Beethoven – Violin Concerto in D Major, Opus 61

by Max Derrickson

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Violin Concerto in D Major, Opus 61
1. Allegro, ma non troppo
2. Larghetto
3. Rondo

The life of Ludwig van Beethoven has been studied intensively.  We know that it was chaotic, with hardship, struggle, and illness.  A whole volume has been devoted to his illnesses.  It is well known that he went completely deaf in the middle of his life.  (His hearing loss was quite advanced when he wrote the Violin Concerto in 1806.)  But the torture that this caused him can never be overestimated.  Nevertheless, his Violin Concerto bespeaks a composer who was compassionate, witty, deeply humane, and understanding of whispered joys.

The Concerto is one of the lengthiest written by any composer.  Yet, remarkably, it is also one of the quietest, crafted within a scope of serenity.  Often, when the music reaches a dramatic moment, its arrival is one of pastoral amplitude.

“One might be inclined to say off-hand that the most mysterious stroke of genius in the whole [of this] work is the famous opening with five strokes of the drum which introduces the peculiarly radiant first subject on the wood-wind….”  So said the esteemed musicologist Donald Tovey.

But even more, so said Beethoven.  [. . .]