Elliott Carter (1908-2012)

Violin Concerto (1990)

  • General information
    • Composition date: 1990
    • Duration: 28 mn
    • Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Detailed formation
  • soloist: violin
  • 2 flutes (also 1 piccolo), piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets (also 1 Eb clarinet, 1 bass clarinet), bass clarinet, bassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, 2 percussionists, 16 violins, 14 second violins, 12 violas, 10 cellos, 8 double basses [ou]

Premiere information

  • Date: 2 May 1990

    États-Unis, San Francisco, Californie, Davies Symphony Hall


    Ole Böhn : violon, San Francisco Symphony, direction : Herbert Blomstedt.


Enregistrement : Ole Böhn : violon, London Sinfonietta, direction : Oliver Knussen, EMI Classics 206 6292.

Program note

Composed for the Norwegian soloist Ole Bøhn, this is one of the great violin concertos of the late twentieth century, in company with those of György Ligeti and John Adams. Its shape is unusually orthodox for Carter: a big opening movement, full of combat and of urgent lyricism from the soloist, is followed by a slow movement and then a light, capricious finale. Carter’s violin, though, is typically independent. It spends most of the slow movement resisting the orchestra’s invitations to relax into elegy, and it turns the finale from dancing humor to a renewal of argument, cuing a cadenza.

Paul Griffiths.