Lyrical & melodic. Relentless & incessant. Incongruous. Some of the words used to describe the 1941 Violin Concerto by American composer Samuel Barber. It was written on commission from a wealthy soap magnate for his young adopted violinist son. But the violinist's coach expressed that the opening two movements were insufficiently showy for the violinist and would harm his student's reputation. The two of them also told Barber, who had not yet sent them a finale movement, that the finale should be more virtuosic. Barber didn't change a note of the first two movements and - be careful what you ask for - he wrote the finale to need extreme virtuosity for its technical demands and breakneck speed with barely an orchestral pause. Though he actually liked the first two movements, the young violinist rejected the Concerto especially because of the finale movement being too brief and felt it should relate better to the first two movements. Today the Concerto is a standard of the violin repertoire with violinists attracted to the demands of the finale and audiences attracted to the beauty of the first two movements. Hear it today at 2:00pm on CapRadio Music.
December 23, 2021