Robert Estrin - piano expert

What is a Concerto?

The definitive video about what a concerto is and its form.

In this video, Robert gives you an easy-to-understand explanation of what a Concerto is and the compositional form it follows in classical music. Robert approaches the concerto by explaining how it differs from the Sonata, which was described in a previous video (check out Robert's video titled "What's a Sonata?").

Released on September 4, 2013

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin. Welcome to and Today's question is what is a concerto. This is a wonderful question. The concerto goes back centuries, and it's an important musical form. You may have seen my video on what is a sonata. And there were some similarities between sonatas and concertos. We're going to cover as one important distinction that separates concertos. That's what I'm going to hit today.

Last week we talked about the sonata, and I used the famous Mozart sonata in C Major K 545. And sonata's going to be written not just for the piano, but they can be written for violin, for cello, and these are works that usually have piano accompaniment. Now a concerto, by contrast, is a piece of music written for a solo instrument or a group of instruments along with a symphony orchestra. So typically you go to a concert, and the second half may start with a concerto. And you'll have a pianist or a violinist playing solo right in front of the whole orchestra backing them up.

Or it could be a small group of instruments like, for example, in the Baroque Era. Bach wrote Brandenburg concertos which is a small chamber orchestra with a small group of instruments featured with the smaller orchestra. So that's what differentiates a concerto. Many of you probably know the famous Tchaikovsky B Flat Minor concerto which starts with these big chords. It goes on, but while that's happening the orchestra is playing.

So you've got a whole orchestra with a soloist. It's just an incredible musical form. Now interestingly there is a parallel to the sonata in that many concertos are written in the sonata allegro form which we discussed in the sonata video. In fact, the introductions oftentimes in Mozart and Haydn concertos can be miniature sonatas into themselves before the soloist ever comes in. So there are many similarities in the structure of a concerto to a sonata, but the thing to remember is concertos are soloists or a small group of instruments that are featured along with an orchestra. Thanks for joining me. Robert Estrin, here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Federico on January 1, 2014 @10:09 am PST
thank you for your good advices.

If I were to study piano I would chose you as my teacher
Simon Ball on September 5, 2013 @7:36 am PST
Mr Estrin, I came across your YouTube clips the other day - what an incredibly useful resource they are - thank you!

I'm in the process of wondering about replacing my Bechstein Model L with a Steinway from the 40s onwards. One thing I've noticed is that some reconditioned Steinways have the harp logo on the fallboard *below* the name, rather than above it. If you could throw any light on why this might be, I'd be ever so grateful!

Ooh, and if you could ever do a video on things to look out for in older piano actions, that would be fantastic!

Keep up the great work!
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