Sixteen of the Best Violin and Viola Duets

Composers have been writing duets for violin and viola for generations. Today, we’re sharing some of our favorite examples from the genre.

Violin and Viola

Violin and Viola

From the classical elegance of Haydn and Mozart, to the rich Romanticism of composers like Spohr and Kalliwoda, to the folk-infused modernism of Ponce and Martinů, our selection spans a range of styles and eras.

Joseph Haydn: String Duo in F major, Hob.VI:1 (1775)

A delightful piece showcasing the interplay between violin and viola with Haydn’s signature charm and musical wit.

Play it if: You want a simple, gentle, warm-hearted duet from the Classical Era.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante (1779)

A renowned work featuring both violin and viola as solo instruments set against an orchestra, highlighting their virtuosity and expressive capabilities.

Play it if: You want an achingly beautiful, dramatic, nobly emotive work on a grand, almost operatic scale.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Duo for Violin and Viola, K.423-424 (1783)

A set of two duos that exude Mozart’s elegant style, showcasing an effortless interplay between the two instruments.

Play it if: You want to enjoy a sparkling, witty, vivacious conversation between two accomplished players.

Michael Haydn: Sonata for Violin and Viola in C major, MH 335-336 (1783)

A composition characterized by its lyricism, with an admitted preference shown to the violin when it comes to the distribution of melodies. (In other words, don’t expect much of a solo turn from the violist!)

Play it if: You want a Classical Era piece that showcases the violist’s sensitive accompanying ability.

Carl Philipp Stamitz: Duet for Violin and Viola in C major (ca. 1785)

An engaging work by Carl Philipp Stamitz, a prominent composer from the Mannheim School, a musical movement based in Mannheim, Germany, that advanced orchestral technique, especially when it came to dynamics.

Play it if: You want a good-humored duo featuring satisfying noodling and subtleties of dynamics.

Franz Anton Hoffmeister: Duet for Violin and Viola in G major, Op.7 No.1 (date unknown)

A charming duo showcasing a well-matched partnership between the violin and viola. A fine example of a Classical Era duet.

Play it if: You want the chance to exchange elegant lines between instrumentalists.

Louis Spohr: Duet for Violin and Viola, Op.13 (1807)

A notable early Romantic work of the genre by composer Louis Spohr, who helped usher string music into the Romantic Era.

Play it if: You want to play one of the first well-known violin/viola duos of the nineteenth century.

Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda: Duets for Violin and Viola, Op. 208 (1880)

Late Romantic duets featuring expressive melodies and lush harmonies. It opens with a slow pastoral dance featuring open-string drones.

Play it if: You want a dramatic work that also emanates an air of rustic elegance.

Jean Sibelius: Duo with Violin and Viola in C Major (ca 1891-1892)

An early work by Sibelius that demonstrates his distinctive style, characterized by introspective melodies and evocative harmonies.

Play it if: You’re looking for a brief, bittersweet piece.

Johan Halvorsen: Passacaglia for Violin and Viola (1893)

A captivating work that reinterprets Handel’s Passacaglia in G minor as a virtuoso showpiece for violin and viola.

Play it if: You want to play one of the best-known and most difficult Romantic Era violin-viola duos…and break a lot of bow hair in the process!

Johan Halvorsen: Sarabande con variazioni (1897)

A rich, melancholy set of variations on a Sarabande theme, also known as La Folia.

Play it if: You want to play the more brooding, introspective cousin of Halvorsen’s famous passacaglia.

Robert Fuchs: 12 Duets for Violin and Viola, Op. 60 (before 1898)

A collection of brief duets from the Romantic Era. This video features the first of the twelve.

Play it if: You want a collection of short, emotive, mix-and-match Romantic Era works written by a now-forgotten composer who Brahms deeply admired.

Ludwig Philipp Scharwenka: Duo for Violin & Viola Op. 105 (1898)

A piece for violin, viola, and piano showcasing the composer’s Romantic sensibilities. For whatever reason, it’s rare to find a work for violin and viola that also includes a piano!

Play it if: You want a gorgeously lush late-Romantic work for violin and viola that also has a lovely piano accompaniment.

Max Bruch: Double Concerto for Violin and Viola (1911)

A dramatic work in the concerto genre, which allows both instruments to shine as soloists.

Play it if: You want to play a big, yearning piece of music for violin and viola that also has an orchestra joining in the fun.

Manuel Ponce: Sonata a duo (1938)

A gripping duo sonata characterized by both Mexican and modernist influences.

Play it if: You want a stunning, accessible twentieth-century work with striking Mexican-inspired touches.

Bohuslav Martinů: 3 Madrigals, H.313 (1947)

A set of three contrasting madrigals demonstrating Martinů’s unique compositional voice, which, like Ponce’s duo sonata, incorporates elements of folk music and modernism.

Play it if: You want to play the most famous twentieth-century work for the violin and viola.


The repertoire of duos for violin and viola may be relatively small.

But whether you’re drawn to classical elegance, demonstrative romanticism, or the spikier modern language found in these duets, you’ll find something here to suit your tastes and playing ability!

Let us know which one is your favorite.

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