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<<  -- 2 --  Jennifer Paull    A SLEEPING BEAUTY


Ferdinand David and Joseph Joachim, both his friends and violinists, had encouraged Schumann to write this concerto during the latter months of 1853, around three years before his death. This was the year in which Schumann met the young Brahms and heralded him as a genius.

It had been for David, the concertmaster of his Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra that Mendelssohn had written his Violin Concerto (1844), and it was for Joachim that Brahms wrote his own (1879). Both these violinists were life-long friends of Johannes Brahms. Joachim was a recital partner and musical advisor for whom Brahms also composed the Double Concerto for violin and 'cello, and three Violin Sonatas. It was through Joachim that Brahms had encountered Schumann, and through Schumann that he had set foot on the path which led to the establishing of his reputation.

Brahms worked on his concerto for Joachim during 1877 and '78. He asked for Joachim's 'corrections', no matter how radical, to ensure its playability. They instigated three months of correspondence about the piece that continued until its première in Leipzig on New Year's Day 1879. Many were very sceptical about its difficulty to the extent that the conductor Hans von Bülow claimed it to be a concerto 'against' the violin.

Brahms and Joachim continued their revision for a further six months before it was published, but the concerto continued to be greatly criticised. The Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate refused to perform it saying 'Do you think that I would stand there with my violin in my hand and listen while the oboe plays the only melody in the entire piece?'

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Copyright © 1 March 2002 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland





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