the forgotten violin concertos – part 5: concertos for violin and pop band

April 6, 2016, 5:52 AM · For many years I am researching about the violin concertos of the 20th century. In my encyclopedia „The 20th century violin concertante“ (available free of charge here) I list nearly 13'000 compositions from all over the world. It is obvious that these compositions span a wide area of different characteristics. From the point of instrumentation, most of the listed compositions in my book call for solo violin and a specific shape of a symphonic orchestra. But on the „edges“ of the violin concertante definition there are some exciting works for different instrumentation.

One of these very special instrumentations are the concertos for violin and rock or pop band. The lines here between pop/rock band and brass/big/jazz band are blurred, so I focus on the works that carry the „pop band“ or „rock band“ in their title. And that leaves just three compositions out of 13'000!

The history of concerto for violin and rock or pop band starts in the early 1970s. Steve Margoshes, who later became famous for writing the music to the broadway show „Fame“ and other musicals, composed in the beginning of the 1970s a „Concerto for violin and rock band“. This is a three movement, easy-going composition of tuneful, catchy melodies. The accompanying ensemble consists of at least e-guitar, trumpet, piano, bass and percussion (that is what I can identify from the recording I own), but the rock band sounds more swinging than like rock sound. The world premiere was performed on 02.04.1974 by no one less than Elmar Oliveira!

Shortly after that in 1979 the Norwegian composer Ketil Hvoslef composed his „Concerto for violin and pop band“. The instrumentation ist for e-guitar, e-bass, e-piano and percussion. And from all the three compositions for violin and rock/pop band this is the most challenging one. The „pop band“ is here darker in sound, the whole composition closer to „modern classical expectations“. The work was first performed in 1979 by famous violinist Trond Saeverud together with Ketil Hvoslef and the Norwegian rock band „Saft“.
A recording of a performance of the work is available on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6y5vq-JgL4

From the Hvoslef to the last example of the concertos for violin and rock band we had to wait nearly 20 years until 1998. In that year the Israeli composer Avner Dorman composed his „Concerto for violin and rock band“. This work follows in idea and style the concerto by Steve Margoshes with very light „rocking sound“ and neat melodies. Overall more a „fun piece“ in my personal opinion. The instrumentation calls for 2 e-guitars, bass-guitar, synthesizer and drumset and was premiered on 25.04.1998 by violinist Eyal Shiloach and the rock band INNOVATION (in which the composer performed for many years).


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