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igor f. stravinsky

Violin Concerto (Stravinsky)

Igor Stravinsky's Violin Concerto in D is a neoclassical violin concerto in four movements, composed in the summer of 1931 and premiered on October 23, 1931. It lasts approximately twenty minutes.

It has been used by George Balanchine as music for two ballets.

History

Conception

The idea of a violin concerto was born in the minds of Stravinsky's music publisher at the time, Willy Strecker of B. Schotts Söhne and violinist Samuel Dushkin. Strecker proposed to Stravinsky to compose something for Dushkin, adding that he could consult with Dushkin about various technical issues. Stravinsky noted in his autobiography that Dushkin's availability for advice was a factor in his undertaking the violin concerto. He also sought the opinion of composer and violinist Paul Hindemith, who allayed Stravinsky's fears about his unfamiliarity with the instrument, saying that this might help him come up with new possibilities for the instrument. Stravinsky met with Dushkin at Strecker's residence in Wiesbaden and he decided to go ahead.

Blair Fairchild (1877-1933), Dushkin's patron, commissioned the work.

Composition

Stravinsky set out to composing in various locations in France, including Paris, Nice, and the Château de la Véronnière in Voreppe in Isère, all the while consulting with Dushkin.

The manuscript dates are May 20, 1931 for the first two movements and June 10, 1931 for the third, with no date given for the fourth. The full orchestral score was completed on September 25, 1931.

Performances

The work premiered on October 23, 1931 in Berlin, being broadcast, with Dushkin playing the violin and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stravinsky himself. Dushkin also gave the work's first US performance in January 1932, with Serge Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also made the first recording of the piece.

Movements

  1. Toccata
  2. Aria I
  3. Aria II
  4. Capriccio

A similar chord is played by the soloist in the beginning of each movement, which the composer himself described as "the password to the concerto." It is believed that the chord, which stretches from D to E to A with an additional octave in between each, was conceived while Stravinsky was eating lunch in a cafe in Paris. Dushkin claimed at first that the chord was unplayable but he later figured out how to, much to Stravinsky's delight.

A typical performance of the concerto will last approximately 20 minutes.

Instrumentation

The music requires a solo violin, piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, strings.

Ballet

The concerto was choreographed by George Balanchine as "Balustrade" in 1941. It premiered on January 22, 1941 with Colonel de Basil's company Original Ballet Russe. In 1972 Balanchine created a new Ballet to the music, entitled "Stravinsky Violin Concerto." It was premiered by New York City Ballet as part of the Stravinsky Festival.

See also

References

Further reading

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