing and computer-related techniques, and include more than 400 notated examples.

White and maize cover of The Violin: A Research and Information Guide with a black and white photo of the scroll of a violin resting on a piece of sheet music.

The Violin: A Research and Information Guide

The violin was first mentioned in a book in the sixteenth century. An abundant and diverse literature on the instrument has grown since then, and a complete general guide to these materials has not been produced in the modern era. The last, Edward Heron-Allen's De fidiculis bibliographia, was published in1894. This book fills that void, organizing and annotating information on the violin from a variety of fields and sources. It provides a comprehensive, though selective, guide to all facets of the instrument."--Publisher's website.

Jean Sibelius's Violin Concerto

Jean Sibelius's Violin Concerto is the story of Sibelius as performer and composer, of violin performing traditions, of histories of musical transmission, and of virtuosity itself. It investigates the history and legacy of one of the most recorded concertos in the violin repertoire. Sibelius,a celebrated and influential composer of the late 19th and 20th centuries, was an accomplished violinist, whose enduring interest in the instrument has been paralleled by the broad success of the only concerto in his oeuvre: his violin concerto (premiered in 1904 and revised in 1905).Considering how violinists engage with the work, author Tina K. Ramnarine discusses technology's central role in the concerto's transmission from Jascha Heifetz's seminal 1935 recording to contemporary online performances, gender issues in violin solo careers, and nature-based musical aestheticsthat lead to thinking about the ecology of virtuosity in an era of environmental crisis. Beginning with Sibelius's early training as a violinist and his aspirations as a performer, Ramnarine traces the dramatic historical context of the violin concerto. It was composed as Finland underwent a periodof heightened self-determination, nationalism, and protest against Russian imperial policies, and it heralded intense political dynamics relating to Europe's East-West border that have extended to the present. This story of the violin concerto points to the notion of Sibelius - and the virtuoso moregenerally - as a political figure.

Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces

A major new biography published for the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, offering a fresh, human portrayal   "Illuminating. . . . Tunbridge's pithy A Life in Nine Pieces is different and welcome: a biography presented through the focus of nine different compositions."--Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian "Rewarding. . . . A lot of information is packed into her musical portraits."--Richard Fairman, Financial Times The iconic image of Beethoven is of him as a lone genius: hair wild, fists clenched, and brow furrowed. Beethoven may well have shaped the music of the future, but he was also a product of his time, influenced by the people, politics, and culture around him. Oxford scholar Laura Tunbridge offers an alternative history of Beethoven's career, placing his music in contexts that shed light on why particular pieces are valued more than others, and what this tells us about his larger-than-life reputation. Each chapter focuses on a period of his life, a piece of music, and a revealing theme, from family to friends, from heroism to liberty. We discover, along the way, Beethoven's unusual marketing strategies, his ambitious concert programming, and how specific performers and instruments influenced his works. This book offers new ways to understand Beethoven and why his music continues to be valued today.

Brahms's Violin Sonatas: Style, Structure, Performance

Notation in Johannes Brahms's sonata scores tells violinists and pianists far more than merely what pitches to play and how long to play them - if read carefully, these scores reveal an immense amount of expression, both of musical and human essences. Joel Lester's Brahms's Violin Sonatasmagnifies key passages from these scores, revealing in clear and accessible language how the composer built his themes and musical narratives and how, ultimately, Brahms's music came to sound Brahmsian. Through close readings and annotated musical examples, Brahms's Violin Sonatas guidespractitioners to read scores with care and to develop their own informed interpretation of the pieces, eschewing the notion of a single "correct" interpretation of the historical score. By exploring not only the sonatas' musical elements, but also their relationship to important events in thecomposer's life, Lester shows how subtle components can communicate the gestures, moods, personalities, and emotions that make Brahms's music so compelling. A companion volume to the author's award-winning 1999 study Bach's Works for Solo Violin: Style, Structure, and Performance (OUP), Brahms'sViolin Sonatas is a clear and practical guide to understanding and performing Brahms's music in the present.

The Sound of Memory: Themes from a Violinist's Life

In The Sound of Memory, concert violinist Rebecca Fischer wrestles with the life of a performing artist in the twenty-first century, the physical and material components of memory, the nature of musical inheritance, and the gifts and pressures of a calling that runs generations deep. From memories of breastfeeding on concert tours, to the surprising ways her body remembers music she heard in the womb, to witnessing her children's own evolving musicianship, Fischer shares her perspective as the first violinist of the renowned Chiara String Quartet and parent to young people exploring their gender identities amidst social upheaval and a pandemic. As she revisits geographies that have left marks on her life and creative practice over the years, she examines what we owe to our families, our communities, our art, and ourselves--ultimately exhorting us to consider both the individual and communal resonances of artistic expression and the meaning it brings to our shared lives.

The Fractured Self: selected German letters of the Australian-born violinist Alma Moodie, 1918-1943

Alma Moodie's letters from 1918 to 1943 span two of the most tumultuous decades of modern German history. They document the responses of an individual professional musician to the vicissitudes of her public and private life: the challenges of post-war economic and political instability in the Weimar Republic, the impact of the Great Depression, the exclusionist cultural policies of the Third Reich and the perils of war. Australian-born, Moodie gives voice to the vulnerabilities of her position, living alone and constantly on tour as an unaccompanied, female virtuoso. She describes the profound satisfactions of her career triumphs, the joys and tensions of her marriage and her deep love for her children. Weaving through the narrative is the miracle of her ability as a virtuoso violinist, an ability that commanded the admiration and respect of many of the leading cultural figures of the day. Famous conductors, prominent musicians, contemporary composers, writers and art connoisseurs all fell under the spell of her sensational playing and lively personality. Originally written in three languages, the letters are made available here for the first time in English translation. Extensive annotations place the letters in their historical context while short essays by specialists in their fields reflect on particular themes.