Christian Tetzlaff: Sibelius Violin Concerto, Thomas Dausgaard

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Jean Sibelius
Violin Concerto Op.47 in D minor
Allegro moderato
Adagio di molto
Allegro ma non tanto.
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Danish National Symphony Orcestra
Thomas Dausgaard, conductor

1. Allegro moderato, 2. Adagio di molto, 3. Allegro ma non tanto.

First public performance in Helsinki, 8th February 1904 (Viktor Novácèk, Orchestra of Helsinki Philharmonic Society under Jean Sibelius). Final version 1905; first public performance in Berlin, 19th October 1905 (Karl Halír, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Richard Strauss). Piano score 1905.

Sibelius started to plan his violin concerto as early as 1899. "I have been thinking of writing a violin concerto. If the music of the king [the King Christian II orchestral suite] goes well, I won't give any of my old works to anyone before I have thoroughly revised them," he wrote to Adolf Paul on 2nd September. The next mention of a violin concerto is from the summer of 1902, in a letter from Axel Carpelan to his cousin Lydia Rosengren:

"He has also been drafting a ballad or an incantation (Kanteletar) for soprano and large orchestra (for Mrs Ekman, who will sing four of his songs at her autumn concert). There are also 20 pieces for a ballet, which unfortunately does not have a text, while a violin concerto with orchestra and a great fantasy for orchestra are at the drafting stage, as well as a small book of piano works which will be published at Christmas. So you see that he makes a good use of his time. After that he will start writing a string quartet."

Not long after that Sibelius himself wrote about the concerto. "I have got wonderful themes for the violin concerto," he revealed to Aino on 18th September 1899. However, the Sibeliuses would soon move back to Helsinki. Sibelius's work was disrupted, and alcohol became a real risk to his health over the next few years.

In the autumn of 1903 the composer announced that he would dedicate the concerto to his acquaintance, Willy Burmester, who once had been the first violinist of Kajanus's orchestra and who had subsequently had a successful career in Central Europe as a violin virtuoso. In December 1903 the composer was able to tell Carpelan that he had completed two movements of the concerto, but that the orchestration of the third movement remained to be done.