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informations needed about the violin concerto

 
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ben
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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 9:00 am    Post subject: informations needed about the violin concerto Reply with quote

Hello,

I discovered recently the concerto for violin and am in search of information allowing me to be better able to understand and appreciate this work.
Would anybody have internet links towards musical analyses or any interesting anecdotes concerning this concerto and\or the conditions of its creation?
Thank you very much for your help Smile
Ben
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ben and a warm welcome to the forum.

I'm pleased that you have discovered Sibelius's only Concerto. He worked on it during 1903 and it was his intention to dedicate it to Willy Burmester who had served as leader of the Helsinki orchestra up to 1895. Burmerter had followed the works progress eagerly and had compared it with Tchaikovsky. Despite extended bouts of drinking, Sibelius finished the violin concerto in early 1904 but largely due to financial pressures the premiere was entrusted to a young violin teacher Viktor Novacek. It was given in Helsinki on 8th February, 1904 with Sibelius conducting and repeated again on the 10th and 14th February. The concerto was subject to a great deal of criticism from Karl Flodin and others. A disapointed Burmester wrote to Sibelius 'All my 25 years platform experience, my artistry and insight will be placed to serve this work. Just this very fact will do much on your works behalf'. But Sibelius had already decided to withdraw the piece for revision, however surprisingly he put the concerto to one side and did not imerse himself in it until June of the following year.
The revised version was given in Berlin on 19th October, 1905 with Karel Halir [leader of the Berlin orchestra] as soloist and Richard Strauss conducting. So in the end Burmester never played the concerto. The greatest difference between the first and second versions is that Sibelius cut a large amount of the virtuoso element in the solo part including the first movements superb Bach inspired solo cadenza. The least changes were made to the slow movement. The first version is more vituosic and more dramatic though clearly the final version is more symphonically intergrated. The Berlin premiere was generally welcomed by the press, though Joseph Joachim described it as 'hidious and boring'. The concerto was to be dedicated to the young Hungarian virtuoso Ferenc von Vecsey. It has become one of the most popular and oft recorded violin concertos of all. Heifetz was the first great violinist to record it and of course the original version was recorded by Greek virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos in January 1991. I now love this as much as the final version. Interestingly the original version was not played at all between 1904 and 20th September, 1990 when Manfred Grasbeck performed it with the Lahto S.O. under Osmo Vanska.

Hope you find this of some help.--kp

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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ben and welcome from me too.

Here's a little snippet to add - just a passing detail but it all adds to the picture.

Pete mentions the, er, somewhat underwhelming 1904 premičre of the original version with Viktor Novácek as soloist. There is one passage in the finale (about half-way through, leading into the return of the main theme) where the soloist's runs are just so fast that even the finest virtuoso would struggle. At the bottom of the page in the manuscript score, Sibelius has drafted a much simplified version of these bars. It is thus reasonable to assume that Novácek just couldn't play these bars as originally written, and that the simplification was hurriedly worked out at rehearsals.

About this we can make three points:
1) Sibelius's original intentions for this passage were thus never actually heard until 1990;
2) On the recordings and also in concert, Leonidas Kavakos and Madoka Sato both play the original, more difficult version (Sato includes the simplified bars as an appendix, and even they aren't exactly beginners' material);
3) Whatever deficiencies Novácek may have had: if that is the only thing he was unwilling to attempt in front of a paying audience, he must still have been a very fine violinist.

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ben
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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much for your very interesting answer Pete.

I know nothing in music, but I really would like to better understand this music which pleases me so much.
Do you know if there is a book, or a detailed analysis of this concerto which allows me to move this way?
I cannot read musical scores, so I need some help to discover all this.
What are the (one or several) themes? Is there anything particular in this work in front of his other works, or to those of his contemporaries? In english or french (my mother tongue-sorry for my english)
Thank you Smile
Ben
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ben
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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the precision Andrew.
Do you think that Sibelius could play himself these very complicated parts?
Ben
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might find the 'Music minus one' book and Cd series on Sibelius Violin Concerto useful. available from Amazon.com.
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If you really want to find out everything about Sibelius then I would suggest getting hold of Andrew Barnetts superb biography of the composer 'Sibelius' published by Yale University Press. A treasure trove of information. By the way Ben, Sibelius was a pretty useful violinist himself and even auditioned for the Vienna Philharmonic.--kp

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ben
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I appreciate your advices a lot.
Thank you very much.
Ben
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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pete is right, Sibelius was a pretty fair violinist himself - the violin parts in works that he did perform (including his own 'Korpo' Trio, to name just one!) are far from easy. He might have been an even better one if he hadn't broken his arm in a boating accident when still a child. But no, he wouldn't have been able to play his own concerto to any passable standard - hot least owing to his stage fright - and he had realized this some years before composing it.

It must have been galling for him - a bit like a high-performance yacht being designed by someone who gets seasick.

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Tapkaara
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew B wrote:


It must have been galling for him - a bit like a high-performance yacht being designed by someone who gets seasick.


I smell a quote of the moment...

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PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tapkaara wrote:
I smell a quote of the moment...


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