Karol Szymanowski's first violin concerto, OP. 35
In the absence of a thriving Polish music scene in the latter half of the 19th century, Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) sought inspiration in other traditions. Consequently, his music is a cosmopolitan blend of Romantic, impressionistic, and nationalistic styles. Changes in Szymanowski's compositional style over the course of his career can thus be read as musical responses to outside stimuli; first to German, then French and fmally, eastern European folk trends. The first violin concerto, as the epitome of his "impressionistic" period, displays imaginative lyricism and a sensuous and colorful sound world.^1 Szymanowski was evidently pleased with the result. After finishing the piece in August 1916, he wrote, "I must say I am very happy with the whole thing-again a new, different music, but at the same time, a bit of return to the old. The whole thing is terribly fantastical and unexpected."^2 Written in close collaboration with Kochanski, the concerto, together with Myths (1915), exemplifies a "new mode of expression"^3 which highlighted Kochanski's strengths: an irresistibly sweet lyrical tone and left-hand facility. It was this marriage of affinities, a blending of lyricism with innovative coloristic sound effects, which came to signify Szymanowski's violin idiom. The purpose of this dissertation is to provide the following: a thorough examination of the background, history and style of the first violin concerto, a detailed analysis of the work as a whole, and a discussion of performance considerations. Chapter One will provide background history and context, including composer biography, description of his compositional style during his middle period, features of his violin idiom, developed in collaboration with his friend Pawel Kochanski as well as the immediate circumstances of the concerto's composition, with information on its history, premieres, and reception. Chapter Two will be a detailed analysis of the piece, addressing questions of form, harmony, motive, and genre; these fmdings will contribute to a hermeneutic investigation of the piece. Finally, Chapter Three discusses how tools like John Rink's "performer's analysis," historical recordings, genre analysis and narrative analysis can be used to create a more carefully considered interpretation of the piece. 1 Alistair Wightman, Karol Szymanowski: His Life and Work (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1999), 177. 2 Ibid. 3 Alistair Wightman, "Szymanowski, Bartok and the Violin," The Musical Times 12211657 (March 1981), 159.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--Boston University