Wednesday Music: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Like Beethoven, whose violin concerto we examined during a prior week, Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky also wrote only one violin concerto. In Beethoven’s case, it’s a shame he only wrote one because the one he wrote is so good. In Tchaikovsky’s case, it’s a bit of a relief he wrote just one because it’s so difficult to play that a second one would probably be twice as daunting!

Here’s a little bit about the famous (or should I say infamous?) Tchaikovsky violin concerto:

  • Tchaikovsky wrote this concerto in 1878 while staying in a resort on the shores of Lake Geneva.
  • The famous violinist Adolph Brodsky premiered the concerto in 1881 in Vienna. Originally, Leopold Auer was supposed play the work. I kind of wish it had been Auer because one of his students was Raphael Bronstein, who in turn taught my first violin teacher.
  • Originally, critics hated the concerto because, in the words of one critic, while playing it the violin is “torn apart.” Luckily, not everyone listened to this critic and today, the concerto is quite popular.

Here’s one of my favorite videos of Russian violinist Viktor Tretyakov playing playing the concerto.

Or click here to see on YouTube

Enjoy! Personally, I quite like the second movement. I worked on it with my violin teacher three years ago and enjoyed it immensely.


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