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Schumann - Violin concerto in d minor WoO23

Schumann - Violin concerto in d minor WoO23. You can download the PDF sheet music Schumann - Violin concerto in d minor WoO23 on this page. The Schumann violin concerto was first performed some 84 years after it was written and its story is an adventure. Schumann's friends, the violinists Ferdinand David and Joseph Joachim, encouraged him to write the work during the autumn of 1853. He described his composition as "the reflection of a conscious seriousness from behind which, glimpses of happiness often pierce through." Joachim and Clara, Schumann's celebrated pianist wife, were most appreciative for this new work. This work is said to have been "rediscovered" by spiritualism in the early 1930s. Only those who were not well enough aware of the correspondence between Schumann and Joachim could possibly uphold such a claim, as there are many traces of its existence to be found. In 1936 Joachim's descendants withdrew the publishing interdiction and so the violin concerto was first performed in Berlin, by Georg Kulenkampff and the Berlin Philharmonic under Karl Böhm on 26th November 1937.

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Instrument part: 17 pages. 1938 K


Piano part: 33 pages. 8538 K


Schumann - Violin concerto in d minor WoO23 - Instrument part - first page Schumann - Violin concerto in d minor WoO23 - Piano part - first page
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This concerto has 3 parts:

  1. In kräftigem, nicht zu schnellem Tempo (energetic, but not too fast)
  2. Langsam (slowly)
  3. Lebhaft, doch nicht schnell (lively, but not fast)

There are many disconcerting opinions, contradictory as they are, about this concerto today. Judgement is all too readily overshadowed by our retrospective knowledge of Schumann's tragic mental illness. Over the last few decades, the characteristic details and its richness have finally been taken into account. It is particularly noticeable here that there is a return to the former solo concerto tradition. Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann himself (viz. concerto for piano), had progressively abandoned the genre. However, completely traditional it might appear, this concerto evolves from the one vision for all three movements: the interweaving of orchestra and solo violin in an ensemble concertante becomes essentially symphonic. In the first movement "In kräftigem, nicht zu schnellem Tempo", the violin offers up its grandiose monologue to the orchestral theme which is repeated as a refrain. This monologue is based upon a recitative, Bach-like in character, and the constant intensity of the cantabile which forms the second subject. Here the orchestra plays a surprisingly subordinate secondary role, that of accompanist. In the development, the orchestra and soloist blend closely together in a new feeling of lyrical introspection. The coda follows. The central movement "Langsam" impelling and expressive, begins with a syncopated cello theme which accompanies the seemingly endless melodic line of the violin. Here, the soloist preponderant takes the lead although the voice of the violin is so closely woven into the orchestral fabric, that one could describe this jewel amongst Schumann's slow movements as "Lyrical romantic counterpoint".

After a short expressive transition, the finale "Lebhaft, doch nicht schnell" follows on without a Mendelssohn-like spin, but from the strength of a majestic polonaise: it is as if the thrust of the sonata rondo at its pinnacle were cut off by a refrain which, reoccuring, puts the soloist and orchestral tutti in opposition to each other. By repeats and surprises, formal dialogue, ceremonial charm, lyrical intimacy and his colorings of scherzando, Schumann recalls many of his earlier works with their last movements, which were rather "a la mode". Several motives reappear like golden threads, linking the musical content of the three movements. Here at the beginning of the development section, it is the syncopated theme of the slow movement which returns to haunt us. In the coda, themes from the finale reappear punctuated and interwoven by the soarings of the solo violin in an opulent cry for freedom. The "conscious seriousness" has become"glimpses of happiness".

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