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Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 is the only violin concerto ever written by the Russian composer, unique compared to his three works dedicated to the piano. Its partition of three movements, respectively an Allegro moderato (“Moderately fast”), a Canzonetta - Andante (“Cheerful, Walking-pace”) and a Finale - Allegro Vivacissimo (“Very fast and Lively”), show a joy and a euphoria that permeate the concerto. In fact, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto relies on a lilting tune that progressively intensifies, and erupts in a majestic climax. Because of its virtuosity, the two first dedicatees of the work (violinists Leopold Auer and Adolph Brodsky) refused to play it. Nevertheless, we could say that despite its difficulties, or perhaps even due to them, the Violin Concerto represents the highest point of a happy period, as bright as it was short, in Tchaikovsky’s troubled life.

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Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, the only work for violin ever written by the Russian composer, is nowadays considered an immortal masterpiece, thanks to its touching lyricism and devilish difficulty. Intimately linked to its author’s existential crisis, the Violin Concerto represents the purest product of artistic sublimation. After a failed marriage (a likely reason for the composer’s suicide attempt in Moskova river’s icy waters), Tchaikovsky searches for inner peace by the Geneva lake. Burning with secret passion for the young violinist Iossif Kotek, friend and first dedicatee of the work, Tchaikovsky sets to music his conflicting feelings and his inner demons. The result is one of the most human concertos ever written. Profoundly virtuosic, this concerto is driven by a passionate and moving vital impetus, one that Tchaikovsky must have experienced having escaped death. Leopold Auer’s words echo Tchaikovsky’s biography and his Violin Concerto’s turbulent composition: “The concerto has made its way in the world, and after all, that is the most important thing. It is impossible to please everybody.”