Do you want to learn more about practicing the violin excerpt from Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 movement 4? In this blog post, we’ll share more about specific ways for you to approach the piece and nail your violin auditions.
If you’d like to see the lesson this blog post is based on, click here to watch it for free — otherwise, read on!
Brahms’ fourth symphony features a passacaglia as the final movement. Among everything happening in the orchestra, there is a sense of turbulence that often gets lost in an audition setting.
Try to put across that sense of slight instability throughout this excerpt, even without the rest of the orchestra.
With sequences — which appear throughout this excerpt — the dynamics can be treated in steps: mp to mf to f.
Of course, the goal is not to create blocks of dynamic changes, but to create natural shapes. At measure 46 and 47, the eighth rests should feel like an interruption.
In this movement, as in much of Brahms’ music, string crossings and position shifts are not always ideal.
A few commas in selected places can prevent run-on sentences and give just enough time to reset the hands to the correct position.
In measures 57 to 63, there are two main approaches to phrasing: accent the downbeat; or lead into beat 3. (The third option is to play straight without any particular accent.)
Although different conductors may have specific preferences, try to go for a compromise between these two main options without exaggerating the accenting.
To make some of these high notes accurate, place the finger down early to practice hearing the pitch upon arrival before actually sounding with the bow.
The sixteenth-note passage from measure 65 should be played more or less on the string. Notice the crescendos leading up to the second beat of the measure.
For the string crossing section at measure 69, raise the violin slightly with support from underneath. The goal is to flip the fiddle so it is more flat, making it a "stable workbench" for the bow.
A little comma before measure 73 can mark the start of a new phrase and give the hands time to prepare appropriately. Emphasize the beginning of each triplet group in measures 74 and 76. This excerpt concludes with a suspension, simply repeating E.
With standard repertoire requirements such as this, it is not always obvious what tempo to aim for.
A safe approach is perhaps to aim for an average of around five respectable recordings, which are easy to find on YouTube and other platforms.
Of course, if the orchestra has provided a part to play from that includes a tempo marking, then follow that guideline. All things considered, it is highly unlikely that a slight divergence from the auditioning panel’s preferred tempo will affect the success of your audition.
Now that we’ve gone over these tips, you should be ready to handle your audition with the violin excerpt from Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 movement 4 with ease.
If you’d like to watch the lesson on this topic for free, just click here.
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