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Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
TODAY IS
March 13
Can You Guess? Mendelssohn's violin concerto debuted on the  San Francisco concert scene in February, 1915. Violinist Albert Spalding played the solo.  Albert's family was famous for something other than music.  Can You Guess why Albert's father and uncles were so well known?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
Happened
Today?
1744 - Premiere of G. F. Handel's oratorio Joseph and his Brethren.

1779 - Birth of blind American composer and music teacher Oliver Shaw.

1833 - Mendelssohn finished his Italian Symphony.

1861 - Premiere of Richard Wagner's opera Tannhäuser for performance in Paris at the Théâtre Imperial de l'Opéra.

1890 - Birth of German conductor Fritz Busch, older brother of violinist Adolph Busch.

1894 - Conduct debut of Bruno Walter at Cologne Opera.

1907 - Death of Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Fritz Scheel.

1947 - Premiere of Olivier Messiaen's Hymne for orchestra. New York Philharmonic, and Leopold Stokowski.

1954 - Premiere of Arnold Schoenberg's opera Moses and Aaron. Hamburg Radio. First concert hall performance in Zürich.

1964 - Premiere of Ernst Toch's Symphony No. 5 Jeptha, in Boston.

1970 - George Crumb finished Black Angels for electric string quartet, percussion and water-tuned musical glasses.

1976 - Premiere of Milton Babbitt's Concerti for Violin, Small Orchestra and Tape, in NYC.

1992 - Premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies' Strathclyde Concerto No. 5 for violin, viola and strings. Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer, with James Clarke and Catherine Marwood.
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
March 13, 1845
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One of the most famous violin concertos in the world made its debut March 13, 1849.  You are listening to a midi file of the first movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64!

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, Germany on February 3, 1809.  Felix studied piano under his mother. He then studied harmony with Carl Friedrich Zelter.  His performance debut occurred at age 9, and by 12 he had written sonatas, a piano trio, a cantata, two operettas and the first of his 12 string symphonies.  His family hired an orchestra so that Felix could hear his music.
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto by Heifetz
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Felix was a child prodigy every bit the equal of Mozart.  By age 16 he had already written his Octet for Strings, and the Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream at age 17.

In 1825 Mendelssohn met violinist Ferdinand David, and the two began a friendship that would last a lifetime.  In 1838 Mendelssohn decided to write a violin concerto, and from the very beginning had his friend in mind to play it.

When Mendelssohn founded the Conservatory in Leipzig in 1843, David was one of the first faculty appointments he made. David was not only regarded as the model concertmaster, he was considered a virtuoso soloist, an excellent ensemble musician (he played in quartets) and an outstanding teacher.
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MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64 (Digitally remastered 2 CD set) - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64 (Digitally remastered 2 CD set) For Violin. Contains a printed score and a compact disc featuring the concerto in digitally remastered stereo, followed by the orchestral accompaniment minus you, the soloist; and a second compact disc containing two alternate accompaniments: a 'traditional' version featuring slightly slower 1st & 2nd movements; then a -20% slow-tempo version of the accompaniment for practice purposes. Published by Music Minus One. (MMOCD3101)
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Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
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Did You Guess?
You might have recognized the Spalding name and seen the color clues I provided.  Albert Spalding's father and uncles founded the sports equipment firm which bears their name.  Click here to visit the Spalding web site.
Mendelssohn completed the Violin Concerto on September 16, 1844, and it was played for the first time on March 13, 1845, at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.  The soloist was Ferdinand David, Danish composer Niels Gade conducted.  The concerto was introduced in the United States on November 24, 1849, when violinist Joseph Burke played it at in New York with Theodor Eisfeld conducting the Philharmonic Society. The concerto was orchestrated for two each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and trumpets, with timpani and strings.

The concerto is instantly recognizable.  Instead of the usual  introduction by the orchestra, the soloist makes his entrance  two seconds into the piece.  From the time he first conceived the piece, Mendelssohn decided to write a concerto in which the solo violin is featured, but is completely integrated with the orchestra so that,  "when you listen to what is going on 'behind' (the soloist) you will be rewarded by real activity, not just mechanical strumming."

In his Scottish Symphony, Mendelssohn toyed with the idea of going from movement to movement without a break. In the violin concerto Mendelssohn goes even further.  Not only does he eliminate the inter-movement breaks, he actually composed transitions between the movements!  It's difficult for the soloist to go without the rest, but the result is musically magnificent.

Mendelssohn's violin concerto has entered the standard repertoire of every major soloist, and is familiar to almost all classical music fans.  I would go so far as to say there is probably not a serious violin fan who has not heard two or three versions of he concerto! 
Mendelssohn composed the work collaborating closely with David, starting a tradition of distinguished pianist/composers working with eminent violinists to produce concertos.  A similar collaboration occurred between Brahms and violinist Joseph Joachim.
F.Mendelssohn
Concerto in E minor Op.64
violin & piano
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