Your Solo’s History

Be Ready for a Quiz at Your Audition

Imagine walking into your college audition. You have practiced your solo piece for months. You are technically stellar and your musical interpretation borders on the poetic. Finally, you walk in, set up, and introduce yourself. The adjudicator acknowledges you and says, "Before you perform your solo, tell us a brief history of the solo and its composer."

You freeze. You weren’t expecting that question so you mumble some lame answer. Now you’re questioning yourself, "Why didn’t I know more about the piece and the composer?"

You play your solo, but because you punted on the history question, it wasn’t your best performance. It was less than perfect. Do you still get in?

Let’s rewind. Make an effort to understand the history of your solo piece and the biography of its composer. Here are some pointers to help you ace your audition history quiz.

How to Prepare

  • Pronounce correctly the title/name of your solo, and the composer
  • Share the musical style period in which the composer lived
  • Know the dates in which the composer lived
  • Share when this particular piece was composed
  • Know the country in which the composer lived and/or was living when your solo was composed
  • Learn about the religion of the composer and whether it played a factor in the composition
  • Share what was happening in the musical world as a whole when your solo was composed
  • Determine if the solo was a commissioned composition, who commissioned it, and for what purpose
  • Share your solo’s history in the context of general world history

Share Confidently

What would the audition scenario look like if you had known about your solo and its composer? Let’s use Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G Minor as an example.

"Before you perform your solo, tell us a brief history of the solo and its composer."

Now, you can confidently say something like:

I’ll be performing Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G Minor. Vivaldi was an Italian, Baroque music composer and teacher. He was also a virtuoso violinist and an ordained Catholic priest.

Vivaldi lived from 1678 to 1741, which was the same time America was being settled in communities usually based on shared religious convictions. From 1702 to 1715 and again from 1723 to 1740, Vivaldi was employed in Venice at the Ospedale della Pietà which was a convent, all-girls orphanage, and music school. In fact, by the 17th and 18th centuries, the Pietà was well known for its all-female musical ensembles. It attracted tourists and patrons from throughout Europe. He probably composed the Concerto in G Minor for one of his students. It has been noted that Vivaldi wrote five violin concertos in 1729, which was during his second tenure at the Pietà. During this time, his ensembles gave weekly performances for the public.

So, image yourself in Venice in 1729 at the recital hall of the Ospedale della Pietà as I perform Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G Minor.

Keep Practicing,
Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO