Top 23 Violin and Piano Duets

by | Jun 15, 2023 | 1 comment

Discover the most beautiful pieces for violin and piano duo

There are four basic categories of violin repertoire: unaccompanied violin, solo violin with orchestra, chamber music, and violin with piano. Most people who are not Felix Mendelssohn do not have a private orchestra at their disposal, and while you should try to put together a chamber group, it can take time to find the right people. Thus, it’s no surprise that most violin performances are done with piano.

There’s TONS of music out there for violin and piano, whether original compositions, transcriptions, or simplified arrangements. They range from exquisite to desperately boring. To save you some time, I’ve sorted out the desperately boring ones and chosen some of the best duets, easiest to hardest, for violin and piano. All this is classical music, but read to the end for some fun bonus suggestions.

Disclaimer: I wanted this to be a list of original compositions as much as possible, not transcriptions arrangements. This means I didn’t include any violin concertos with piano reductions, but only pieces that were originally meant to be violin and piano duets. I did include some volumes of arranged pieces for the easier levels.

#1 Solo Pieces for Beginning Violinists (arr. Craig Duncan)

This book contains sixteen short and very easy arrangements of popular pieces, both classical and fiddle tunes. There are staccato markings and slurs, but the rhythms are simple, and everything stays in first position. Because the tunes are very familiar, they are easy to learn, a fast addition to a student’s first recital.

Buy Duncan Solo Pieces for Beginning Violinist

#2 Betty Barlow Fiddle Tunes for the Violinist

Every beginner violinist should have this book on hand when they need a break from their main repertoire but still want to play something that will challenge them. Barlow presents dozens of catchy, energetic tunes, but each one also has technical challenges. These tunes are so fun to play that even advanced students enjoy reviewing them! A wonderful introduction to the incredible world of fiddle music.

Buy Barlow, Betty – Fiddle Tunes For The Violinist with Piano Accompaniment – Amsco Edition

#3 Classical Violin Music by Black Composers Vol. 1 (arr. Rachel Barton Pine)

American virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine loves finding music by little-known composers and making it available to musicians of all levels. In this volume, she presents 22 pieces arranged for beginners. If you’re curious about exploring music that is not included in Suzuki books, I recommend checking out collections like these.

Buy Classical Violin Music by Black Composers

#4 Six Very Easy Pieces by Edward Elgar

Easy beginner pieces by one of the 20th century’s greatest composers? Sign me up! It’s exciting when beginners are able to play pieces actually written for them by great composers, not just simplified arrangements. Coming from a composer who wrote some of the most beautiful music of the last one hundred years, you know that these little pieces will be worth the effort.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#5 Bach/Gounod Ave Maria

This lovely piece could be described as a collaboration 100 years in the making. How could J.S. Bach (1685-1750) and Charles Gounod (pronounced goo-no, 1818-1893) have written a piece together?
In 1722, Bach composed The Well-Tempered Klavier. Prelude and Fugue in C Major is the first work in the second volume, and one of the most famous. The Prelude is simply a gentle broken chordal pattern that ebbs and flows through many chord changes and dynamics.
Over 100 years later, the French composer Charles Gounod improvised a romantic melody of Bach’s baroque chord study. His future father-in-law transcribed the inspired improvisation and published it in 1853. It has since become one of the most widely played Ave Maria settings.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#6 Serenata by Enrico Toselli

This sweet, short, but little-known piece is wonderful for intermediate students who want to delve into Romantic works. It does contain shifting and quite a few high notes, but the tempo is not fast and the theme repeats so there is not that much music to learn.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#7 Schubert’s Sonatina in D Major

In classical music, sonatas are the highest form of duet because the violin and piano parts are so equal. If you do not feel ready to take on a whole sonata, why not try the mini version? I love this beautiful recording of Pinchas Zukerman playing Schubert’s Sonatina in D Major. It is not difficult like most Romantic sonatas but has beautiful melodies and charming interplay between violin and piano. If you’re interested in learning Beethoven or Mozart sonatas eventually, use this to learn the special collaboration skills needed for sonatas.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#8 Adoration by Felix Borowski

This piece embodies glorious hope in the face of tremendous pain and loss. Felix Borowski is not well-known in most circles. Born in England in 1872 of Polish descent, he later moved to Chicago where he became director of the Chicago Musical College and program annotator for the Chicago Symphony. He wrote three symphonies and three major organ sonatas, but Adoration is definitely his best-known work for violin.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#9 Elgar’s Salut d’Amour

In 1888, Elgar became engaged to his future wife Caroline. As a gift she sent him a poem she had written and titled “Love’s Grace”. Inspired by his love and his art, Elgar set it to music with the german title “Liebesgruss”. The love token gained him some material wealth as well when he entered it in a composing competition and won 5£ (about 2,600£ in today’s money). His publishers insisted that it would sell better if it had a French title, so he got it published as “Salur d’Amour”.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#10 Kreisler’s Three Viennese Waltzes

The three pieces are Liebesfreud (Love’s Joy), Liebeslied (Love’s Sorrow) and Schön Rosmarin (Lovely Rosemary). All three exhibit Kreisler’s characteristic trademarks of rubato and portamento. In order of least to most difficult, Liebeslied is the best piece to start with. It contains no doublestops, has a slow waltz tempo, and does not go past fourth position. Lovely Rosemary is not terribly fast, but does have several upbow staccato passages. It is a wonderful short piece for practicing this technique. Liebesfreud is the most difficult due to the faster tempo and consecutive thirds in the opening.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#11 Boulanger’s Deux Morceaux

Composed in 1911 by an 18-year-old Lili Boulanger, this hidden gem is starting to be more widely appreciated. It exhibits very strong influences from French impressionists like Claude Debussy (see if you can catch a moment in the piano that sounds exactly like Afternoon of a Fawn). This piece is not tragic, but it is definitely nostalgic. It is perhaps foreshadowing also, when you learn that Lili died only six years later.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#12 Kreisler’s Sicilienne and Rigaudon

Kreisler packs a big punch with this little fireball. The lilting, nostalgic sicilienne gives way to two pages of sixteenth-note runs and fiddle-like string crossings. It also incorporates some fun left hand pizzicato. Fortunately, it doesn’t go above third position, making it a great intermediate showpiece.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#13 Vitali’s Chaconne

A chaconne is basically variations on a theme. It is attributed to Antonio Vitali, although some speculate that it was written later by someone else. Regardless, the solo part was altered by Leopold Charlier in the 20th century to make it more virtuosic. The violin spins into more and more complex renditions of the main theme, each expressing a deep sense of longing.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#14 Kreisler’s Preludium and Allegro

Kreisler is best-known for his delightful encore pieces. He is also known for writing pieces “in the style” of other composers and affirming that they were the ones who had actually written them. Preludium and Allegro is an example of this. He said it was composed by Pugnani, and musicologists actually started talking about the piece under Pugnani’s name. They became very upset when they realized Kreisler had pulled one over on them!

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#15 Mozart’s Violin Sonata in G Major K. 301

It is so hard to pick just one Mozart sonata to list because he wrote thirty-six of them! Each is special in its own way, but K. 301 is very popular. All three movements are gentle and playful, which is wonderfully conveyed by Hilary Hahn in this recording.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#16 Franck’s Violin Sonata in A Major

Belgian composer Cesar Franck composed this in 1886 as a wedding present for the young violin virtuoso Eugene Ysaye. Franck was not at the wedding, but a friend of his presented the piece to Ysaye the morning of. After one quick rehearsal with his new sister-in-law, Ysaye performed the piece for his guests, and kept it in his repertoire for the next forty years.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#17 Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 5 in F Major

This work is better known as the “Spring” sonata, a nickname given it by Beethoven’s publishers thanks to its bright, refreshing character. This is only one of ten violin sonatas Beethoven wrote. The other two most famous ones are the “Kreutzer” sonata and Sonata No. 8 in G Major.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#18 Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso

Saint-Saens dedicated this work to Pablo de Sarasate. It has a distinct Spanish flavor; you can almost see the bullfighters strutting in during the main theme. Incredibly dramatic and evocative, it is a favorite among advanced students and major soloists. The recording below is performed by Christian Li, a world-famous soloist who is currently thirteen years old. His performance really brings out the energy and joy in the piece.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#19 Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor

If you don’t feel ready for the intensity of Brahms’s violin concerto, his three violin sonatas are a good way to get a feel for his style. His third sonata is extremely lyrical in the first two movements. In the third movement the pianist gets a chance to shine, and it closes with a virtuosic final movement.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#20 Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen

Pablo de Sarasate was one of the most beloved violinists of the early 20th century. Like many violin soloists of that time (including Fritz Kreisler and Henryk Wieniawski) he wrote many of the pieces he performed. “Zigeunerweisen” means “gypsy meadows,” which is exactly what the piece sounds like. If you enjoy this work, you will love diving into the world of Sarasate’s fiery compositions.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#21 Bazzini’s La Ronde des Lutins

Antonio Ba-who? Almost no-one has ever heard of this Italian composer, even though he was one of the most eminent violinists of the 19th century. Today he is only remembered by the few very advanced violinists who can even play his flashy encore Dance of the Goblins. Even if you’ve never heard of Bazzini, you’ve probably heard of the violinist playing in this recording.

Click here to download the free sheet music.

#22 Suite from “West Side Story” (arr. Raimundo Penaforte)

Three of the most famous tunes from Leonard Bernstein’s beloved score come to life for violin and piano in this arrangement. “I Feel Pretty”, “Somewhere”, and “America” create a suite that is memorable and rhythmically challenging.

Buy Bernstein, Leonard – Suite from “West Side Story” for Violin Piano – arranged by Raimundo Penaforte – Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Co

#23 The Lord of the Rings Music Book: Violin and Piano

This book has twelve songs from the whole trilogy including “Concerning Hobbits” and “In Dreams.” Some of these pieces were written for violin solo in the original score, while others have been transposed. If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you and your piano friend will love playing these arrangements.

Buy The Lord of the Rings – Violin and Piano – Book/CD set – Warner Brothers Music

Hi! I'm Zlata

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

I hope you’ve enjoyed this selection of violin and piano duos!

Of course there’s so much repertoire and so many gorgeous violin and piano sonatas that it’s almost criminal to leave it at these 23, haha!

Would you like to explore more violin pieces?

Check out these 107 student violin concertos and concertinos that can also be played in a violin and piano duo. Click here for the list and free violin sheet music.

Would you like to play violin duos with a fellow violinist? Check out this list of 20 violin duets.

What violin and piano duo do you love to play?

Leave a comment! I’d love to read it.

1 Comment

  1. Gwen Buckley

    Beautiful Savior


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