Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77, version 1
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77, version 1
Boris Garlitsky and Tianren Xie cover posture, anticipation, and playing with elegance in this violin masterclass.
Produced by the Saline royale Academy in October, 2020 at Arc-et-Senans.
In this masterclass, Professor Boris Garlitsky, and student Tianren Xie take on the complex violin Concerto in D major by Johannes Brahms, who wrote it in 1878. It is the composer’s only violin concerto, and it was written for a solo violin and a small orchestra.
Although Boris Garlitsky does not have much to say about his student’s technique, he does have a few pieces of advice to try and help him improve his playing. Primarily, the professor discusses posture, instructing Tianren to not keep his shoulders up too high and his elbows too low.
Despite the challenging technical aspects of this piece, Garlitsky emphasizes the importance of being relaxed and avoid playing too pragmatically in order to keep the fluidity and elegance of the piece. Additionally, the pair review the significance of anticipation and paying close attention to transitions.
Finally, Professor Garlitsky insists that Tianren must push on his bow to play and not pull, and that his interpretation will be smoother and not as “locked," or stuck in place.
Keeping your shoulder low and your elbow high.
Freeing the mind.
Avoiding to play too mechanically.
Using transitions to anticipate.
Pushing on the bow instead of pulling on it.
The concerto for violin was composed by German composer Johannes Brahms in the summer of 1878. It is considered one of the major pieces in the romantic German repertoire, and was so difficult to interpret that it had to be modified by Brahms. Originally, the piece was dedicated to his friend Joseph Joachim and is meant to be played with an orchestra. At first, the concerto was heavily criticized as being both too difficult and too boring. Three of Joachim students took hold of the piece and toured with it to defend it.
Brahms’ oeuvre is long: it takes about 40 minutes to play it.
Playing this concerto is like waving a silk handkerchief in the air. That is the image.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Boris Garlitsky’s feedback and comments.
In 1982 he was the winner of the Premio Paganini in Italy.
"Boris Garlitsky is an extremely lively musician of high intelligence and flexibility, with a wonderfully round tone and solid reliable technique... Concert Master of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Garlitsky measures up to every Concert Master of the world’s top orchestras, such as New York, Vienna, Berlin etc., and can play an outstanding role in all leading international orchestras.” These are the words of Kurt Masur, one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, with whom Boris Garlitsky worked together throughout many years. And still, Mr. Masur’s words grasp but a part of Boris Garlitsky’s musical richness.
In 1982, Boris Garlitsky won the Italian Paganini Competition and began his career as a soloist. Since then, he has played, among others, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Radio Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia as well as the Milan based Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra and the British Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. His interpretations of Shostakovich’s violin concerto with the Orchestra National de Lyon were praised in the press. “The intensity and irresistible force of persuasion brought to it by all the skill of Boris Garlitsky was worthy of the work’s first interpreter, David Oistrakh”, the Lyon Figaro commented. Mr. Garlitsky is an active participator in several international music festivals. He regularly takes part in the Pablo Casals Festival in France, Mostly Mozart in New York, the London Proms, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Gidon Kremer’s Chamber Music Festival at Lockenhaus in Austria. Also, Mr Garlitsky performs for the BBC, Radio France as well as a number of radio stations in Italy, Russia and the United States. He has recorded for RCA, Naxos, Chandos and Polymnie. “Boris Garlitsky was a worthy partner of Anne-Sophie Mutter in Bach’s double concerto, performed together with the London Philharmonic… Let us concentrate on the gigantic chaconne from the partita in d minor for violin solo: Mr. Garlitsky’s interpretation as such made this a concert of outstanding class. Highly differentiated and uniquely colourful in play, Mr. Garlitsky’s brilliant intellectual understanding of the piece and expressive characterisation of the individual variations reflected the authenticity and individual depth of the artist’s Bach interpretation” (Dr. Karl Georg Berg).
Garlitsky is an outstanding chamber musician and member of the Hermitage String Trio, praised right and left in critical reviews: “… undoubtedly one of finest of its type, with discipline and musicianship second to none”(www.classicalsource.com); “true brilliance! This ensemble will do much to put more string trio repertoire on the musical map” (Strad); “with virtuosic elegance and, above all, affection” (Hexham and District Music Society); “that gentle exaltation of chamber music which passes by the dramatic gestures of symphonic music but rather expresses intimate and the profound, which goes straight to the heart and transports you to a dream” (Nice Matin). Mr. Garlitsky’s repertoire is amazingly rich. Among his partners are Pinchas Zuckerman, Gidon Kremer, Marta Argerich, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Vadim Repin, Truls Mork, Maria-Joao Pires. Last but not least, Mr. Garlitsky is so popular among his colleagues due to his amiable character. “Garlitsky’s charisma is glaringly obvious. And how! A first violin of such imposing presence is a blessing for any ensemble” (La Montagne).
Born in Russia, Mr. Garlitsky received his first music lessons from his father, the author of the standard textbook for young violinists, “Step by Step”. He studied with Professor Yankelevich at the Moscow Conservatory, and afterwards worked as the Concertmaster for the Moscow Virtuosi and the London Symphony Orchestra, the Covent Garden Opera, the Vienna ORF Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic and many more.
Today, Mr. Garlitsky devotes a large amount of his time to education. He holds a chair at the Folkwang Universität der Künste, Essen (Germany). In addition, Mr. Garlitsky offers master classes on a yearly basis at the most renowned music institutions including the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, the Peabody Conservatoty in Baltimore, Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule in Berlin and Kronberg Academy. “He is also very successful as a teacher and his instruction would be an enrichment for any musical institution, be it orchestra or music academy. His knowledge, his energy, his honesty and his ability to connect with people and create harmony are in my opinion the quintessence of why he can serve as a role model and ‘leading light’ for the young generation.” (Kurt Masur)
Born in Hamburg, Germany on May 7, 1833, Johannes Brahms was the son of musician Johann Jakob Brahms. Johannes Brahms began his musical education learning the piano, cello, and horn. From the age of 7-years-old, he studied the piano under Otto Friedrich Willibald Cossel.
Composer, pianist, and conductor, Brahms began his career at the end of the classical tradition (approx. 1730-1820) and established himself as a central figure in classical music’s Romantic era. His first concert tour took place in 1853 where he built a deep camaraderie with fellow musician, Robert Schumann.
His first major work presented to the public was Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra in D minor, which was performed by himself in Leipzig in 1859. In 1863, he moved to Vienna, where he was appointed conductor of Singakademie (Singing academy), which he would leave only a year later.
By 1868, Brahms achieved fame throughout Europe for the premiere of his renowned work German Requiem. Other notable works by Brahms include but are not limited to: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, op. 15, Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, op. 24, Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, op. 25, Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, op. 38 Symphony No. 1 in C minor, op. 68, Violin Concerto in D major, op. 77 Symphony No. 3 in F major, op. 78 Symphony No. 4 in E minor, op. 98, and Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, op. 99 Quintet with Clarinet in B minor, Op. 115. Brahms has been lauded for his deep understanding of formal construction and his rendering of melodic richness, harmonic complexity, and his mastery to achieve a myriad of moods and atmosphere.
Johannes Brahms passed away on April 3,1897, in Vienna.
Photo credit: Fritz Luckhardt