What about Bruch concerti 2 and 3?

November 25, 2008 at 07:27 AM ·

I just started listening to Ehnes' recordings of these two concerti, and besides his playing being quite good, they are wonderful pieces.  Why doesn't anybody play them?  IMHO they are vastly superior in quality than the first concerto anyways.  I'll take a penny for any more thoughts.

Replies (22)

November 25, 2008 at 05:22 PM ·

Good question...I'm going to go ahead and say the others are not popular because no one is performing them.  Am I right?  #2 is especially fantastic and imo much more satisfying than the #1 .    Jon


November 25, 2008 at 08:27 PM ·

Hi Charles,

I have played Bruch #1, #2, & the Scottish Fantasy.  #2 is a terrific piece, I believe Perlman has recorded it and Heifetz made a great recording of #2 as well.  I am also puzzled why #3 is not played as much, it is quite a nice piece.  I have heard a very fine recording by Salvatorre Accardo playing #3.

Answering your question, why those pieces are not played, my theory is that many of the teachers are unfamiliar with #2, #3.  Many teachers (not all) at conservatories in this country are not known performers and stick to the more familiar comfortable standard repertoire which they learned as students. 

November 25, 2008 at 06:13 PM ·

Amen to the "comfortable" note...the evolution of violin technique and the history of the concerto should be required learning for violin students (future professors).   There's lots of junk out there and there are lots of real dusty gems, the #2 Bruch for instance :-)  The history of the violin, its players, and its repertoire is truly amazing and very interesting.  J


November 25, 2008 at 11:05 PM ·

My teacher (a Heifetz pupil) spoke warmly of the #2, especially for its difficulty.

There's a nice story about the 3rd.  Apparently Bruch brought it to Brahms for his opinion before the premiere.  He sat down at the piano and played (and sang) and pointed out details of orchestration.  At the end, there was a silence implying "So?"

After  a long wait, the Great Man said "I say, that's really good music paper.  Where do you buy that?"



November 25, 2008 at 11:13 PM ·


I think the Heifetz recording of Bruch 2 is one of his best.  It seems to me he had some kind of specila empathy with that work. Perhaps at the time noone wanted to record it and have people in music college canteens continually droning on `Yep. Its a good version but have yu heard Heifetz?`

Nowadays it wouldn`t be an isuse but ther eseems so much apathy towards 19th classics so many things get lost.  Rosands disks of Ernst,  Godard etc should be standard not rare gems in a market of relntles srecordings of the top five cocnertos.



November 25, 2008 at 11:38 PM ·

That was a refreshing read Buri! 

November 25, 2008 at 11:47 PM ·

I really like Bruch 2, but have never learned it.  By the way, all three concertos are over at imslp.org. 

I have only heard Bruch 1 and the Scottish Fantasy live.  I can't imagine any of the Big Names doing Bruch 2 or 3 in concert...Big Names play Big Concertos, and that is what sells tickets.

November 26, 2008 at 12:17 AM ·

I of course respectfully disagree...it is just the name that sells the tickets...most would go hear Joshua Bell go play Seitz ;-)  A big name playing a non "Big" concerto would bring in just as many listeners...this would be very good for them as not only are they performers but now also advocates of lesser known gems.

I'm sticking with my "most of the big names are too lazy (and/or scared)" theory.

November 26, 2008 at 12:35 AM ·

I'll stick with the "Board members that write the big-ruble checks only wanna hear pieces they know" theory (Insert smiley face here).

I don't think all the Big Names are lazy.  After all, one of the Big Names just recorded the Schonberg....maybe the conductors are too lazy???

November 26, 2008 at 01:03 AM · Hehe, it is of course more complicated than I let on ;-)

November 26, 2008 at 01:42 AM ·


Bell is a small name.  Nadja dofreewhatsit Soonenberg is a big name?+)



November 26, 2008 at 09:22 AM ·

A well-known violinist came & played with us last year, and someone asked her about opportunities for performing new music.  This person loves new music and has had a couple of concerti written for her; but she basically said what Anne H. said:  the board members want to hear Tchaikovsky for the millionth time, so it's really hard to get orchestras to program anything but warhorses.

November 26, 2008 at 02:17 PM ·

Wouldn't it be nice to get a two-concerto engagement for roughly the same fee.  So on one concert, a violinist might do Tchaikovsky (to establish bona fides), but also, say, the Britten.

November 26, 2008 at 10:32 PM ·


in Britain w e play Britten al the time;)



November 27, 2008 at 03:31 AM ·

The 3rd one IMO is rightly forgotten... The 2nd lives in the unforgettable recording by Heifetz (to listen+compare Perlman / Heifetz in this work and also in Conus or Korngold would be very useful for many v.comers...) and offers one of the best opportunities ever given to "shout" in the G-String...And thanks a lot for the Brahms / Bruch anecdote... Brahms (BTW also a quite “obsessive compulsive” guy, bad for him...) is reported to have always welcomed Bruch w/ a very “nice” phrase: “Hi, maestro Bruch, are you still having fun with composing...?” (Na, Meister Bruch, macht das Komponieren noch Spass? / very difficult to translate...)

And I also don't know how only the 1st one is (over-)played... Even in South-American-Transilvania nobody asks for the 2nd or knows the 3rd...


November 27, 2008 at 04:53 AM ·

Bruch in general is not performed very much (the violin concerto, scottish fantasy...and the octet?).  Because it's overperformed I think we forget how wonderful the first violin concerto really is...and that's basically the only thing Bruch really has to his name...

Asking why the second and thid concertos are never performed is like how I keep asking why nobody performs the second Dohnanyi concerto...There are all sorts of great and well known pieces to perform and there are more obscure (unrecorded) pieces to perform...and the Bruch falls in the middle

November 27, 2008 at 05:36 AM ·


I am not so sure the Scottish Fantasy is that underperformed.  I do think the first cocnerto is a better work. Milstein really raved about the latter (by his standards).  If you have a chance, listen to the fairly recent Rachel Barton Pines recording of the SF.

I`m doon for lack of prunes, (sic)   or (Sick?)



November 27, 2008 at 07:31 AM ·

""Asking why the second and thid concertos are never performed is like how I keep asking why nobody performs the second Dohnanyi concerto...""

One reason for that is that you can not buy the sheetmusic, only hire it. Other reason is that there are NO 1th or 2th violins in the orchestra, so no professional or amateurorchestra will programm it for that reason.

I think Jon Frohnen is right with his lazyness theory. But there have been written a lot of violinconcerto's. For viola, cello or bass the number is limited. I was surprised that a celloplayer, I spoke, knew the 1th and 2th celloconcerto of Vieuxtemps.

December 3, 2008 at 09:02 PM ·

Hi guys - this is my first post here.  I just joined.  Yes, some of you guys are very right.  There are zillions of violin concertos and some just don't get played much....he two by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the two by Szymanowski, the ones by Godard, etc. etc. I could go on for days listing them!  Actually I have found that most of the ones played in the USA are the standard ones but the non-standard ones seem to be played more in Europe and elsewhere. 

Back to the original question, the 4 concertos (including Scottish F.) of Bruch are ALL great.  I learned #1 and Scottish F., and I learned part of #2 before giving up on it (long story behind that which I may relate someday here.)  But anyway, here's my take on #2.  It is a pretty good concerto.  But it clearly lacks something, and that's why it's not really a standard work.  But let's look at it a bit more closely.  The first movement is the most 'linear' part of the concerto.  It plays very well on its own.  But the 2nd movement is quick and a little weird and unsettling.  It does, however, have a nice bridge to the 3rd movement though.  The 3rd movement opening and up thru the second tutti is GREAT.  I love it.  But after that, it just kinda lingers on and the material isn't really that interesting. The Elgar is the same way at times in its own 3rd movement - but then comes that incredible cadenza.  Bruch #2 has no cadenza.  The finish of the Bruch #2 also lacks the momentum and push of the Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, or even the Elgar.  It just kinda leaves me cold. 

That said - there have been some great recordings of it, as previously mentioned.  Perlman's recording (dedicated to Heifetz) is great.  Lydia Mordkovitch also did a good one.  I have not heard the #2 performed live...yet.  Hopefully someday Hilary Hahn or someone will play it live and totally change my opinion of this unusual piece.  

Glad to be here!  :-)  -Leon 

December 3, 2008 at 10:10 PM ·

I don't know why they aren't played, but apparently Bruch himself said that  he believed if he was going to be remembered, it would be for his first violin concerto alone, so the prophesy kind of came true (though the Scottish Fantasy is not exactly unknown). It  is like asking why Pachelbel is remembered for his *gasp* canon and gigue, when  he  wrote a lot other stuff.

December 3, 2008 at 11:30 PM ·

Many composers are in the same boat...was just listening to Accardo's recording of #3, it's an ok concerto, nothing like his others...#2 is the best ;-)    J


December 3, 2008 at 11:33 PM ·

A couple trivia facts.

One of my first teachers, Mara Dvonch, former concertmaster of Pittsburgh, used to teach Bruch 2 regularly to all her students. When I auditioned for Camilla Wicks and played Bruch 2, she had never heard of it before.

I agree with everyone else about Bruch 2 - it's a nice piece.

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