Horia Andreescu is Music Director of the Romanian National Broadcasting Orchestra, conductor of the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, and both founder and conductor of The Virtuosi of Bucharest Chamber Orchestra. Andreescu was born in Brasov, Romania. He began studying at the Bucharest Music Academy and continued at the Vienna Music Academy with Hans Swarowski and Karl Österreicher. He has won prizes at international competitions including Nicolai Malko in Copenhagen, and Ernest Ansermet in Geneva, and he was awarded the "Critics Prize" at the Berlin Biennale of Music and "Conductor of the Year" by the Romanian Critics Union. Andreescu has made over 70 recordings for the labels Attaca, MarcoPolo/Naxos, Electrecord and Artexim, and has recorded eight albums, including all the symphonic works of George Enescu, for Olympia.
Krzysztof Jakowicz is a violinist and pedagogue born on September 30, 1939, in Palmiry. After graduating from the High School of Music in Wrocław, he studied violin under Tadeusz Wroński at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music. He then continued his studies at Indiana University in Bloomington in the United States, with Josef Gingold and Janos Starker. His first successes came in 1959 when he won first prize in the Eugène Ysaÿe International Competition and the third prize at the International Youth Festival in Vienna. In 1962 he was awarded third prize and a special prize at the 4th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznań. In 1970 Jakowicz received a special prize at George Enescu Festival in Bucharest. Since 1966, Jakowicz has taught at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music. He is also a visiting scholar at SOAI University in Osaka in Japan and a lecturer in France, Austria, and Japan. He is a laureate of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Prize of the First and the Second Degree for the promotion of Polish Culture abroad and has received praise from the Polish Composers' Union for the numerous performances of Polish contemporary music. He was also awarded the Golden Cross of Merit. He performs on a violin made by the Italian luthier Paolo Albani in 1698.
Jakub Jakowicz, born in Warsaw in 1981, studied violin at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music under his father Krzysztof Jakowicz and legendary Polish violinist, Tadeusz Wroński. In 1998 Krzysztof Penderecki invited him to play at the Penderecki Festival in Krakow, where he performed under Jerzy Maksymiuk. In 2001, Jakowicz made his debut with Munich Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Pinchas Steinberg, performin.g Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto. He became a member of the Zehetmair Quartett, an ensemble founded by the Austrian violinist and conductor, Thomas Zehetmair, in 2006. The quartet’s album performing compositions by Béla Bartók and Paul Hindemith received the Diapason d’Or de l’Anneé Award in 2007. In 2014, the ensemble was honoured with a prestigious Paul Hindemith Award. Jakowicz is a first-prize winner of violin competitions in Lublin, 1993, Wattrelos France, 1995 and Takasaki Japan, 1999. In 2001, he was one of the three winners of the International Rostrum for Young Performers in Bratislava, organised by the European Broadcasting Union and International Music Council UNESCO. He received the Polish-Japanese Foundation award for the most promising young generation violinist in 2002, the “Passport” Award of the “Polityka” magazine in 2003, and the Orpheus Prize at the International Festival of Contemporary Music, in 2007. He has completed a Doctorate and currently serves as a lecturer at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music
Max Bruch began his First Violin Concerto in 1864 and finished it in October 1867. The first performance was given in Bremen, Germany, on January 7, 1868, with violinist Joseph Joachim. Bruch is best known for three compositions for string soloist and orchestra, the G minor Concerto, among them, brought Bruch his earliest and most enduring fame. The piece was Bruch's first concerto as well as his first large orchestral score. The initial public performance had convinced him that edits were needed, thus he temporarily withdrew the piece while he revised it, taking advice from Joseph Joachim, to whom he later dedicated the work out of appreciation. In his day, Bruch was a notable musical figure, his works with the greatest vigour and brilliance were those he wrote in his thirties and forties, though later in life he retained respect for his command of craft and affection for his devotion to aural gratification.
Bruch had planned to call the concerto a fantasy. It is constructed in three movements. The first is a prelude, written for the violinist with all the difficulty of the great virtuoso concertos. The dialogue between the soloist and orchestra in the prelude is heated and extensive. The slow movement, begun without pause, is the heart of the concerto, containing rich lyrical music that offers melodies custom-created for violin. The finale then begins quietly but is broken by the entrance of the violin playing a hearty dance tune.
Maurice Ravel first heard the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Aranyi at a private salon in England in 1922. He had asked d’Aranyi to play Gypsy melodies from Hungary as an encore, which entranced the composer to no end. The evening inspired him to write a short piece of fiendish difficulty, though, despite his initial enthusiasm, it was not until two years later that Ravel began working on his Gypsy flavoured showpiece Tzigane. It took him only a few days to finish the piece for violin and luthéal, a newly patented (1919) modified piano, used to increase the range of available tone colours. At the premiere performance in London on April 26, 1924, D’Aranyi made such a hit with Tzigane that Ravel later orchestrated a version for violin and orchestra.
Tzigane opens with a lengthy cadenza-like solo that explores the instruments lower register. Nearly halfway through the piece, the harp and lower strings enter, soon joined by the remaining strings and a trilling piccolo. The music then segues between gypsy-flavored dances of every musical hue coloured by Ravel's brilliant skills as an orchestrator. The improvisatory feeling of the music is a reminder that Ravel incorporated many of d’Arányi’s improvised embellishments into the score. At one point the soloist launches into a fantastic high-pitched duet with the piccolo, only to have the entire orchestra join in a sort of musical free-fall. The violin then calls everyone back to the dance and the piece ends with expected exhilaration.
Pablo de Sarasate was a Spanish violinist and composer, born in Pamplona on March 10, 1844. His father was a bandmaster in the military. He began playing the violin at the age of five and became a salon virtuoso. He received a sponsorship from the Condesa Espoz y Mina to study in Madrid with M.R. Sáez. He also received aid from Queen Isabella, which allowed him to pursue studies with Delphin Alard at the Paris Conservatoire in 1856. He won the premier prix in violin and solfège the following year and a prize for harmony in 1859. Like Paganini in Italy and Wieniawski in Poland, he was a virtuoso who possessed techniques beyond what the literature of the time demanded. Thus he composed works for himself that demonstrated his incredible mastery of the instrument. Navarra, composed in 1889, is unique because it is written for two violinists. The piece is extremely demanding and is very Spanish in its identity.
Jean Sibelius completed his First Symphony in 1899 and made changes to the orchestration in 1900. The composer conducted the premiere performance on April 26, 1899, in Helsinki. The revised version was premiered on July 4, 1900, in Stockholm, with Robert Kajanus directing the Helsinki Philharmonic. Musicologist, James Hepokoski, claims that Sibelius was crafting “a stubbornly separatist, regionally resonant musical idiom,” in the First Symphony. However, Sibelius also borrowed techniques of non-Finnish composers like Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner. The symphony is cyclical, with the fourth movement reinterpreting the melodic material of the first three in different orchestration, and the structure of the piece relies on orchestral timbre and texture, rather than harmonic patterns.
The First Symphony belongs to a cluster of works associated with the Finnish toils for political freedom from the Russian Empire. Helsinki, during this period, was the capital of an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia. Nicholas II seeking greater political control over Finland introduced the “February Manifesto” of 1899, giving Russia the right to set policies in Finland without consent from the Finnish Senate. He then announced that Russian would become the official state language, the following year. These and other proclamations were part of the Russian governmental strategy known as the “Russification of Finland.” It was these actions that instigated the struggle for Finnish independence. Sibelius was a zealous Finnish nationalist.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator