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The Dvořák Violin Concerto, a brilliant virtuoso work, showcases the Czech composer’s characteristic melodic genius, irrepressible energy, and affection for the folk music of his homeland."

Ken Meltzer

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

Violin Concerto in A minor, Opus 53

32 minutes

Solo violin, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings.

Antonín Dvořák’s Violin Concerto was commissioned by the great Austro-Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim.  Between 1879 and 1882, Dvořák and Joachim collaborated on the score.  In November of 1882,  Joachim performed the work for Dvořák at a private rehearsal, leading to final revisions by the composer.  Joachim never played the Dvořák Violin Concerto at a public concert.  The young Czech violinist František Ondříček was the soloist in the October 14, 1883 world premiere, at the National Theater in Prague.

Dvořák once commented: “I myself have gone to the simple, half-forgotten tunes of the Bohemian peasants for hints in my most serious works.  Only in this way can a musician express the true sentiment of his people.”  The Violin Concerto is a marvelous example of the great Czech composer incorporating the spirit of his homeland into a virtuoso concert work that has charmed violinists and audiences around the world.

The Concerto is in three movements.  The first (Allegro, ma non troppo) opens with a bold orchestral fanfare, representing the first half of the movement’s central theme.  The soloist enters with the theme’s graceful second portion.  Throughout the movement, this theme alternates with various episodes.  An introspective episode serves as a bridge to the second movement (Adagio, ma non troppo), which follows without pause.  The soloist introduces the flowing espressivo principal melody.  A contrasting episode features bravura passages for the solo violin.  Among the Concerto’s three movements, the finale (Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo) most overtly reflects the spirit of Czech folk music.  The soloist, accompanied by the violins, sings the tripping principal theme, in the style of the furiant, a vigorous Czech dance.  An orchestral proclamation of the central theme, a concluding flourish for the soloist, and four emphatic chords bring the Concerto to its vibrant conclusion.

Notes by Ken Meltzer © 2020