Korngold concerto vs. Sibelius concerto

August 10, 2017, 6:30 PM · In your opinion, which of the two concertos (Korngold or Sibelius) would more difficult to tackle? Yes, I know they both are extremely difficult, but which of the two would you let a student play first? Thanks!

Replies (7)

August 10, 2017, 10:00 PM · I think korngold is harder. intonation would be more difficult because of the accidentals and all of the intervals that are used. also the rythms look more complex than the ones used in the sibelius. I think the first movement of the sibelius would actually be pretty doable for a student, provided they're comfortable with octaves and sixths.
August 11, 2017, 3:39 AM · I'm with Anna. Especially if you, like most violin students, are more used to with Classical/Baroque/Romantic music, Korngold might be a bit uncomfortable at first because it is more contemporary.
August 11, 2017, 3:46 AM · I think at this level it is sololy what the student prefers and where his strenghts are.
I play Sibelius better than other comparable pieces because the music seems to match my thoughts exactly. Most people might understand Sibelius better as Korngold has quite some interesting passages, but for somw it might be different.
August 11, 2017, 6:17 AM · Apples or oranges? One thing to consider is that the Sibelius is a little more part of the basic cannon of violin repertoire.
Edited: August 11, 2017, 8:41 AM · The Korngold is well into copyright and, so I've been told, the orchestral parts are very expensive to hire for performance. This may be a reason why this fine concerto doesn't get the exposure it deserves.
August 19, 2017, 1:38 AM · At the 'level' required to navigate all technical demands in both the Sibelius and Korngold Violin Concerto's, it usually is a matter of musical preference of the 'selector' rather than which work is
more difficult. However, I had a fascinating experience with one 14 year old pupil who came to
formally audition and after playing some scales, various Etudes and a movement from an Unaccompanied Bach Sonata, when invited to play a concert piece or Violin Concerto, she very
excitedly replied, "I love the Korngold and would like to play the 1st movement!" Surprised, I said,
'Why do you wish to play the Korngold?" She responded with a wide smile & glow on her face, "Because I just Love it!" I welcomed her choice & my accompanist for the pupil's was a bit surprised but lived up to the challenge with aplomb!! It was truly fine and intelligent with very thoughtful phrasing. Evidently, she had not studied the Korngold with a teacher which all the more impressive to me ~

I 'taught' her the Concerto taking specific sections in slow motion to iron out intricate passage work & add musical bowing's to etch the face of vital thematic beauty. In this 'voyage' she began picking up my approach to bowing passed on to me by my legendary mentor's, Heifetz and Nathan Milstein. In
time, her concept of bowing grew by miles which liberated her inner musical imagination way beyond as in a Paris Fashion House with clothes tailor made & designed for Ms. X or Z or each individual but with a definitely growing idea of sound & colour's. The Korngold reminds me of a velvet perfectly pleated skirt attached to the waist & top w/long close to the body sleeves, sort of tailored-elegant yet
Jurassic Parkish in mood! Seeing the Korngold with my inner imagination of How it should sound and Look was of much help to Lesley ~ After a year on the Korngold with love, she performed the 1st movement in a formal audition to applause from the jury!!

I learned so much from teaching her and in so doing, strengthening my ideas imprinted by Milstein re bowing and its breath which gives Life to the Musical flow and sound's, of which there are many ilk's in this Going into the 21st Century "Jungle" work ~

In this sense, the Korngold needs and rather demands an 'insane' imagination with colour's of every
time period in French and Rococo fashion/architectural period plus a Zoo - like fantasy spread about
the Concerto ... Indeed! A Violinist with unafraid technique (& mind you, possibly unaware of lapses
in unusual technical moments, i.e., the 3rd movement, yet so obsessed & infatuated with melodious
& harmonious combinations, it doesn't faze at all) this dazzled by Korngold Violinist can do justice to
ears and hearts!!

The Sibelius is Now at a disadvantage in that it's by now, War Horse status, is ensconced in the public's general memory and almost All violinists are imbued & intoxicated by Heifetz's ownership of
this Great Violin "Monument" ~ the word I coined upon retracing my every movement of left hand and bow throughout the Concerto due to attempting to live up to previous performances of the Sibelius & a recording of a lucky Sibelius is On Night in Oslo!! What pressure to be under: competing
with one's self!! Insane but True ~ Having had a treasured fabulous Violinist friend & colleague in Reiner's CSO, who always would say, 'When I really need to get back in concert shape & form, I go
right back to the Sibelius. Practising that Concerto will get anyone in Shape!!" For those still awake &
reading this, I would speculate the difficulty in the Sibelius Violin Concerto to be Herculean to offer all devilish passages in both the 1st and, especially, the 3rd movement, "Allegro ma non tanto", the technical wizardry we 'hear' in our heads of Heifetz ~ immaculate, with incredible dash, innuendo, an uncanny ability to weave in, under and over specific themes at perfectly timed musical milliseconds and with qualities of fearlessness, tenderness, longer than longer sustained bows for A Note, true passion & mastery of it through countless thousands of hours of drilled yet poured out Love, and a bit of the Devil to portray Sibelius' wicked toying with violinists in his spider woven technical web of must be pearled note passages in perfect tempo's feeling comfortable yet sounding like the Speed of Light ... I might add my great violin mentor, Nathan Milstein, deliberately deferred playing or teaching
the Sibelius!! He ordered me to put it away as he stated, "I don't play Sibelius; Heifetz does!"

As Fritz Kreisler once famously said upon hearing & piano accompanying young Jascha Heifetz in
Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto ~ "Well! We can all go home and break our fiddles over our knees after hearing this boy, Jascha Heifetz!"

With nothing left to say, I encourage a handsomely trained and musically sensitive/clued in violinist to learn the Sibelius with both reverence and boldness for these qualities shall be required in plenty
and then some ~ (As Lieutenant Columbo always says: 'Just one more thing!' ~ If you Love the Sibelius with all your heart & might, It will Love you back with all its heart and, to be sure, might!)

Elisabeth Matesky *

*(c)Copyright Elisabeth Matesky, August 19, 2017. All rights reserved.

Edited: August 19, 2017, 5:30 AM · Elizabeth is a goddess. Her playing beautiful. Beautiful woman.

Aside from that, sibelius is a rough concerto. Frank Zimmerman compared it to acrobatics and a test of endurance. It's long. It's hard. First movement technically will hurt you. 17 minutes of and it's not just technical, there's so much music and it's easy to mess up. Bb Bb' and boom u play a B natural. Immersion ruined.
If u have the technique, octaves, thirds, sixth and with sixth its either 1 2 or 34. U have to not make them meow.

Second movement, ferras literally cries while playing it.
It's a soul yelling and crying.
You need good vibrato and bow control.
Good bow control for the voices in the octaves.

Third movement

Has that God awful octaves passage that virtuosos flunk when played with 1-3*fingered octaves. Hearing Renaud capucon mess it up was hilarious.
Be careful not to jump blindly and most importantly throughout the whole piece
It's YOU VS THE ORCHESTRA in terms of output. Don't let them drown you.


As for the Korn gold.

Based of themes of movie music.
It'll seem a bit jumbled together like a plate with all courses.

1st mov.
Not a classical beginning. Orchestra starts with the soloist.

The runs are a bit tricky

2nd mov high high. Don't mess it up. Good vibrato not too much

3rd mov

Energy. Can't say much haven't looked at it in a while

Good luck

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