Violin masterpieces: Concertos II
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
This violin concerto is the most well-known of Mendelssohn's works. It truly demonstrates the charm of the violin, and the entire piece overflows with beautiful melodies and poetic sentiment. An innovative cadenza is found in the middle of the first movement, and the first performance of the piece was a massive success. Many other composers were inspired to use the same structure. Along with pieces from Brahms and Tchaikovsky, this piece is well-loved by many music fans as a romantic violin concerto masterpiece.
Brahms: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
This piece, along with works by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, form the so-called "three major violin concertos." This piece is particularly well-known for requiring an exhausting performance from violinists. This is because the music being played by the backing orchestra features the symphonic elaborateness typical of Brahms' work, and the solo violinist must play loud enough that he or she can be heard over the orchestra. Regardless, this historic and brilliant masterpiece combines the grand and subtle themes characteristic of Brahms' work.
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
One could make a convincing argument to include this masterpiece as the fourth "great violin concerto." However, when Tchaikovsky finished the piece and sent the full musical score to Leopold Auer, the great violinist replied that it was "unplayable." Making matters worse, the influential critic Eduard Hanslick harshly criticized the piece when it was first performed in Vienna. Auer later realized the beauty of the piece and began playing it, and now it is well-regarded as a violin concerto masterpiece. This masterpiece is also famous for serving as the final piece played during the International Tchaikovsky Competition, which serves as the gateway to success for young violinists.
Many other composers including Paganini, Schumann, Bruch, Sibelius, Bartok, Stravinsky, Berg, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich have left behind famous violin concertos.
The fact that most of the great composers wrote music for the violin speaks volumes of how charming these instruments are. We hope that this brief introduction will inspire you to listen to a great deal of music and gain an appreciation for the violin's charms.