• Joan Tower
  • Concerto for Violin (1991)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • Violin
  • 19 min

Programme Note

First performance:
April 24, 1992
Elmar Oliveira, violin
Utah Symphony
Joseph Silverstein, conductor
Salt Lake City, UT

Composer note:

The Violin Concerto was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University and the Snowbird Institute, Snowbird , Utah. The commissioning of the Concerto was made possible by a grant from the Meet the Composer/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund.

The Concerto is dedicated to Elmar Oliveira with admiration and affection.

The score, composed between January and December 1991, calls for woodwinds in pairs plus piccolo, two horns, two trumpets, bass trombone, timpani, percussion, strings and solo violin. The Concerto is in one movement and lasts about eighteen minutes. It is really a fantasy for violin and orchestra exploring different kinds of feelings that range from a robust Romantic tune for orchestra to sharply etched rhythmic punctuations to a very soft passage that descends from the highest celestial reaches of the violin. There are two violin duets for soloist and concertmaster that were written as a tribute to Elmar’s brother (also a violinist and one of Elmar’s teachers), who passed away in the fall of 1991. The last section is fast, and takes as its thematic basis a motive from Bartók’s Contrasts for clarinet, violin and piano, an idea that has frequently appeared in other of my works.

—Joan Tower