Bruch – Violin Concerto No. 1 in G-Minor, Op. 26

by Max Derrickson

Max Bruch (1838 – 1920)

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G-Minor, Op. 26


Max Bruch (1838-1920) premiered his first violin concerto in 1868 with the leading virtuoso of the day, Joseph Joachim, playing the solo. Unless you have studied classical voice (for which Bruch wrote prolifically) or violin, you have probably only ever heard of Bruch as having written this one piece (though his Scottish Rhapsody for violin and orchestra comes in and out of performance frequency). Such is the rare case of Max Bruch, having written a large amount of works in several idioms, and only being remembered for virtually one masterpiece.

Yet the concert hall would surely be lacking without this concerto. In many ways influenced by Mendelssohn’s wonderful violin concerto in e-minor, Bruch’s concerto captures a heartfelt romantic allure with its lush and memorable themes, excellent solo writing, and impeccable pacing.

[. . .]

The finale, then again, brings forth an infectious exuberance. The violin solo virtually dances its way through leaps and skips, with a great deal of double-stops and bravissimo. Bruch loosely uses a sonata form for this movement with hints of a grand rondo, giving room for a bit of thematic development for each return of the two main themes; the first a breathless dance-like charge, and the second more grandly lyrical. The two themes are wrapped up in the delightful closing coda.