Piano Concerto in D major, Op. 61/a

I. Allegro ma non troppo II. Larghetto III. Rondo. Allegro

 

Beethoven composed a single violin concerto which did not gain real popularity at the time. A possible even if less frequently discussed explanation may be that perhaps it did not sound as a typical Beethoven work to the contemporary listener. And so it was not raised to its exceptional piedestal until the middle of the century when much marvelled performances by Josef Joachim opened the ears of the public of the 1840’s to discover in Beethoven’s work the sounds it liked so much in the romantic music it was being offered in great opulence. From here it was only one step for the atypical violin concerto to become a model for future violin concertos and for the atypical Beethoven sound to become emblematic of Beethoven music. Discussing this lavishly melodic composition overflowing with sweet harmonies and taking the listener to a land of almost improbable beauty, Bence Szabolcsi had good reason to say that it was unique in Beethoven’s oeuvre. The piece completed in 1806 excited the interest of Muzio Clementi, the famous piano virtuoso and composer living in London. When he visited Beethoven in Vienna in 1807, he urged him to fashion a version for piano and orchestra. The composer was surprisingly ready to agree and composed even the cadenzas of the piano concerto that he had not done in the case of the violin concerto. When published in print (1808), Beethoven dedicated, as a wedding present, the violin concerto to Stephan von Breuning and the piano version to his wife, Julie von Breuning.