Violin Concerto in D Op. 77.
When Brahms completed his Violin Concerto in 1878 at Pörtschach on Wîrthersee,
in Carintha, then a province of Austria, he had one person in mind, his close friend
the great violinist Joseph Joachim. Brahms wrote the Concerto for Joachim and invited
him to correct the solo part, asking him to point out the passages, that were difficult
or awkward to play. After days of heated discussions, (they both composed and had a habit
of criticising each others compositions) Brahms agreed to Joachim's suggested changes and
offered him the great compliment of allowing him to compose the cadenza - the extended solo
for violin near the end of the first movement - Allegro Non Troppo.
The beauty of the Austrian alpine scenery was the inspiration behind several
of Brahms' compositions, and this is particularly noticeable in the first movement.
Brahms once said of this landscape: "It is a place where so many melodies fly about that
one must be careful not to walk on them". However, in writing the second movement - Adagio,
Brahms doubtless had in mind the chuckling whisper of the springs, the cool green meadows and
the sunshine, but the beauty and tenderness of the piece suggest his thoughts were also of
Clara Schumann, the love of his life.
The third movement - Allegro Giocoso is written in a gypsy style,
and owes a great deal to the influence of a Hungarian Jewish Violinist,
Edward Reményi, whom Brahms met at the age of 20. They toured together and the influence
of Reményi, who loved to play Hungarian gypsy music, is particularly evident in the third
and last movement.
Joachim performed the Violin Concerto on January the 1st 1879 in Leipzig to a rather
muted reception. However, it was more enthusiastically received in England where it was
performed in London at Crystal Palace in February 1879. Years later, in 1888, Joachim wrote
happily to Brahms: "I have been playing your "fiddle" concerto in Manchester to an audience of
3000, and next in Liverpool and Bradford in each case with the Halle Orchestra".
The success of the Violin Concerto was assured.