Violin Concerto in D Major, Mozart, 1st Movement (continued)

When he wrote the Violin Concerto in D Major, Mozart had been composing music for a decade and a half, already a mature, highly skilled composer-musician at 19 years old. At this point in his career he ls able to create strikingly original melodies and themes with fluent ease, simultaneously orchestrating the music imaginatively in his own inimitable style.

Joseph Joachim

Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim

Tragically, he died at 35, leaving more than 600 works, including many immortal treasures. Imagine if he’d lived to 75, like Joseph Joachim, who composed the best known cadenza for this concerto.

Here’s a few tips to help you study and memorise the 1st movement.

Make use of repeated melodies

Like most composers, Mozart uses repetition to establish and reinforce his melodies in the minds of the audience, and create a sense of the whole after only one performance.

Popular and folk music rely on exact repetitions of tunes, especially in verses and choruses, to establish musical identity, and although repetition is an important feature of classical music, musical ideas are also developed in variations and transformations of melodies and themes, often deliberately deviating from expected paths into interesting new territories.

This feature is helpful for musicians during the initial stages of learning to play the music. The repeating melodies in this movement of the concerto make it quicker to master and memorise – as long as we don’t mix them up.

Bars 57-65 and bars 145-153 are a good case in point. The repetition is identical except for the last two bars.

Here’s the first instance, beginning in measure 57:

Bars 57-65

And the second, from measure 145 showing the difference:

Bars 145-153

Mozart returns on several occasions to the same melodic idea from a different starting point, for example as in bars 86 to 97 and bars 180 t0 191, shown below.

Bars 86 to 97

Bars 180 t0 191

Although not exact repetitions, the similarity of these two segments makes memorising much easier.

Make use of significant notes

In two other sections, similarity make memorising more difficult! In these cases, it is better to remember key notes so that the others can flow on more spontaneously.

The first example begins in bar 126, where it helps to focus on the starting notes (circled in red). The second section follows on immediately from the first.

Bars 126 to 142

The Cadenza

At first reading the Joachim cadenza appears very difficult to play, but you’ll soon become aware of it’s profoundly violinistic qualities. Joachim’s imaginative creation reveals his mastery of the instrument and how well he knew this concerto. His virtuosity and familiarity with the music enabled him to weave Mozart’s melodies and themes together in a brilliant improvisational finale to the movement.

It hardly needs to be said that it’s best to memorise the cadenza in small segments, building it up phrase by phrase, rather than reading through over and over, hoping it will stick. Due to the fingering requirements of the double stops, most students find measures 225 to 230 more challenging. Similarly the double stops in measures 234, 235 and the following arpeggios in 236 to 238 take more time to master.

Here’s some great performances on Youtube with different cadenzas. Ji Young Lim plays the Joachim cadenza.

Stephen Waarts

Ray Chen

Thanks for visiting Teach Suzuki Violin. We’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences with the Mozart D Major Violin Concerto!



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