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The Best Viola Books

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I started looking for viola books because, I don't know you, but when I get interested in something I always want to know more and more about that subject, especially if that is my favourite one like the viola is.

Also, when I was a student I was supposed to read something for my study course, so I started to look around for viola books and I couldn't find very many at all in my language.


The only one available was a tiny book of a few pages, otherwise we had to read violin books to know a bit about the history.

So I started to read viola books in English and there are a few. Here are my favourite ones, most of them do not require knowledge of music notation or technique, I mean you don't need to be a musician to enjoy them, any music lover can. Some others are aimed at players, because they refer to technical aspects of playing, so a non musician may not be interested.

Unfortunately, many of these viola books are now out of print, therefore you can only buy used books from second hand bookstores. But this is easy, especially now with many Internet stores where you can buy books online, nearly any book, from all the corners of the world.

However, I have to say that my favourite online bookshop is AbeBooks, because there I could find books I wasn't able to find anywhere else, like some of the viola books I mention here in this page. Try yourself!

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               >USA website                                >UK-Europe website




>Maurice W. Riley, The history of the viola, vol.1"The history of the viola"
By Maurice W. Riley
(1980)

A really complete book, everything about the viola is in it: history, the early Italian makers, the viola during the baroque era, in France and England, in Germany and Austria in the classical era, viola bows, viola teaching methods, literature for viola, musical examples, photos of violas, important 19th century violist, including Rolla and Paganini, experiments with viola size, Tertis, Primrose, Hindemith, the viola in the 20
th century, biographies of violists, even a glossary and the viola names in many languages. It comes with a lively foreword by William Primrose.

The only problem with this book is that it is out of print, but you can find it in used books shops or in libraries. This book was translated into Italian in 1983. Recommended for any viola player and music lover who wants to know about the viola.

>Buy Maurice Riley's "The history of the viola", vol.1



>Maurice W. Riley, The history of the viola, vol.2"The history of the viola" volume II
By Maurice W. Riley
(1984)

A few years after the previous book, the author published a second volume. It is indeed like a supplement, more material on the same subject,
more photos of ancient violas, more experiments,


vast majority of players, a chapter on the scordatura, one on Hindemith, one on the French school, one on the viola in Italy, and Argentina, Yugoslavia, the Czech school the final part is on the viola in 1980-90, international Viola Society, more biographies of violists.

If you've read the first volume, you'll want to read the second one. Also this book is out of print, but you can find it in used books shops or in libraries. Recommended for any viola player and music lover who wants to know about the viola.

>Buy Maurice Riley's "The history of the viola", vol.2




>Lionel Tertis: Cinderella no more"Cinderella no more"
By Lionel Tertis (1953)

The first autobiography written by Tertis at the age of 77. It's about how he brought the viola to be no longer neglected and considered the Cinderella of the string family, but an instrument with its own character and personality.

Also this book is out of print, but you can find it in used books shops or in libraries. Recommended for any music lover.

>Buy Lionel Tertis's "Cinderella no more"



>My viola and I, Lionel Tertis"My viola and I"

A Complete Biography With Beauty of Tone in String Playing and Other Essays
By Lionel Tertis (1974)

Tertis was the man who came to viola rescue and made it really recognized as a solo instrument. This book is his the story of his very long and interesting life (99 years!), how he started (at 12, working to pay for his lessons), b
attled for the viola cause, the works he commissioned, his design for a better viola, easier to play, his first recordings. He was the first world famous viola player and influenced many other players. This book includes other essays written in previous years.

If you like biographies, I recommend this, it's also nice to read and discover about musical times from the end of the 19th century. Recommended for any music lover.

Again, this book is out of print, but you can find it in used books shops or in libraries.

>Buy Lionel Tertis's "My viola and I"



>Walk on the North side, W. Primrose"Walk on the North side - Memoirs of a violist"
By William Primrose

Primrose was strongly influenced by Tertis in his decision to play the viola instead of the violin, they even played together Mozart's concertante and then it's when he decided.

This is another life story, for those who love to know musicians as real persons. Read about Primrose's childhood as a child prodigy, his many interests besides music, such as chess, boxing, cricket, airplane piloting, conductors, colleagues, how Primrose actually started his solo violist career, recordings, teaching.

Another book that's out of print, but you can find it in used books shops or in libraries. Recommended for any music lover.

>Buy William Primrose's "Walk on the North side



>Playing the viola, W. Primrose"Playing the viola - Conversations with William Primrose"
By David Dalton

Of all
viola books, this is the most technical book, very useful for players of different levels. It is written in form of dialogue with David Dalton, who was his pupil and in charge of the PIVA (Primrose International Viola Archive) for many years. Here Primrose talks about all aspects of playing the viola: the teacher-student relationship, playing the viola coming from the violin, how to practice, repertoire, stage presence and manners, performance practice, the left hand (you can even get to know his own fingerings in some works), programs, recordings, competitions and more.

It's like having lessons with Primrose himself, which is really invaluable. A must have.

This book is in print, actually it gets printed on demand.
Recommended for all
viola players, students, teachers, professionals (and also violin players can learn a lot from a great virtuoso).

>Buy David Dalton's "Playing the viola - Conversations with William Primrose"



>Michael Kugel's viola book on Shostakovich Sonata for viola and Bartok viola concerto"History of an era - An interpretation of two works for viola"

"Geschichte einer Ära - Eine Interpratation zweier Werke für Bratsche"
By Michael Kugel

This is a viola book in two languages, English and German, very useful for viola players as well as music lovers who want to learn about the background of music works, in this case Shostakovich Sonata for viola and piano and Bartok Concerto for viola and orchestra. It is written by the the virtuoso viola player >Michael Kugel and I found it really useful to
better understand these two works and enjoy them more. Incidentally, as Kugel makes us notice, these two works were the final works of two of the greatest composers of the 20th century, both for viola. Prof. Kugel gives us his idea of how the composer's life is reflected into his music and his feelings are expressed through it, especially in such grim times as those when these works were composed. Understanding this is essential for performers to properly render the composer's intentions and for listeners to appreciate the music more deeply.

A really inspiring viola book, with many musical excerpts. Those who cannot read music can still follow the description, maybe whilst listening, and get a grasp of the works.

Recommended for all viola players and music lovers

>Buy Michael Kugel's "History of an era" from Maestro Kugel's own website





>Bartok Viola Concerto"Bartok's Viola Concerto
The remarkable story of his swan song"

By Donald G. Maurice

The now most often performed viola concerto, commissioned by William Primrose, was left unfinished in 1945.
This book, written in 2004, tells the story of it, from the composer's friend Tibor Serly's work to decipher and reconstruct the manuscript, to the first performance and to the other revised editions now available.

Based on interviews and documents made available recently, fascinating reading, to know more about Bartok, the musical environment.

This book is in print. Recommended for all viola players and Bartok's enthusiasts.

>Buy "Bartok Viola Concerto - The remarkable story of his swan song"




>Violin and viola, Y. Menuhin & W. Primrose"Violin and Viola"
By Yehudi Menuhin and William Primrose

This is mainly a book about the violin with the viola section by Primrose, who is like a guest, kindly invited by Menuhin. The viola part is really short, but nonetheless interesting, so it is the violin bigger part. Here Menuhin talks about how to practice, yoga etc. It's good for both violin and viola players, students and teachers. It is still in print so you can find it easily
in most shops.

If you cannot find any of the the other Primrose's viola books, at least read this one, you can start knowing him, I find his writing style always enjoyable, not serious. You'll enjoy it.

This book is in print. Recommended for all violin and viola players.

>Buy Menuhin's and Primrose's "Violin and Viola"



"Literature für Viola"
By Franz Zeyringer

This
volume is the most comprehensive list of printed and manuscript music for viola in all combinations with all other instruments, containing about 14,000 entries. A good source of inspiration for new repertoire and to show to those who say there is not much viola music.

This book is out of print, although it can be found in libraries and used books stores. Recommended for all viola players.

>Buy Franz Zeyringer's "Literature für Viola"
>


"Borrowed" viola books

The following books are not viola books strictly speaking, they are books originally written with reference to the violin, but the principles they teach apply perfectly to the viola too, indeed they are even more important for the viola, therefore I include them in this viola books page because they are very useful and I recommend them. Incidentally, I >translated into Italian the following three books, so I know them well and apply to the viola what's written in them.

>A new approach to violin playing, K. Havas"A new approach to violin playing"
By Kato Havas (1961)

This is the first book written by the violin teacher Kato Havas. It is about how to prevent and eliminate physical tension and injuries caused by violin and viola playing. It is based on how the body works, how to use the natural balances instead of force and pressure. With detailed explanations and practical exercises,
how to practice, the relation between physical and mental tension.

With a foreword by Yehudi Menuhin.

I think knowing how to prevent and eliminate tendonitis and other physical problems is even more important with the viola, because being bigger than the violin it can more easily cause physical injuries.

This book is in print, has been since it was published for the first time. Recommended for all string players.

>Buy Kato Havas's "A new approach to violin playing"
 


>The twelve lesson course, in A new approach to violin playing, K. Havas"The twelve lesson course
in A new approach to violin playing"

By Kato Havas (1964)

This is the second book written by Kato Havas. It is organized in twelve lesson, each one ab
out an aspect of violin and viola playing, also with folk tunes to be played as a duet.
It doesn't mean to suggest that one can become a perfect player in just 12 lessons, it was written to concentrate in 12 sections what are all principles of playing, the same way Kato Havas teaches many performers who come to see her from far away.

This book is in print, has been since it was published for the first time. Recommended for all string players.

>Buy Kato Havas's "The twelve lesson course"



>Stage fright, causes and cures, K. Havas"Stage fright, Causes and cures"
By Kato Havas (1973)

This is the last book written by Kato Havas. It analyzes all aspects and reasons for stage fright, a very common and serious problem among performers of any level. I gives the causes and cures for the fear of the trembling bow, of being out of tune, of high positions and shifts, of not being fast enough and more fears. It is a practical book, not just to be read, you need to read it and apply it.

With a foreword by Yehudi Menuhin.

Also this book is in print, has been since it was published for the first time. Recommended for all string players.

>Buy Kato Havas's "Stage fright, Cause and cures"

Read this page for tips on >how to overcome stage fright.




For more viola books and all types of books, click on the pictures

>vc                    >Viola books and music

In the >Viola Bibliography page you can read about other books mentioned or consulted for this website.


These are not the only existing viola books, they are my favorite ones, I'll add a few more viola books as soon as I find some.





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