The Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 (B.108), is a concerto for violin and orchestra composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1879. It was premiered in Prague in 1883 by František Ondříček, who also gave the Vienna and London premieres. Today it remains an important work in the violin repertoire.
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The concerto is scored for solo violin and an orchestra consisting of 2 flutes, 2 oboes 2 clarinets (in A), 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings. Its structure is the classical three movements, fast–slow–fast.
- Allegro ma non troppo (A minor)
- Adagio ma non troppo (F major)
- Finale: Allegro giocoso ma non troppo (A major)
The first movement and the second movement are interconnected (attacca subito).
Dvořák was inspired to write the concerto after meeting Joseph Joachim in 1878, and composed the work with the intention of dedicating it to him. However, when he finished the concerto in 1879, Joachim became skeptical about it. Joachim was a strict classicist and objected, inter alia, to Dvořák’s abrupt truncation of the first movement’s orchestral tutti. Joachim also didn’t like the fact that the recapitulation was cut short and that it led directly to the slow second movement. It is also assumed that he was upset with the persistent repetition found in the third movement. However, Joachim never said anything outright and instead claimed to be editing the solo part. He never actually performed the piece in public.
The concerto was first performed in the United States on October 30, 1891, at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Max Bendix was soloist with the Chicago Orchestra led by Theodore Thomas.
Notable recordings of the concerto include:
- Váša Příhoda, Orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera under Paul van Kempen
- Johanna Martzy, RIAS Symphony Orchestra under Ferenc Fricsay,1953
- Josef Suk, Czech Philharmonic under Karel Ančerl
- Ilya Kaler, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra under Camila Kolchinsky
- Georg Kulenkampff, Berliner Philarmoniker under Eugen Jochum
- Ruggiero Ricci, London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Malcolm Sargent
- Adolf Busch, National Orchestral Association Orchestra under Leon Barzin
- Itzhak Perlman, London Philharmonic Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim
- Isaac Stern, Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy
- Nathan Milstein, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under William Steinberg
- Anne-Sophie Mutter, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Manfred Honeck
- Midori, New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta
- Pamela Frank, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Charles Mackerras
- Isabelle Faust, Prague Philharmonia, Jiří Bělohlávek, 2004 (Harmonia Mundi France)
- Julia Fischer, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, David Zinman, recorded 2012 (DECCA England)
- Arabella Steinbacher, Rundfunks Synfonieorchester Berlin. (Pentatone)
- Dami Kim, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, Damian Iorio, released 2018 (Sony Classical)