General information
Title CZKoncert pro violoncello a orchestr č. 1, 1. verze
Title ENConcerto for Violoncello and Orchestra No. 1, 1st version
Title DEKonzert für Cello und Orchester Nr. 1, 1. Version
Title FRConcerto pour violoncelle et orchestre n° 1, 1ère version
SubcategoryVioloncello Concertos
Halbreich number196 I
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Allegro moderato; 2. Andante poco moderato; 3. Allegro con brio
Durata26' 45''
Solo voiceVc
Place of compositionPolička
Place of composition 2Paris
Year of origin1930
Initiation of composition08/1930
Completion of composition17.10.1930
First performance
Performer Cassadó i Moreu, Gaspar
Date of the first performance13.12.1931
Location of the first performanceBerlin
Note on the first performanceGaspar Cassadó (Vc)
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBerlin State Library
OwnerStaatsbibliothek zu Berlin
Note on the autograph depostitionFacsimile of the autograph located at the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička. *** Sketches in a private possession (France). *** First page of the autograph solo part held in a private possession (Czech Republic).
CopyrightSchott Music, Mainz
Purchase linkbuy
Schott Music GmbH & Co., Mainz, 1997
Call number at the BM Institute: 1173, 1173b
Specification of the edition: Reprint of the 1st edition of score of the first version of the concert
Details of this edition
Schott Music GmbH & Co., Mainz, 1997
Call number at the BM Institute: 1173c
Specification of the edition: Solo part of cello for the first version of the concerto
Details of this edition
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note First version of the Concerto. *** First movement was completed at the end of August 1930 in Polička. *** Title on the title page of the autograph: "Concert pour violoncelle avec orchestre".
About the composition

A great variety can be found in Martinů’s large concertante works, which consist of more than thirty compositions for both solo instruments and groups of instruments with orchestra. These compositions--very different in kind, form, and instrumentation--can be grouped into two main categories. The "concerto grosso" principle is a key to the first group, and Martinů’s inspiration for this principle is far from traditional. Instead of only using it in compositions for a group of solo instruments on one hand and an orchestra on the other, he also applies it to compositions for a solo instrument with an orchestra. An example of this approach is the Concerto for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra with Piano, H 246, as well as the Concerto da Camera for Violin, String Orchestra with Piano and Percussion, H 285. The second group consists of compositions inspired by the classical-romantic instrumental concerto.

The long historical record of the Concerto No.1 for Cello and Orchestra is filled with changes. In essence, the original concept of the "concerto grosso" gradually became a monumental solo concerto with large orchestra. The first version of the piece was written by Martinů in Polička and Paris in 1930, and he dedicated the concerto to Gaspar Cassadó, who premiered it in Berlin in 1931. Nine years later, unhappy with the chamber instrumentation, Martinů resumed work on the piece and transformed it into a work for large orchestra. However, this version would also not be the final one. In 1955, Martinů heard it on Parisian radio and he was literally appalled by its dense orchestration. He consequently re-orchestrated it and revived the solo part. This version, in his own words, "correct and final", was then dedicated to Pierre Fournier, with whom Martinů had consulted for the changes in the solo instrument.

The overall conception of the concerto follows the typical order of the movements of this genre: fast, slow, fast. The introductory Allegro moderato, full of life and energy, sets up the space for a solo violoncello. The out-reaching character of the first movement is in a sharp contrast with the central Andante, which is deep, appealing, and even nostalgic. A rich melodic quality is characteristic for the sections of inner calamity and tension, the main stress of which lies on the solo violoncello, while the orchestra is only accompanying. The final fast movement's central section is andante and has a solo cadence reminiscent of the second movement. The third movement’s melodic line, meanwhile, is similar to the first one. Due to the syncopated rhythm, frequent staccatos and a wide, dynamic surface, the music is rich in vitality, and it is in this atmosphere that the concerto finally ends.

Sandra Bergmannová, programme of the Bohuslav Martinů Festival's concert, 17. a 18. 12. 1998

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