Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 23, 1806: Beethoven's Violin Concerto premiered

Last updated August 27, 2018.

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

Ludwig van Beethoven (composer)

Composed: 1806

First Performed: December 23, 1806

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Quotable: “one of the most important works of the violin concerto repertoire” – Wikipedia

Genre: classical > violin concerto


  1. Allegro ma non troppo
  2. Larghetto
  3. Rondo, Allegro

Average Duration: 43:30


Beethoven composed his Violin Concerto for colleague Franz Clement who debuted the work at a benefit concert at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on December 23, 1806. Beethoven reportedly finished the solo part so late Clement had to sight-read part of the performance. The premiere was not well received, sending the sending the work into decades of obscurity. In 1844, 12-year-old violinist Joseph Joachim revived the piece alongside the London Philharmonic Society conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. It has since become one of the best-known violin concertos. WK

The concerto was written at the height of Beethoven’s creative, so-called “second” period, representing one of his crowning achievements in his exploration of the concerto. WK “At over 25 minutes in length, the first movement is notable as one of the most extended in any of Beethoven’s works, including the symphonies.” MR “The second movement takes a place among the most serene music Beethoven ever produced.” MR

Possibly as a result of the concerto’s initially poor reception, Beethoven revised it for piano and orchestra. He crafted a “lengthy, somewhat bombastic first movement cadenza which features the orchestra’s timpanist along with the solo pianist. This and the cadenzas for the other movements were later arranged for the violin (and timpani).” WK

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