One of the masterpieces in the violin repertoire of all time, THE VIOLIN CONCERT was created in 1806, between the Piano Concerti No 4 and No 5, in the mature, extremely active creative period of the composer. Then, within a few years – between 1803 and 1812 – six of his symphonies (from No 4 to No 8), the opera “Fidelio”, the three “Leonore” overtures , the score to Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus” and Goethe’s tragedy “Egmont” were born, the last two piano concertos, five string quartets, a trio, a number of songs, the Fantasia for piano, choir and orchestra, several piano sonatas, including “Appassionata ” and “Waldstein”, the Kreutzer Violin Sonata.
Beethoven created the forementioned concert for the famous violinist, pianist, composer and conductor of the Viennese “Theater an der Wien”, Franz Joseph Clement (1780-1842), on the occasion of his benefit concert. However, when the score was first printed in 1808, Beethoven dedicated it to his longtime close friend and patron, Stephan von Breuning (1774-1827).
The premiere was in Vienna, on December 23rd , 1806 in “Theater an der Wien”. According to Beethoven’s contemporaries, the solo part has been completed at the last minute, so late that Clement had to play the concert at prima vista, without any rehearsal. To show what he is capable of in case he had had enough time to prepare, at the end of the concert he performed his own solo piece.
The premiere was not very successful and in the years to come the concert was rarely performed. Interest in it was revived only after Beethoven’s death, when in 1844, under the direction of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi, with the orchestra of the London Philharmonic Society, the work was played by the 12-year-old talented violinist Josef Joachim, who has later become a permanent collaborator and performer of Brahms’s works.
Due to the negligible success of the premiere, Beethoven also created a piano and orchestra version of the work, which was later published as Opus 61. For this version, the composer himself wrote a particularly long cadence to the first part, as well as to the next two. These cadences were arranged again for violin in the twentieth century by the great violinists Max Rostal and Wolfgang Schneiderhan. After Joachim, a number of famous virtuosos and composers created more than 30 cadences, but the most frequently performed are the ones, created by Fritz Kreisler. In the twentieth century Alfred Schnittke wrote cadences in modern composition, which he recorded the concert of the famous Gidon Kremer with, and alternative cadences were born – by Patricia Kopatchinskaja (for two violins, cellos and timpani to the first part), by Seiji Ozawa (for piano), as well as adaptations of the cello concerto (Robert Bokmühl), for double bass (Gary Karr), and recently Mikhail Pletnev arranged the immortal work as a concerto for clarinet and orchestra.