Violin Concerto (Brahms)

Violin Concerto (Brahms)

Johannes Brahms wrote his Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 in 1878 for his friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim, who was the dedicatee. It is one of the best-known of all violin concertos.


It is scored, in addition to solo violin, for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons; 4 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings.


It follows the standard concerto form, with three movements in the pattern quick-slow-quick:

#"Allegro non troppo" (D major)
#"Adagio" (F major)
#"Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace - Poco più presto" (D major)

Originally, however, the work was planned in four movements like the second piano concerto. The middle movements, one of which was intended to be a scherzo— a mark that Brahms intended a symphonic concerto rather than a virtuoso showpiece— were discarded replaced with what Brahms called a "feeble Adagio." Some of the discarded material was reworked for the second piano concerto.

Brahms, who was impatient with the minutiae of slurs marking the bowing, rather than phrasing, as his usual practice was, asked Joachim's advice on the writing of the solo violin part. Joachim, who had first been alerted when Brahms informed him in August that "a few violin passages" would be coming in the mail, was eager that the concerto should be playable and idiomatic, and collaborated willingly, not that all his advice appeared in the final score. [Jan Swafford, "Johannes Brahms: a biography" 1997:448ff discusses the writing of the Violin Concerto.] The most familiar cadenza, which appears in the first movement, is by Joachim, though a number of people have provided alternatives, including Leopold Auer, Max Reger, Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, George Enescu, Nigel Kennedy and Rachel Barton Pine. A recording of the concerto released by Ruggiero Ricci has been coupled with Ricci's recordings of sixteen different cadenzas.


The work was premiered in Leipzig on January 1, 1879 by Joachim, who insisted on opening the concert with the Beethoven Violin Concerto, written in the same key, and closing with the Brahms. [Steinberg, 121.] Joachim's decision could be understandable, though Brahms complained that "it was a lot of D major—and not much else on the program." [Quoted in Steinberg, 121.] . Joachim was not presenting two established works, but one established one and a new, difficult one by a composer who had a reputation for being difficult. [Steinberg, 122.] Brahms conducted. Various modifications were made between then and the work's publication by Fritz Simrock later in the year.

Critical reaction to the work was mixed: the canard that the work was not so much for violin as "against the violin" is attributed equally to conductor Hans von Bülow and to Josef Helmesberger, to whom Brahms entrusted the Vienna premiere, [Swafford 1997:452.] which was however rapturously received by the public. [Brahms reported it to Julius Stockhausen as "a success as good as I've ever experienced". (quoted Swafford 1997:452.] Henryk Wieniawski called the work "unplayable", and the violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate refused to play it because he didn't want to "stand on the rostrum, violin in hand and listen to the oboe playing the only tune in the adagio." [Swafford 1997:"eo loc.".]

Against these critics, modern listeners often feel that Brahms was not really trying to produce a conventional vehicle for virtuoso display, as his peers perhaps had expected him to; Brahms had higher musical aims. Similar criticisms have been voiced over the string concerti of other great composers, such as Ludwig van Beethoven's violin concerto or Hector Berlioz's "Harold in Italy".Fact|date=June 2008

The cadenza in the finale is notable for being accompanied by the orchestra.Fact|date=August 2008

Technical demands

The Violin Concerto is considered one of the most important works in the violin repertoire.Fact|date=June 2008 The technical demands on the soloist are formidable, with generous use of multiple stopping, broken chords, rapid scale passages, and rhythmic variation. The difficulty might be attributed to Brahms being chiefly a pianist (this may also explain the technical demands Tchaikovsky made in his violin concerto). Fact|date=February 2008

Brahms chose the violin-friendly key of D major for his concerto. Since the violin is tuned G'D'A'E, the open strings, resonating sympathetically, add brilliance to the sound. For this reason, composers of all eras (e.g. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Prokofiev Korngold and Khachaturian) have written violin concertos in either D major or D minor.



* Steinberg, Michael " The Concerto" (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). ISBN 0-19-510330-0

External links

* [ BBC Radio 3's "Discovering Music"] (includes a .ram stream of a programme on the Brahms concerto)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Violin Concerto No. 1 — may refer to any composers first violin concerto, or to a composer s only violin concerto:*Violin Concerto (Barber) *Violin Concerto No. 1 (Bartók) *Violin Concerto (Beethoven) in D major *Violin Concerto (Berg) (atonal) *Violin Concerto (Brahms) …   Wikipedia

  • Violin Concerto in D major — may refer to: *Violin Concerto (Beethoven) *Violin Concerto (Brahms) *Violin Concerto (Tchaikovsky) …   Wikipedia

  • Violin Concerto (Schumann) — Robert Schumann’s Violin Concerto in D minor, WoO 23 was his only violin concerto and one of his last significant compositions, and one that remained unknown to all but a very small circle for more than 80 years after it was written. Composition… …   Wikipedia

  • Violin Concerto No. 2 (Joachim) — Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor in the Hungarian Manner is a Romantic violin concerto written by violinist Joseph Joachim (1831 1907). The critic [ David Hurwitz] has called it the Holy Grail …   Wikipedia

  • Violin concerto — David Oistrakh playing a violin concerto A violin concerto is a concerto for solo violin (occasionally, two or more violins) and instrumental ensemble, customarily orchestra. Such works have been written si …   Wikipedia

  • Violin Concerto (Mendelssohn) — Portrait of Mendelssohn, 1839. Felix Mendelssohn s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 is his last large orchestral work. It forms an important part of the violin repertoire and is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin… …   Wikipedia

  • Violin Concerto No. 1 (Bruch) — Max Bruch s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26, is one of the most popular violin concertos in the repertoire. It continues to be performed and recorded by many violinists and is arguably Bruch s most famous composition. [… …   Wikipedia

  • Double Concerto (Brahms) — The Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102, by Johannes Brahms is a concerto for violin, cello and orchestra. Origin of the work The Double Concerto was Brahms final work for orchestra. It was composed in the summer of 1887, and first performed on… …   Wikipedia

  • Concerto pour violon de Brahms — Concerto pour violon en ré majeur op. 77 Partition autographe Genre Concerto Nb. de mouvem …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Concerto Pour Violon De Brahms — Le Concerto pour violon en ré majeur (opus 77) de Johannes Brahms est une de ses œuvres les plus célèbres. Composé durant l été 1878 pour et avec Joseph Joachim, il fut exécuté pour la première fois par celui ci le 1er janvier 1879 accompagné par …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.