Maurice Vieux

Maurice Vieux

Where was he born?

In northern France, but he lived most of his life in Paris, France.

Where was he educated?

Conservatoire de Paris, France

Who was his primary teacher?

Théophile Laforge 

Where did he work as a professional musician?

First he was principal violist of the Opéra National de Paris (1907–1949), and then in 1918 he replaced Laforge as Professor of Viola at Conservatoire de Paris

Notable compositions?

20 Études for viola solo (1927); Éditions Alphonse Leduc

10 Études sur des traits d’orchestre (1928); Éditions Alphonse Leduc

Scherzo for viola and piano (1928); Éditions Alphonse Leduc

6 Études de concert for viola and piano (1928–1932); Éditions Alphonse Leduc; Éditions Max Eschig; Associated Music Publishers

10 Études sur les intervalles for viola solo (1931); Éditions Alphonse Leduc


In 1983 the Maurice Vieux International Viola Competition (Le Concours International d’Alto Maurice Vieux) was established by the French Viola Society (Les Amis de l’Alto). In its inaugural year the first-prize winner was violist Tabea Zimmerman.

(Website for the viola society: http://amisdelalto.over-blog.fr/)

(Wikipedia page for competition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Vieux_International_Viola_Competition)

Interesting facts

Max Bruch dedicated his Romanze for viola and orchestra, op. 85 (1911) to Vieux. However, the premiere performance of the work was given by German violist Willy Hess, who taught with Bruch at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, due to the anti-French sentiment in imperial Berlin at the time.

Links to recordings of his 20 Études for viola solo:

Étude No. 6


Étude No. 17


Étude No. 18


– Recording of Maurice Vieux himself:


Info gathered from above mentioned websites and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Vieux


A note from Prof. Ivo-Jan van der Werff

I only came across these études relatively recently and have since given them to my students. I think they add another dimension to the usual etudes of Kreutzer, Rode, Campagnoli, etc. They are very difficult but manageable as they were written by a violist for violists. We all use violin études, transcribed, and they can be very useful, but how many times do we find an impossible double stop or an extension that doesn’t work. Frustrating and sometimes demoralizing!

Vieux offers many challenges to enhance viola technique, but, to my mind, one of the most important elements is the way they are written. Classical études are great for playing Classical music, but they don’t offer much help when it comes to reading music from Mahler onward. Vieux writes in horrendous keys: full of double sharps and flats; passages where we have to learn how to think enharmonically. When faced with a passage from Mahler, Strauss, Bartók, or Stravinsky, we have to be able to read complex harmonic passages. Studying Vieux helps enormously toward this end. The études require a dexterity of both hands that will help equip any aspiring violist with the technique to manage the often more complex writing of the last one hundred-plus years.

Comments about the Vieux études from Rice students:

For me, the biggest benefit of learning these études is how much easier they make learning other works, specifically new pieces. Before working on these études, I could easily get tripped up just coming across a B-sharp in a new piece of music. However, because the études are written enharmonically and ultimately performed at such a fast pace, the exercises really train your brain to quickly recognize and accurately execute those kinds of strange looking intervals. Whether you’re learning a modern composition or trying to sight read, that kind of security will always come in handy.

– Carey Skinner

I have worked through most of the intervals études book, and the études can be very daunting to learn, as they are very chromatic. The études have helped me with the process of learning difficult passages in solo and orchestral repertoire, because it’s impossible to learn the études without starting very slowly and working methodically through small sections at a time.

– Meredith Kufchak

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