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What Are Some Famous Violin Pieces?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 23, 2024
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Some famous violin pieces are Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Concerto in E Major, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. These musical compositions are among the most recognizable for listeners, and they are also some of the most familiar ones for both violin students and professional musicians. Bach and Mozart are two composers who made significant contributions to repertoires for stringed instruments, and Barber later built on that foundation with his famous contemporary violin piece. The three famous violin pieces are considered some of the most intricate works for this instrument, and a musician who is able to play them well reflects a considerable amount of dedication to the violin.

The Violin Concerto in E Major is one of Bach's pieces that places emphasis on the solo violin backed by a harpsichord along with other main stringed instruments found in the orchestras of the composer's day. This concerto is one of many secular famous violin pieces that Bach wrote under the patronage of Germany's Prince Leopold between 1717 and 1723. The E major chord dominates much of this score until the slow-tempo second movement that changes to a minor chord and therefore creates a quite different mood for the listeners. A virtuoso solo violinist gets the opportunity to both interact musically with the rest of the musicians and show off his talent in the livelier final movement of this concerto.

Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is often translated as the title "A Little Night Music," and it is usually recognizable even to listeners who generally do not listen to classical music. This piece is commonly used in popular culture, including in movies and television shows. The prodigy composer wrote Eine Kleine Nachtmusik in a style that noticeably departs from some of his other famous violin pieces. Some musical historians even debate if this piece should be classified as a symphony, a chamber quartet piece, or another style of classical music entirely.

One of the most famous violin pieces of the 20th century is Barber's Adagio for Strings, which he composed in the late 1930s amidst the Great Depression and the beginnings of World War II. This well-known piece was originally intended for a string quartet, although it is more recognizable for its impact when a full orchestra plays it. The structure of Adagio for Strings is intended to take the audience on an emotional journey that starts with a single violin note that builds into more complex melodies.

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Discussion Comments

By jonrss — On Jan 21, 2012

Classical violin music is my favorite thing to listen to when I am trying to relax. There is just something about the sound of the violin that grabs your attention and helps you forget about your moment.

I have several compilations of famous classical violin pieces that I checked out from the library. I have listened to them all dozens of times but I never get sick of them. I have it queued up so I just have to hit play when I get home after work.

By Ivan83 — On Jan 20, 2012

I don't know if this counts as a famous violin piece but I love playing four violins by Steve Reich. I haven't been able to play it for years because it is hard to find three other violinists who are on board for that style of composition.

It is a very rhythmic and looping piece of music that uses repetition and phases to create an effect on the listener that is both dramatic and hypnotic.

I went to a music conservatory for one year and I had friends who liked this piece as much as I do. We performed it and several other pieces by Reich at a recital.

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