Top 20 Violin Duets from Easy to Hard

by | Jun 2, 2022 | 0 comments

Best violin duets sorted by level

Playing any instrument well requires spending many hours alone, working out the kinks in rhythms, fingerings, intonation… you get the idea. We accept it as necessary, yet we know that music is not meant to be done alone all the time, and sometimes just one other person makes all the difference. Fortunately for us, violin is one of the most popular instruments on the face of the planet, so it shouldn’t be hard to find someone else to jam with. No matter what level you’re currently at, you’ll enjoy browsing the list below to find new, beautiful violin duets (or sometimes entire books!) that will renew your motivation while enhancing your technical skills.

Level 1: Easy beginner violin duets

(Suzuki Book 1-2)

In this section, the very first pieces can be played by absolute beginners. After that, they use basic finger patterns in first position only. Some of the later duets use sharps or flats that may be unfamiliar to an early Suzuki student, but there is nothing beyond Book 2.

#1 My First Progressive Duets (arranged or composed by D. Gazda and L. Clark)

This book is great for several reasons. Not only does it include duets at the beginning that can be played by absolute beginners, but there are editions for every string instrument, so you can have fun playing duets with any violinists, violists, cellists, or bassists you know.

#2 Tunes for Two: 30 Very Easy Duets (Nico Dezaire)

Another great book for having fun and learning technique for the beginner. At first only open strings are used! After that, the basic finger patterns are introduced. This volume includes popular songs from around the world arranged for you and your favorite other violinist.

#3 Easiest Christmas Duets (Betty Barlow)

If you’re preparing for your first winter recital, chances are Christmas tunes are on your mind. Betty Barlow’s book is a great place to start, as her arrangements are simple yet lyrical. You will enjoy playing many of the old western favorites, as well as a few lesser-known carols.

#4 Easy Baroque Duets for Violin (Betty Barlow)

Betty Barlow strikes again! This book is a little more advanced than the Christmas book, as it uses more slurs, and accidentals. But it’s worth practicing these techniques to play the arrangements of Bach, Handel, Telemann, Corelli, and many others.

Level 2: Easy/intermediate violin duets

(Suzuki 2-3)

These are all still in first position but begin to use more advanced slurring patterns and accidentals.

#1 Mozart Easy Violin Duets (ed. Waldemar Twarz)

These are great preparation for Mozart’s violin duets, which are some of the most popular in the literature. The duets included here Mozart originally wrote for either two pianos or two basset horns (a mellow, clarinet-like instrument). They transfer well to violin, however, and these arrangements stay in first position.

#2 Bach Easy Violin Duets (ed. Waldemar Twarz)

A book of charming minuets and waltzes, these were also originally piano works. They are of the same difficulty as Twarz’s Mozart book, and a good next step from Betty Barlow’s book if you’re looking for more Baroque works.

#3 Six Petits Duos for Violin No. 6 Romanze (Ignaz Pleyel)

Ignaz Pleyel was born in Austria in 1757 into a somewhat large family: he was the 24th of 38 kids. He eventually studied with Joseph Haydn and became one of the best-loved composers of his generation. This short duet opens with a lyrical adagio, then moves into sparkling allegro rhythms.

#4 Suzuki Duets for Violins (Suzuki)

A great supplement for anyone studying the first three volumes of Suzuki. This book contains only the second violin parts, the first violinist just plays the melody from a regular Suzuki book. As one Amazon reviewer put it: “It makes you want to practice and that’s saying quite a bit.”

Level 3: Intermediate violin duets

(Suzuki 4-6)

Here third position is used, as well as a little fourth position in the Shostakovich. Also the are more advanced articulation markings used (lots of staccato, dashes, ritards, but fortunately no fancy French words). The first wenty or so Bartok duos are quite compatible with this level, but the rest may be more of a challenge depending how comfortable you are reading rhythms. Soem of the Barotk and Shostakovich movements also use double-stops.

#1 Concerto for Two Violins in D Major, 1st Movement (J.S. Bach)

A Book 4 milestone for any Suzuki student, this brilliant piece can never be enjoyed too many times. Both violinists get equal chances to play the melodies, and it is a wonderful opportunity for two advanced students to play their first concerto with orchestra if there is an ensemble available.

#2 Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor Op. 3 No. 8, 1st Movement (Antonio Vivaldi)

Although not as famous as the Bach Double, this piece is actually slightly easier while having all that juicy Baroque flair. Violinists who love fiddle music will enjoy learning all the fast string crossings, known as “bariolage” in classical music.

#3 44 Duos for Two Violins (Bela Bartok)

Bartok was a Hungarian composer known for collecting and analyzing fold music. His 44 duets blend these themes with modern compositional techniques such as contrasting harmonies, rhythms, and detailed articulation markings. The notes for the first several movements are not very difficult, but these extra elements make them more challenging.

#4 Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano (Dimitri Shostakovich)

These pieces are probably the most lyrical, sweetest Shostakovich compositions you will ever hear. They make wonderful recital pieces; even artists such as Itzhak Perlman and Anne-Sophie Mutter perform them. Yet they are also good for advancing students looking for something in the modern Russian style.

Level 4: Advanced violin duets

(Suzuki 7-10)

This level jumps slightly from the last one. Some parts go as high as seventh position, and include frequent double-stops. The tempos are very quick with lots of sixteenth-note passages and trills. This pieces are suitable for the advance student who has a solid understanding of rhythms, smooth shifting skills, and is comfortable with the full range of finger patterns.

#1 Duo No. 1, Op. 5 in C Major (Luigi Boccherini)

Italian composer Luigi Boccherini spent most his life writing sunny music for courts in Vienna and Madrid. This violin duet is challenging due to its bright tempo, trills, fast shifting, and many twists and turns in the dynamics.

#2 Three Duos for Two Violins (Max Reger)

These intriguing and little-known pieces meld modern harmonic thought with traditional baroque forms. Reger, who lived into the 20th century, was a fantastic keyboardist in Leipzig who was particularly known for playing Bach. In these duets, he takes the traditional Baroque fugue style and infuses 20th-century harmonies and rhythms.

#3 Chaconne in A Minor (Jacques Aubert)

A chaconne is a set of variations based on a short harmonic pattern. There are several beautiful Chaconnes for solo violin, such as the ones by Bach and Vitali. Aubert is a rather forgotten composer, but this flowing, evocative piece is harmonically rich and reminiscent of organ music.

#4 Duo Concertante for Two Violins No. 3 in D Major (Charles de Beriot)

Beriot wrote three concert violin duets, as well as a volume of twelve easier duets. Duo Concertante No. 3 is the most famous, particularly the last movement, and frequently performed around the world. The quick sixteenth notes, abrupt string crossings, and doublestops make it a challenging but exciting piece.

Level 5: Most difficult violin duets

These four duets are among the most virtuosic ever written. Standard professional repertoire, they utilize the entire range of the instrument, intricate rhythms and harmonies, and polyphonic writing (one instrument playing two melodies simultaneously). They are best for very advanced, highly motivated players who are either looking for flashy performance pieces or who want to use them to improve technique.

#1 Passacaglia (G. F.  Handel/Johan Halvorsen)

The passacaglia style derives from 17th-century Spain, where it meant a short instrumental interlude. This piece is anything but a short interlude. Handel originally composed this as part of a harpsichord sonata, and then Halvorsen arranged it for duet. The lower part can be played by violin, viola, or cello.

#2 Navarra (Pablo de Sarasate)

Most pieces listed here (except for the Bach and Vivaldi concertos and Shostakovich) are for two violins unaccompanied. However, Sarasate composed this piece for two violins and orchestra, his only work of this kind. In classic Sarasate style, both parts are equally virtuosic, using the entire range of the instrument

#3 Etudes-Caprices for Two Violins (Henryk Wieniawski)

A prolific over-achiever, 19th-century Polish virtuoso Henryk Wieniawski not only wrote an entire set of solo violin caprices, but also an entire set for violin duo. Take that Paganini.

#4 Sonata for Two Violins (Eugene Ysaye)

Like Wieniawski, Ysaye is another composer/virtuoso known for his extremely challenging solo violin repertoire. It’s no surprise then that his duet is also one of the most challenging ever written. Its complex harmonies and frequent chords for each player make it difficult to play in tune and together. 

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Enjoy playing violin duets

Playing together with someone on your level and making music together can be very inspiring and motivating to practice violin.

You’ll have a clear goal and you don’t have to do it alone.

How to find a violin duo partner?

The easiest resource is your teacher or the music school you have lessons. They can probably match you with someone.

The Violin Guild Facebook group is also a great place to meet other string players and perhaps you’ll find a violin player in your area.

What’s your favorite violin duo?

What do you enjoy playing? Leave a comment below!

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