Perhaps you know that the viola is called a low voice baby girl or baby boy. Range from La up to small octave e flat second.
The lowest female voice, contralto, had also called viola.
And then came the name to one of the string instruments. May be because its timbre similar to contralto - soft, chest, expressive.
"I decided to write for orchestra, a number of scenes in which the solo viola sounded like more or less active adult preserving everywhere the inherent character; I wanted to liken viola melancholy to the dreamer in the spirit of "Childe Harold" Byron..." wrote the French composer Hector Berlioz in his memoirs, Recalling the appearance of the intent of the program Symphony for viola and orchestra "Harold in Italy".
Very expressive used the character of the sound violas D. D. Shostakovich Symphony "the year 1905". After the terrible image of the painting "Bloody Sunday" (the so-called second part of the Symphony) the third part - "Eternal memory" opens with the melody of mourning revolutionary songs "You fell victim, which slowly and mournfully "sing" violas.
D. Shostakovich. Symphony No. 11 "1905 year".
Part 3. Adagio ("memory Eternal")
Now viola is increasingly popular as a concert instrument. Music write many composers. The German composer Paul Hindemith, himself playing the viola, was created for him many works.
Perhaps the most famous of all viola compositions - the latter written by Shostakovich. This Sonata for viola and piano, dedicated to her the first performer of the viola Theodore S. Druzhinin.
D. Shostakovich. Sonata for viola and piano, works, 147