General information
Title CZ Koncert pro violoncello a orchestr č. 1
Title ENConcerto for Violoncello and Orchestra No. 1
Title DEKonzert für Cello und Orchester Nr. 1
Title FRConcerto pour violoncelle avec l' orchestre n° 1
SubcategoryVioloncello Concertos
Halbreich number196 III
Parts of the composition (movements)1. Allegro moderato; 2. Andante moderato; 3. Allegro
Solo voiceVc
Dedicatee Fournier, Pierre
Diplomatic transcription of the dedicationDédié | à Pierre Fournier. | avec mon amitié | et l'admiration. | B. Martinů
Note on the dedicationDedication on the title page of the reproduction held by the British Library in London.
Place of compositionNice
Year of origin1955
Initiation of composition06/1955
Completion of composition07/1955
First performance
Performer Pierre Fournier (Vc); Victor Dezarzens (dir./cond.)
Desarzens, Victor
Fournier, Pierre
Date of the first performance1955-12-05
Location of the first performanceLausanne, Switzerland
Ensemble Orchestre de chambre de Lausanne
Autograph deposition
Note on the autograph depostitionReproduction of the autograph score with Martinů's markings (RA) held by the British Library in London.
CopyrightSchott Music, Mainz
Purchase linkbuy
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Third version of the Concerto. *** Title on the title page of the autograph: "Ire Concerto pour violoncelle avec l'orchestre". *** Date of the completion of the composition at the end of the autograph score (according to the RA): 28.06.1955.
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 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 a 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 a 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 solo violoncello. The out-reaching character of the first movement is in 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 staccato, 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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