For more than 300 years, the violin concerto remains the most popular concert in modern concert halls across the World. First developed in the Baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi helped to perfect the format we now know as the Violin Concerto. The masters of the Classical Period, 1750 to 1820, Franz Josef Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, also composed in the form with the genre remaining a preferred diversion for concert attendees and partygoers alike. The Concertos tended to run in length from about twenty-five minutes and were valued for being somewhat lighthearted in character.
Beethoven transformed the violin concerto in the first years of the nineteenth century, as he did the symphony, into a grand orchestral work, a profound and elongated statement that plumbed emotional depths left untouched by his predecessors. Such is the monumental nature of Beethoven’s single composition in the genre that it stands alone among his oeuvre; he seemed to think that it could not be rivaled by another attempt.
Composers of the Romantic Period, 1780-1910, saw the violin concerto as conducive not only to pyrotechnic displays of skill by the soloist but also as ripe for the expression of personal testimonies of great emotion. The concerto now stretched to some forty minutes or more. The likes of Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Antonin Dvorak, and Jean Sibelius each completed one piece in the genre and their compositions today are known simply as “The Brahms,” “The Tchaikovsky,” etc. The violin concerto continued to flourish into the twentieth century, with the Americans Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Samuel Barber providing two of its greatest post-Romantic incarnations, though returning its length to that of the Classical Period. Though it has been three-quarters of a century since the last great violin concerto was composed, the genre will survive for time immemorial because of the great incarnations of pieces like Mozart’s Concerto No. 3 for Violin in G Major as played by a violinist with the skill of Mid-Texas Symphony’s Laura Scalzo. (The Top Ten Greatest Violin Concertos by Stephen M. Klugewicz)