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The levels of difficulty

The levels of difficulty of the violin music published by G. Henle Publishers

Level Degree Example
1 easy Beethoven, 6 German Dances WoO 42
2 Beethoven, Rondo G major WoO 41
3 Mozart, Violin Sonata F major KV 547
4 medium Haydn, Violin Concerto A major Hob. VIIa:3
5 Bach, Violin Concerto a minor BWV 1041
6 Brahms, Violin Sonata G major op. 78
7 difficult Paganini, No. 9 from Capricci op. 1
8 Beethoven, Violin Concerto D major op. 61
9 Berg, Violin Concerto


I have assigned all of the violin music in G. Henle Publishers’ catalogue a level of difficulty, ranging from “very easy” to “very difficult”. The model for this was the evaluation system with nine levels developed for Henle’s piano catalogue by Rolf Koenen.

This kind of attempt will always be “relative” to some degree. While the work remains the work, what is relative is the technical and musical ability of the player. Let us take a look at Mozart, for example, from the perspective of an Arthur Grumiaux and from that of a very young pupil. It is clear to whom my levels of difficulty are addressed: to the pupils or their teacher. I have, of course, always endeavoured to objectively assess the purely technical level of difficulty. But everything “between the lines” is, of course, left up to the judgement of each individual musician. Depending on our abilities, we perceive the “difficulty” of a work for violin differently, yet with the same conviction.

At the start, categorizing violin literature into levels of difficulty from 1 to 9 seemed to carry a certain risk as well as being unknown territory, yet I have now gained a deep insight into all of the works for violin in G. Henle Publishers’ catalogue.

Ernst Schliephake © 2013