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Free PDF: 10 Orchestral Excerpts for Violin

Free PDF: 10 Orchestral Excerpts for Violin

Get this free PDF to see 10 of the most commonly-requested orchestral excerpts as required by the NY Phil, LA Phil, and Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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Do you want to learn more about practicing Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 on violin? 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!

1st movement: Excerpt Overview

Most auditions begin at the Allegro in measure 26. 

Stick to some general rules; always phrase off, meaning ending a phrase with a dynamic taper. 

Short notes are still full value. Remain in the middle to upper parts of the bow to avoid a gritty, overpowering sound.


Main Points

Many players tend to rush the tempo in measure 54. 

Don’t lose the pulse as the excitement builds! Play along with recordings of this piece, paying attention to the sense of elegance.

The descending scales in m. 72 test the player’s intonation, and frequently less experienced violinists won’t play each note precisely in tune. (This is why we spend years practicing Carl Flesch!)

Always play phrases, not notes, even if they’re moving by really fast. The committee might disagree with your exact choices of phrasing, but this is vastly preferred to playing with no musicality at all!

In measures 89, 91, and 93, you can bow either down up (as annotated) or up down. The important thing is that the two quarter notes in measures 90, 92, and 94 are bowed down-up to taper off.

mozart symphony 39
mozart symphony 39

Audition Tips

Preparing an elegant excerpt like this requires you to imagine that you’re auditioning for a string quartet position. 

Picture a middle Beethoven string quartet and all the elegance and sensitivity that it requires. When performing a Classical symphony like this, the orchestra is usually reduced in size. 

This means you might move up a few seats and play a different part, especially when another player inevitably is unable to come to rehearsal. It’s crucial to show the auditioners how elegant of a Mozart player you are, how you make people around you play better, and how well you understand this language.

It isn’t always necessary to count out multi-measure rests in an audition situation. 

A good “audition rhythm” is flowing; if you’re too obsessive about perfecting extra-musical details like constant warming-up, instrument cleaning, and rest counting, it might be perceived as a lack of fearlessness. 

Aim to create goodwill between you and the committee. Especially between excerpts, don’t make the committee wait! Keep it uncomplicated and fearless.

The comma in m. 89 is more about the psychological reassurance that there is time to clip the notes cleanly, whether or not there is a big gap in the sound. 

Remember that the more bow you use, the greater chance for a skid or mistake. Use less bow for a difficult transition like mm. 88-89.

2nd movement: Excerpt Overview

The opening of this slow movement is awkward, and requires lots of jumping and climbing for the left hand to avoid undesirable string crossings in the bow. 

Stay on one string as much as possible in lyrical phrases to maintain the same color. For the right character, stylize the dotted rhythms a little bit closer to double dotted for the right character.

Main Points

There isn’t always time to be smooth and elegant with our left-hand shifts. 

The first instance is going from measure 2 to the C natural in measure 3 (second finger on the fourth position), keeping the phrase on one string for the same color. 

Pounce on them like a cat! 

Remember, finding fingerings that work well for you is more important and effective than fingerings that work well for others, even if they are experienced orchestral players. 

It all comes down to repetition, experimentation, and finally settling on the best answer that gives you the best chance under pressure. 

Violinist David Kim, who teaches the associated lesson, offers bowings from mm. 14-18 are somewhat free; get used to coming up with bowings on the spot. If we’re playing in a different climate with a different-sized hall, we have to respond differently with how we bow. Use your ears and strive to develop that freedom!

mozart symphony 39
mozart symphony 39

Measure 30 is more ostentatious in character. 

Just like before, the dotted rhythms should have the "double dotted" feel. Kim uses many first-finger shifts (1-1) in half steps in this F minor section from m. 30. 

You don’t have to play all six bars of repeated B-flats from measure 38 (in fact, you shouldn’t!) Play one or two bars and then go on to m. 44. From mm. 46-49, you have two basic choices in articulation; you can accentuate the first eighth notes of every bar (annotated in red), or give the first sixteenth notes (annotated in green, tied to the grace notes) a light kick. In any case, don’t make your interpretation ambiguous.

Finding the right feeling of the slightly double-dotted character is really important. 

“Under-dotting,” or leaving the short note a bit too long, makes the rhythm sound too close to a triplet; over-dotting, making the short note too short, is too jagged. 

To achieve a nice and noble character, Kim suggests subdividing in four, perhaps using a four syllable word such as “wa-ter-me-lon.”

Audition Tips

The music-making should be so charming, warm and endearing that the committee has no choice but to be completely swooned! 

Don’t give them a dry performance of this excerpt. Remember that we should have the flexibility to adjust our bowings on the spot if we’re playing in a wet room (with a lot of echo) or a dry room (without any echo). 


Now that we’ve gone over these tips, you should be ready to handle your violin audition with Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 with ease.

If you’d like to watch the lesson on this topic for free, just click here.

If you’re ready to learn more about similar violin repertoire, and get to the next level on the violin, start your tonebase membership with a free 14-day trial. 

Inside tonebase, you’ll find 100s of in-depth lessons and structured courses, LIVE weekly workshops, and tons of digital PDF scores and workbooks to help you become the violinist you’ve always dreamed of being. 

Get complete access to everything tonebase has to offer by starting your trial today!

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