THE VIOLIN CONCERTO was born in the difficult times before the war, when the 25-year-old pacifist composer decided to go to America. There, in 1939, the work was completed and Britton wrote to his publisher: “Without a doubt, this is my best work. I’m afraid it’s too serious, but I got some nice tunes”. The concerto was written for the Spanish violinist Antonio Brosa, and was premiered in New York, on March 29th 1940 with the New York Philharmonic conducted by John Barbirolli.
The form, although in three movements, is highly unlike that of concertos from the Classical era – the alarmingly dynamic first part is followed by a diabolical scherzo, and the final lamento pascalia probably carries figurative suggestions about the tragic events of the Spanish Civil War.