Ludwig van Beethoven composed his D Major Violin Concerto in 1806. It was published as Opus 61. He wrote it with his violinist friend, Franz Clement, in mind. Clement gave its premiere performance on 23rd December 1806 in the Theater An Der Wien as part of a benefit concert for himself. It was a failure as, surprisingly, the audience was not so interested in it. Part of the failure was attributed to the fact that Beethoven finished writing the solo part very late and Clement had to do sight reading for most of his performance. Also, Clement interrupted the concerto between the first and the second movement with a solo composition of his own which he played on just one string of the violin, holding it upside down. I would venture to guess that it was the first violin concerto that could be deemed as solemnly serious and demanding of spiritual attention and the mass was not ready for it. I feel that they may have been flummoxed by the length and the breadth of the movements with their serious messages. This great violin concerto was pushed into obscurity during Beethoven’s lifetime and it was only revived in 1844 by Joseph Joachim who played it under Mendelssohn with the London Philharmonic. It was finally accepted and since then, it has remained as one of the widely performed in the violin repertoire.
Prior to 1806, Beethoven had written numerous compositions for violin and orchestra. He had written two Romances for violin and orchestra in F Major and G Major. In 1792, he even contemplated writing a concerto for violin in C Major. A fragment of its first movement had survived but lost after his death in 1827. It was never completed nor published.
Many musical critics have explained that the opening of the first movement in martial style with the timpani beat was an influence of the French style at that time, exemplified by Pierre Rode. The broken sixth and the broken octaves that follow the timpani beats are representative of the style of music written by Kreutzer and Giovanni Viotti.
As a result of the failure of the concerto during its initial performance, Muzio Clementi advised Beethoven to revise the concerto and produce a version for pianoforte and orchestra and the result was the Opus 61A creation.
The concerto is made up of three movements – Allegro ma non troppo in D Major > Larghetto in G Major > Rondo/Allegro in D Major. It is scored for a solo violin, flute, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, strings and timpani. Besides Beethoven’s cadenzas for the first and the third movements, other violinists who have written their own cadenzas are Joseph Joachim and Fritz Kreisler. Alfred Schnittke has written cadenzas with a modern flavour.
The format of the first movement is one of the greatest examples that could be given of the sonata structure during Beethoven’s creative second period. You have to be aware of the fact that the length of this movement is as long as the full concertos or symphonies of Haydn and Mozart. Beethoven articulates every theme and gives it a distinct character. The importance of every theme could be grasped as soon as it is presented. He develops the movement material from a simple six-motif combination of A, B, C, D, E and F. He has created one of the most sublime compositions with this movement in the history of concerto music. You can say that this movement is a fine example of how to achieve an ideal equilibrium in compositions.
The Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97, by Ludwig van Beethoven is a trio for piano, violin, and cello. It was composed in 1811.It belongs to Beethoven's middle period of creativity. It is called `Archduke' as it was dedicated to Archduke Rudolph of Austria, the youngest of twelve children of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor. Rudolf was an amateur pianist and a patron student of Beethoven. He has eceived a total of fourteen composition dedications from Beethoven.
The work is in four movements: Allegro Moderato/ Scherzo (Allegro)/ Andante cantabile ma però con moto - Poco Piu Adagio/ Allegro Moderato – Presto.
The Twin Face of Good and Evil
This is a psychological thriller made by Robert Siodmak in 1946. It features Olivia de Havilland playing a double role as twins (Terry and Ruth Collins) and Lew Ayres playing a psychiatrist. A doctor is murdered and Lieutenant Stevenson played by Thomas Mitchell questions Terry who has been seeing the doctor, sensing that she may be keeping some secret from him. He faces a challenge when he meets her identical twin sister (Ruth). The biggest puzzle is presented when the sisters start to pose as each other. It is certain that one of the twins has committed the murder but no one knows who the psychotic one is. The sister who is suspected provides genuine alibis while the one who looks mild does not have an alibi. This was a favourite theme in Hollywood in the nineteen forties. Directors latched on to the Freudian concept of the good and evil twins. This is one of Olivia de Havilland’s best performances after `Gone with the Wind’. It is very likely that she has drawn on her own rivalry with her real life sister, Joan Fontaine. This is a great thriller. Watch it. You will be kept on your seats by the great score given by Dimitri Tiomkin and Frank Skinner.
For Swan Lake, this was an ideal partnership and I have not seen a better performance of this ballet anywhere, ever since. Swan Lake remained a special ballet in the career of Rudolf Nureyev. He danced in the role of Prince Siegfried in 1963 with the Royal Ballet and that production was staged by Nicholas Sergeyev who was the former stage manager of the Maryinsky Theatre. Nureyev gave the role his own identity. He redefined this character by going against the boring and colourless interpretations. Thanks to Nureyev, the male dancer in this ballet now became the equal of the female star. Margot Fonteyn was his perfect match and he danced with her first in 1963 at the Champs Elysees Theatre in Paris.Nureyev has imposed not only is charisma and his skills throughout his career in numerous versions of Swan Lake but he has also danced on some occasions in the role of evil Rothbart, the sorcerer. My favourite performance is with the Vienna Opera dancers and Vienna Symphony Orchestra under the direction of John Lanchbery. Fonteyn and Nureyev created the original choreography of Le Lac Des Cygnes under the direction of Nureyev with costumes and decors done by Nicholas Georgiadis. This film was captured by Unitel in 1964 and the production became an artistic mega event. At the final performance of the premier in Vienna, Fonteyn and Nureyev received eighty nine curtain calls and this is the highest number that has ever been taken, anywhere.