Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto in D, Opus 35
Tchaikovsky wrote the Violin Concerto in 1878, inspired after spending time with the violinist Josef Kotek, also a former theory student of Tchaikovsky.
The concerto was sketched in only 2 weeks! Tchaikovsky and Kotek played the work through and Tchaikovsky subsequently re-wrote the middle slow movement, followed by the orchestration. The original Andante middle movement was used in a later work.
Tchaikovsky dedicated the Violin Concerto to a Hungarian violinist, Leopold Auer, who taught some of the leading twentieth century violinists at the St Petersburg Conservatoire. However, Auer initially complained that the concerto was unplayable!
The first performance was given in 1881 in Vienna with violinist Adolph Brodsky. It was initially not well received, but has now become a popular piece in the violin repertoire.
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is very virtuosic – listen out for all the opportunities for the soloist to show off their technical ability, particularly in the fast first and third movements.
Movement I: Allegro moderato – Moderato assai
The Violin Concerto opens with an orchestral introduction. The violin enters with a high, unaccompanied melody that never reappears. After eight bars the orchestral accompaniment begins with the theme that dominates the movement in the solo violin. This theme returns in different variations in both the violin and orchestral parts.
Listen out for the double stopping when the violin part harmonises the melody.
Tchaikovsky wrote the cadenza that appears in the middle of the first movement. Listen out for the way the phrases at the beginning finish with arpeggios reaching up to the highest notes on the violin. Also try and spot harmonics, trills and more double stopping.
Movement II: Canzonetta: Andante
The woodwind open the second movement, creating a slow, lonely character in comparison with the previous movement.
The solo violin is muted in this movement – this is unusual in concertos as mutes make the instrument quieter. Notice how the orchestral texture is reduced in comparison to the outer movements in order to accommodate the mute.
This movement has a simple melody and form, with a more active middle section.
Movement III: Finale: Allegro vivacissimo
The third movement follows on from the second without a break and is frenetic and dance-like.
The short orchestral introduction is followed by a violin cadenza – listen out for pizzicato.
Listen out for rubato and tempo changes: accelerandos and ritardandos.
The violin repeats the main theme from this movement throughout and you can also hear the same theme in the orchestra.
Listen out for the ‘call and response’ section between solo violin and orchestra.
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY 1840-1893
Russian, Romantic composer.
As a student, Tchaikovsky studied composition, music theory, piano, flute and organ.
Tchaikovsky was the first Russian composer to incorporate ideas from Western composers such as Beethoven and Schumann.
Tchaikovsky wrote a variety of orchestral, chamber, solo and stage works, including operas and ballets – famously the ballets Swan Lake and the Nutcracker.
- Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini
- Bartók Concerto For Orchestra
- Bartók The Miraculous Mandarin
- Beethoven Egmont
- Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5
- Beethoven Symphony No. 9
- Berg 3 Pieces, Op. 6
- Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
- Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2
- Britten In Memoriam Dennis Brain
- Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1
- Bruckner Symphony No. 4
- Debussy Images
- Debussy Jeux
- Debussy La Mer
- Mahler Symphony No. 6
- Mahler Symphony No. 7
- Mahler Symphony No. 9
- Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
- Messiaen Turangalîla-symphonie
- Mozart Horn Concerto No. 4
- Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27
- Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2
- Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 3
- Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 4
- Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2
- Ravel La Valse
- Ravel Piano Concerto in D
- Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major
- Schumann Symphony No. 1
- Schoenberg 5 Pieces
- Schoenberg Gurrelieder
- Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht
- Sibelius Karelia Suite
- Sibelius Symphony No. 2
- Strauss Don Juan
- Strauss Horn Concerto No.1
- Stravinsky The Firebird Suite
- Stravinsky Rite of Spring
- Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4
- Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6
- Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D
- Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony
- Vaughan Williams London Symphony
- Vaughan Williams The Pilgrim's Progress