• Jay Greenberg
  • Violin Concerto (2007)

  • G. Schirmer/Lost Penny Publications (World)
  • 2+pic.2+ca.2+bcl.2+cbn/4331/timp.2perc/pf.hp/str
  • Violin
  • 25 min

Programme Note

Composer note:
At one point in my life I resolved that I would never write a violin concerto. I no longer recall why exactly I made this resolution; perhaps it was sour grapes, as all of my attempts at violin writing up to that point had been failures. (The audience is invited to comment on how well I did this time around.) Nonetheless, I promptly forgot all about it upon receiving a commission on behalf of Joshua Bell. The resulting one-movement concerto features much dialogue between soloist and orchestra; while it opens with an orchestral introduction, a practice first developed in the 1700s and 1800s in order to accommodate latecoming aristocrats so that they would not miss the "main event," it also contains many virtuosic passages showing off the full range of the violin. Throughout, the concerto contains a variety of dancelike elements, (the motionless opening aside), from the 7/8 orchestral hammer-blows of the exposition to the extended accelerando at the end.

The main theme of the piece is introduced by woodwinds and glockenspiel. A short cadenza for the soloist leads into the first of three major divisions of the piece. The first division consists of the orchestral exposition and the soloist exposition, introducing three distinct themes. The second division is slower and more lyrical, corresponding to the Classical Adagio. The third division, or finale, is a restatement of the first division with the major elements reorganized in a sort of frenzied dervish dance, interrupted only by a march rhythm in the middle. The work concludes with the introductory theme, this time harmonized and scored for full orchestra.

— Jay Greenberg

28 October 2007
Joshua Bell, violin
Orchestra of St. Luke's
Robert Abbado, conductor
Carnegie Hall, New York City