My Favorite Violin and Piano Duets

Today I’ll posting on my favorite violin and piano duets. Please note that it would be impossible to post all of my favorites so I just motioned my absolute favorites. I would love to hear what your favorite (piano and violin) duets are; please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Ständchen by Franz Schubert
In 1828 the German composer Franz Schubert wrote 13 songs for voice and piano. He wrote them in one sitting, using poems from Ludwig Rellstab, Heinrich Heine, and Johann Gabriel Seidl as lyrics. A few months later Schubert died without his collection published. And so, a few months after Schubert’s death, Tobias Haslinger published the collection. Haslinger called the collection Schwanengesang (“Swan Song” in English). Serenade Ständchen is the 4th song in Schwanengesang and personally my favorite. I hope you’ll enjoy!
Click here to watch a video.
Click here for the violin score.
Click here for the piano part.

Shenandoah performed by Celtic Woman (composer unknown)
Shenandoah is a classic American folk song. The origins of the song are not altogether known although suspected to have originated with voyageurs traveling down the Missouri River. The tune was probably written in at least the early 19th century. Anyway, Celtic Woman has done a fantastic job of turning this folk song into something a little more and I just wanted to share it with you.
Click here to watch a video.
Click here to buy the sheet music. *

Sonatina in G major, Op. 100, 1st movement, by Anton Dvorak
Written by the Czech composer Dvorak, the 1st movement of his op. 100 is a gem in mine eyes. The intricacy of the parts and how they fit together is truly amazing. The melody fits together in such a way that it almost seems as if the piano and violin become one instrument; trading back and forth with the melody fantastically.
Also, be sure to look at the other movements in op. 100; although not held in as high esteem by myself as the 1st movement they are still wonderful works of art.
Click here to watch a video.
Click here for the piano score.
Click here for the violin part.

7th Humoresque by Anton Dvorak
The 7th Humoresque is assuredly the most famous of the 8 written by Anton Dvorak. It has been performed by many musicians and will be for decades to come, I’m sure. Interestingly, the 7th Humoresque was written at almost double the tempo it is played at today. Today, most musicians play it “quarter note = 72.” I’ve listed two different versions of the piece below. One version is in Gb major (the original key), the other in G major. Enjoy!
Click here for a video.
Click here for the piano score (Gb major).
Click here for the violin part (Gb major).
Click here for the piano score (G major).
Click here for the violin part (G major).

Czardas by Vittorio Monti
Composed in 1904 by Vittorio Monti, Czardas (or Csardas) is known for its dramatic changes in tempo and key. It is performed worldwide by many violinists, pianists, and orchestras.
There are 7 main sections; all have different characteristics. The 1st section, Largo, is full of emotion with lush slides and rubato. Allegro Vivo is next in line. Bowing technique is crucial in this section; sautille is used as well as staccato. Molto Meno slows things down a bit. Double stops and shifts are common here. Meno, quasi lento is when things really get tough. The violinist must create “artificial,” “stopped,” or (less accurately) “false” harmonics. This involves the violinist placing their finger down on the note and playing another note, with the finger only just touching the string 5 semitones above. This gives the effect of the violin sounding two octaves (24 semitones) higher. Then, you’re back to a fast paced Allegro vivace. Finally, you reach Allegretto and Molto pui vivo, change to D major, and finish the piece with a magnificent crescendo! You’re done! Congrats!
Note: Please don’t be intimidated by the fact that my Czardas section is about 3 times longer than the rest of the piece descriptions. I just couldn’t resist describing the thing to you. Sorry!
Click here to watch a video.
Click here for the sheet music.

Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar
Ashokan Farewell positively, most certainly, without a doubt, (at least in my book) must be mentioned on this list.
In case you haven’t heard it before now I’ll not spoil it for you by rambling on about every section (see above). Just watch the video, print off the sheet music and start practicing.
Tip: Try it out on your family once you’ve learned it. It has amazing crowd effects.
Click here to watch a video.
Click here to buy the sheet music. *

Méditation de Thais by Jules Massenet
The Méditation is actually a symphonic entr’acte performed between the scenes of Act II in the opera Thaïs. In the first scene of Act II, Athanaël, a Cenobite monk, confronts Thaïs, a beautiful and hedonistic courtesan and devotée of Venus, and attempts to persuade her to leave her life of luxury and pleasure and find salvation through God. It is during a time of reflection following the encounter that the Méditation is played by the orchestra. In the second scene of Act II, following the Méditation, Thaïs tells Athanaël that she will follow him to the desert.
The piece was originally written for solo violin and orchestra but you’ll find a piano/violin transcription below.
Click here to watch a video.
Click here for the sheet music.

Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninof
Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14, is a song by Sergei Rachmaninoff, composed and published in 1915 as the last of his “Fourteen Songs”, Op. 34. Written for high voice (soprano or tenor) with piano accompaniment, it contains no words, but is sung using any one vowel (of the singer’s choosing). Today it has been transposed many times including a arrangement for violin and piano, by Jascha Heifetz.
Click here to watch a video.
Click here for the piano score.
Click here for the violin part.

Canon in D by Johann Pachebel
Canon in D is arguably the most popular piece used at weddings and funerals. The charm and beauty has not worn thin for the modern people since…well, 1970. Even though the piece was written somewhere between 1680-1700 it was only popular during Pachebel’s life time. It was “brought back” in 1968 by the Jean-François Paillard chamber orchestra and became unexpectedly popular over the next decade…and has been ever since.
Click here to watch a video.
Click here for the sheet music.


* Note: I tried my utmost to find free sheet music in PDF format for the pieces listed. However, certain sheet music can only be procured by paying a small fee. I’m very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. Thanks for reading!

-Cameron S.

 

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