Dvořák violin concerto

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 (B.108) is a concerto for violin and orchestra composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1879. The concerto was premiered in 1883 by František Ondříček in Prague. He also gave the premieres in Vienna and London. Today it remains an important work in the violin repertoire.

The concerto’s structure is the classical three movements of fast-slow-fast.

  1. Allegro ma non troppo
  2. Adagio ma non troppo
  3. Finale: Allegro giocoso ma non troppo

Antonín Dvořák was inspired to write his concerto after having met Joseph Joachim in 1878 and composed the work with the intention of dedicating it him. However, when he finished the concerto in 1879, Joachim became skeptical about it. Joachim was a strict classicist and objected to Dvořák’s inter alia, or his abrupt truncation of the first movement’s orchestral tutti. Joachim also didn’t like the fact that the recapitulation was cut short and that it led directly to the slow second movement. It is also assumed that he was upset with the persistent repetition found in the third movement. However, Joachim never said anything outright and instead claimed to be editing the solo part. He never actually performed the piece.

 

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Brahms Violin Sonata No.2

The Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 100 (“Thun” or “Meistersinger”) by Johannes Brahms was written while spending the summer of 1886 in Thun in the Bernese Oberland,Switzerland.

It was a very fertile and refreshing time for Brahms. His friend the Swiss pastor and poet Josef Victor Widmann (1842-1911) lived in Berne and they visited each other. He was also visited by the poet Klaus Groth and the young German contralto Hermine Spies. Both Groth and Brahms were somewhat enamoured of Spies. He found himself so invigorated by the genial atmosphere and surroundings that he said the area was “so full of melodies that one has to be careful not to step on any”. In a short space of time, he produced, in addition to this violin sonata, the Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 99, the Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 101, and various songs.

The 2nd Violin Sonata is the shortest and is considered the most lyrical of Brahms’s three violin sonatas. It is also considered the most difficult of the three to bring off successfully, and to exhibit its balance of lyricism and virtuosity. It maintains a radiant, happy mood throughout.

It consists of three movements, with the middle movement doing service as both a slow movement and a scherzo:[1]

  • 1. Allegro amabile
  • 2. Andante tranquillo – Vivace – Andante – Vivace di più – Andante – Vivace
  • 3. Allegretto grazioso (quasi andante).

By giving gave the work the formal title of “Sonata for Piano and Violin”, rather than the more usual “Sonata for Violin and Piano”, Brahms indicated the piano part was just as important as the violin part. In keeping with this, he allowed the piano to announce the opening theme. The first three notes of the first movement are very similar in both melody and harmony to the first three notes of “Walther’s Prize Song” (Morgenlich leuchtend im rosigen Schein) from Richard Wagner‘s opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Although they were musical rivals, Brahms was a great admirer of Wagner’s music, but whether this was a deliberate quotation on Brahms’s part is open to speculation. Nevertheless, the sonata has often been subtitled the “Meistersinger” Sonata. It is also sometimes called the “Thun” Sonata from the place of its creation.

Motives from three of the songs Brahms wrote that summer with Hermine Spies’s voice in mind appear fleetingly in the sonata: “Wie Melodien zieht es mir leise durch den Sinn”, Op. 105/1 (“Like melodies it steals softly through my mind”; words by Klaus Groth) makes an appearance in the second subject of the first movement. “Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer”, Op. 105/2 (“Ever gentle is my sleep”; words by Hermann Lingg) and “Auf dem Kirchhofe”, Op. 105/4 (words by Detlev von Liliencron) are quoted in the final movement. The song “Komm bald”, Op. 97/5 (“Come soon”; words by Groth) is also said have provided thematic inspiration for the sonata.

The Violin Sonata No. 2 was premiered in Vienna on 2 December 1886 by the violinist Joseph Hellmesberger, Sr. and Brahms himself at the piano.

Brahms’s friend the poet Josef Widmann later wrote a poem to be accompanied by the sonata.

 

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Beethoven Violin Sonata No.9 “Kreutzer”

 

The Violin Sonata No. 9 of Ludwig van Beethoven, commonly known as the Kreutzer Sonata, was published as Beethoven’s Opus 47. It is known for its demanding violin part, unusual length (a typical performance lasts slightly less than 40 minutes), and emotional scope — while the first movement is predominantly furious, the second is meditative and the third joyous and exuberant.

Composition

The sonata was originally dedicated to the violinist George Bridgetower (1778–1860), who performed it with Beethoven at the premiere on 24 May 1803 at the Augarten Theatre at a concert that started at the unusually early hour of 8:00 am. Bridgetower sight-read the sonata; he had never seen the work before, and there had been no time for any rehearsal. However, research indicates that after the performance, while the two were drinking, Bridgetower insulted the morals of a woman whom Beethoven cherished. Enraged, Beethoven removed the dedication of the piece, dedicating it instead to Rodolphe Kreutzer, who was considered the finest violinist of the day.

However, Kreutzer never performed it, considering it “outrageously unintelligible”. He did not particularly care for any of Beethoven’s music, and they only ever met once, briefly.

Sources suggest the work was originally titled “Sonata mulattica composta per il mulatto Brischdauer [Bridgetower], gran pazzo e compositore mulattico” (Mulatto Sonata composed for the mulatto Brischdauer, big wild mulatto composer), and in the composer’s 1803 sketchbook, as a “Sonata per il Pianoforte ed uno violino obligato in uno stile molto concertante come d’un concerto”.

Key

Beethoven gave no key designation. Although the work is usually titled as being in A-major, the Austrian composer and music theoretician Gerhard Präsent has published articles indicating that the main key is in fact A-minor. Präsent has revealed interesting connections to the 6th violin sonata op.30/1, for which the third movement was originally composed, and he believes that the unusual opening bars for solo violin form a kind of transition from the earlier sonata (or from its structural material), supporting the belief that the acquisition of the finale of op.30/1 for the “Kreutzer” was a compositional intention — and not a result of lack of time, as long suspected.

Structure

The piece is in three movements, and takes approximately 43 minutes to perform:

  1. Adagio sostenuto – Presto – Adagio (about 15 minutes in length)
  2. Andante con variazioni (about 18 minutes)
  3. Presto (about 10 minutes)

The sonata opens with a slow 18-bar introduction, of which only the first four bars of the solo violin are in the A-Major-key. The piano enters, and the harmony begins to turn darker towards the minor key, until the main body of the movement — an angry A-minor Presto— begins. Here, the piano part matches the violin’s in terms of difficulty. Near the end, Beethoven brings back part of the opening Adagio, before closing the movement in an anguished coda.

There could hardly be a greater contrast with the second movement, a placid tune in F major followed by five distinctive variations. The first variation transliterates the theme into a lively triple meter while embellishing it with trills, while in the second the violin steals the melody and enlivens it even further. The third variation, in the minor, returns to a darker and more meditative state. The fourth recalls the first and second variations with its light, ornamental, and airy feel. The fifth and final variation, the longest, caps the movement with a slower and more dramatic feel, nevertheless returning to the carefree F major.

The calm is broken by a crashing A major chord in the piano, ushering in the virtuosic and exuberant third movement, a 6/8 tarantella in rondo form. After moving through a series of slightly contrasting episodes, the theme returns for the last time, and the work ends jubilantly in a rush of A major.

This finale was originally composed for another, earlier, sonata for violin and piano by Beethoven, the Op. 30, no. 1, in A major.

275px-Prinet_-_Kreutzer_Sonata_

Kreutzer Sonata, painting by René François Xavier Prinet (1901), based on Tolstoy‘s novella, The Kreutzer Sonata

275px-Portada_Sonata_Kreutzer

Front page of an original edition of the Kreutzer Sonata

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other links:

http://www.classicalnotes.net/classics2/kreutzer.html