Violin Concerto (Walton)

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The Violin Concerto of William Walton was written in 193839 and reorchestrated in 1943. It has three movements:

  1. Andante tranquillo
  2. Presto capriccioso alla napolitana
  3. Vivace

The concerto was written for Jascha Heifetz, who commissioned it in 1936. The premiere of the original version took place on December 7, 1939, in Cleveland, with Heifetz on violin and the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Artur Rodziński. Heifetz made the first recording of the piece, with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conducted by Eugene Goossens, in 1942. The revised version premiered on January 17, 1944, in Wolverhampton, England, with Henry Holst on violin and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Sargent. The revised version has been recorded by such violinists as Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Zino Francescatti, Nigel Kennedy, Tasmin Little and Joshua Bell.

The concerto, about a half-hour in length, is scored for violin solo and standard orchestra (the revision pared down the percussion section from the original). Like the Viola Concerto (1929), with which, along with Façade (1921–22), the composer had made his name, the work follows a pattern of lyrical opening—scherzosonata-form finale.

Among the works written by Walton around the same time are the march Crown Imperial and In Honour of the City of London for double chorus and orchestra (both 1937) and the Second Orchestral Suite from Façade (1938). The violin concertos of Samuel Barber, Ernest Bloch, Benjamin Britten, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Paul Hindemith, and Walter Piston are contemporary, and Berg's, Schoenberg's, Sessions's, Bartók's second, and Prokofiev's second violin concertos were completed within the three years preceding the start of Walton's composition.

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