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Orchestral Tales: the violin

Paolo Pietropaolo

If you take the most famous solos for a given instrument of the orchestra, you’ll find a vivid character emerges — a character with a magical story to tell. That’s the idea behind Orchestral Tales, Season 3 of the award-winning Signature Series.

To hear the violin’s tale, click on the Soundcloud play button below. Scroll down for a complete list of the featured compositions.

Read more about the violin’s characteristics below.


Orchestral section:


Patron instrument of:

Compassion, independence, performance.

Violin-like fictional characters:

- Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series.
- Lyra Belacqua from The Golden Compass.

1 violin clip to watch before you die:

When one of the best violinists alive is Canadian, why look anywhere else? James Ehnes plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s immortal Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin:

3 immortal violin moments in pop culture:

1. That time one of the world’s top violinists (Joshua Bell) played anonymously in a Washington, D.C., subway station:

2. The soaring musical bridge by the entire violin section in Ben E. King’s classic, “Stand By Me.”

3. The violin solo by 9-year-old Christoph Koncz as Kaspar Weiss in the movie The Red Violin.

1 reason to play the violin:

Because it’s the violin.

(A few) famous violinists you should know about:

- Niccoló Paganini.
- Itzhak Perlman.
- Laurie Anderson.
- Isaac Stern.
- Rachel Barton Pine.
- Yehudi Menuhin.
- Sarah Chang.
- James Ehnes.
- Jascha Heifetz.
- Fritz Kreisler.
- Stéphane Grappelli.

Pieces heard in The Violin’s Tale (in order of first appearance):

- Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, second movement.
- Sibelius: Violin Concerto, first movement.
- Grieg: Holberg Suite, fifth movement.
- Beethoven: Violin Concerto, third movement.
- Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, first movement.
- Sibelius: Violin Concerto, third movement.
- Vivaldi: Winter, first movement, from The Four Seasons.
- Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances, first movement.
- Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, fourth movement.
- Mendelssohn: Overture from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending.
- Stravinsky: "Berceuse" from The Firebird.
- Copland: Appalachian Spring.
- Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, third movement.
- Brahms: Violin Concerto, third movement.

Meet all of the instruments.