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  • Writer's pictureSimon Rushby

Larghetto from Violin Concerto in D by Beethoven

#listeneveryday 1 Mar 2021

Joachim with Clara Schumann accompanying, 1854

We begin this week with some long-overdue Beethoven, and in this piece find him in a meditative mood. Unusually for him, it took only a few weeks to write his Violin Concerto in the winter of 1806, and it was first performed by his friend Franz Clement in Vienna. This first performance wasn't a huge success, marred by the fact that Beethoven was so late supplying the finished piece that Clement had only a couple of days to learn it. After that, it was not performed many times in Beethoven's lifetime.

In 1844, 17 years after the composer's death, a 12-year-old violinist called Joseph Joachim performed the concerto in London with an orchestra conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. It was a great success, and as Joachim developed into one of the world's greatest violinists he performed it many times. Since then it has become one of the best-known concertos for violin.

This beautiful theme and variations is the central, slow movement of the concerto, set in the subdominant key of G major. This mesmerising live performance is given by 19-year-old Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich with Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic. Like Joachim, Lozakovich came to prominence at a young age - he signed a recording deal with Deutsche Grammophon at the age of 15.

More to listen to

Here a 17-year-old Lozakovich performs the first movement of Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor.

Encouraged by his contemporary Clementi, Beethoven made a transcription of the concerto for piano and orchestra. You can compare the Larghetto here, played by Daniel Barenboim.

The sparkling final movement of the Violin Concerto, a Rondo, played here by Hilary Hahn.

A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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