Discover The World of Classical Music with Grammofy

From Bach to Glass, from slow and smooth to fast and furious, our renowned experts from BBC Music and Gramophone Magazine introduce you to a broad variety of finest music – free on top of your existing Spotify Premium account.

Let's get started!

First, sign up with your email address and a password of your choice.

Now, let's connect Spotify

To listen to music you need to connect Grammofy to your Spotify Premium account. Click the button below and sign in with your Spotify credentials.

Violà Viola

feat. Berlioz, Schumann, Shostakovich, Walton & Bach

Play all

"Established string quartet seeks a first violinist, a second violinist, and a cellist…"

There are hardly any other instruments and instrumentalists who are made fun of more often than the viola and viola players. The viola, though, is an instrument which captivates with its dark and mysterious, passionate and quite virtuosic sound. The viola is the alto cousin of the violin, a little bigger and tuned one fifth lower. For many years it wasn't popular as a solo instrument, being simply rather big and requiring much more effort and stretch to the fingers to play. But from 1740 violas which were more compact began to be made and so they found more acceptance. The composer Hector Berlioz, for instance, recognised the viola "among all the orchestral instruments as the one whose outstanding qualities were misconceived the most". Eventually he impressively demonstrated this in his composition "Harold in Italy" for Solo Viola and orchestra. In this collection we'd like to share with you some of the many facets of the wonderful sound of this instrument - as a magical teller of tales by Schumann, dancing, in both a lively and a grandiose manner, through Bach, in Shostakovich's melancholic and painful reflections on life, and full of romance in Walton's great concerto. We think the viola is absolutely worth being the centre of attention.

Curation: Natascha Klotschkoff

Speaker: David Hall

Visual Art: Philipp Nicolai Hertel

  • Violà Viola

  • An introduction to Berlioz — Harold en Italie op. 16

  • Harold en Italie op. 16 Preview Only

    Hector Berlioz

    Valery Gergiev, Antoine Tamestit, London Symphony Orchestra2013
  • An introduction to Shostakovich — Viola Sonata op. 147

  • Viola Sonata op. 147 Preview Only

    Dmitri Shostakovich

    Isabelle van Keulen, Ronald Brautigam1992
  • An introduction to Bach — Brandenburgische Konzerte Nr. 6 BWV 1051

  • Brandenburgische Konzerte Nr. 6 BWV 1051 Preview Only

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Antoine Tamestit, Rachel Roberts, Ghislaine Zipperling, Rainer Zipperling, Quirine Viersen, Hiroaki Aoe, Lars Vogt2008
  • An introduction to Walton — Viola Concerto

  • Viola Concerto Preview Only

    William Walton

    Lars Anders Tomter, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Paul Daniel1995
  • An introduction to Schumann — Märchenerzählungen op. 132

  • Märchenerzählungen op. 132 Preview Only

    Robert Schumann

    Nobuko Imai, Janet Hilton, Roger Vignoles1989

(Preview Only)