Why these fabulous pieces are neglected??
I am so upset as there are so many pieces that are just amazing which aren't in the repertoire and not often played , ex. Bruch Violin Concerto No.2 and No.3 , Godard Concerto Romantique and Violin Concerto No.2 , Vieuxtemps no.5 even Wieniawski violin concerto no.1 is not often played. These are absolutely high standard pieces which needs appreciation ,but it's so rarely played. What are the reasons??
In short, the musical canon perpetuates itself, as is the case with literature and art. Certain composers and works are promoted over others - sometimes this is due to chance and other times is actually due to quality. We hear the same pieces programmed a lot because they've gotten themselves into that machine. Composers too! Not everything Beethoven or Mozart wrote was amazing (and certainly not Dvorak or Tchaikovsky), yet we expect their works to be higher quality than a composer like Bruch or Goldmark. It's the whole attitude of "if it was worth hearing, I'd have heard about it by now." This system awards unfair prominence to many composers. My stickler is Dvorak - he wrote some great works and many less great ones that we remember simply because his name is on the music. The canon also deprives the musical world of diversity and has given many a composer the short end of the stick.
There is a famous story about the Bruch 3rd. Also told about on of his oratorios, so maybe apocryphal. But,
That being said, some well-informed judges of the literature I know speak very highly of the Bruch 2nd, while conceding that it is not easy.
With classical music in a fairly parlous state, financially speaking, you can't be surprised that few artists, orchestras and venues are prepared to take a chance performing obscure repertoire. In recent years, of course, the recorded music industry has performed miracles in at least making it possible to hear a huge amount of rare repertoire that would otherwise disappear into oblivion.
People think they love music, but do not know enough of it. If they did, they would really fall in love with music.
Steve Jones makes a good point. When an orchestra struggles financially, the programming tends to get more conservative. My city's professional orchestra went dark for a year, and since its return it has played virtually nothing but old warhorses, with the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky alone accounting for two-thirds of the pieces played, and the orchestra averaging less than one piece per season by composers outside the 25 most performed. (By the way, the 25th most performed composer in the last decade is Schumann, so we're talking about an orchestra that basically doesn't play any composer less famous than Schumann.)
I think my husband is prototypical of the common classical music listener who knows nothing about music but enjoys it: the more times he has heard a piece, the more he enjoys it. Orchestras have to program these days to bring in audiences, and so they need to program the pieces people know and love. And then try to sneak one or two interesting other things on the program!
To me, constantly playing the old favorites seems like mortgaging the future to squeeze just a little more out of the present listener base. It feeds the image of classical music as stodgy and orchestras as "1800s cover bands" that I hear a lot of from my generation.
I'd like to hear Schoenberg's violin concerto live but I don't see it programmed that often. Robert Schumann's violin concerto was neglected (or perhaps forgotten) for many years. But I've seen a few recordings of it in the last decade so perhaps it's having a sort of renaissance. I have listened to Lalo's Concerto Russe and I enjoyed it (sheet music is on IMSLP), but I don't ever recall seeing on a concert program.
The Schumann violin concerto was deliberately buried by Joachim (who had the score and parts), with the full cooperation of Clara Schumann. When it was unearthed and performed (in the 1930s, I think), it was against the express provisions of Joachim's will, which stated that the concerto was not to be performed or published within 80 years after Joachim's death.
I agree with the above on what drives the commercial viability of programming.
Thanks for the comments! I just felt that commercial viability of programming killed a lot of great works and I really appreciate how Aaron Rosand performed those least known works for us . I get to hear them mainly because of the recordings that Rosand has given us. This is such a tragedy that so much great works out there are not known , especially Hubay , which I just recently knew about it , his works are exceptionally impressive
Hubay is played fairly frequently by students, especially the Hejre Kati.
I love the Bruch 2nd concerto! High drama, soaring melodies, and should absolutely be played more. I’ve only managed to convince two conductors to program it. Schumann has gorgeous moments in the 1st movement, a truly lovely slow movement, and a 3rd mvt that doesn’t really work. Did it once in California - not racing to do it again.
I think that it's really a testament to Rosand's overall musicianship that he was able to learn, perform, and record such varied music. He could take a lesser-known piece and testify to its musical content in ways that lesser violinists couldn't.
I cannot comment on all the pieces you listed, but for the Bruch concertos, a piece that is challenging to play does not automatically qualify it as great music for the general public.
I discovered the Schumann concerto through the much edited version by Georg Kulenlampf. Before taking refuge in Switzerland, he was the Third Reich's favorite "aryan" violinist, and they just managed to release the recording before Menuhin recorded the un-edited version.
I think Joachim and Kulenkampff missed the point in the same way Rimsky-Korsakov missed the point in some of his butchering of editions. They couldn't see the works in front of them for what they were. To me, the Kulenkampff edition is bizarre and fussy - The richness and solidity of the lower registers is replaced with something that has a whole different kind of emotion and sounds frilly transposed an octave up. The whole thing sounds disjointed. There is all this semi-random jumping between registers, which instead of bringing out different voices or characters, just breaks up the melodic line. To me, Szeryng makes the ultimate case for the Schumann being right there with the Brahms.
It makes sense that a professional, traveling soloist would be hesitant to add less famous works to their permanent repertoire. It takes hundreds of hours to learn and memorize a concerto, so it is not economically efficient to learn a work unless it will be performed a multiple number of times.
I'm about 99% sure I play in the orchestra Joel is referring to.
@Andrew H.--- 100% yes on that. thanks for the follow-up, jq
Andrew, great music is great, and lesser is lesser. Unfortunately not much great music has been written in the last 75 years relative to the three hundred before that. I don’t blame your audience for staying away if your concerts were too heavily peppered with lesser works. Sounds like you’ve righted the ship, though, so congrats.
Actually, last season's programming was my personal favorite of any season I've played -- and none of my five favorite symphonies, except possibly Shostakovich 5, are by composers considered to be among the "greatest". I am of the opinion that many excellent composers are neglected for geopolitical reasons -- it's noteworthy that virtually all of the "great" composers happen to be from Europe's "Great Powers" at the turn of the 20th century when the canon was becoming a thing.
What I notice about the classical music audience, at least in my area, is that it is split between people who just want to hear the old warhorses and people who want to hear much more diverse programming. Because it takes time for an ensemble to develop a reputation, you cannot become popular with one group without first spending two or three years alienating the other group, and the money isn't there to struggle to attract an audience for two or three years. Right now, the conservative listeners are the bird in the hand. But they are also much older, and their numbers are gradually diminishing. This, I think is the cause of the crisis that so much ink has been spilled over.
I disagree with "only the Canon is worthy of performance", as-and as I hinted at before-it usually ends up in not even many of these "Canonical" works being performed that often.
The top soloists have more leeway to perform "forgotten" works because simply having their name on the program will draw audience members. The same can be said for top orchestras. I know a performance of the NY Phil doing Berio's Sinfonia will be top notch even if I'm not a fan of the piece, but I'm not sure I could say the same of a community orchestra, no matter the level of playing. Therefore, I am expecting more conservative programming from the latter. We could talk all day about how things should be different, but that is how humans work.
Don't forget the fact that community orchestra members tend to have less time to practice, and if you do familiar warhorses, you increase the odds that at least some of the players will have done it before, and certainly that everyone will have heard it before and will therefore be less likely to screw up entrances, and adapt to errors, because they know how it's supposed to go.
In my area we seem to have a bit of a sorting of top-tier community orchestra musicians by repertoire preference. There are three high-level community orchestras in the area. Two of them play almost entirely old warhorses, and their membership overlaps by as much as 50%. The third is the one I play in, which programs as adventurously as the audience allows it to get away with, featuring at least some new or obscure music in almost every concert. Only about 10% of our musicians play in one of the other two high-level orchestras.
Pinchas Zuckerman performed or recorded a number of works that others don't play. I heard his recording of a Nardini concerto, and a performance of Elgar's Six Easy Pieces.
There is a quote somewhere of Brahms liking Joachim's playing of his concerto, since he virtually wrote the violin part!
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