Violin

Picture by Marc Aubin

Compositions for violin are generally distinguished between works for violin and orchestra called violin concertos, works for solo violin and chamber music. Works for solo violin especially include sonatas and partitas which are written with 2 or more movements. Sonata literally means a piece played as opposed to a cantata, a piece sung. With his sonatas and partitas, Bach firmly established the technical capability of the violin as a solo instrument. The most famous piece is the Chaconne, a movement of the Bach Partita for Violin No. 2, which Yehudi Menuhin called the greatest existing structure for solo violin.

  

Nigel Kennedy - Vivaldi "Summer"

Antonio Vivaldi

(Italian, 1678-1741) composed the four violin concertos named The Four Seasons, Op. 8, in 1725. It is Vivaldi's best-known work and one of the most popular classical pieces... more 

Left: Nigel Kennedy, England, born 28. December 1956, Summer, 3rd movement with the Polish Chamber Orchestra at Carcassonne, France

(1) Baroque, Vivaldi

Beethoven - Violin Concerto - Mutter, Ozawa

Ludwig van Beethoven

(German, 1770-1827) completed his violin concerto in D major, Op. 61 in 1806. It's first performance was unsuccessful but now, it is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos of all time.

Left: Anne-Sophie Mutter with conductor Seiji Ozawa and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at Vienna

(6) Classic, Beethoven

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

E Minor OP.64

Felix Mendelssohn

(German, 1809-1847) completed his violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64, in 1845. It is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos of all time... more

Left: Hilary Hahn, born 27. November, 1979, USA, with conductor  Paavo Jarvi and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Korean Art Center Concert Hall, Seoul, Korea 

(1y) Romantic, Mendelssohn

Janine Jansen - Bernard Haitink - Brahms Violin Concerto

Johannes Brahms

(German, 1833-1897) composed his violin concerto in D major, Op. 77, in 1878. Brahms' work was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers... more

Left: Janine Jansen, Bernard Haitink , Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

(2) Johannes Brahms

Tchaikovsky

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

(Russian, 1840-1893) composed his violin concerto in D major, Op. 35, in 1878. It is one of the most technically difficult works for the violin... more

Left: Kyung-Wha Chung plays Tchaikovsky violin concerto with RTÉ Orchestra (now National Orchestra) under the baton of Albert Rosen. This concert took place at St Parick's College in Dublin, Ireland in 1972

(3) Tchaikovsky

 

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Most played Violin Concertos

At the left are the four most played violin concertos. They are composed by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms,  and Tchaikovsky. Other very famous violin concertos include the ones from Vivaldi, Sibelius, Dvorak, Bruch, and Paganini.

A violin concert or violin concerto is usually a concerto for a solo violin and an orchestra or concert ensemble. Traditionally, it has three movements in a standard fast-slow-fast structure.

History of Violin Concertos

Baroque

The Violin Concerto was developed during the baroque period (around 1600-1760). The most famous composers of concertos of the Baroque are Tomaso Albinoni, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Philipp Telemann, Johan Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Handel, Pietro Locatelli, Guiseppe Tartini, Francesco Geminiani and Johan Joachim Quantz. The concerto was intended as a composition typical of the Italian style of the time, and all of the composers were studying how to compose in the Italian fashion.

Classical Era

The best known composers of the classical period (around 1730-1820) are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Shubert. Other notable names include Luigi Boccerini, Luzio Clementi, Antonio Soler, Antonio Salieri, Francois Joseph Gossec, Johann Stamitz, Carl Friedrich Abel, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Christoph Wilibald Gluck. Ludwig van Beethoven is also regarded as a romantic composer or a composer who was part of the transition to the romantic.

Romantic

During the romantic time (1815-1910), the Violin concerto flourished as a vehicle for virtuosic display of the soloist. It was the age in which the artist was seen as hero. The romantic spirit is reflected in the concertos melodic and dramatic qualities. Romantic violin concertos have been composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, Niccolo Paganini, Henry Vieuxtemps, Max Bruch, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Johannes Brahms.

20 Century

During the early 20th Century, Violin concertos were still strongly influenced by the romantic school, like masterpieces written by Edward Elgar, Jean Sibelius, Frederick Delius, and Richard Strauss. Typical for the 20th Century style became the introduction of new ideas like atonality and the 12-tone technique of composition. Great composers of this style are among others Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Alban Berg, Bela Bartok, Sergei Prokofiev, Dimitri Shostakovich and Khachaturian. Other composers of major violin compositions include Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith, Gyorgy Ligeti.