In the history of the violin concerto, the years 1878 and 1879 were of particular importance: it was during this period that Brahms, Dvořák and Tchaikovsky composed their only contributions to the genre. Joseph Joachim, who advised Brahms and Dvořák on technical matters, also indirectly had a hand in what is probably the most popular Russian violin concerto: both the original dedicatee Leopold Auer and the young violinist Josef Kotek, who inspired Tchaikovsky to compose the work with his masterly playing, were pupils of Joachim. In German-speaking countries, the concerto initially met with negative criticism, but it soon developed into an international success. The both highly virtuosic and deeply Romantic outer movements – the concluding Rondo is a prime example of a spectacular concerto finale – frame an Andante of heartfelt simplicity.
It was not only an artistic friendship that connected Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Antonín Dvořák, but also a rather curious circumstance in the history of musical reception: of the symphonic works of both composers, only the last three symphonies have become established in the standard concert repertoire. Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony is considered by many experts to be the composer’s greatest contribution to the genre. The first movement, in which a rather sombre underlying mood makes the lyrical secondary theme shine all the more beautifully, impressively belies the cliché of Dvořák as an always cheerful purveyor of melodies. As the composer once wrote, his ʻmottoʼ was: “God, love and fatherland”; in the D minor symphony, this motto is expressed “in the prayer of that deep Andante, in the eros of the vocal themes, in the dramatic optimism of the overall conception” (Kurt Honolka).
This concert features violinist Lisa Batiashvili and conductor Semyon Bychkov, two artists who have been closely associated with the Berliner Philharmoniker for many years.