Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
April 16
1791 - Premiere of Mozartīs Symphony No. 40 which was re-scored to include two clarinets. Program was conducted by Antonio Salieri, in Vienna.

1909 - Premiere of Arthur Footeīs Suite for Strings in E, by the Boston Symphony with Max Fiedler conducting, in Boston, MA.

1929 - Edie Adams, US singer/actress, was born.

- Premiere of S. Barberīs Second Essay for orchestra, in New York City

- Premiere of Ned Roremīs Symphony No. 3, by the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein conducting

1966 - Monday, Monday, by The Mamas & The Papas, was released.

- Premiere of G. Ligetiīs Cello Concerto, by the Berlin Radio Symphony conducted by Henryk Czyz, with Siegfried Palm the soloist.

1974 - Barry Paul Horrell, British composer, was born.

1994 - Premiere of David Ward-Steinmanīs Cinnabar Concerto for viola and chamber orchestra, at the University of San Diego, by the San Diego Contemporary Music Ensemble conducted by Lily Hood Gunn, with Karen Elaine as soloist.
Can You Guess?
We know that a violin's strings are E, A, D and G.  We know a viola's strings are A, D, G, and C.  The cello is the next instrument in the strings family.  Can You Guess how a cello is tuned?

To see the answer look at the bottom of the page.
What Else
What's the difference between a viola and a trampoline?
You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.

This is just one of dozens of viola jokes you've probably heard, but many folks don't understand the viola. 
Violins and Violas
In recognition of the premiere of David Ward-Steinmanīs Cinnabar Concerto for viola and chamber orchestra on this date in 1994, today we will briefly discuss the viola.

As you can see in the picture above, the violin (on the left) looks very much like the viola.  The construction is similar, as are the materials used.  The major difference between the instruments is the tuning and the tone.

The strings on a violin, highest to lowest, are E, A, D, and G.  The four strings of a viola are tuned a fifth lower A, D, G, and C.  Besides being deeper, the other difference you will notice if you hear one played is the tone.  People frequently say a violin is bright and happy.  When people talk about a good violist they use words like dark, warm, velvety and romantic.

To produce that deep, warm tone luthiers have determined that there is no standard size for a "full size" viola, as there is with a violin.  So you will actually find violas measured in inches, typically up to 17".  You will also find that the shapes of violas are not as uniform as they seem to be with violins.  In an attempt to provide more power and a fuller tone some luthiers have even developed radical shapes which allow the viola to be even larger, and still played in the usual manner.
The riviola (left) and the Pellegrina (right) were developed by David Lloyd Rivinius. (Click photos to go to his web site.)
The viola plays in the alto clef (see picture on the left).  The center line of the staff is middle C. (Where a violinist would recognize middle C as the first line below the staff.)
Among the better known violists of the 20th Century are William Primrose, william Trampler, Yuri Bashmet, Paul Neubauer, Lawrence Dutton (of the Emerson Quartet) and Tabea Zimmermann.

It is said that Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart actually preferred the viola to the violin when playing in ensembles, although it was also played by the likes of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Dvorak.

Harold in Italy
Berlioz's Harold in Italy is a Composition With Some Lovely Viola Work
William Primrose
A Great Recording by a Master Violist
Viola book
I LOVE this book!   What it tells you about the viola can be completely taken to heart by a violinist.  For either instrument it is an OUTSTANDING resource!
Viola Shirt
Did You Guess?
A cello is tuned one octave below a viola.  Its strings, high to low, are A, D, G, C!
Viola Jokes
Click HERE