The Hardest Violin Pieces

If someone offers to teach you how to play a musical instrument, which one do you pick? For many people, the high chances are that they’ll go for violin. Why? Violin is what makes classical music sound melodious since it is the highest string instrument. Besides, it is one of the oldest musical instruments, its first use dating back five centuries ago.

Although the violin is one of the hardest musical instruments to play, playing it is beneficial in many ways. For instance, playing for about an hour can help you burn up to 175 calories. This amount is the equivalent of about two glasses of wine. Even better, playing violin doesn’t require a fixed position as opposed to other musical instruments. You can play it while sitting, standing, moving around, or even dancing. It immerses you fully in the tune and melody.

As you hone your skills, you’ll encounter the hardest violin pieces that require many awkward positions. Unfortunately, some people end up with injuries or swollen fingers when playing the most difficult violin piece. Nevertheless, you still want to attain extraordinary skills. That said, let’s look into the hardest violin pieces of all time.

Hardest Violin Pieces

Below are some of the most difficult violin pieces that have ever been written.

1. 24 Caprices by Niccolo Paganini

24 Caprices include a collection of violin pieces composed over 15 years by the legendary virtuoso Paganini. Paganini performed with incredible techniques that many people view him as a violin superhero. Others associated his skills with the devil!

Caprice is a lively piece that does wonders in uplifting the mood. Thus, its performance includes a combination of full-character and technical skills. Although you might mistake this piece for technical exercises, each caprice has a unique musical effect. In most cases, they may sound similar to Schumann’s piano miniatures.

So, why is this composition the most difficult violin piece? You must know the double, triple, and quadruple techniques for stopping the strings. Besides very fast passagework, you also need simultaneous bowing and plucking skills on top of harmonics.
However, the last caprice is relatively easy. You can perform it better with double-stopped trills for a compelling melody.

The most popular, and we think the most difficult, is caprice number 24.

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24 Caprices, Op. 1: Schirmer Library of Classics Volume 1663 Violin Solo (Schirmer's Library of Musical Classics)

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2. Sonata No. 9 “Kreutzer” by Beethoven

You don’t need to watch the performance of the “Kreutzer” Sonata No. 9 to know that it’s the most difficult violin piece. Although written originally by George Bridgetower, Beethoven performed this magnificent piece in A major in honor of Rudolph Kreutzer, a celebrated French violinist.

Generally, the Sonata violin piece has three pieces, just as how Beethoven performed it for the first time. You begin the sonata with a melodic tonic minor (A-minor) introduction before performing a hair-raising presto. The second movement entails a slow Andante con variazioni written in F major. Lastly, you’ll close the sonata with a spirited rondo form.

It’s imperative to note that playing the Sonata No. 9 violin piece requires a lot of energy and skilled technical coordination. How else can we call it apart from hard? Since it’s a deeply lyrical piece, the virtuoso performs it better.

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Violin Sonata - No. 9 - Op. 47 - For Piano and Violin: With a Biography by Joseph Otten

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3. Zigeunerweisen by Sarasate (Also Known as Gypsy Airs)

Ziguenerweisen is one of the most technically challenging violin pieces. It was composed in 1878 by the Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate and premiered the same year in Leipzig, Germany.

The piece stretches the limits of the violin, showing the full range of the violin’s notes. The technicality comes mainly in the last two minutes of the piece when violinists must pizzicato with their left hand (something typically done with their right hand) while alternating between bowing and pizzacto-ing.

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ZIGEUNERWEISEN OP20 VIOLIN PIANO GYPSY AIRS (Schirmer Library of Classics, 1064)

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4. “The Last Rose of Summer” by Wilhelm Ernst

Although Wilhelm Ernst is not a household name in violin, his “The Last Rose of Summer” piece is an all-time difficult. Many people believe Ernst drew his inspiration for violin from Paganini. Thus, you can imagine how notorious he could get with complex pizzicato in his compositions. However, if you can play Paganini pieces with ease, Wilhelm Ernst is a walkover.

Ernst didn’t stop being notorious at pizzicato. If there is anything that you’ll find nearly impossible to do in “The Last Rose of Summer,” it’s the variation. Doing the left-hand pizzicato is challenging, but the fingered harmonics on top of the tricky arpeggios require superhuman skills. You won’t think it’s crazy until you hear the piece sounding like two violins playing separately.

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The last rose of Summer: violin and piano duo (Music for violin and piano Book 41)

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5. Sonata B Minor (Solo Violin) By Liszt

If you think performing dance moves is difficult, you need to try your hands on piano notes transcription for solo violin. It requires piano knowledge and skills, making it one of the most difficult, if not dreaded, violin pieces. But some people will still think that transcribing piano work for violin isn’t that difficult after all, especially since Sonata B minor is a new-generation piece composed in 2007 but released in 2011. They are wrong.

This is what happens. Once you decide to try the Sonata B Minor (forget about other pieces) piano transcription for violin, all hell breaks loose. To get flowing, you need extraordinary finger and coordination skills. Giora Schmidt didn’t call it the “Goliath composed for ten fingers” for no reason. You’ll work your fingers for 35 minutes non-stop.

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Sonata In B Minor Liszt
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6. Partita in D Minor BWV 1004 by J.S. Bach

You can’t talk about the hardest violin piece and forget to mention the Partita in D Minor BWV 1004, composed by J.S. Bach. Although J.S. Bach is famous for polyphonic musical textures, this piece is full of melody.

However, like every other complex violin piece, this one comes with challenges, pretty much that even the writer left them for the performers. For instance, J.S Bach wrote this piece for a solo violin but didn’t include any accompaniment. Since he is not here to show you how to do it, it’s upon you to work it out. How is this difficult? Typically, it means the violinist must perform continuously for nearly thirty minutes while providing accompaniment and melody.

Many experts say Partita is a complex piece because it’s one of the latest compositions from Bach. He used all the skills he studies as a young violinist to create this piece. Since the Partita originates from the Baroque period, it consists of several dance-form movements from the Renaissance. These movements include:

  • Allemande
  • Courante
  • Sarabande
  • Gigue
  • Chaconne

While most violinists find it relatively easy to play the faster sections, the real test is performing the Chaconne (Spanish origin). This old musical form is a composure of an eight-bar theme and 32 variations. Despite its difficulty, it’s one of the most beautiful closing pieces you’ll ever come across.

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Bach,J.S.-Violin Partita No.2,in d minor,BWV 1004,for Violin (German Edition)

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7. Violin Concerto in D Minor by Jean Sibelius

This is the hardest violin piece but critical for all violin enthusiasts globally. It makes one of the most remarkable pieces for romantic violin and orchestra performances. Since it’s a Jean Sibelius creation, it’s best for solo virtuoso performance. Jean Sibelius wanted to be a virtuoso soloist, but he struggled with alcohol and drugs. This made him resort to composition.

Violin Concerto in D Minor proved too difficult that top violinists revised it in 1905. Even so, the 1905 revised version isn’t simple either. The soloist violin simplified passages will still present difficulties if you’re still an amateur instrumentalist. For instance, you have to play independent rhythms following the second movement’s climax when performing as a soloist.

Generally, this piece has three movements, including allegro moderato, adagio di molto, and allegro. The catch is in performing the rhythms in the adagio di molto movement.

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Concerto in D Minor, Opus 47 [Violin/Piano format]

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Conclusion

There are a lot of difficult violin pieces that we did not include in this article due to space. Some others include Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, and .

If you’re going to pick any of the above options as your hardest violin piece, be ready with plasters for your fingers. Even so, your experiences will be better once you get a hold of the movements. The secret is practice and more practice until you get there!

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