Playing violin duets with other musicians is a great way to practice your musical skills! Making music with friends (or even new people) can be very rewarding, and builds important listening and communication skills.
Playing an instrument can be hard if you practice by yourself and get lonely. Find someone with a similar musical experience to keep you company. Today’s list of violin duos moves from easy to advanced pieces, so take your pick!
I’ve tried to be inclusive with the genres I’ve assigned to these duets. You can find Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, and Jazz music all in these pages. I also arranged some pieces for different combinations of instruments so try requesting a piece if you have a few friends that play something!
Easy Violin Duos for Beginners
To start out the violin, it might be best to learn some duets with another musician. Check these 5 duets with step by step instructions!
1. Tunes for Two – 30 Very Easy Duets for Violin
This violin duo set is great for beginners. If you’ve been playing less than 6 months, you should be able to play the music in this set already.
In this book, you’ll find music. The tunes get progressively more difficult as you look through them, but both parts are at the same level and all pieces are in their first position.
2. Suzuki – Duets for Violins
Suzuki Duets for Violins are a must if you’re teaching yourself the Suzuki violin books. If you’ve mastered the first three violin books, why not find a friend that can play them as well and have fun playing your repertoire together?
The duet book only includes the second violin part, so the person playing the top part will need their own Suzuki book.
3. David McKeown – 11 Easy Jazz Duets for Violin
If you love jazz and want to explore it on your violin, these duets will be a great place to start! There are 6 different styles, from swing, rock ballads or even a jazzy waltz.
Rhythm is the hardest part of most jazz music, and these duets are no exception. They stay entirely within the first position, but there’s some tricky swung jazz rhythms to match. But as long as you listen to a lot of jazz already, it shouldn’t take too much time to get used to them.
4. George Frideric Handel – Nine Easy Duets for Two Violins
This collection of violin duets by Baroque composer George Frideric Handel includes nine short dance movements, similar to Mozart’s 12 Easy Duets which you will find in the intermediate section.
The music isn’t too difficult to follow, but there are some trills and you have to leave the first position for short periods of time. For that reason, this piece is great for people who want to practice shifting and do it well.
5. F. Mazas – Twelve Little Duets for Two Violins Op. 38, No.1
The 1st movement in Mazas 12 Duets for Violin is great for beginners. Give the other 11 movements a look if you’re interested!
The first duet in the second violin part does not include many double stops, but most of them do involve playing an open string. There are some grace notes, and the two violin parts are about equally difficult to play.
Best Violin Duos for Intermediate Violinists
This playlist of violin duets is perfect for when you’re developing your technique and face up to more challenging rhythms!
1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – 12 Easy Duets, K. 487
Mozart’s “Easy Duets” have been arranged for a wide range of instruments, including two violins. Two popular arragements of K.487 are violin and viola, and violin and cello. These dance-like movements are entertaining and easy to practice.
Both parts are of the same level, so it’s a good way to tease your duet partner who you can trade off playing half the notes. This piece is all about the 16th note rhythms and the different key signatures used in each movement.
2. Dmitri Shostakovich – 5 Pieces for 2 Violins and Piano
Personally, I think this is a great album and shouldn’t be overlooked. These pieces are more lighthearted than most of his Soviet-period work. His music was pulled from his Ballet Suites and some movie music.
The violin parts are paired in terms of difficulty. The first violin part is a little more difficult and the second violin is easier. The third position is a place left vacant for the trumpet player to take over, and it’s surprisingly fun to play. Playing with other viola players and piano players is a great way to build skills and confidence as a chamber musician.
3. Béla Bartók – 44 Duos for Two Violins, Sz. 98
The 44 Duos are a good introduction to modern music. They start off easy, but they get more difficult by the end. A movement in music is a part of a song or composition. Polytonality is a type of movement where different keys are played by different musicians.
These pieces are based on Hungarian folk songs, and were written by Bartók for students to learn how to work together. They’re not exactly concert worthy but they’re definitely helpful in teaching coordination.
4. J.S. Bach – Concerto for 2 Violins in D Minor, BWV 1043
The Bach Double Concerto is a great piece to learn on violin. It’s even in the fourth book of Suzuki Violin!
In the violin melody, there are two parts that seem very similar – one is a soloist, which will be weaving in and out with the other soloist. In the orchestra accompaniment there are two melodies that can be heard as well. I can’t imagine being lucky enough to play this concerto with an orchestra! It would lay a beautiful foundation for me.
This is a hard piece of music to play and the first violin does go quite high for its part. People who know this classical piece should be able to identify the theme in it. It might help you learn new music if you recognise it!
5. F. Mazas – 6 Duets for Two Violins, Op. 39
Six Duets, Op 39 by J. Mazas is a fun piece to play with different articulations. The violin parts are both difficult and enjoyable. Dynamic changes and spiccato create a lively, pleasing sound.
6. Luigi Boccherini – Duets for Two Violins, G. 63-68
These duets are really beautiful pieces of Classical music. The two violin parts intertwine and sound like one another. Duet partners know how to give and take feedback and teach each other how to improve communication. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to learn how to match tone and mood!
This duet includes some tricky double stops, 32nd notes and some difficult signatures. Neither part is high, but both violin parts are equally hard.
Best Violin Duos for Advanced Violinists
Violinists who have been playing a long time might want to try out some duets. If you’re not at this level yet, then just give these pieces a listen. Violins are amazing! Their sounds can range from vigorous to delicate and even mournful. They’re great at what they do and a fantastic way to experience the violin.
1. Reinhold Glière – 12 Duos for 2 Violins, Op. 49, No. 1
These duos have a lot of expression and emotion. Reinhold Gliere was a Russian composer and violinist from the late 1800s to the early 20th century. He studied violin with the famous teacher Otakar Ševcík.
To play these violin duets, two musicians are needed. Both should be familiar with the use of vibrato and bowing to help create expression. Every movement is full of character and both instrumentalists should be able to portray the different moods of the music as they go.
2. Henryk Wieniawski – Etude-Caprices for Two Violins, Op. 18
The opening of this violin piece is quite dark and mysterious, it will captivate you from the start. The song has grown gradually louder and faster over time so the performers and listeners get a fun adventure.
The first violin part is much harder than the second. The second violist will often play slow, low melodies where as the first violinist will play many high, fast arpeggios and ornaments.
3. Sergei Prokofiev – Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 56
One of Prokofiev’s most famous sonatas and also one of his most romantic pieces, this two-movement sonata is often described as “arduous”, but don’t be discouraged by its reputation! The piece has a tonal/harmonic content (not dissonant) and you will find that it may seem challenging at first glance.
The violin parts in Prokofiev’s other sonatas are equally matched and equally hard. A high range and fast-changing dynamics might make this a tough sonata to learn, but with some dedication and practice, it can be mastered by violinists.
4. Eugène Ysaÿe – Sonata for Two Violins in A Minor, Op. posth.
Ysaÿe’s Sonata for Two Violins is a difficult piece. Late Romantic and impressionist, the music is very virtuosic. This sonata was published after the composer’s death in 1915.
The work is tricky and requires advanced listening skills, similar to that of a duet. It goes beyond stamina and measures how the musician can fully express their own personality. The dense writing of the music makes it sound like more instruments are being played than just the two violins.
5. Handel-Halvorsen – Passacaglia in G Minor
The passacaglia is originally a violin and viola piece. It’s often called the “impossible duet” because it’s very difficult to play. The second part of the piece is often played by a cellist, but Jascha Heifetz rearranged it for two violins in the 1920s. His version of the story was published just recently.
What makes this piece so hard? So many double stops and difficult rhythms. Subtle layers of sounds like instruments being played together create an intricate piece. The second part for the instruments is just as difficult as the first and both players need to know how to play staccato, pizzicato, ricochet, and scales.
Even if this is hard, it’s still tons of fun and gets your creative juices flowing.
Best Violin Duos Composers
Violin duets are a diverse genre and every composer is really good. I hope you will listen to each one of these works and then focus on who else in the list you want to listen to based on what sounds good.
Here are the three composers and pieces to listen to first:
1. Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach’s Double Concerto can’t be ignored in the violin duet repertoire. It’s an important piece which has been around for awhile and is still going strong. It’s worth learning if you’re a violin player.
Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins is beautiful and was challenging for violin duets during the 20th century. This piece is worth the listen.
3. Augusta Read Thomas
The world of music would be different without musician Augusta Read Thomas. In spite of her violin duet not being her most famous work, it is still a very graceful example of the genre and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Types of Violin Duos
The term “violin duet” is often associated with pieces that are only written for two violins. I prefer to think of the term as being broader and including works for more than just two violins, like sonatas and concertos. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins is one of the most famous duets. Here are 3 types:
These pieces are written for two violins, with one being part A and the other part B. Their intricate nature makes them great teaching tools. Popular examples of violin duets are Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins, Bela Bartok’s 44 Duets for Two Violins, and Eugène Ysaÿe’s Duo Sonata.
Sonatas For Two Violins
Violin sonatas are a more extended and adapted form of the violin sonata. They’re written for two violins and piano. Violin sonatas and piano trios both follow certain conventions in their compositions, but they each have their own unique way of doing it.
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano is a commonly-used example of this category.
Concertos For Two Violins
Plenty of composers have written variations of Bach’s pieces. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Pablo de Sarasate and Eugène Ysaÿe have all written concertos for two violins.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or advanced violinist. The way you’ll feel connected with other musicians is amazing! There are so many opportunities for violinists to do jam sessions, that they can use it as a way to make new friends and reignite old friendships.
FAQ for Best Violin Duos
What Makes a Great Violin Duos?
Playing in a violin duo can make all sorts of new sounds and dynamics possible. The two instruments work together to produce an expansive range of music. Every duet is different and that’s what makes it stand out in the end. But while they are all different, there are compositional techniques that make some works stand out from the others.
The problem with writing pieces for violin duets is that there are only two instruments, so it can be difficult for composers to balance the voices. Contrasting instrument parts, including the full range of the instrument and tell a story are all awesome tools for any piece.
What are the best violin duos to listen to?
The best violin duos to listen to are ones that have a beautiful and rich sound. Listeners should be able to hear the different instruments playing in the background. The most prominent violin parts should be very clear.
The best violin duos are ones that are played by two people at once. The two violins should work together in perfect harmony and not compete with each other.
What are the most popular violin duos?
The most popular violin duos are the Kreisler-Heifetz, the Oistrakh-Schnittke, and the Menuhin-Richter.
What are some instrumental combinations for violin duos?
A violin duo can be composed of two violins, a violin and a cello, or even a violin and a piano. The most common combination is the violin and cello. This is because the timbre of their sounds blend well together.
Do you think that there is a difference between male and female violinists in terms of quality?
No, there is no difference. The quality of violinists is not dependent on their gender. The only thing that differentiates the two genders are their levels of skill and dedication to the instrument.
Do you think that violin duos have been around for a long time or are they something new?
Duos have been around for centuries. Violins became popular in Western Europe in the 17th century, and are thought to have originated in Italy.