Django Reinhardt plays violin and guitar

Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)

Django Reinhardt was a gypsy guitarist famous for co-founding the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli in 1934. He made hundreds of recordings with the Quintet. Django also recorded with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, jazz violinist Eddie South, and lots of other jazz musicians in Europe and America.

During World War II the quintet split up. Django lived in Paris throughout the war and managed to avoid getting sent to a concentration camp. He kept on playing and recording.

Here are 4 rare Django Reinhardt recordings made in Belgium in 1942. These recordings are unusual because Django Reinhardt is accompanied by stride piano (stride piano was a form of jazz piano popular during the 1920s). Django plays solos on the guitar and violin accompanied on the piano by Ivon de Bie. He is famous for his virtuosic jazz guitar solos but violin was his first instrument. I hope that you enjoy this music.

Astor Piazzolla – Oblivion (played by the Roby Lakatos Ensemble and Frantisek Janoska)

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)

Astor Piazzolla was an Argentinian tango composer, arranger, and bandoneon virtuoso (the bandoneon is a type of accordion).  He invented a modern style of tango music called tango nuevo (a style of tango that uses elements of jazz and classical music).

Here is a tango by Piazzolla arranged for violin, piano, melodia, cymbalom, guitar, and bass by Frantisek Janoska (the pianist).  It is played by the Romani (gypsy) violinist Roby Lakatos ensemble and pianist Frantisek Janoska.  Enjoy!

Mauro Giuliani – Sonata for Violin, Cello, and Guitar in A Major

Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829)

Mauro Giuliani was an Italian composer, guitar virtuoso, cellist, and singer. He was one of the leading guitar virtuosos of the 19th century.

Giuliani taught guitar, performed on the guitar, and composed a rich and varied repertoire for the guitar. His compositions include three guitar concertos, sonatas, studies, variations, duos for guitar with flute of violin, quartets, and songs.

Here is a recording of a Sonata for Violin, Cello, and Guitar in A Major by Mauro Giuliani. It is played by Leonid Kogan (violin), Alexander Ivanov-Kramskoy (guitar), and Fyodor Lusanov (cello). Enjoy!

Catoire Elegy – Oistrach, Goldenweiser

Georgy Catoire (1861-1926)

Georgy Catoire was a Russian composer of French descent.  He studied the piano in Berlin with Klindworth.  Catoire studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakov and Anatol Lyadov.  He was appointed as a professor to the Moscow Conservatory in 1916.  Catoire composed works for piano, orchestra, and chamber music ensembles.  He also wrote important books on harmony and musical form.

Here is a recording of a piece by Catoire called Elegy for violin and piano.  It is played by David Oistrakh (violin) and Alexander Goldenweiser (piano).

Shostakovich – Three pieces for two violins and piano op.97

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Soviet Russian composer, piano virtuoso, and an important figure in 20th Century music.

The Three pieces for two violins and piano, op 97 by Shostakovich come from his ‘Gadfly’ suite.  This music is beautiful and light-hearted (a complete contrast to much of his music which is dark and very dissonant).

Shostakovich was known for writing some very dark dissonant music.  His dark dissonant music reflects his feelings towards Joseph Stalin and the Soviet regime.

Here is a a recording of the three pieces for two violins and piano, op 97 from the ‘Gadfly’ suite by Shostakovich.  It is performed by Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman (two famous Israeli-American violinists), and Samuel Sanders (an American Pianist and professor at the Juilliard School of Music in New York).  Enjoy!

Felix Mendelssohn – Violin Sonata in F minor, Op. 4

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Felix Mendelssohn is a German 19th century composer.  Mendelssohn was a prolific composer.  He composed dramatic music, choral music, Vocal music, orchestral music, chamber music, and piano music. Today he is known among music lovers for his Violin Concerto in e minor, oratorio Elijah, Octet, Symphony no 4. ‘Italian’, and Songs without Words for piano solo.

The Violin Sonata in f minor, op.4 is one of three sonatas that Mendelssohn wrote for violin and piano.  It was written in 1823 when the composer was in his early teens.

Shlomo Mintz – violinist (1957 -) Shlomo Mintz is one of the 20th century’s greatest violinists.   He has performed with many of the great orchestras and great conductors.  He also performs quite regularly in chamber music concerts and recitals.

Paul Ostrovsky – pianist

Paul Ostrovsky has performed in many of the world’s great concert halls and has appeared at important music festivals including Tanglewood and the Salzburg Festival.


Leonid Kogan – Paganini Sonata for Violin and Guitar, Op 2a

Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840)

Italian violinist, guitarist, and composer.  Paganini was famous as a violin virtuoso and a composer who helped expand violin technique through works such as the 24 Caprices and 6 violin concertos.  Paganini also composed close to a 100 duets for violin and guitar.  Sadly the duets for violin and guitar have been neglected because most people only know about the 24 Caprices for solo violin and the violin concertos of Paganini.  Paganini’s caprices and concertos were the only works of his published during his lifetime.

Leonid Kogan (1924-1982) was one of the great Soviet violinists of the 20th century.

Here is a recording of Leonid Kogan (violin) and Alexander Ivanov Kramskol (guitar) playing Paganini’s Sonata in A Major, op.2.  Listen how the violin melody cascades in between the guitar chords.  What a beautiful tone that Kogan produces on the violin!

I decided to post this piece because it is a Paganini piece that most people have not heard.  It is also very simple and beautiful.  This music also shows a different side of the composer and virtuoso.  It is not simply virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity, but real music.


Pedrini: Sonate X en ut mineur (violin)

Teodorico Pedrini (1671-1746)

Teodorico Pedrini was an Italian priest, musician, composer, and missionary.  He served as a missionary at the Imperial Court of China for 36 years.  Pedrini was the music teacher to three sons of one of China’s emperors.  He was the co-author of the first treatise on Western Music theory written in Chinese.

The Sonata no.10 is written for Violin and continuo. Here is a recording of it played by a group called Le Baroque Nomade. It is one of several sonatas written for the Kangxi Emperor. Enjoy!

Lekeu Violin Sonata

Guillaume Lekeu (1870-1894) Was a Belgian composer.  He was born in Heusy, Belgium (a small village in Belgium).  It was there that Guillaume took his first music lessons in piano from the conductor of the local conservatory brass band, Alphonse Voss.

Lekeu’s family moved to Poitiers, France in 1879 and he continued to study music with his physics teacher.  Under this teacher he learnt about the music of J.S. Bach  and Beethoven.

He wrote his first composition when he was 15 years old.

Lekeu studied music composition with Cesar Franck and Vincent d’Indy (two very important composers).

Lekeu composed about 50 compositions.  Unfortunately most of his works are incomplete.  Among his most important compositions are a violin sonata (commissioned by the great violinist Eugene Ysaye), and an orchestral Fantasy.  He also composed several works for piano.

Here is a beautiful recording of Lekeu’s Violin Sonata played by Jonathan Morton on violin, and Carole Presland on the piano.  Enjoy!