Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Performing Ensemble: Violin with Orchestra
Duration: 26:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

My new Violin Concerto is a very personal and deeply felt contemporary response to the instrument I have been closest to throughout my musical life. Perhaps that's why I found the experience of writing my concerto at once a challenge and a labor of love. I was especially happy to be writing for the prodigiously musical Pamela Frank. In a world that often celebrates virtuosity for its own sake, Pam's immersion in profound musical values celebrates the deeper meanings of music.

My first goal in beginning a concerto is to try to internalize the "karma" of the solo instrument, believing, as I do, that the soul of the instrument should guide the nature of the piece. (In fact, each of my 12 concertos has a different form and instrumentation, because each is inspired by the special nature of the solo instruments.)

For me, the soul of the violin shines through in the repertoire it has inspired, revealing a nature both sensuous and intellectual. While the tremendous athleticism of the violin can sometimes overshadow its deeper nature, the violin has shown itself capable of expressing the most profound aspects of music. And this is what drew me, as a young composer to the violin.

While one doesn't necessarily associate the violin with "new" music, the instrument has captured the imagination of composers for over three hundred years. There?s something timeless about the violin. Think of it! When Pam's 1736 Guarnarius was new, Vivaldi was alive and his "Seasons" was "new music," Mozart wasn't even born yet, and the Beethoven Concerto was to come 70 years later, the Berg Concerto in 200 years. Now, as we end the twentieth century, the violin is still providing fresh inspiration.

This is an absolutely gorgeous agglomeration of instruments to my ear; powerful, but not overpowering for a solo violin. For me, it is important that the orchestra play a crucial role in the dialogue, but I also want the violin to be free to be expressive in its mezzo piano range. So, achieving good balances in a rich musical setting is a major challenge in writing a violin concerto. And since I write directly on the orchestra (rather than "orchestrate" from a piano score), it is a question of having at all times a sense of the forces at hand and "sculpting" them as a part of the form of the piece.

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by The Carnegie Hall Corporation, for Pamela Frank.
Composition Date 1998
Orchestration Solo Vln.; 2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2(B.Cl.) 2(Cbsn.) - 2 2 0 0; Timp. Hp. Str.
Premiere 26th March, 1998. Pamela Frank, Violin, Orchestra of St. Luke?s, conducted by Hugh Wolff; Carnegie Hall, New York City.


Mvt. I L = ca.62
Mvt. II L = ca. 58
Mvt. III L = ca.152

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