Viola concerto

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Colour photograph
First page of the viola solo part, in the manuscript parts set of Hoffmeister's viola concerto in D

A viola concerto is a concerto contrasting a viola with another body of musical instruments such as an orchestra or chamber music ensemble. Early examples of viola concertos include Telemann's concerto in G major and several concertos by Carl Stamitz and other members of his family. The first concertante work to use the viola without caution was Mozart's violin and viola Sinfonia Concertante.

The viola, as with the cello, suffers from problems of projection against an orchestral ensemble and so has not enjoyed wide popularity as a solo instrument. According to some musicologists, including Alfred Einstein,[citation needed] the essence of the concerto is not the display of virtuosity, but in conflict and resolution, and the viola is less suited than the piano, or even the violin, to balance itself against any orchestra that is not deliberately underused by the composer. Viola players were often originally violinists and so until recently there were few viola soloists. William Walton, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Paul Hindemith were among the first composers to write solo viola works for new, more capable players. These players in turn arranged works originally composed for other instruments, an example being Lionel Tertis's arrangement of Edward Elgar's cello concerto.

Selected list of concertos and concertante works[edit]

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