While there are many lists of difficult violin pieces, it’s hard to say which one is the most accurate. It’s important to take into account the skills a piece of music requires as well as the demands for expressiveness when rating it, such as control and tone quality of the bow, dexterity, whether there is vibrato (e.g. shaking before and after playing) and tempo.
One thing that most violinists or aspiring violinists will attest to is that it takes a lot of hard work to learn some of the hardest solos in the repertoire. They require hours and hours of practice, dedication, frustration, and dedication.
These pieces are tough! They’re high-pressure and they require a lot of skill to play. But if you can give them the attention they need, they’ll sound fantastic! The hardest pieces to play are either concertos or virtuoso solo pieces in which the violinist is totally “exposed.”
- Top Difficult Violin Pieces
- 1. Partita D minor BWV 1004 by JS Bach (1720)
- 2. The ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata No.9; Op. 47 in A Major by Beethoven (1803)
- 3. 24 Caprices by Paganini (1802–1817)
- 4. Violin Concerto in D minor; Op.47 by Jean Sibelius (1903; revised 1905)
- 5. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
- 6. Concerto No. 1 in a minor, Dmitri Shostakovich
- 7. Concerto in D Major, Ludwig van Beethoven
- 8. Concerto No. 5 in A Major, W.A. Mozart
- 9. Johann Sebastian Bach: Chaconne in D Minor
- 10. Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
- 11. Niccolò Paganini: “Caprice No. 24”
- 12. Vittorio Monti: “Czardas”
- 13. Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E Minor
- 14. Johann Sebastian Bach: “Chaconne” from Partita No. 2 in D Minor
- 15. Ralph Vaughan Williams: “The Lark Ascending”
- 16. Johann Sebastian Bach: Air On The G String
- 17. Locatelli’s Caprice in D major Op. 3 No. 23 ‘Il labirinto armonico’
- 18. Ernst’s Variations on “The Last Rose of Summer”
- 19. Sivan’s Transcription of the Liszt B Minor Sonata for Solo Violin
- 20. JS Bach’s Chaconne from Partita in D Minor BWV1004
- FAQ for The Hardest Violin Pieces
- What is the hardest violin piece?
- What is the most hardest popular violin piece?
- Who wrote and how long does the most difficult violin piece in history?
- What is the most difficult piece for a beginner violinist to learn?
- Are there any violin pieces that are too difficult even for professionals?
Top Difficult Violin Pieces
As a starting point for our review of really complex violin pieces, the requirements for each individual work are given that the instrument has developed as well as the technical skill required.
1. Partita D minor BWV 1004 by JS Bach (1720)
J.S. Bach was known for his ability to create complex pieces from scratch, and his reputation as an organist was well-deserved. Bach was a master of polyphonic musical textures, but this was not at the cost of melodies. This partita demonstrates this gift, along with Bach’s incomparable ability to build strong musical structures.
The composition is written for one violin alone, without accompaniment. This presents a challenge for the composer. The composer must ensure that the violinist plays almost continuously for thirty-two minutes, providing melody and accompaniment. This is a difficult technical feat.
This partita, a relatively late Bach piece, shows Bach’s complete mastery of the violin that he learned as a young man. Partita was a popular musical form in Baroque and consisted of several movements that were inspired by Renaissance dance forms.
They are: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue and Chaconne in this partita. While most violinists believe that the faster sections are easier to play, Bach gave the Chaconne the best test. The Spanish origins of the Chaconne are believed to be in Spain.
Bach uses this musical form to create an eight-bar theme that is followed by 32 variations. This is a relatively simple piece that Bach created and it has one of his most challenging violin pieces. It also features one of the most beautiful ending sections to any piece music.
2. The ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata No.9; Op. 47 in A Major by Beethoven (1803)
It takes only five minutes to hear this piece. You will see that Beethoven wrote a masterpiece. The piece is also a feat of performance skill, both for the pianist and the violinist. It is similar to the ‘Eroica Symphony’ that followed it, and has a feeling of heroic struggle. It is the central focus of many Beethoven’s subsequent works.
This sonata was originally written for George Bridgetower, but after a poor performance, Beethoven rewrote the dedication to Rudolph Kreutzer, a French violinist who was renowned.
This sonata consists of three movements. Each one has its own challenges, as you might expect. Beethoven opens the sonata by introducing the tonic minor (A major) with a brief lyric introduction, before moving into the presto section that makes up the main portion of the movement.
The second movement, Andante with variazioni is slow and interestingly written in F major. Beethoven concludes the work with a rondo movement. This sonata demands a lot of technical control and a lot of energy. This is an intense, lyrical work that only the true virtuoso should attempt.
3. 24 Caprices by Paganini (1802–1817)
This selection of pieces is a return to the world solo violin. These pieces were created in batches over a period of fifteen years for solo violin. Together they make up one of the greatest collections of pieces ever written for the instrument. Paganini was a legend as a virtuoso musician. Many stories relate to his incredible technique, which led to rumours of him being associated with the Devil.
Caprices are pieces that are lively and capable of changing mood or direction in an instant. Each caprice Paganini created is full of personality and presents a technical challenge that would have been able to be demonstrated by the master.
Listen to all the pieces carefully and don’t let your mind be deceived into believing they are technical exercises. Each Caprice is unique and musical, perhaps similar to the miniatures Schumann wrote on piano. You can listen to the Caprices and hear the following: double, triple, and quadruple string stopping; harmonics; fast passagework; bowing, plucking simultaneously, and double-stopped trills.
This is the final caprice, which is probably the most well-known among the twenty-four. The composers who followed Paganini have arranged and made many variations on the compelling melody. Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Paganini theme; Eugene Ysaye – “Variations On Paganini’s 24th Caprice; Lizst – “Etudes d’execution transcendante d’apres Paganini”.
4. Violin Concerto in D minor; Op.47 by Jean Sibelius (1903; revised 1905)
Although I realize that I am stretching my definitions of Romantic music by making this selection, it is an important piece for violinists around the world. It is also one of the most difficult pieces ever written for orchestra and violin. Sibelius, a neglected composer whose music continues the legacy of Romantic composers past, is often overlooked. His ability to conjure images and landscapes from Finland is unsurpassed.
The Violin Concerto is truly virtuosic, based on Sibelius’s experience as a violinist. Sibelius, in his early years, was determined to be a soloist on the violin. He received compliments such as genius form his teachers at Helsinki University. Sibelius was afflicted by depression and alcoholism throughout his life. He eventually resigned himself as a composer and not a performer.
This masterful work is remarkable because it shows no sign of weakness. Even the 1905 revised version, which simplified passages for the soloist violin, leaves the instrumentist with a daunting task to learn the work. (Listen to the independent rhythms that the soloist must play after the climax in the 2nd movement.
The movements are as follows:
- Allegro moderato
- Adagio di molto
5. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
This piece was written in 1878 and is one of Tchaikovsky’s most well-known pieces. It is also one of his most difficult to play.
The concerto, aside from the music, is 35 minutes of pure heaven for lovers classical music. The piece is divided into three continuous movements and was first performed by Adolph Brodsky, Vienna 1881.
After experiencing relationship problems and a crisis in confidence in his previous work, Tchaikovsky composed this piece of music.
The concerto shows his emotional rollercoaster, with extreme highs and lows. It ends in an upbeat ending that signifies his coming to terms. The concerto has been featured in numerous TV and film productions over the years. It is beautiful.
6. Concerto No. 1 in a minor, Dmitri Shostakovich
It is a hauntingly beautiful piece that transports its listeners to new places in their emotional lives. Soloists are discovering this hidden gem and trying to capture its melancholic tones.
Shostakovich wrote this concerto during censorship in his country. He showed courage and belief by expressing his feelings at a time when everyone was supposed to remain silent and not question communist rule.
This three-movement concerto is a modern masterpiece that should be enjoyed by music lovers of all types.
7. Concerto in D Major, Ludwig van Beethoven
This wonderfully upbeat concerto was a major influence on many violinists. It was first performed by Franz Clement 1606, to a small but enthusiastic audience. Joseph Joachim 1844 made it popular. Since then, thousands of violinists have performed it.
The concerto is composed of three movements. The first, a 25-minute introduction, spellbinds the audience. Although the concerto was initially slow, audiences quickly became more interested in it once they heard the power, energy and vitality of the piece.
Even those who aren’t familiar with classical music will find Beethoven’s music a familiar name.
8. Concerto No. 5 in A Major, W.A. Mozart
Mozart is the genius behind some of the best violin music. A list like this would be appropriate for any Mozart composition, but this one is unique because of its vibrancy.
The solo violin plays a brief piece in the opening adagio, and then continues to play gently over the orchestra for the rest of the concerto.
You can’t help but smile when you hear his concerto. It is evident in both the faces of players and audiences. The concerto consists of three movements and lasts 328 minutes. It also includes an unusual piece in Turkish music during Rondo Finale.
9. Johann Sebastian Bach: Chaconne in D Minor
This piece was written between 1717-1720 and consists of five movements. Each movement has its own identity that stamps on the audience. Audiences are captivated by the spirituality of the music from the very first note. They are invited to ride a rollercoaster of emotions.
It is a concerto that soloists love because it is structurally sound. This is a popular piece for teachers who want to challenge their students.
Is there a favorite violin piece that we have missed? It is difficult to choose from the many wonderful pieces of violin music over the years. We would love to hear your opinion on which piece of violin music you prefer.
10. Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Vivaldi’s Violin Concertos for Violin in E major (RV 269) and G minor (RV 315), F major (RV 293), F minor (RV 297), are more well-known than anyone who knows what they really are. The set of concertos that makes up The Four Seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter) are what we’re referring to.
Although the works were composed almost 300 years ago, they have remained a staple of concert halls worldwide. They often inspire new compositions like Max Richter’s 2012 Recomposed or Anna Meredith’s 2016 Anno which includes electronics and visuals.
11. Niccolò Paganini: “Caprice No. 24”
Paganini’s Caprice No. 24 is the perfect choice if you’re looking for technical, virtuosic writing on violin. 24″ is a great example of this. This caprice is a variation on solo violin work, which has been long considered to be one of the most difficult pieces ever composed for the instrument.
It features an agile scale and arpeggio passages as well as parallel octaves, double-stopping for many days, lots of running up the fingerboard and some left hand pizzicato. If you find this all a bit overwhelming, just listen to it. Technical knowledge aside, it is pretty amazing.
12. Vittorio Monti: “Czardas”
Like Paganini’s Caprice No. 24. The crowd-pleasing part of concert programs often features the “Czardas,” an Italian composer Monti. The work was composed in 1904 following a traditional Hungarian folk dancing (or csardas). It begins slowly with lots of raw Italianate emotion, before breaking out into semiquaver passages that are later paired with melodic phrases.
With all that drama and sentimentality, perfect for an expressive instrument like the violin, we’re not surprised it remains an instantly-recognisable favourite. This one is a challenge to those less familiar with the concert hall: Think Lady Gaga circa 2010.
13. Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E Minor
One of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor’s biggest qualities is its memorable theme which sticks in your mind. The violin plays the beautiful melody first which is really uncommon for concertos of that time. You can also hear this theme in different iterations and with interesting textures throughout the sonata form section.
14. Johann Sebastian Bach: “Chaconne” from Partita No. 2 in D Minor
The beginning of Bach’s Partita No. 2 “Chaconne”, marked by jagged chords, is signalled by these notes. 2 in D minor violin. This opening is as dramatic as any other work on this list. The popular Bach violin piece was composed between 1717-1720. It stretches across four notes and has multiple melody lines that can be sounded simultaneously.
Joshua Bell, a violinist, described it as “not only one of the most important pieces of music ever composed but one of history’s greatest achievements.” It is a powerful spiritual piece, emotional powerful and structurally perfect. It’s well worth listening to.
15. Ralph Vaughan Williams: “The Lark Ascending”
The soaring melodies in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” are undoubtedly English and more enjoyable for violinists than for those who love it. It was originally written for piano and violin, but was rewritten for solo violin and orchestra in 1920. The work is still a favorite in concert halls across the UK and internationally.
It is inspired by George Meredith’s poem of the identical name. It witnesses a lark as “He raises and begins to round/ He drops the Silver Chain of Sound …” It’s an epitome nostalgic English pastoral romanticism.
16. Johann Sebastian Bach: Air On The G String
August Wilhelmj, a German violinist, composed an arrangement of “Air” from JS Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, solo violin and orchestra. The arrangement also allowed for a soloist instead of a group of first violins singing the melody. It required that the soloist play the entire piece on the lowest string of the violin, which opened up new possibilities as to how the piece might sound and how difficult it could be. ).
It has been popular ever since. It inspired the Procol Harum hit song “A Whiter shade Of Pale”, and it was featured in many TV commercials.
17. Locatelli’s Caprice in D major Op. 3 No. 23 ‘Il labirinto armonico’
This caprice was originally written to be Locatelli’s cadenza for his 12th violin concerto. It is three minutes of uninterrupted violinist hell. Some say that it is more difficult than Paganini’s most complicated stuff. This caprice has been cited as preceding the flashy super virtuoso tradition of over 50 years.
Chappell White called the cappriccio “the hardest display passages in Baroque literature.” Locatelli added an inscription to the piece that reads “Harmonic labyrinth: Easy entry, difficult escape!”
18. Ernst’s Variations on “The Last Rose of Summer”
Ernst’s extraordinary violin work is a testament to his anonymity. One of the most famous sayings was that people who are able to play Paganini believe they have enough to show off and don’t want to learn Ernst because he is miles ahead in difficulty. One example: Variation on “The Last Rose of Summer”.
This set of variations is considered one of the most difficult solo violin pieces due to its nearly impossible, superhuman demands. Sometimes I can hear two violins. It’s no wonder that only a few violinists would touch this piece.
19. Sivan’s Transcription of the Liszt B Minor Sonata for Solo Violin
The piano world is very fond of Liszt’s sonata B minor. It is a work that Liszt’s terrifying piano playing difficulties makes one of the most difficult in the standard repertoire. What happens when you rewrite the most difficult piano piece for violin. All hell broke loose.
This 2007 transcription was premiered in 2011. You can find out more! Giora Schmidt, the violinist, presented the premiere. This is a fair statement considering the length of the piece (35 minutes non-stop) as well as the unpaired requirements.
20. JS Bach’s Chaconne from Partita in D Minor BWV1004
Then there is Bach and then everyone else. The great German composer has not only created some of the most beautiful music ever written, but he also wrote some of his most difficult pieces for solo violin. The Partita no. 2 in d minor is his most difficult sonata. The best is 2 in d minor.
It is longer than the four previous movements combined and covers almost every technical aspect of Baroque instrument playing. If that doesn’t intimidate you, perhaps its intellectual and musical demands will. Paganini was the first to claim that violin virtuosity began with Paganini.
Here it is, my list of violin pieces I won’t play in my lifetime (although some “infamously difficult” pieces work).
We did not have enough space to include many difficult pieces of violin music in this article. Be prepared with plasters if you choose any of these options to be your most difficult violin piece. You will have a better experience once you learn the movements. It is important to practice, practice, practice, until you reach your goals.
FAQ for The Hardest Violin Pieces
What is the hardest violin piece?
The hardest violin piece is the one that is not written. It is the one that transcends music and language, which can only be experienced.
What is the most hardest popular violin piece?
The most difficult violin piece is the Paganini Caprice No. 24. It has a total of 88 notes and is considered one of the most difficult pieces in the world.
Who wrote and how long does the most difficult violin piece in history?
The longest violin piece was written by Johann Sebastian Bach and it is called the Partita No. 1 in D minor. It is over 130 minutes long and has a total of 24 movements, which include such difficult passages as the Fugue from Book 1 of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
What is the most difficult piece for a beginner violinist to learn?
The most difficult piece for a beginner violinist to learn is the first one. It is called “The Minuet in G.”
The minuet in G is the first piece that a violinist learns. It is a classical minuet, which means it has three parts: the minuet, the allemande, and the gigue.
- The first part of this minuet consists of two measures of repeated notes on A and C, followed by four measures of quick notes on E and D.
- The second part starts with two measures of repeated notes on B and D, followed by four measures of quick notes on A and C.
- The third part starts with two measures of repeated notes on G and F, followed by four measures of quick notes on E and D.
Are there any violin pieces that are too difficult even for professionals?
There are some violin pieces that are too difficult even for professionals. These pieces require the skills of a professional violinist to perform and there is no chance they will be able to play them.
Some of these pieces include Paganini’s 24th Caprice, Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, and Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky.