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Did you know that Bernstein's Somewhere, from West Side Story, features a solo viola? Listen to this wonderful melody and play it yourself. Celebrate year 2018, the centenary of his birth
Need an original, great idea for a music gift? Find here the perfect music gift ideas for a musician or a music lover
Read and listen to Carl Stamitz viola concerto, a lovely piece by a virtuoso viola player, one of the best known concertos for viola. Listen to the whole work, find sheet music
Here you can find a lot of Christmas Carols free MIDI files to download for viola with piano, violin, cello, string trio, quartet etc., with sheet music to download
Find Halloween music here for your scary night party, play a quartet with invited ghosts, impress your friends and have a lot of fun! With a simplified version. Printable, printed sheet music
Berlioz's Harold in Italy is one of the most exciting viola and orchestra compositions, read about its origin, who was it written for? Listen to it, find recordings and sheet music
Rebecca Clarke was a woman composer and viola player who composed chamber music also with viola
Today, 6 March, in 1825, Beethoven's Quartet op.127 was premièred. The quartet's first violin, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, was a famous violinist who also played the viola, actually started with it. He was a close friend of Beethoven's who used to tease him because he was fat and composed a little joke about him.
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born today in 1678. He didn't compose viola concertos although his viola d'amore concertos are sometimes performed on the viola.
Georg Friederich Handel was born today in 1685. A viola concerto bears his name but was not actually composed by Handel, although he could have well written it.
Indeed, in some of his operas he gave the violas an important role and composed some arias with solo viola accompaniment.
Read more about Handel viola concerto and listen to it
York Bowen was born today in 1884. English pianist, composer, organist, horn and viola player. He was friend with the viola soloist pioneer Lionel Tertis and played at the piano with him.
With his viola works, Bowen helped Tertis in his efforts to make the viola become more popular.
Read more about York Bowen and listen to his music
Johann Kalliwoda was born today in 1801. He was a Bohemian violinist, composer and conductor, Kapellmeister.
He was another famous violin player who also played the viola and composed music for it.
Chrétien Urhan was born today in 1790. He was a French viola player, violinist and composer, the principal viola of Paris Opéra and very religious man.
Berlioz asked him to perform the viola solo in the première of Harold en Italie and Meyerbeer wrote the viola d’amore solo in the first act of Les Huguenots for him. Urhan performed Harold in Italy at the Paris Conservatoire in 1834 and several times in the following years always with great success.
Read more on Harold in Italy
Virtuoso violin player played and composed for the viola. Listen to his music
Composed composed orchestral works, much chamber music especially for strings, duos trios, quartets, Viola Sonata and 6 Fantasy pieces (Phantasiestücke) for viola & piano,
"Fuchs is a splendid musician; everything is so fine and so skilful, so charmingly invented, that one is always pleased".
Ferdinando Carulli was born on 9 February in 1770. He was an important virtuoso guitar player who composed much chamber music for guitar, also with the viola.
Read more about Carulli and listen to his music with viola
On a different page I mentioned the viola player William Primrose being a Hollywood Star of Recording in the Walk of Fame.
Now here is a different Hollywood Star, although he is not (yet?) in the Walk of Fame, who has to do with the viola.
John Williams was born today in 1932. He is an American pianist, composer and conductor. He is famous for having composed perhaps countless scores with the music for some of the most famous Hollywood movies, including Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, E.T., Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List and some of the Harry Potter.
Today, 8 February, in 1960 the name of a viola player was included in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as a Star of Recording. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a boulevard in Los Angeles with brass stars embedded in the sidewalks, honouring achivement in the entertainment industry.
This star was William Primrose. Other classical musicians that I found included there are the opera singers Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso, Richar Crooks, the violinists Fritz Kreisler, Jasha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin and Mischa Elman, the pianists Arthur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz, the composer George Gershwin, conductors Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta, just to name a few, but there are many more.
Read more about the viola Star of Recording and listen to it
String quartet & string orchestra Valentine sheet music for a special, romantic night. Famous love songs, Gershwin’s I've Got A Crush On You, Porter’s Night & Day, Presley’s Love Me Tender. Unmissable
Here you'll find Valentine music for your romantic night party, to impress your partner or to play at a gig! Mp3, MIDI and printable sheet music to download
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was born today in 1809. Besides being a child prodigy pianist and composer, he played the viola well enough to play chamber music with noted musicians. He composed a Sonata in c minor for viola and piano when he was 15. He also wrote interesting parts for violists in his orchestral works, like for examples The Hebrides ouverture, one of my favourite ones.
Read more about Mendelssohn viola sonata and listen to it
2 top violinists who played with a viola star were born today, 2 February: Fritz Kreisler in 1875 and Jascha Heifetz in 1901. Both are considered among the top violinists of the last century, for different aspects: Kreisler for his seemingly effortless execution, Heifetz for his flawless technique. Kreisler was also a composer and composed dozens of pieces in the ‘olden style’ which he attributed to various almost unknown 18th-century composers, thus misleading many experts. Both played with the viola virtuoso William Primrose. Read more about William Primrose and listen to him play
The opera Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini was performed for the first time today, 1 February, in 1893 at La Scala opera house in Milan. It features an orchestral Intermezzo opened by a cello solo, dialoguing with a viola and a violin, concluding with the viola solo. Then the Intermezzo proceeds with the full orchestra. It is a short solo, much shorter than the one in Der Freischutz mentioned a few days ago, but very intense. This piece too is often in the list of solos at orchestra auditions for principal viola.">
Read more about Famous viola solos and listen to Manon Lescaut
Franz Schubert was born on 31 January 1797. He was a prolific composer in a very short life, he played the viola himself in his family string quartet. He composed a sonata for Arpeggione and piano which is usually played on the viola. Read more about Franz Schubert and listen to his music
Johann Joachim Quantz was born on 30 January 1697. He was a famous flutist, teacher and composers of King Frederick II the Great. His most important work is a treatise on how to play the flute that also gives advice to all other instrument players, including the viola. Read what he says.
Johann Joachim Quantz, composer and flutist, author of an important treatise, mentions the viola
Today, 29 January, in 1924 Lionel Tertis performed Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in New York with legendary violinist Fritz Kreisler. In his autobiography, Tertis says that this work was almost unknown at that time, and the only other known work for viola was Harold in Italy. Newspapers reported that the two men had performed a "practically unknown concertante of Mozart". The two musicians met three days before the concert and Kreisler composed two difficult cadenzas which Tertis had to learn by heart in two days.
Read more about Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and listen to it
Arthur Rubinstein was born today in 1887. He is considered by many as one of the top virtuoso pianists of the century. He would often play in a single evening both Brahms concertos or three by Beethoven. He also spoke eight languages fluently. He performed frequently with the viola pioneer Lionel Tertis.
Both were very energetic, enjoyed a long career (Rubinstein played in public for eight decades, since he was 7) and lived over 90 years in good health. Both were ardent champions for their instruments, inspired many composers to write works for them and set a standard for their instruments.
Read more about Lionel Tertis
Bartolomeo Bruni was born today in 1751. He lived in France during the revolution which he supported, and composed much viola music and in particular a Viola Method with 25 studies for advanced players, which explore the viola possibilities.
Read more about Bartolomeo Bruni and listen to his music
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born today in 1756. He played the viola himself and composed wrote some wonderful works, like the Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and orchestra and more, as well as many chamber music works featuring the viola in a prominent role.
Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischutz, after its première in Berlin with a huge success, was eventually performed in Dresden at the rebuilt Dresden Court Theatre making the German opera as popular as the most famous Italian operas had been until then.
In Der Freischutz there is a Romanze and Aria accompanied by an amazing solo viola all the time, something really unusual, before and after Weber. This piece is often requested at orchestra auditions for principal viola. Listen to it here.
Yuri Bashmet is probably the top rated violist, the best known of famous viola players. He is famous for his technical abilities as well as for his expressive playing.
Read more and watch him playing
Robert Burns was born today in 1759. He was a Scottish poet and is considered the national poet of Scotland. Although his name is not strictly speaking related to the viola, some of his poems that have been set to music sound great on the viola. Similarly, a lot of folk music can be played perfectly (or even better!) on the viola. See some examples here.
A clever publisher of a great composer who played the viola, Muzio Clementi was born today in 1752. Best known to pianists as a pianist and composer, Clementi must have been a very active man. He moved from Italy to England and, in addition to his activity as a concert performer, he established a flourishing piano manufacturing company and a publishing house.
A cardinal achievement of his was the successful negotiation for publishing rights to Beethoven’s music. In 1807 Clementi signed a contract with Beethoven for five major compositions including the Rasumovsky Quartets op.59 and Coriolan Overture. He later published first editions of ten new works of Beethoven.
Quartet op.59 n.3 is an example of how Beethoven wrote for the viola, giving it the same importance given to the other instrument. In the last movement, the viola has the leading role and introduces the fugue theme.
Read more and listen to the viola in the Fugue of quartet op.59 n.3
Lord George Byron was born today in 1788. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and a leading figure of Romanticism. He travelled extensively throughout Europe and got even involved in Greece's war of independence. There he died and is considered a national hero.
His poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, published in 1812, was immediately a huge success and gave him great fame. Berlioz, who was a great admirer of Byron, took inspiration from it in composing Harold in Italy, Symphony with solo viola, after Paganini requested him to compose a concerto for viola.
Trauermusik for viola and string orchestra, by Paul Hindemith, was premièred today in 1936. It is a short composition whose English subtitle is Music of mourning. In fact, Hindemith, composer and concert violist himself, composed it on occasion of the death of King George V of the United Kingdom and performed it in a memorial concert.
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What happened today? Search Viola Calendar for important events, composers, viola players and other people connected with the viola. Read about them and listen to them. Enjoy gorgeous viola music!
From the International Viola Congress listen to a concert performed by an orchestra composed of violas only, with works by G. P. Telemann, G. Bizet, F. Fiore, R. Wagner, F. Mendelssohn, G. Verdi and J. Strauss.
Enjoy the concert
Watch videos of Havas New Approach workshop + gorgeous viola-only orchestra at the International Viola Congress in Cremona
From Ludwig van Beethoven's biography find out what he thought of the viola, the music he wrote and played
Christmas Carols Mp3 files, for viola and other instruments, with downloadable sheet music, for you to play during Christmas time
Viola play-along are collections of sheet music orchestra, piano or other instruments accompaniment
Read about one of the best viola players, virtuoso violist Michael Kugel and listen to him playing