Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
In this violin session, Boris Garlitsky and Tianren Xie focus on playing solo while actively listening and understanding the orchestral accompaniment.
Produced by the Saline royale Academy in November, 2020 at Arc-et-Senans.
This session focuses on Brahms’ Concerto in D Major with Professor Boris Garlitsky and student Tianren Xie. There are many technical aspects in the piece but also many emotional and unwritten directions that need to be incorporated when playing this great concerto.
Garlitsky discuss the difference between knowing the notes and understanding what is occurring between them. With this in mind, the professor instructs Xie to pay particular attention to the silences and the intentions of the music. He illustrates how one can improve tremendously by just listening to what is hidden.
Since this piece is meant to be played with an orchestra, Garlistky advises his student to review the orchestra sheet music to better understand the globality of the oeuvre. Sometimes, as the instructor puts it, solo musicians can be “deaf” to what is going on around them.
Lastly, the pair examine bowing and the different strokes required in this composition.
Getting acquainted with the orchestral score.
Playing the emotions of the oeuvre.
Paying attention to your bow strokes.
Respecting the many nuances of the oeuvre.
Enjoying the silences – what lies between the notes.
This violin concerto was composed by Johannes Brahms in 1878 and is the composer’s only violin concerto. According to critics, the Germans have four great violin concertos. Beethoven’s is the greatest and most famous, but Brahms’ is not far behind.
It is scored for a small orchestra and follows a traditional concerto structure of three movements and a quick-slow-quick pattern. The tempo is quick and can be challenging to keep up with. It is essential for the violinist to get acquainted with the orchestra score in order to succeed. Moreover, what makes for a great interpretation is the ability to read between what is written and respect the emotional variations of the piece.
I always tell my students that if you know what the conductor and the orchestra are doing, you will play the violin better.
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