Violist Composers

Violist Composers

 

  • According to one of his sons, when he wasn’t playing keyboard instruments Bach “preferred improvising on the viola”.
  • When Haydn, Mozart and friends got together to read string quartets, Mozart always took the viola part.
  • Before he moved to Vienna, Beethoven was a professional violist in Bonn.
  • As a teenager, Schubert played viola in his family string quartet.
  • In Mendelssohn‘s famous Octet, he wrote the second viola part for himself to play.
  • The solo viola part in Berlioz’s Harold in Italy was written for Paganini so he could show off his new Strad viola – he didn’t like it very much, so he wrote his own work, the Sonata per Gran’ Viola ed Orchestra.
  • Until his compositions caught Brahms’s ear, Dvorák made a living as a violist.
  • Rebecca Clarke was one of the first women in a professional London orchestra; her famous Sonata is just one of several compositions she wrote for her own instrument, the viola.
  • Although better known as a pianist, Britten was quite a good violist as well. He studied composition with Bridge – another violist.
  • Hindemith not only wrote lots of great viola music, he played it as well – besides his own works, he also premiered the Walton Concerto.