Violin Concerto No. 1 (Szymanowski)

Karol Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35, is considered one of the first modern violin concertos. It rejects traditional tonality and romantic aesthetics.

It was written in 1916 while the composer was in Zarudzie, Ukraine. Paul Kochanski advised Szymanowski on the fine point of violin technique during the composition of the concerto, and he later wrote the cadenza. The work is dedicated to Kochański. The likely inspiration for the concerto was Noc Majowa, a poem by the Polish poet Tadeusz Miciński. The concerto doesn't follow or duplicate the poem, yet Szymanowski's ecstatic, sumptuous music is an ideal companion to Miciński's language:

All the birds pay tribute to me
for today I wed a goddess.
And now we stand by the lake in crimson blossom
in flowing tears of joy, with rapture and fear,
burning in amorous conflagration."

The Violin Concerto No. 1 was premiered 1 November 1922 in Warsaw with Józef Ozimiński as the soloist.


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