The Best Classical Violin Music

Great classical music for violin is always within arms reach, you just need to know where to look. These classical violin pieces were selected based on melody, popularity, and overall likability. Here's a list for those of you looking to expand your classical music horizons or for anyone needing a refresher in great music.

01
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The Lark Ascending - Ralph Vaughan Williams

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Some of the world’s best violin music was written by composers including Vivaldi, Vaughan Williams, Mozart, Haydn, and more. Adam Gault Collection/OJO Images/Getty Images

Written first for violin and piano, Ralph Vaughan Williams completed The Lark Ascending in 1914, but after addressing concerns with the violinist, changes were made to the piece. It wasn’t until 1920, that the piece was first performed. A year later, Williams' orchestral score was completed and performed in the Queen's Hall in London. Williams based The Lark Ascending on a portion of text in a poem by English poet, George Meredith, and included this text within his published work.

02
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The Four Seasons - Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was published in 1725, in a set of twelve concerto’s entitled Il cement dell'armonia e dell'inventione (The Test of Harmony and Invention). They truly are among the boldest program music of the baroque period. Vivaldi wrote individual sonnets to correspond with each movement of the Four Seasons, which you can read here, starting with the Spring Sonnet.

03
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Concerto for two violins in D minor, BWV 1043 - Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach was a genius keyboardist (mastering the organ and harpsichord) and brilliant composer. Bach brought baroque music to its culmination, writing music for nearly every type of musical form, including the violin concerto. His Double Violin Concerto is one of his most famous works, and rightly so. It is a baroque period masterpiece.

04
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Sinfonia Concertante in E flat Major, K 364 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart’s efforts of blurring the lines between a symphony and a concerto were a success when it came to the Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat Major. Composed in 1779, the piece of music was rather successful throughout Paris. Though Mozart wrote other similar types of works, this is the only one of which he completed.

05
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Por Una Cabeza - Carlos Gardel

The world’s most famous tango song, Por Una Cabeza, was written in 1935, by Carlos Gardel, with lyrics by Alfredo Le Pera. “Por Una Cabeza” means “by a head” in Spanish; the song is about a man addicted to horse racing and how he compares it to the love of women. This piece of music is used extensively in film, television, and more.

06
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Violin Concerto No 2 in B minor, Mvmt. 3 ‘La campanella’ - Niccolo Paganini

Many of you may recognize this piece of music thanks to Franz Liszt, who transformed it into a work for solo piano. Paganini wrote the original score in 1826, for violin and orchestra. It is an exceptional piece of music as many of you already know.

07
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Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 - Jean Sibelius

Sibelius only wrote one concerto - this D Minor Concerto in 1904. The solo violin is purely virtuosic, but not without lacking a melodic line. The overall concerto is dark and heavy, but the violin solo injects a bright and cheerful sound, brining balance to the score.

08
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G major Violin Concerto - Joseph Haydn

Though musicologists are uncertain of its true origins or composition date, this concerto is credited to Haydn. Haydn wrote four concertos, of which only three have survived. The Concerto No. 4 is an upbeat typical classical period piece of music with a stunning violin solo.

09
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Violin Concerto E Minor Op. 64 - Felix Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E, composed between 1838 and 1845, has become one of the most performed concertos of all time. Given its unique composition style, with its slight changes from the model classical period concerto, Mendelssohn’s concerto was highly favored at the time of its premiere. In fact, today it is regarded as the ideal concerto that many aspiring solo violinists try to master early on in their careers.

10
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Duke Ellington’s Jazz Violin Sessions

Recorded in 1963, Duke Ellington’s Jazz Violin Sessions is the youngest music on this list of the best violin music. The album was released in 1976. In order to write great jazz music, a composer must have a deep understanding of classical music theory, since jazz music is just an evolution of classical music. Ellington’s Jazz Violin Sessions are warm, inviting, and easy to listen to on repeat throughout the day.