Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, part 1
Professor Martin Beaver helps student Duncan McDougall refine his playing in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Beaver asserts that although the piece is technically difficult and requires projection over a large orchestra, the performer must still find a way to insert musical nuance. He discusses how varying bow speed and stroke can not only help connect passages more smoothly, but also vary the color of sound and mood. He also encourages the student to focus on his vibrato, so that it can intensify or calm depending on the direction of the phrase. Paying attention to the vibrato between notes, as well as preparing in advance for shifts, will create an easier legato. Beaver also offers his advice on hand position, projection, and giving a convincing performance that is focused more on expression than technique.
Varying the sound quality and color while projecting.
How to develop vibrato along with the phrase.
Maintaining legato connections through bow speed and strokes.
Enjoying the music rather than focusing on perfection.
Thinking in large gestures rather than small beats.
Tchaikovsky's first and only violin concerto was composed in 1878 in Switzerland, where the composer was vacationing after his marriage fell apart. Tchaikovsky drew inspiration for the work after his former pupil and friend Iosef Kotek visited him there. Though Kotek offered extensive advice on the violin part, the piece was dedicated to violinist Leopold Auer. However, the piece's premiere was delayed until 1881 because neither instrumentalist would agree to perform it due to its immense difficulty. The first movement, Allegro moderato, presents two lyrical themes in sonata form, which build to a breathtaking full orchestra climax. The violinist also performs a virtuosic cadenza that reaches into the very highest register of the instrument. The movement ends with an excited, fast-paced coda. The second movement, Canzonetta: Andante, explores a simple, vocal melody in the unexpected key of g minor. The Finale: Allegro vivacissimo opens as a dancelike whirlwind that evokes Russian folk music. After a calmer interlude, the relentless violin pushes forward to a thrilling conclusion.
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 Martin Beaver’s feedback and comments.
Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the Colburn Conservatory of Music and Colburn Music Academy in Los Angeles.
As a member of the Tokyo String Quartet, Martin Beaver was privileged to perform on the 1727 Stradivarius violin from the “Paganini Quartet” set of instruments, on generous loan to the quartet from the Nippon Music Foundation.
Recordings of the Tokyo String Quartet during his tenure notably include the complete Beethoven quartets on the Harmonia Mundi label. Mr. Beaver’s concerto and recital appearances span four continents with orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège and the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra and under the batons of Kazuyoshi Akiyama, among others. Chamber music performances include collaborations with such eminent artists as Leon Fleisher, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell, Sabine Meyer and Yefim Bronfman. Mr. Beaver is a regular guest at prominent festivals in North America and abroad. Among these are: the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, La Jolla SummerFest, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and more. Mr. Beaver’s discography includes concerti, sonatas and chamber music on the Harmonia Mundi USA, Biddulph, Naim Audio, René Gailly, Musica Viva, SM 5000, Toccata Classics and Naxos labels. His recorded repertoire ranges from Bach, Beethoven and Brahms to the music of 21st century composers. He is a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth, Montreal and Indianapolis competitions.
A devoted educator, Mr. Beaver has conducted masterclasses all over the globe. He has held teaching positions at the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of British Columbia and the Peabody Conservatory. More recently, he served on the faculty of New York University and as Artist in Residence at the Yale School of Music, where he was awarded its highest honor – the Sanford Medal. He joined the faculty of the Colburn School in Los Angeles in August 2013, where he is currently Professor of Violin and Chamber Music. Martin Beaver is a founding member of the Montrose Trio with pianist Jon Kimura Parker and cellist Clive Greensmith.
Born in Votkinsk, Russia on April 25th, 1840, composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was the son of a metalworker and a French immigrant, and the second of six children.
Young Pyotr showed an interest in music early on and, although destined to be a public servant at first, was placed under the care of a professional music teacher by his father shortly after the sudden death of his mother from cholera.
He travelled through Europe extensively and settled in St-Petersburg when he was a young man, to study music at the newly founded conservatory. Tchaikovsky had a very private life that was constantly under scrutiny due to his rising fame. He married a young woman to avoid questions about his sexual orientation, but was very unhappy. By 1878, he began to write music full time after finding a patroness outside Russia and wrote most of his most famous works such as the opera Eugene Onegin, the Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, and the Violin Concerto in D Major. Tchaikovsky grew tired of his busy city life and rented a place in the countryside, where he spent his days walking, reading, and composing music. He died of cholera in 1893 at the age of 53 after drinking unboiled water.
Tchaikovsky's legacy reaches many people thanks to a very emotionally involving and rich musical landscape that keeps seducing audiences all over the world.