This is the second installment of the concert preview for the BSO’s performance on Sunday, April 13. These notes are shared by our Artistic Director and Conductor Manny Laureano, to help you learn more about the music in advance. We hope you enjoy “Manny’s Musings”!
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
It is always curious to music lovers of contemporary society to read the disparaging remarks made about music that is well-loved today by those who were living at the time those pieces were written. In fact, books such as “The Lexicon of Musical Invective” by Nicholas Slonimsky are devoted to original bad reviews of what are now considered great works. And, so it was, that the treasured concerto for violin of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was disdained for “vulgarity” and tearing the violin until it was “beaten black and blue”. Even the great violinist, Leopold Auer, for whom the piece was originally written, pronounced it unplayable until he made his own modifications to it.
Often, when writing a piece with a specific soloist in mind, a composer will consult with that person and let him know of those plans. Not so, Tchaikovsky in this case. Here’s Auer’s account in the New York magazine, Musical Courier, which he gave in 1912, a generation after the concerto’s premiere:
When Tchaikovsky came to me one evening [over] thirty years ago, and presented me with a roll of music, great was my astonishment on finding that this proved to be the Violin Concerto, dedicated to me, completed, and already in print. My first feeling was one of great gratitude for this proof of his sympathy toward me, which honored me as an artist. On closer acquaintance with the composition, I regretted that the great composer had not shown it to me before committing it to print. Much unpleasantness might then have been spared us both….
The concerto would eventually be dedicated to Adolf Brodsky only to be subjected to the criticism cited earlier by Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick. To be fair, the conductor at the helm for that premiere, Hans Richter, did not allow for enough rehearsal time for this new work and it likely was a sub-par performance, at best. But time and ears that are accustomed to a great many harmonies are gentler judges of a grand concerto that has become beloved by cultures the world over and it retains its place as a favorite of music lovers.
Please join us for the performance of the first movement from Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church. Violinist and winner of the Mary West Solo Competition Winner Emily Saathoff will be joining us to perform this great work. Learn more about Ms. Saathoff here.