Abstract

The saga of the composition and revisions of William Schuman's Violin Concerto spans approximately fourteen years, from 1946 to 1959. The genesis of this work represents a rare and lengthy process for Schuman. Evidence in his letters and oral histories, a close examination of the extensive manuscript and audio sources of the concerto's three versions, and a consideration of the composer's overall musical output during this time period provide an intriguing look into the mind of Schuman as he composed this most affecting work. In his Violin Concerto Schuman combines his skills as a symphonist and his knowledge of the violin to create a work of pathos, passion, and drive that showcases the virtuosic and expressive qualities of the solo instrument. In particular, Schuman liberates the solo violin line from the harmonic underpinnings in the orchestra, allowing the principal melodic elements of the concerto, as heard in the solo violin, to float above the accompaniment. Schuman's extensive editing of the work gives it a focus and passion that merits consideration of the Violin Concerto as one of his most successful and masterfully composed works and one of the finest violin concertos of the twentieth century.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-150X
Print ISSN
0027-4380
Pages
pp. 457-484
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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