Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto, Op. 47, in D Minor

Jean SibeliusThe Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47, was written by Jean Sibelius in 1904 and revised in 1905. Thisis the only concerto that Sibelius wrote, although he composed several pieces on a smaller scale, including six humoresques for violin and orchestra.

The first movement is in sonata form, marked Allegro moderato, and opens with a cushion of pianissimo strings pulsating gently. The soloist then enters with a characteristic IV-V-I phrase, in D minor, the notes G-A-D, then continues into development materials. An Allegro molto vivace coda briskly brings the first movement to an end with restatements of past themes. The second movement(Adagio di molto) is very lyrical. The middle section is especially noteworthy, as the solo violin plays ascending broken octaves, accompanied by the flute playing descending notes simultaneously. The third movement, marked Allegro ma non tanto, is widely known among violinists for its formidable technical difficulty and is widely considered one of the greatest concerto movements ever written for the instrument. Sir Donald Tovey described it as a “polonaise for polar bears.”