At last, a website for viola jokes

At last, a website for viola jokes


norman lebrecht

July 23, 2019

It’s here.

It’s really here.

One we’d never heard before?
What is the first sound you hear after the conductor yells, “Bratsche?”
The concertmaster saying, “Gesundheit.”



  • Esther Cavett says:

    Also missing is the unfortunately untranslatable one, which is very funny in German

    “Was sind die drei Lagen auf der Bratsche?
    Erste Lage, Notlage, und Niederlage.”

    (What are the three positions of the viola?
    First position,
    emergency and

  • Hedgehog says:

    Norman, thank you so much. I laughed and laughed. And it’ already on my Favourites. But should we not be a little bit ashamed of ourselves at this (hilarious) cruelty. What has the poor viola done to deserve this – or indeed done not to deserve this?

    Anyway, as a pianist I love the viola! May the Force (Power/Rysanov) be with it.

    • Sixtus says:

      ‘What has the poor viola done to deserve this – or indeed done not to deserve this?’ The same can be said of New Jersey.

  • Ned Keene says:

    Difference between a violin and a viola? Viola takes longer to burn

  • Mock Mahler says:

    I once heard David Zinman make a viola before conducting “The Miraculous Mandarin.” (Something about never looking directly at the violas, lest one encourage them. . . .) I didn’t realize he was working in a tradition.

  • Larry W says:

    At last? These websites have been around for years. But jokes can go both ways.

    Why are viola jokes are so short? So violinists can remember them.

    What’s the difference between a violin and a viola? Nothing. Violinists’ heads are bigger.

    The great violist William Primrose said a viola is a violin with a college education.

    • Yes, I didn’t see any point in bringing it up, but since you did I had a quick look back in time on my gmail account, which has been open since 2004. I found that I was sharing viola joke links back in 2010.

    • Algot says:

      Why doesn’t violist get hemorroids? Because all the assholes are in the first violin section.

  • John G. says:

    What do you do in an orchestra when a violist dies? . . . You move him back a stand.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Having labored in the insurance business for many decades (hey a violinist/violist of my skills (?) has to eat you know) it is interesting how many of the very same jokes on the website exist in versions with actuaries, rather than violists, as the target.

    I’ve heard these jokes told about violists and about actuaries. In honor of SD I’ll tell the viola versions.

    How do you make a violist laugh on a Monday? Tell him a joke on a Friday.

    How do you tell the difference between an extrovert violist and an introvert violist? The introvert looks at his shoes when he’s talking to you. The extrovert looks at your shoes. [This joke is so chillingly accurate and on point for so many actuaries that it is almost a shame to propagate it as a viola joke.]

  • Adam Stern says:

    A conductor is walking past the musicians’ green room before a concert. Inside, he sees the principal oboe and principal viola on the verge of a fistfight. He runs in and breaks them up. “All right, you two. What’s going on here?”

    The oboist says, “He broke my best reed!”

    The violist says, “Well, he started it! He loosened one of my tuning pegs and wouldn’t tell me which one!”

  • Algotritm says:

    Now, if you push a violist and a soprano off a cliff, who hits the ground first? The violist. The soprano has to stop halfway and ask for directions.

  • Bruce says:

    True story:

    Many years ago, we were rehearsing the Italian Symphony. The conductor stopped and asked to hear the violas at a certain spot. The violas played. It sounded… strange. Not out of tune exactly or with wrong accidentals, just… strange. He had them play it again, and it sounded the same. At this point one of the violists gasped and said “Oh! Wrong string!” She’d been playing the right intervals, but in parallel 5ths to the rest of the section.

    The conductor (normally very straight-faced) showed an expression of open horror for just a fraction of a second. Then he controlled it and asked for the passage again. It sounded fine, and the rehearsal went on.

  • Peter says:

    Why is this story illustrated with a picture of a violin ?

  • fflambeau says:

    There’s nothing more dangerous than a viola or a viola player.

  • fierywoman says:

    Q: What’s the difference between alto clef and Greek?
    A: Some conductors actually speak Greek.

  • Ben G. says:

    As recently seen in Strad magazine:

    Internationally acclaimed string quartet seeks 2 Violinists and Cellist for upcoming 2019-20 world tour. Please send applications to xxxx….xxxxxx……

  • Tromba in F says:

    How do you tell if the stage is level? There is drool coming out BOTH corners of the violist’s mouth.

  • Bill says:

    Emergency, conductor takes ill immediately before concert. The manager frantically asks orchestra members if anyone can conduct. A section violist says he studied conducting and can try.

    Concert actually goes well and the violist is asked to fill in as conductor for several weeks until conductor recovers.

    After several weeks the violist returns to the section and his stand partner says, “Hey, where have you been?”