Accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra, widely considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century, Yehudi Menuhin performs Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61. Conductor: Sir Colin Davis. This 1962 filmed performance is a treasure of classical music, and was a specially recorded performance at BBC TV Center for their series “International Concert Hall”. The recording took place on 22 April 1962, Menuhin’s 46th birthday. The concertmaster (leader)(1) was Hugh Maguire (2 August 1926 – 14 June 2013), the Irish violinist, leader, concertmaster and principal player of the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1962-1967).
The piece was composed in 1806. Its first performance by Franz Clement (1780-1842, the Austrian violinist, pianist, composer, conductor of Vienna’s Theater an der Wien and friend of Ludwig van Beethoven) was unsuccessful. For some decades the work languished in obscurity, until revived in 1844 by the Hungarian violinist, conductor, composer and teacher Joseph Joachim (28 June 1831 – 15 August 1907). Since then it has become one of the best-known violin concertos.
The work is in three movements:
- Allegro ma non troppo (D major)
- Larghetto (G major)
- Rondo. Allegro (D major)
It is scored, in addition to the solo violin, for flute, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings.
- In an orchestra, the concertmaster is the leader of the first violin section. There is another violin section, the second violins, led by the principal second violin. Any violin solo in an orchestral work is played by the concertmaster (except in the case of a concerto, in which case a guest soloist usually plays). It is usually required that the concertmaster be the most skilled musician in the section, experienced at learning music quickly, counting rests accurately and leading the rest of the string section by his or her playing and bow gestures.