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About the Caprices
These twenty-four caprices are advanced, multigenre repertoire
for unaccompanied violin written between 2010 and 2020.
The choice to write "24" honors four Late Classical through Early-Romantic-era violinist-composers, whom also each wrote 24 caprices for unaccompanied violin. This tradition began with Pierre Gaviniès (1728-1800), and was sustained by Pierre Rode (1774-1830), Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), and Jakob Dont (1815-1888) respectively.
I love when artists push the violin's horizons by challenging us with something new or different. By writing down their 24 caprices, each did that for us for generations. After Dont though, the 24 caprice tradition stopped for nearly two centuries!
I wanted to revive this old tradition with something new and relevant to today’s violinists. So I spent 10 years, essentially the beginning-to-end of my time earning 4 degrees in music, through the writing, performing, and rewriting my own. Exactly 171 years after that 24-caprice tradition among violinists stopped, I finally amalgamated mine for publication in 2020.
What Makes Them New and Relevant?
18th and 19th century artists still did not cross oceans. Without airplanes, internet, and classicism permeating all parts of daily life, world culture was extremely difficult to access. The farthest travels documented among these 18th century violinists had been Paganini's trip to Nice, France. Concordantly, while past 24-caprice writers pushed the violin’s technical horizons, those collections were all limited to one style, and one genre. That’s what was relevant to the time, place, and socioeconomic class they wrote for.
I wanted to introduce something relevant to what violinists have now. We have unprecedented access to geographical spaces with motorized travel, and to time. Today, violinists ( et al.) can access the oldest written music, the newest recordings, and sounds from outer space in seconds. I acknowledge our present access across both space and time by including a diversity of both.
My 24 Caprices include three fugues using baroque counterpoint (though one uses a Chinese modality some label "minor pentatonic"). They also include two impressionist works, two fiddle tunes, written jazz, theater music, clear influences of rock and raga, an Argentine tango, and more!
Are They Études?
No. Unlike Gavinies, Rode, Dont (or Federigo Fiorillo and Rodolphe Kreutzer who also wrote violin caprices) mine are not études. Educators have reported success using them to teach different techniques, and expose students to different styles. I am always honored to hear those stories. For the record,
they are not études in the same way a violin is not a viola — excellent knowing how to use it as such while acknowledging their difference.
How Difficult Are They?
I say they land precisely between the Bach Sonatas & Partitas and Paganini Caprices. Here is an overview of the techniques used:
The highest pitch used is B6.
Two of the works have one or more double-stop natural harmonics.
Four of the works include one or more double-trills.
Six include mixed meter.
Seven include left hand pizzicato.
What Do Violinists Think About Them?
I did include reviews in the sheet music's preface. One is from the Sarufutsu Education Board of Japan's Composition Professor, Dr. Ruben Salazar, who called them "...the new 24 caprices" in comparison to the twenty-four by Niccolo Paganini. His full review is in the preface of the 2nd edition.
Another is from the The Music Cataloging Dept. of the University of Arizona, who said it is "...a book of advanced violin repertoire reflecting the musical globalism and diversity of the 21st century."
Is This Music Important Philosophically?
Diverse repertorial collections are a crucial step for today's concert violinists. Many of us conservatory-trained artists never once reach beyond western classical in our solo repertoire. For anyone who finds other humans worth learning about, this is unfortunate. I hope my work encourages more on our music stands.
There is something here for everyone. I have already enjoyed many brilliant performances by artists, professors, and students all over the world. This sold over 400 copies in its first 2 years, mostly to university students. That means so much to me, and I enthusiastically look forward to every performance following this 2nd Edition!
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Caprice No. 24
"Fugue No. 3" (ending)
"Such a fascinating set of works! I can't wait to hear more of them!"
—Violinist, Jennifer Koh
"The composer knows the instrument very well and writes very well for it. I love it!"
—Violinist, Lauren Farrell
Caprice No. 10
"The Last Leaf of Autumn" (ending)
Caprice No. 19
"The Neapolitan Caprice"
Caprice No. 1
Caprice No. 3
Caprice No. 10
"This Girl Laughs"
Caprice No. 23
"Fugue No. 2"