Lionel Tertis

Lionel Tertis, CBE (29 December 1876 – 22 February 1975) was an English violist and one of the first viola players to find international fame. He was also a noted teacher.

Lionel Tertis
Lionel Tertis
Background information
BornDecember 29, 1876
West Hartlepool,  United Kingdom
DiedFebruary 22, 1975 (aged 98)
Wimbledon, London
Years active1900-1975


Tertis was born in West Hartlepool, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants.[1] (It has often been noted that his birth and that of the cellist Pablo Casals occurred on the very same day.) He initially studied the violin in Leipzig and at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London. There he was encouraged by the Principal, Alexander Mackenzie, to take up the viola instead.[2] Under the additional influence of Oskar Nedbal, he did so and rapidly became one of the best known violists of his time, touring Europe and the US as a soloist.

As Professor of Viola at the RAM (from 1900), he encouraged his colleagues and students to compose for the instrument, thereby greatly expanding its repertoire.[3] In 1906, Tertis was temporarily in the famous Bohemian Quartet to replace the violist/composer Oskar Nedbal and later he took the viola position in the Gerald Walenn Quartet.

Composers such as Arnold Bax, Frank Bridge, Gustav Holst, Benjamin Dale, York Bowen, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and William Walton wrote pieces for him. The Walton piece was his Viola Concerto; however, Tertis did not give the world premiere as he found it difficult to comprehend at the time; that honour went to Paul Hindemith.

He owned a 1717 Montagnana from 1920 to 1937[4] which he found during one of his concert tours to Paris in 1920, and took a chance in acquiring. According to his memoirs, it was "shown to me in an unplayable condition, without bridge, strings or fingerboard.... No case was available – it was such a large instrument 17 1/8 inches – so my wife came to the rescue by wrapping it in her waterproof coat, and that is how it was taken across the English Channel." Tertis preferred a large viola to get an especially rich tone from his instrument. Knowing that some would find a 17-1/8-inch instrument too large he created his own Tertis model, which provides many of the tonal advantages of the larger instrument in a manageable 16-3/4-inch size.

Along with William Murdoch (piano), Albert Sammons, and Lauri Kennedy, Tertis formed the Chamber Music Players.[5]

In 1936, while at the height of his powers, he announced his retirement from the concert platform to concentrate on teaching. He appeared as soloist only one more time, at a special concert in 1949 to an invited audience at the RAM to help raise money for his fund to encourage the composition of music for the viola.[6]

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1950 New Year's Honours.[6]

Tertis composed several original works and also arranged many pieces not originally for the viola, such as Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto. He was the author of a number of publications about string playing, the viola in particular, and his own life. They include Cinderella No More and My Viola and I.

Lionel Tertis died in Wimbledon, London.


Lionel Tertis 1876-1975 viola soloist lived in a flat here 1961-1975
English Heritage blue plaque erected 18 May 2015

The Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition was established in 1980 to honour his memory.

In February 2007, the British violist Roger Chase (along with his accompanist, pianist Michiko Otaki) initiated "The Tertis Project," a series of concerts devoted to works composed for Tertis.[7] Chase performs on the Montagnana viola that belonged to Tertis.

In 2015, English Heritage unveiled a blue plaque at his Wimbledon, London home.[8]


Original compositions

  • Elizabethan Melody for viola and cello
  • 15th Century Folk Song: 1452-Anonymous for viola, cello and piano
  • Hier au soir for viola and piano
  • Rêverie for viola and piano
  • Sunset (Coucher du soleil) for viola (or violin or cello) and piano
  • Three Sketches for viola and piano
  1. Serenade; revised as A Tune
  2. The Blackbirds (1952)
  3. The River
  • A Tune for viola and piano (published 1954); 2nd version of Serenade
  • Variations on a Passacaglia of Handel for 2 violas (1935); original work based on the Passacaglia by Johan Halvorsen
  • Variations on a Four Bar Theme of Handel for viola and cello

Transcriptions, arrangements and adaptations

For viola and piano unless otherwise noted

Original composer Title Remarks
Anton Arensky (1861–1906) Berceuse  
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) Air on the C-String original from Orchestral Suite No. 3
Aria "Come Sweet Death" from Cantata 191
Adagio from Toccata in C major published 1935; original for organ
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) Menuet published 1912; original for orchestra; from 12 Menuette, WoO 7
Theme and Variations (on Mozart's "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen"), Op. 66 (1796) original for cello and piano
Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) Minnelied, Op. 71 No. 5 (1877) original for voice and piano
Wir wandelten for violin or viola and piano, Op. 96 No. 2 (1884) original for voice and piano
Willy Burmester (1869–1933) Französisches Lied aus dem 18. Jahrhundert (French Air from the 18th Century) (1909) original for violin and piano
Eric Coates (1886–1957) Ballad in G major, Op. 13 (1906)  
First Meeting: Souvenir  
Frederick Delius (1862–1934) Caprice and Elegy for viola and orchestra (1930) original for cello and orchestra
Double Concerto for violin, viola and orchestra (1915–1916) original for violin, cello and orchestra
Serenade from the drama Hassan (1920–1923)  
Sonata No. 2 (1922–1923) original for violin and piano; 1929 transcription
Sonata No. 3 (1930) original for violin and piano; 1932 transcription
Ernő Dohnányi (1877–1960) Sonata in C minor, Op. 21 (1912) original for violin and piano
Edward Elgar (1857–1934) Concerto in E minor for viola and orchestra, Op. 85 (1918–1919) original for cello and orchestra
Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) Après un rêve, Op. 7 No. 1 original for voice and piano
Élégie for viola and orchestra, Op. 24 original for cello and orchestra
Baldassare Galuppi Aria Amorosa  
Giovan Battista Grazioli (1746–1828) Sonata in F major original for cello and continuo
Edvard Grieg (1843–1907) Ich liebe Dich (I Love But Thee!), Op. 5 No. 3 (1864–1865) original from Hjertets Melodier, 4 songs for voice and piano
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) Arietta published 1910; transcription (violin and piano) by Hamilton Harty of "Si che lieta goderò" from Rodrigo; viola part by Tertis
Sarabande transcription of "Sorge nel petto" from Rinaldo
Sonata in F major (Adagio and Allegro) original for violin with basso continuo
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) Capriccio published 1912; transcription (violin and piano) by Willy Burmester from String Quartet No. 49, Op. 64 No. 2; viola part by Tertis
Menuet published 1912; original for orchestra; transcription (violin and piano) by Willy Burmester from Symphony No. 96; viola part by Tertis
William Yeates Hurlstone (1876–1906) 4 Characteristic Pieces (1899) original for clarinet and piano
John Ireland (1879–1962) The Holy Boy published 1918
Sonata in G minor (1923) original for cello and piano; 1941 transcription
Sonata No. 2 in A minor (1915–1917) original for violin and piano; 1918 transcription
Fritz Kreisler (1875–1962) La Chasse, Caprice in the Style of Cartier original for violin and piano
Franz Liszt (1811–1886) Liebestraum No. 3 in A major, S. 541 (ca. 1850) published 1954; original for piano
Étienne Méhul (1763–1817) Gavotte published 1912
Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) Duetto original for piano: Song without Words, Op. 38 No. 6 (1836)
Fleecy Cloud original for piano: Song without Words, Op. 53 No. 2 (1838)
Gondola Song original for piano: Song without Words, Op. 19 No. 6 (1830)
On Wings of Song, Op. 34 No. 2 (1835) original for voice and piano: Auf Flügeln des Gesanges
Spring Song original for piano: Song without Words, Op. 62 No. 6 (1842)
Sweet Remembrance original for piano: Song without Words, Op. 19 No. 1 (1831)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) Menuet
Sonata [No. 22] in A major, K. 305: Allegro molto; Tema con variazione original for violin and piano
Gabriel Pierné (1863–1937) Sérénade, Op. 7 original for piano
Nicola Porpora (1686–1768) Aria in E major extracted from the collection I Classici Violinisti Italiani, freely developed and harmonized by Mario Corti
Anton Rubinstein (1829–1894) Melody in F, Op. 3 No. 1 (1852) original for piano
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921) Melody for viola or violin or cello and piano (1959)  
Franz Schubert (1797–1828) Allegretto, Duet for violin or viola or 2 violins or 2 violas and piano (1936) original from the String Quartet No. 15 in G major, Op. 161, D. 887 (1826)
Ave Maria, Op. 52 No. 6 (D. 839) (1825) original for voice and piano
Du bist die Ruh, Op. 59 No. 3 (D. 776) original for voice and piano
Nacht und Träume, Op. 43 No. 2 (D. 827) original for voice and piano
Robert Schumann (1810–1856) Abendlied (Evening Song) in D major, Op. 85 No. 12 (1849) original for piano 4-hands
Romance, Op. 28 No. 2 original for piano
Schlummerlied (Slumber Song) in E major, Op. 124 No. 16 original for piano
Cyril Scott (1879–1970) Cherry Ripe  
Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915) Étude, Op. 42 No. 4 original for piano
Joseph Sulzer (1850–1926) Sarabande: Air on the G-string, Op. 8 original for cello (or violin) and piano
Karol Szymanowski (1882–1937) Pieśń Roksany (Chant de Roxane) from the opera Król Roger
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) Chanson triste, Op. 40 No. 2 original for piano
June (Barcarolle), Op. 37b No. 6 (1875–1876) original for piano
None But the Lonely Heart (also entitled A Pleading), Op. 6 No. 6 (1869) original for voice and piano
Francis Thomé (1850–1909) Sous la feuillée, Op. 29 original for piano
traditional Londonderry Air "Farewell to Cucullain" for viola or violin and piano  
Old Irish Air for viola or violin and piano  
William Wolstenholme (1865–1931) Allegretto in E major, Op. 17 No. 2 published 1900; original for organ
Canzona in B major, Op. 12 No. 1 original for organ
Die Antwort (The Answer), Op. 13 No. 2 original for organ
Die Frage (The Question), Op. 13 No. 1 original for organ
Romanza, Op. 17 No. 1 published 1900; original for organ


Lionel Tertis made recordings in ensembles:

  • Vocalion D-02019 Robert Fuchs: Duet; Handel (arr. Halvorsen): Passacaglia with Albert Sammons
  • Columbia LX225-7 Brahms: Sonata in F minor, Op.120/1, with Harriet Cohen, piano
  • Columbia L 2342-3 Delius (arr. Tertis): (Violin) sonata 2 (1915) 3s / Hassan - Serenade, with G. Reeves, piano

and as a soloist:

  • HMV Treasury HLM 7055, Sonatas by Brahms, Handel, Delius, music by Bach, Mendelssohn etc. Recorded between 1920 & 1933. issued:74


  • My Viola and I. London: Kahn & Averill. 1991. ISBN 1-871-08220-X.
  • Cinderella No More. London: Peter Nevill LTD. 1953.


  1. ^ Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ This account is disputed by John White, who writes "It was another fellow student, Percy Hilder Miles, who made the casual request that would change the course of Tertis' life" (Lionel Tertis: The First Great Virtuoso of the Viola, page 5.)
  3. ^ Foreman, Christopher (2011). Benjamin Dale—A reassessment, Part 2: The viola years, 1916–1914. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  4. ^ "ID: 3487, Type: viola". Cozio. Archived from the original on 6 May 2006. Retrieved 22 August 2006.
  5. ^ "Murdoch, William David (1888–1942)". adbonline. Retrieved 24 January 2007.
  6. ^ a b Eric Blom ed., Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed. (1954), Vol. VIII, p. 400
  7. ^ Roger Chase: The Tertis Project Archived 15 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Middleton, Becky (18 May 2015). "'Greatest viola player of the 20th century' honoured with English Heritage plaque on former home". Yourlocalguardian. Retrieved 19 May 2015.

External links

Other reading

  • John White, Lionel Tertis: The First Great Virtuoso of the Viola (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2006)
  • Tully Potter, "Chase Fulfilled", The Strad, August 1988.
Antonio Mariani

Antonio Mariani was an Italian luthier in the 17th century. He is believed to have studied in Brescia under Giovanni Paolo Maggini, and was later mostly active in Pesaro from 1635 to 1695.A simple design and plain materials such as pine are typical for his violins, which are renowned for their excellent tone.His violins have amongst others been played by the violists Lionel Tertis and Barbara Buntrock.

Cynthia Phelps

Cynthia Phelps (born 1961 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California) is an American violist whose versatile career involves work as a chamber musician, solo artist, and orchestral musician. Phelps is currently the Principal Violist of the New York Philharmonic, a position to which she was appointed in 1992. She is a former faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music and is currently a faculty member at the Juilliard School. She has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras throughout the world including the Minnesota Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Bilbao, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. As a chamber musician, Ms. Phelps performs regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bargemusic, the Boston Chamber Music Society, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, La Musica, Seattle Chamber Music Society, and the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. Phelps has performed with some of the world's greatest musicians including Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, and Yefim Bronfman, among many others. She has toured internationally as a member of the Zukerman and Friends Ensemble, appeared with the Guarneri String Quartet, and performed in recital in Paris, Rome, London, and Cardiff, Wales, as well as in Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. Ms. Phelps is a recipient of the Pro Musicis International Award, and a top prize winner at both the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and the Washington International String Competition. She has recorded for the Marlboro Recording Society, and the Covenant, Nuova Era, Polyvideo, Virgin Classics labels, and most recently Cala Records where her first solo CD was released. Her appearances on television and radio have included Live from Lincoln Center on PBS, National Public Radio, Radio France, and RAI in Italy.Phelps began her musical training on the violin at age four. She didn't like the sound of the violin, so she satisfied herself by switching to viola at age eleven. She studied with Sven Reher before college. She then studied at the USC Thornton School of Music and in 1994 received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the school as "a Thornton graduate whose artistic or scholarly accomplishments both reflect the ideals of the school and have furthered the art of music." She is a faculty member at Mannes School of Music.Phelps is married to cellist Ronald Thomas and they live just outside New York City in Leonia, N.J. They have three daughters: Lili (by Thomas' marriage to Mihae Lee), Christina (by Phelps' marriage to baritone David Malis), and Caitlin.

Ethel Hobday

Ethel Hobday, née Sharpe (28 November 1872, Dublin – 10 July 1947, Tankerton) was an Irish pianist, who became famous in chamber-music recitals especially in England, and was married to the violist Alfred Charles Hobday.

Ethel Sharpe was a pupil at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She then went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London, under Franklin Taylor. She gave her first recital in the Prince's Hall, London in November 1891. She received the silver medal of the Musicians' Company. In 1894 she gave a recital in Vienna, but reappeared in London in 1895.

Following marriage to Alfred Hobday, she became known as Ethel Hobday, and took part in early recordings of full-length chamber-works (Brahms and Elgar Quintets) with the London Quartet and the Spencer Dyke Quartet. She is the accompanist to violinist Albert Sammons and violist Lionel Tertis in many early recordings.

Alfred Hobday died in 1942. Ethel Hobday died 10 July 1947.

Frederick Riddle

Frederick Craig Riddle OBE (20 April 1912 – 5 February 1995) was a British violist. He was considered to be in the line from Lionel Tertis and William Primrose, through to the violists of today such as Lawrence Power.

Gilad Karni

Gilad Karni (Hebrew: גלעד קרני‎) is an Israeli violist who has played in the New York Philharmonic and is currently principal viola in the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich as well as a soloist and player in chamber ensembles. A founder member of the Huberman Quartet, with which he made his debut at Carnegie Hall, he has since appeared there with the Guarneri Quartet.

Harold Craxton

Thomas Harold Hunt Craxton, OBE (30 April 1885 – 30 March 1971) was an English pianist and composer.

Craxton studied piano at the Tobias Matthay Pianoforte School and made a name for himself early in his career as an accompanist with performers such as Dame Nellie Melba, Dame Clara Butt, Lionel Tertis and John McCormack.

In 1919 he became a professor at the Royal Academy of Music. He remained there until 1961, although he continued teaching from his studio long into his later years. Some notable students included Winifred Atwell, Joyce Howard Barrell, Howard Brown, Elaine Hugh-Jones, Alexander Kelly, Denis Matthews, Noel Mewton-Wood, A A Owen, and Alan Richardson.

Craxton was also an active composer. His first published work was the "Three Pieces for Pianoforte" (1911). Some of his songs were recorded by John McCormack and Lauritz Melchior. He also collected musical compositions in association with Alfred Edward Moffat.

Craxton and his wife Essie had one daughter and five sons, including the artist John Craxton, the BBC Television Producer Antony Craxton and the distinguished oboist Janet Craxton.

Craxton died aged 85 in 1971.

Karen Dreyfus

Karen Dreyfus is a violist who currently teaches at the USC Thornton School of Music. Ms. Dreyfus has distinguished herself as a recipient of many prizes, including the Naumburg Viola Competition (1982), the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition (1980), the Washington International Competition (1979), and the Hudson Valley Competition (1978). Ms. Dreyfus has concertized extensively in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America.

Some of her musical collaborations have been with Musicians From Marlboro, New York Philomusica, Theater Chamber Players of the Kennedy Center, the New York Philharmonic, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She has performed in recital with Yehudi Menuhin at Carnegie Hall and has also collaborated with such artists as Rudolf Serkin; Alexander Schneider; Leon Fleisher; Chick Corea; and her husband, Glenn Dicterow.

Kim Kashkashian

Kim Kashkashian (Armenian: Քիմ Քաշքաշյան), born August 31, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan, is a Grammy-award winning Armenian-American violist.

Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition

The Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition is an international music competition for viola players established in 1980 to honor the memory of the English viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis. This triennial event is held at the Erin Arts Centre, Port Erin, Isle of Man. Participants are of any nationality and are under 30 years of age.

The 12th Lionel Tertis International Viola Festival and Competition was held from 12 to 19 March 2016. The 13th Lionel Tertis International Festival will be held from 6 to 13 April 2019, and has attracted more than 90 entries from around the world.

Maxim Rysanov

Maxim Rysanov (born 1978) is a Ukrainian violist.Rysanov was born in Kramatorsk, and studied at the Central Special Music School in Moscow and later at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. In 2000 he won the Gold Medal of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Rysanov won the Gramophone Award as Young Artist of the Year in 2008 and was a BBC New Generation Artist from 2007 to 2009. He is also a laureate of the Geneva (2005), Lionel Tertis (2003), and Valentino Bucchi (1995) competitions.

As a soloist, Rysanov has worked with orchestras and conductors world-wide.

Rysanov performed his own transcription of Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33, at the last night of the BBC Proms in 2010.Rysanov has recorded and released many albums of music featuring the viola. His first three releases all gained a Gramophone Editor's Choice award. His recording with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Muhai Tang on BIS Records (released in September 2011) was declared Editors Choice of the month in The Strad and received a 5-star review in the Daily Telegraph.Three CDs of Beethoven and Brahms on the Onyx label, including some transcription for the viola, with Kristina Blaumane (cello) and Jacob Katsnelson (piano), have received positive review.Rysanov plays an instrument by Giuseppe Guadagnini (son of Giovanni Battista Guadagnini), made in 1780. It is on extended loan from the Elise Mathilde Foundation.

Paul Coletti

Paul Coletti (b. Edinburgh, 1959) is a prominent Scottish viola soloist and chamber musician. He has performed throughout the world, making solo appearances at the Sydney Opera House, Queen Elizabeth Hall (London) and Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires). He has performed Béla Bartók´s Viola Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin conducting, and has recorded Robert Schumann's Märchenbilder and Rebecca Clarke's Sonata for Viola to some acclaim.Coletti was born in 1959 in Scotland to Italian parents. He began playing viola from the age of 8 years, while at St Mary's York Lane Primary School, and studied at The Royal Scottish Academy, the International Menuhin Music Academy, and the Juilliard School. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, violist Gina Warnick and their daughters, Olivia and Julia, and teaches viola and chamber music at the Colburn Conservatory.

Paul Neubauer

Paul Neubauer (born in Encino, California, in 1962) is an American violist. Neubauer was a student of Paul Doktor, Alan de Veritch and William Primrose. He attended the Juilliard School, where he received his B.M. in 1982, and his M.M. in 1983. In 1984, at age 21, Neubauer became the principal violist with the New York Philharmonic the youngest principal string player in the philharmonic's history, a position he held for six years. He became an Artist Member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1989.

Neubauer has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. He has been featured on Live from Lincoln Center, CBS's Sunday Morning, Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, and in Strad, Strings, and People magazines. He has been heard on St. Paul Sunday Morning, Morning Edition and Performance Today and appeared in Dark Side, a film starring Edoardo Ballerini and Ali Ahn. In 1989 he became the first violist to receive an Avery Fisher Career Grant. He was the first prize winner of the Whitaker, D'Angelo, and the 1980 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition.Neubauer teaches at the Juilliard School, and Mannes School of Music. Among his students were Tyler Pacheco, Richard O’Neill, Gilad Karni, Scott Lee and Che-Yen Chen. His students have become members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Miami, Formosa, Ehnes and Calder quartets, the New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has edited works for Boosey & Hawkes, Universal Edition and International Music Company. Neubauer is the Artistic Director of the Mostly Music Series and has been Music Director of the OK Mozart Festival, the Chamber Music Extravaganza in Curaçao and at Bargemusic.

Primrose International Viola Competition

The Primrose International Viola Competition (PIVC), also referred to as the Primrose Memorial Scholarship Competition (PMSC), is an international music competition for viola players sponsored by the American Viola Society and named for the 20th-century virtuoso William Primrose.

The 15th Primrose International Viola Competition was held June 10–17, 2018 at the Colburn School in Los Angeles.

Roland Glassl

Roland Glassl (born 1972 in Ingolstadt, Germany) is a professional German viola player. He has won the Lionel Tertis Competition as well as the International Competition in Vienna. Glassl hass collaborated with many leading artists, and is also a member of the Mandelring Quartet.

Romance for viola and piano (Vaughan Williams)

The Romance for viola and piano was one of many pieces found in Ralph Vaughan Williams' library after his death in 1958. The date of the composition is not known, but it is thought to date from around 1914. It is probable that it was written for and dedicated to the great English violist, Lionel Tertis, along with Vaughan Williams' other pieces for viola: Flos Campi (1925) and the Suite for viola and small orchestra (1933–1934).

The Romance is composed in arch form. It opens with soft, pentatonic murmurings from the piano, expanding into a rather melancholy and songful aria for the viola. The middle is somewhat restless and anguished, before closing in a similar manner to the beginning. The pentatonic modality is used throughout, though there are also stirring false relations and chromatic sections.

The premiere took place in a Macnaghten Concert on 19 January 1962 with Bernard Shore on viola and Eric Gritton at the piano. Despite its relative brevity and content, the piece has, since its publication by Oxford University Press in 1961, gained a place in the modern viola repertoire.

Suite for Viola and Orchestra (Vaughan Williams)

The Suite for Viola and Orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams is a work in eight movements for solo viola and orchestra composed in 1933 and 1934. The Suite is dedicated to violist Lionel Tertis, who premiered the work on November 12, 1934 at the Queen's Hall in London under the baton of Malcolm Sargent. A typical performance lasts about 23 minutes.


The viola (; Italian pronunciation: [ˈvjɔːla]) is a string instrument that is bowed or played with varying techniques. It is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above) and the cello (which is tuned an octave below). The strings from low to high are typically tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4.

In the past, the viola varied in size and style, as did its names. The word viola originates from Italian. The Italians often used the term: "viola da braccio" meaning literally: 'of the arm'. "Brazzo" was another Italian word for the viola, which the Germans adopted as Bratsche. The French had their own names: cinquiesme was a small viola, haute contre was a large viola, and taile was a tenor. Today, the French use the term alto, a reference to its range.

The viola was popular in the heyday of five-part harmony, up until the eighteenth century, taking three lines of the harmony and occasionally playing the melody line. Music for the viola differs from most other instruments in that it primarily uses the alto clef. When viola music has substantial sections in a higher register, it switches to the treble clef to make it easier to read.

The viola often plays the "inner voices" in string quartets and symphonic writing, and it is more likely than the first violin to play accompaniment parts. The viola occasionally plays a major, soloistic role in orchestral music. Examples include the symphonic poem Don Quixote by Richard Strauss and the symphony Harold en Italie by Hector Berlioz. In the earlier part of the 20th century, more composers began to write for the viola, encouraged by the emergence of specialized soloists such as Lionel Tertis and William Primrose. English composers Arthur Bliss, York Bowen, Benjamin Dale, Frank Bridge, Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams all wrote substantial chamber and concert works. Many of these pieces were commissioned by, or written for Lionel Tertis. William Walton, Bohuslav Martinů, Toru Takemitsu, Tibor Serly, Alfred Schnittke, and Béla Bartók have written well-known viola concertos. Paul Hindemith, who was a violist, wrote a substantial amount of music for viola, including the concerto Der Schwanendreher. The concerti by Paul Hindemith, Béla Bartók, and William Walton are considered the "big three" of viola repertoire.

Viola Concerto (Walton)

The Viola Concerto by William Walton was written in 1929 for the violist Lionel Tertis at the suggestion of the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. The concerto carries the dedication "To Christabel" (Christabel McLaren, Lady Aberconway). But Tertis rejected the manuscript, and composer and violist Paul Hindemith gave the first performance. The work was greeted with enthusiasm. It brought Walton to the forefront of British classical music. In The Manchester Guardian, Eric Blom wrote, "This young composer is a born genius" and said that it was tempting to call the concerto the best thing in recent music of any nationality. Tertis soon changed his mind and took the work up.

Walton and Hindemith's collaboration on the concerto engendered a close friendship that lasted until the latter's death in 1963. A performance by Tertis at a Three Choirs Festival concert in Worcester in 1932 was the only occasion on which Walton met Edward Elgar, whom he greatly admired. Elgar, however, did not share the general enthusiasm for Walton's concerto.

Winifred Copperwheat

Winifred May Copperwheat (10 October 1905 – 23 February 1976) was an English classical viola player and teacher.She studied under English violist Lionel Tertis at the Royal Academy of Music. Tertis later said after one of her recitals, that she had "played like an angel".As soloist, she gave the premiere performances of several works, including:

Theodore Holland, Ellingham Marshes for viola and orchestra; with the London Symphony Orchestra under Henry Wood at The Proms in 1940

Theodore Holland, a composition for viola and piano; with Iris Greep, 1941

Priaulx Rainier, Viola Sonata; with Antony Hopkins (piano) at the National Gallery, London in 1946

Frank Stiles, Four Pieces for Solo Viola (1959), composed for her

Frank Stiles, Viola Concerto No. 1, composed for and dedicated to her (1955, first performance 1962) She played in several chamber music combinations; including the Zorian String Quartet, of which she was a founding member. She participated in several premiere performances and recordings by the Zorian Quartet.

For many years, she taught viola at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1971, she pointed out to musicologist and violist Martin Jarvis, one of her students, some problems with the published editions of the Bach cello suites. That observation eventually led to his hypothesis that they had been composed by Anna Magdalena Bach and not, as commonly supposed, by her husband Johann Sebastian Bach.She wrote a book designed for beginning viola students, The First-Year Viola Method.Her name is inscribed in the Book of Remembrance in the Musicians' Chapel at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London.

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