The Vivaldi piccolo concertos are some of the most important pieces in the small flute’s repertoire. Whether you need to do an audition or participate in a competition, you should learn at least of these works.
That’s right, there are more piccolo concertos than that famous one. If you want to expand your piccolo playing, all three pieces are great options, but you need to choose the one for you.
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Vivaldi Concerto in C Major (RV 443)
The Vivaldi Concerto in C Major (RV 443) is THE piccolo concerto. It’s the piece that most musicians think of when they think of the Vivaldi piccolo concertos.
It has three movements with the standard fast-slow-fast structure. The concerto is often a requirement of professional orchestra auditions and even some college or grad school programs.
I learned this piccolo concerto when I was a junior in college and played it on my junior recital. As you learn it, you need to take it slowly, especially the more technical passages.
Be sure to break up the piece into phrases and practice each one individually. You should also practice the rhythms with a metronome, especially if you’re going to play the piece with piano or a string orchestra.
Vivaldi Concerto in C Major (RV 444)
Another one of the Vivaldi piccolo concertos is the Concerto in C Major (RV 444). While it’s not as popular as the other C major concerto, it is a good piece to learn, and it’s even been a competition requirement for the National Flute Association (NFA).
I got to play this piece on my first master’s recital when I was in grad school. It was the first big piece I played on a piccolo I actually owned (I borrowed a wood piccolo in undergrad).
Since I’d already learned the other concerto, I was able to replicate my process to learn this one. If you play this piece, you need to break it down into sections and use a metronome.
The piece may not be as crazy as more modern works, but it’s still a nice piece to show off your skills. You can work on this piece for a recital, competition, or simply to expand your repertoire.
Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor (RV 445)
Out of all three Vivaldi piccolo concertos, the only one I have yet to play is the Concerto in A Minor (RV 445). However, I have sight read it, and I thought about playing it before I chose RV 444.
This piccolo concerto is a nice contrast to the others since it’s in a minor key. It’s also nice since the key is A minor, so there aren’t a ton of accidentals.
If I were to learn this piece, I would do the same things I’ve done for the others. Break up each movement into sections or phrases, and learn/practice each one separately.
Slowly put the entire piece together yourself. Then, find a good pianist who can play the piano reduction for you if you want to perform it for a recital or competition.
Best Editions of the Vivaldi Piccolo Concertos
When you’re looking to learn any of the Vivaldi piccolo concertos, you need the right sheet music. Some editors, especially with Baroque music, over-edit it.
They may add things that take away from the historical context of the work. Sure, that may not matter since technically, these concertos were originally for recorder.
However, I still believe you need an edition that’s easy to read and has the edits of a piccolo player or someone knowledgeable about music history. Here are some editions to consider.
The best edition of the Vivaldi piccolos concertos, hands down, is from Theodore Presser. Zart Dombourian-Eby is a piccolo specialist, and she created this edition of all three pieces.
I used this edition to learn both of the C major concertos and read through the A minor concerto. Since the edits are by a piccolo player, they work very well for the instrument.
There are some more marks than an urtext edition might have, but they’re still good choices to make. Plus, this is the only edition I’ve found of the two less popular concertos.
International Music Company
International Music Company editions aren’t always the best, and this only covers RV 443. However, I would recommend this edition to high school students and teachers of high school students, at least in my home state of Kansas.
This publisher is often the required edition of all-state auditions. That means you have to use it and follow the markings to get the best possible score.
If you’re out of high school and don’t work with that age group, you may want to avoid this version. But it is edited by Jean-Pierre Rampal, so at least a flutist worked on it.
One of my favorite publishers of urtext editions is Henle. The company has published a version of the famous C major concerto with edits by Henrik Wiese (flute) and Jan Phili Schuze (piano).
While I haven’t read through this piece, I have used the Henle edition for the Telemann 12 Fantasias and the Bach Flute Sonatas. I imagine this piece has good edits compared to some other editions.
Of course, it only covers the first piccolo concerto, but it’s still a good option. If you don’t have to use a specific version, give this one a try to see if you lie it.
Which Concerto Should You Learn First?
I’d recommend learning the Concerto in C Major (RV 443) as your first of the Vivaldi piccolo concertos. It’s by far the most popular, so you can use it for future auditions or competitions.
However, if you need to learn one of the others for a competition or audition, do that. You can always learn the other pieces later on, so you don’t have to only ever study one.
Can You Learn All Three Vivaldi Piccolo Concertos?
You can learn all three Vivaldi piccolo concertos, and you probably should if you want to be a piccolo specialist. I’d avoid trying to learn all three pieces at the same time, though.
Choose one to learn first, and work on it until it’s at performance level. To choose which to learn, play through all three, and consider which you like the best.
When Should You Learn a Vivaldi Piccolo Concerto?
I learned my first Vivaldi piccolo concerto after I started taking the piccolo seriously. I’d owned a piccolo for a little less than two years and I really started to play it the previous fall.
You should play the piccolo for a while and have a foundation for piccolo playing. Then, you can start to learn more difficult repertoire like the Vivaldi piccolo concertos.
Can You Play the Concertos on the Flute?
You can learn these concertos on your flute, and some editions specify that. However, I’d recommend learning them on the piccolo since that’s the most common instrument for performance purposes.
If you’re not as experienced on the piccolo, you can use the flute to learn the notes. Then, you can slowly transfer what you learn on the flute to playing these pieces on your piccolo.
Will You Learn the Vivaldi Piccolo Concertos?
Learning the Vivaldi piccolo concertos isn’t easy, and you shouldn’t learn them all at once. However, putting in the time to learn at least one is an excellent use of your time as a piccolo player.
You can use the pieces to for recitals, auditions, and competitions. Or you can simply use the pieces to help improve your practice skills. Either way, start with the Concerto in C Major (RV 443), and learn the others later on.