On This Day – January 1

Welcome back to the On This Day series. We welcome the new series with a new site design, and a promise from me to have an “On This Day” post every day of the year. Today we look at one of the major works of the violin repertoire, one according to violinist Joseph Joachim that was one of the four great German violin concerti. Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D major, premiered on this day in 1879.

A standard concerto in terms of form, Brahms had originally planned for a concerto in four movements, similar to his second piano concerto. The reason for this was to create a more symphonic concerto as opposed to a virtuosic showpiece. However, instead of two middle movements, one of which was intended to be a scerzo, we ended up having an Allegro non troppo, followed by what Brahms himself called a “feeble Adagio” and closing with an Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace – Poco piu presto.

Dedicated to his friend Joseph Joachim, who gave advice in regards to the writing of the violin part, Joachim premiered the concerto in Leipzig on this day in 1879. Joachim insisted on opening the program with the Beethoven Violin Concerto – an established violin concerto in the same key with links to the the Brahms in that the concerto was not solely intended to be a vehicle for virtuoso display, but instead had higher, symphonic aims.

The concerto is one of the most important, and technically demanding, works in the violin repertoire. Brahms has supplied the part generously with double stops, chords, rapid scalic passages, and rhythmic variation.

To share with you today, we have David Oistrakh’s performance. Hope you enjoy.

Like this performance? Why not purchase a CD of Oistrakh performing this concerto from Amazon.com.

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