"What We're Listening To" - Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor
Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) was a Polish violinist and composer. He began playing the violin when he was young and was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at age nine, despite not being French. After graduating from the Conservatoire, he toured extensively and published his first piece of music at the age of twelve. He moved to St. Petersburg in his mid-twenties, where he taught violin and performed as well. A decade later, he took a position as a violin professor in Brussels. Throughout his career as a composer, he wrote many works for violin, including a book of 10 études that has become a standard work of study for aspiring violinists. His legacy lives on in many ways, including a violin competition named for him, the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition.
Wieniawski wrote two violin concertos, the second of which has become more popular than the first. Wieniawski himself performed the solo violin part of this D minor concerto in November of 1862. The first movement of the piece is marked Allegro moderato, and contains many virtuosic techniques, such as chromatic scales, arpeggios, and double stops, not to mention virtuosic bowing techniques as well. There is no break between the first and second movements. The second movement is a Romance, with a lilting melody in 12/8 time. The third movement opens with a con fuoco cadential passage for the solo violin, and then transitions to a fast-paced rondo that quotes themes from the first movement, bringing well-roundedness to the concerto.