Concerto in D major, Op. 77, was composed by Johannes
Brahms in 1878 and dedicated to his friend, the violinist Joseph
Joachim. It is Brahms's only violin concerto, and, according to
Joachim, one of the four great German violin concerti:
The Germans have four violin concertos. The greatest, most
uncompromising is Beethoven's. The one by Brahms vies with it in
seriousness. The richest, the most seductive, was written by Max
Bruch. But the most inward, the heart's jewel, is Mendelssohn's.
2.1 Structural analysis
2.1.1 First movement
2.1.2 Second movement
2.1.3 Third movement
4 Technical demands
5 In popular culture
8 External links
8.1 Video examples
Concerto is scored for solo violin and orchestra consisting
of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons; 2 natural horns in
crooked in D, and 2 natural horns crooked in E, 2 trumpets in D,
timpani, and strings. Despite Brahms' scoring for natural (non-valved)
horns in his orchestral works, valved horns have always been used in
actual performance, even in Brahms' time.
It follows the standard concerto form, with three movements in the
Allegro non troppo (D major)
Adagio (F major)
Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace — Poco più presto (D major)
Originally, the work was planned in four movements like the second
piano concerto. The middle movements, one of which was intended to be
a scherzo—a mark that Brahms intended a symphonic concerto rather
than a virtuoso showpiece—were discarded and replaced with what
Brahms called a "feeble Adagio." Some of the discarded material was
reworked for the second piano concerto.
Brahms, who was impatient with the minutiae of slurs marking the
bowing, rather than phrasing, as was his usual practice[clarification
needed], asked Joachim's advice on the writing of the solo violin
part. Joachim, who had first been alerted when Brahms informed him
in August that "a few violin passages" would be coming in the mail,
was eager that the concerto should be playable and idiomatic, and
collaborated willingly, not that all his advice was heeded in the
final score. The most familiar cadenza, which appears in the first
movement, is by Joachim, though a number of people have provided
alternatives, including Leopold Auer, Henri Marteau, Max Reger, Fritz
Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, George Enescu, Nigel Kennedy, Augustin
Hadelich, Joshua Bell, and Rachel Barton Pine. A recording of the
concerto released by
Ruggiero Ricci has been coupled with Ricci's
recordings of sixteen different cadenzas.
The first movement is in a sonata form. It begins with a first theme
material in a lengthy introduction by the orchestra. The theme
develops and after a brief transition leads to the second theme
material in measure 41. The second theme material dies away and the
orchestra suddenly bursts in at measure 78 with the closing section.
The solo violin enters at measure 90 with a strong statement in
martelé followed by a series of chords that bring on the long
arpeggio section. After the long arpeggio section, the solo violin
finally reaches the first theme in measure 136. The first theme is
worked out with its beautiful melodies until it reaches the strong
chords in measure 164. The chords again turn to the arpeggio section.
The new second theme of the solo exposition is introduced in measure
206. The solo violin bursts in with the closing theme at measure 246.
This leads to an intense section that finishes the exposition. The
development section has a soulful melody that soon turns into a dreamy
passage. After a sudden forte section, the solo violin enters with
angular material. The recapitulation begins at measure 381. The coda
begins at measure 527 following the cadenza.
The second movement is in three parts. The A section begins with the
melody by the solo oboe with orchestral accompaniment. Finally, the
solo violin takes over the melody in measure 32. The B section begins
at measure 56 with a passionate solo violin melody. After an
undulating and fiery section, the solo violin returns to the A section
in measure 78 with the melody played by the orchestra.
The third movement is in a rondo form. The A section begins with a
cheery theme by the solo violin and crisp accompaniment underneath it.
After a theme played as a double-stops by the solo violin, the B
section begins in measure 35 with light solo violin and accompaniment.
This soon turns to a series of scales in legato which brings in
another rhythmic melody by the solo violin. The solo violin reiterates
the main melody in measure 93 which indicates the return of the A
section. After the condensed version of the A section, the C section
begins in measure 108 with graceful arpeggios. In measure 143, the
solo violin enters with the materials from the B section. Finally, the
solo violin brings in the main melody from the A section in measure
187. The A section leads to a new section that starts with solo violin
alone in measure 222 where the materials are worked out. This section
again finishes with a small cadenza by the solo violin in measure 266.
The coda begins at measure 267 with a faster tempo marking. In the
coda, the melody from the A section is rhythmically reshaped with a
quarter note and a triplet. The coda finishes with subito forte
The work was premiered in
Leipzig on January 1, 1879, by Joachim, who
insisted on opening the concert with the Beethoven
written in the same key, and closing with the Brahms. Joachim's
decision could be understandable, though Brahms complained that "it
was a lot of D major—and not much else on the program." Joachim
was not presenting two established works, but one established one and
a new, difficult one by a composer who had a reputation for being
difficult. The two works also share some striking similarities. For
instance, Brahms has the violin enter with the timpani after the
orchestral introduction: this is a clear homage to Beethoven, whose
violin concerto also makes unusual use of the timpani.
Brahms conducted the premiere. Various modifications were made between
then and the work's publication by
Fritz Simrock later in the year.
Critical reaction to the work was mixed: the canard that the work was
not so much for violin as "against the violin" is attributed equally
Hans von Bülow
Hans von Bülow and to Joseph Hellmesberger, to whom
Brahms entrusted the Vienna premiere, which was however
rapturously received by the public.
Henryk Wieniawski called the
work "unplayable", and the violin virtuoso
Pablo de Sarasate
Pablo de Sarasate refused
to play it because he didn't want to "stand on the rostrum, violin in
hand and listen to the oboe playing the only tune in the adagio."
Against these critics, modern listeners often feel that Brahms was not
really trying to produce a conventional vehicle for virtuoso display;
he had higher musical aims. Similar criticisms have been voiced
against the string concerti of other great composers, such as
Violin Concerto and Hector Berlioz's
Harold in Italy, for making the soloist "almost part of the
The technical demands on the soloist are formidable, with generous use
of multiple stopping, broken chords, rapid scale passages, and
rhythmic variation. The difficulty may to some extent be attributed to
the composer's being chiefly a pianist.
Nevertheless, Brahms chose the violin-friendly key of
D major for his
concerto. Since the violin is tuned G–D–A–E, the open strings,
resonating sympathetically, add brilliance to the sound. For the same
reason, composers of many eras (e.g. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven,
Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Prokofiev, Korngold and Khachaturian)
wrote violin concertos in either
D major or D minor.
In popular culture
The third movement is used twice in Paul Thomas Anderson's 2007 film
There Will Be Blood, including the end credits.
Smilla's Sense of Snow
Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg, Smilla, the protagonist says
"I cry because in the universe there is something as beautiful as
Kremer playing Brahms' violin concerto".
The violin entrance in the first movement is sampled extensively in
Alicia Keys's 2004 song, Karma.
^ Steinberg, Michael. "Bruch:
Concerto No. 1 in G Minor for
Orchestra, Opus 26". San Francisco Symphony. Archived from the
original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
^ Ericson, John. "Brahms and the Orchestral Horn". Arizona State
University. Archived from the original on 24 July 2017. Retrieved 10
^ Gal, Hans (1963). Johannes Brahms. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
^ Jan Swafford, Johannes Brahms: a biography 1997:448ff discusses the
writing of the
^ J. A. Fuller-Maitland, Joseph Joachim, London and New
York, J. Lane, 1905, p. 55
^ "An analysis of the
Violin concerto of Johannes Brahms".
^ Steinberg, 121.
^ Quoted in Steinberg, 121.
^ Steinberg, 122.
^ a b Swafford 1997:452.
^ Brahms reported it to Julius Stockhausen as "a success as good as
I've ever experienced". (quoted Swafford 1997:452.
^ Conrad Wilson: Notes on Brahms: 20 Crucial Works (Edinboro, Saint
Andrew Press: 2005) p. 62
There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood (2007)" ()
Steinberg, Michael The
Concerto (Oxford and New York: Oxford
University Press, 1998). ISBN 0-19-510330-0
Detailed Listening Guide using the recording by Anne-Sophie Mutter and
Herbert von Karajan
Violin Concerto: Scores at the International Music Score Library
Concerto played by Ida Haendel: Movement 1, Part I,
Movement 1, Part II, Movement 1, Part III, Movement 2, Movement 3.
Concerto played by
Hilary Hahn with the Frankfurt Radio
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paavo Järvi, March 21, 2014 (YouTube
channel of "hr-Sinfonieorchester — Frankfurt Radio Symphony",
uploaded May 15, 2014).
Concerto played by Oscar Shumsky: Movement 1, Part I,
Movement 1, Part II, Movement 1, Part III, Movement 2, Movement 3.
Concerto played by Aija Izaks: Aija Izaks - Violin.
Concerto by Johannes Brahms, 1st movement, Aija izaks- Violin.
Concerto by J. Brahms, 1st mvt- continued, 2nd mvt- complete and
Concerto by J.Brahms- 3rd mvt - continued
Concertos by Johannes Brahms
Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83
Concerto in D major, Op. 77
Violin and Cello in A minor, Op. 102
List of compositions by
Johannes Brahms by genre
List of compositions by
Johannes Brahms by opus number
Academic Festival Overture
Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 4
Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Concerto No. 1
Concerto No. 2
Vocal/Choral works with orchestra
A German Requiem
Gesang der Parzen
Cello Sonata No. 1
Cello Sonata No. 2
Piano Quartet No. 1
Piano Quartet No. 2
Piano Quartet No. 3
Piano Trio No. 1
Piano Trio No. 2
Piano Trio No. 3
String Quartet No. 3
String Quintet No. 1
String Quintet No. 2
String Sextet No. 1
String Sextet No. 2
Two String Quartets, Op. 51
Violin Sonata No. 1
Violin Sonata No. 2
Violin Sonata No. 3
Ballades, Op. 10
Four Pieces for Piano, Op. 119
Piano Sonata No. 1
Piano Sonata No. 2
Piano Sonata No. 3
Rhapsodies, Op. 79
Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118
Sixteen Waltzes, Op. 39
Three Intermezzi for piano, Op. 117
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel
Variations on a Theme of Paganini
Eleven Chorale Preludes
Fest- und Gedenksprüche
Fünf Gesänge, Op. 104
Fünf Lieder, Op. 105
Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 52
Two Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano, Op. 91
Vier ernste Gesänge
Named for Brahms
List of compositions by genre
List of compositions by opus number
Johannes Brahms Competition