It may seem hard to believe, but Beethoven’s Violin Concerto was not a big hit in it’s day. It wasn’t until many years after Beethoven’s death that the work was championed by the great violinist Joseph Joachim, and it was his “star power” that got people listening to this work, which had been terribly neglected.
Beethoven knew he had written a masterpiece (very few composers were as confident about their music as Beethoven), but was unhappy that the concerto didn’t catch on. A publisher suggested that he rewrite the work as a piano concerto. After some negotiations, it was decided that Beethoven would write the work as piano concerto, and the two versions would be published together, the idea being that it would get the work heard by a broader audience. It didn’t work. However, the piano version of the work is certainly worth listening to, even though it is rarely performed. Beethoven left the orchestral portion of the work intact, and rewrote the solo part for piano. We’ll hear this interesting work on this week’s “Toccata,” Sunday evening at 6. Also, we recognized the birthday of the great German pianist Wilhelm Kempff this Friday. We’ll hear Kempff as composer with his Piano Sonata. Hope you can join me!