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In January 1879 the Berlin publisher Fritz Simrock wrote to Dvořák: “Would you write me a Violin Concerto full of originality and cantilena melodies, and for good violinists?” Antonín Dvořák started composing his Violin Concerto in the summer of 1879. The original concerto, which he revised several times, soon conquered stages around Europe.
Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53
Czech Student Philharmonic
Marko Ivanović conductor
Petr Kadlec guide
Josef Špaček violin
The program is based on a musical part but also on a spoken word that will be given in Czech language only. The program will not be supplied with English subtitles.
In January 1879 the Berlin publisher Fritz Simrock wrote to Dvořák: “Would you write me a Violin Concerto full of originality and cantilena melodies, and for good violinists?” Naturally, he was writing in hopes of getting not only superb music, but also commercial success similar to that of the Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances he had published not long beforehand. At the same time, Dvořák got a letter from young Czech violinist Karel Halíř: “I’m hoping you will soon write a violin concerto, which I definitely must be the first to play…”
It is hard to say what motivated Dvořák more, but in the summer of 1879 he began writing his Violin Concerto, and it is probably in this work more than in others that he allowed other people to influence the compositional process. He revised the concerto several times. Why? So it would please the greatest German virtuoso of the 19th century, Joseph Joachim. Dvořák met with him in person, and like many other composers including Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann, he wanted Joachim to be the concerto’s first performer.
In response to the violinist’s wishes, Dvořák revised the concerto over and over again. The journey to the final version of any work sometimes takes a thorny path. And how did it turn out? In the end, it was neither Joachim nor Karel Halíř who premièred Dvořák’s concerto. František Ondříček gave the highly successful première, and on stages around Europe he soon began promoting the concerto, which was truly full of originality and cantilena melodies, and written for good violinists.