Violin Concerto (Strauss)
Richard Strauss's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, Op. 8, was written in 1881-1882.
This violin concerto was written during the composer's teenage years while he was still attending his last two years of school, and is less distinctive than many of his later orchestral works. Despite this it contains some bold and inventive solo writing as well as occasional passages that hint at the composer's mature harmonic style. Though written in the romantic tradition of its time, it hints at the young composer's reverence of masters of the preceding classical period, especially Mozart and Beethoven. In 1880 he had first begun to turn to large scale compositions during a tempestuous compositional interval after having decided to devote his life to composition, including a symphony in D minor (AV 69), which was well received. The following year he began to sketch the Violin Concerto in D minor, among several other compositions. Although it is today rarely performed, it received encouraging reviews, including the following by Karl Klindworth from May 1882, before its premiere:
So far as the form of the pieces is concerned there is little to find fault with, but I could wish for content of greater significance before the young composer embarks on a public career. Even so, I like the violin concerto best, and I should be delighted if it turned out to be effective and viable enough to banish Bruch's G minor from our concert halls.
The work was dedicated to Benno Walter, the concertmaster of the Munich Court Orchestra, and also Strauss's violin teacher and relative. (Benno Walter was the son of (Johann) Georg Walter, and the first cousin of Richard Strauss's father Franz Strauss, and hence Richard's cousin once removed; Richard called him "cousin", but he is sometimes referred to as his "uncle".)
The Violin Concerto was first performed publicly on 5 December 1882, in the Bösendorfersaal of the Herrengasse in Vienna. The soloist was the dedicatee Benno Walter. Strauss himself played his own piano reduction of the orchestral parts. Walter and Strauss played this violin-piano version again in Munich on 8 February 1883.
The first time Strauss himself conducted the concerto was on 17 February 1896, in the Liszt-Verein in Leipzig. The soloist was the 23-year old (Gustav) Alfred Krasselt (3 June 1872 - 27 September 1908), concert master of Munich's Kaim Orchestra (later the Munich Philharmonic).
The composition consists of three movements:
- Lento, ma non troppo
- Rondo. Presto
- Schuh, W. 1976: Richard Strauss: Jugend und frühe Meisterjahre. Lebenschronik 1864-1898. M. Whittall, 1982 (translation)
- Willi Schuh, Richard Strauss
- musicfestival.com musicfestival.com
- Michael Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Musician, Enigma
- Inge Sørensen, J. P. E. Hartmann
- Bayerisches Musiker Lexikon Online