Violin Basics

13 Classical Violin Songs To Elevate Your Technique

Classical compositions have an uncanny ability to dig into the deepest parts of our souls and captivate us like no other. Even Albert Einstein, one of the world's greatest physicists, recognized the power of the violin and classical music, so much so that he once said, "I know that the most joy in my life has come to me from my violin."

Classical music is a must-have in any violinist's musical library. Its beauty and display utilizing fundamental technique may be just what you need to ignite your passion for the violin and learn the skills necessary to conquer other genres.

In this post, we’ll look at 13 classical violin songs to add to your repertoire. 

What counts as a "classical" violin song?

Classical violin songs are compositions written for the violin that contain structured forms and follow traditional compositional techniques. They include everything from violin sonatas and solo violin pieces to violin concertos and orchestral pieces with significant violin parts. 

Early musicians like Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, English composer Edward Elgar, Spanish violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate, German composer and conductor Max Bruch, and more composed many of these songs. 

Here, we explore some of the characteristics of classical violin songs:

The era of composition

There are seven time periods typically associated with classical music: the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Early Romantic, Late Romantic, and early 20th century eras. 

However, it wasn't until the Baroque era that classical music really began to develop, which paved the way for many of the classical violin songs we know today. This is when instruments like the viola, cello, and violin picked up and became permanent fixtures in orchestra and chamber music performances. So, many pieces of music from the Baroque era and subsequent periods qualify as "classical" violin songs. 

Composers of classical music

Another way to identify classical violin songs is by their composers. Composers who have contributed significantly to the classical music genre include Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Paganini, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Saint-Saëns, and Dvořák. Most of the musical pieces from these composers are great additions to your repertoire if you're learning how to play violin

Characteristics to look for

Classical violin compositions adhere to a formal structure to create a sense of balance. Typically, you'll find that these compositions follow specific forms, like rondo, sonata-allegro, and themes and variations. 

Another interesting characteristic violin compositions share is their complexity. Composers use various techniques, including ornamentation and counterpoint, to create emotional depth. As such, they require technical skills to execute flawlessly. 

If you're new to the violin, you'll need professional instruction on how to play the violin as a beginner to effectively capture the emotional depth behind these pieces. 

13 classical violin songs for every musician to try

Ready to delve into the world of classical violin music? Here are some of the best violin compositions to add to your playlist:

1. "Ode to Joy" by Ludwig van Beethoven

"Ode to Joy" was Beethoven's theme in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony. It was inspired by a poem written by Friedrich Schiller as an ode to freedom and a celebration of brotherhood and unity. 

This piece is unique because it was the first time a composer weaved vocal parts into a symphony. This, combined with its message of unity and the fact that Beethoven was deaf by the time he completed his Ninth Symphony (which includes "Ode to Joy"), makes it one of the most popular classical violin pieces. 

It's perfect for beginners because it's uplifting and has a recognizable melody. Currently, Trala offers two versions of sheet music —  Ode to Joy 1 and Ode to Joy 2 — for aspiring virtuosos, so you can change things up when looking for a new challenge. 

2. "Danube Waves" by Iosif Ivanovici

"Danube Waves," also known as "Waves of the Danube," is a waltz composed in 1880 by Romanian military band conductor Iosif Ivanovici. The composition captures the gentle movement of the Danube River through its romantic and flowing melody. Its performance can transport listeners to the beautiful and serene landscapes along the river. 

If you're interested in practicing or performing the piece, use Trala's free sheet music as a guide to help you capture the graceful allure of each note.

3. "A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture" by Felix Mendelssohn

"A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture" was the first concert overture. Written by 17-year-old Felix Mendelssohn in E major, the overture sets the magical and ethereal tone for Shakespeare's play, “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” The piece has a romantic sound; light, airy themes; and an old-fashioned structure common with most classical music pieces. 

Use Trala’s free excerpt of "A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture" sheet music to practice. 

4. “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" is one of Mozart's most popular works, characterized by its lively and joyful melodies. It's a chamber ensemble composition written for two violins, viola, cello, and double bass, but it can also be performed in an orchestral setting. 

While the specific occasion for which it was composed is unclear, the piece has a permanent place in classical music education thanks to its structure and elegance. It starts with a bright allegro in sonata form, then transitions into a slow, lyrical tune (Romanze) in its second movement. After this, it moves to a light minuet, followed by a brisk rondo that marks the end of the performance. 

The piece was initially thought to contain five movements, but one was lost over time. It's unclear if Mozart himself removed the movement or someone else did. Whatever the case, it is undoubtedly one of the best classical violin songs. 

You can practice using Trala's free sheet music for this elegant tune. 

5. "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg

"In the Hall of the Mountain King" is an orchestral piece composed as incidental music for Ibsen's play "Peer Gynt," which chronicles Peer Gynt's journey from the Norwegian mountains. Grieg's musical piece captures the mounting tension and excitement as Peer ventures into the mountain king's lair, making it easy for listeners to understand Peer's emotions at the time. 

The piece starts slowly and quietly, then transitions to a few ascending notes before shifting to the F major. It then speeds up in tempo to create a loud and frantic sound,  much like you would expect to hear in a scene with a lot of tension. As such, this piece is excellent for practicing dramatic dynamics and tempo changes. 

Trala provides a simplified sheet music version to guide you. 

6. "Chanson Triste" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Referred to as a salon piece, "Chanson Triste" is one of Tchaikovsky's first compositions for solo piano. It's the second of the twelve short piano compositions, Douze morceaux (difficulté moyenne), and is one of the many Romantic miniatures composed for amateur pianists. 

While it's a piano composition, it adapts beautifully to the violin thanks to its fluid momentum. It carries lyrical and melancholic qualities, taking listeners through feelings of intense sadness that come to an end with a weakening echo. 

Practice your expressive phrasing with the piece's sheet music to capture its emotional depth. 

7. “Gymnopédie” by Erik Satie

"Gymnopédie" is a famous piano solo piece that highlights Satie's unique, minimalist style. The musical piece is written in ¾ and follows a simple structure and theme. 

Its tranquil and repetitive melodies are great for developing control and tone on the violin. 

The "Gymnopédie" sheet music, available for free through Trala, is an excellent addition to your repertoire if you're a beginner or intermediate violinist. 

8. “Claire de Lune” by Claude Debussy

"Claire de Lune" is a Debussy piece from his "Suite Bergamasque" and one of the most famous piano works. While it was not initially composed for violin, it has been adapted for violin performances and featured in many violin arrangements over the years. 

Violinists often enjoy the piece due to its impressionistic, dream-like quality. It has a hauntingly beautiful melody that unfolds gently and features a harmonic complexity, providing the perfect opportunity for violin players to practice their dynamics, phrasing, and bowing techniques. 

To help you practice and showcase your technical and interpretive skills, leverage Trala's "Claire de Lune" sheet music

9. “Farandole” by Georges Bizet

"Farandole" is a lively folk dance-inspired composition created as incidental music for Alphonse Daudet's play “L'Arlésienne.” The piece features a rhythmic and lively character that, when properly executed, evokes a spirit of celebration in listeners. It also highlights the use of dynamic contrast in musical pieces, as Bizet alternates between soft, lyrical passages and loud, triumphant sections. 

Like many classical violin works, the piece has a structural balance, as it features compact tonal changes — it opens with D minor, moves to B minor, and closes with D major. 

If you want to get into festive violin playing or explore rhythmic precision, the "Farandole" sheet music may be exactly what you need. 

10. “Bourrée” from Water Music by George Frideric Handel

"Bourrée" is a lively Baroque dance form part of a larger orchestral suite by Frideric Handel intended to entertain guests during royal festivities. Other composers, including Bach in his "Bourrée in E minor," also adopted the dance form, making it one of the most famous dance movements of the Baroque era. 

Handel's piece is excellent for practicing timing, rhythm, and articulation on the violin. It features bright orchestration, a lot of rhythmic energy, and contrasting sections. 

Add the piece's sheet music to your practice file if you want to dive into the Baroque era with upbeat melodies. 

11. “Vivaldi Spring” by Antonio Vivaldi

"Vivaldi Spring" is a prominent piece from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," initially written for solo violin and orchestral performances. Like many Baroque concertos, it follows a three-movement structure (Allegro, Largo e pianissimo sempre, and Allegro pastorale).  

"Vivaldi Spring" exemplifies Baroque music's vivid depiction of nature, particularly the freshness and renewal of spring. Vivaldi uses musical techniques like rapid scales and trilling passages to mimic the movements of streams and bird calls, challenging violinists to convey imagery through music.

Check out Trala’s "Vivaldi Spring" sheet music for free!

12. “Feinsliebchen Sollst Mir Nicht Barfuss Gehn” by Johannes Brahms

"Feinsliebchen Sollst Mir Nicht Barfuss Gehn," which translates into "My darling, you should not walk barefoot," is part of Brahm's folk and love songs collection. The piece has romantic and tender melodic lines that highlight the love and affection expressed in the title and beautifully capture the nuances of longing and affection typical of Brahms' lyrical style.

If you're looking for a piece to help with expressive phrasing and emotional expression, this is the violin song for you. Download Trala’s sheet music for your practice sessions. 

13. "Andante Cantabile" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

"Andante Cantabile" was originally part of Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1. However, it has transitioned into a widely loved piece that has been performed in various arrangements over the years. The piece is noteworthy for its rich, emotive melody, which Tchaikovsky himself considered to evoke a sense of serene melancholy. 

This is yet another piece that can help violinists practice their emotional expression. Use Trala's sheet music as a guide. 

Master the classical violin with Trala

Learning the violin can be an uphill battle. However, you can gradually improve your skills with professional guidance from Trala teachers and regular practice sessions incorporating the songs discussed in this post. 

With Trala, you don't just get access to free sheet music. The school also provides violin lessons guided by world-class teachers who are ready to tailor your sessions to align with your needs and skill levels. Whether you're a beginner or advanced violin player or want to delve into the classical violin pieces discussed here or explore other genres, rest assured, you're in the right hands. 

Sign up for Trala today to get matched with an experienced instructor and learn how to play impressive songs like these (and more)!

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