Gilberto AlvarezMusic 100Professor Randy Griswold01/27/2018Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major. OP. 61Throughout history, many important piece of music have been created by essentials individuals. Ludwig van Beethoven, as of today, is one of the most important contributors to modern music. It is so sad to think that many of the masterpieces we have come to admire as of today were ignored in their time of creation. Adding on to this sad situation, their composers died having no idea of the importance in which their work would be held by later generations. Ludwig van Beethoven’s only violin concerto, and for so many people acclaimed as the greatest of all, sunk into oblivion after its bizarre premiere and began to attract notice only a generation after his death. These masterpieces are upheld as examples of their respective composer’s skillful craft, were failures, or at best only appreciated at their premieres. People would only think of masterpieces such as The Nutcracker or the Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballets. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61, a cornerstone of the modern repertoire, like mentioned previously, is a masterpiece that sunk into oblivion. Being composed in 1806, the Violin Concerto followed such works such as the Eroica Symphony, the Fourth Piano Concerto, and the Appassionata Sonata. During the development of the Violin Concerto, Beethoven had produced masterpieces like the Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58 (1805-1806) and two of his most important piano sonatas, No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata,” 1804-1805) and No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein,” 1803-1804) . The Violin Concerto followed such works such as the Eroica Symphony, the Fourth Piano Concerto, and the Appassionata Sonata. The Violin Concerto represents a close up of one of the astonishing achievements of Beethoven’s exploration of the concerto, a form he would present once more in the Piano Concerto No. 5 (1809) being his next to last contribution to the concerto genre. Even though the Violin Concerto was his only concerto for the instrument, Beethoven was familiar in combining the solo violin with the orchestra. Featuring the violin, he composed two romances, contemporaneous with his first two symphonies. The instrument also played an important role in the unperformed Triple Concerto. These works, despite their musical effectiveness, must still be regarded as studies and workings-out in relation to the violin concerto, which more clearly demonstrates Beethoven’s mastery in marshalling the distinctive formal and dramatic forces of the concerto form. These works were rather like precursors, or study pieces in which the composer could gain his footing and not be weighted down by trivial matters in the process of creativity. By the time of the violin concerto, Beethoven had employed the violin in concertante roles in a more limited context. Beethoven composed the concerto for Franz Clement, an amazing violinist of the day and who had previously worked with him on Fidelio. However, it was not well received at its premiere on December 23, 1806, and it was two years before the work appeared in print. For the next several decades, the Violin Concerto would go virtually unperformed until being taken up in 1844 by a twelve year old boy, Joseph Joachim. Felix Mendelssohn being at the helm of the orchestra, Joachim gave a magnificent performance of the concerto and has since remained a foundation of the violin repertoire. Also, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto would also serve as an inspiration for future masters such as Johannes Brahms’s only concerto for the instrument, conspicuously in the key of D major, and which was also premiered by Joachim after a performance of Beethoven. Characteristic of Beethoven’s music, the dramatic and structural implications of the concerto emerge at the outset, in a series of quiet timpani strokes that led some early detractors to dismiss the work as the “Kettledrum Concerto.” Striking as it is, this fleeting, throbbing motive is more than just an attention-getter; indeed, it provides the very basis for the melodic and rhythmic material that is to follow. At over 25 minutes in length, the first movement is notable as one of the most extended in any of Beethoven’s works, including the symphonies. Its breadth arises from Beethoven’s adoption of the Classical ritornello form — here manifested in the extended tutti that precedes the entrance of the violin — and from the composer’s expansive treatment of the melodic material throughout. The second movement takes a place among the most serene music Beethoven ever produced. Free from the dramatic unrest of the first movement, the second is marked by a tranquil, organic lyricism. Toward the end, an abrupt orchestral outburst leads into a cadenza, which in turn takes the work directly into the final movement. The genial Rondo, marked by a folk-like robustness and dancelike energy, makes some of the work’s more virtuosic demands on the soloist. By the last decade of the 20th century, issues such as tempo markings in Beethoven’s work, and the inevitable conflict over upper note start of trills have been thoroughly explored by musicologists. Nonsensical adjectives , such as “masculine” and “virile,” have fallen completely out of fashion, though they were used and applied liberally not so very long ago. Additionally, the autocracy of the bar line has been subjected to less dogmatic interpretation, and new concepts of dissonance have widened perceptions. A regard for psychological effect and a focus on musical and aesthetic content have become central to interpretation. Beethoven’s concerto may be thought of as a portal through which we may view the artistic and intellectual climate of the previous two centuries. The first movement, long and crowded with incident, has the heroic, occasionally militaristic tone of many of Beethoven’s middle-period works, but it is also leisurely, lyrical, and quiet to a degree unusual in a fast movement of a concerto. Beethoven was thinking symphonically; note, for instance, how the motive of five repeated notes, quietly introduced by the timpani in the opening bars, pervades the movement. Indeed, the soloist often seems incidental, embellishing and commenting on ideas that are introduced and primarily developed by the orchestra. The slow movement, its solemn, hymn-like theme quietly introduced by muted strings, unfolds at first as a conventional set of variations, but changes course midway, becoming something altogether more remarkable and profound. A second theme is introduced among the variations, then a third; the original theme seems all but forgotten; the movement evolves as a kind of rhapsodic fantasy. The music is deeply expressive, dreamy, poetic, and the pastoral mood and picturesque solo-orchestra dialogues hint that Beethoven may have been composing with some private program in mind. The finale, which follows without a break, is also pastoral: it has the rhythm of traditional “hunting” music. The wit, playfulness, and studied naïveté of the music nicely balance the grandeur of the first movement, though there is also a sweetly melancholy episode in the middle. The long, jubilant coda is founded on transformations of the main theme, and the violin gets one last, charming solo—very quietly—just before the final chords.