Violin Concerto (Adams)

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Violin Concerto
by John Adams
FormViolin Concerto
Commissioned byNew York City Ballet
Composed1993 (1993)
PerformedJanuary 19, 1994 (1994-01-19): Ordway Music Theater, Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Violin Concerto by the American composer John Adams was written in 1993. Its premiere was on January 19, 1994 by Jorja Fleezanis with the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Edo de Waart, at the Ordway Music Theater, Saint Paul, Minnesota.[1][2] Fleezanis also collaborated with Adams in writing the violin solo.[citation needed]

The piece was co-commissioned by the New York City Ballet, leading to a strong sense of rhythm throughout the entire work. For it, Adams received the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.[1]

The solo violin is almost unceasing as it weaves through the orchestra, which serves primarily as a backdrop.[citation needed]

A typical performance lasts around 35 minutes.[3]

The Violin Concerto has been described as "the most original approach to the genre since the Alban Berg Concerto".[4]


The work is in three movements:

  1. Quarter-note = 78[5]
  2. Chaconne: Body through which the dream flows
  3. Toccare

The work is dedicated to the memory of David Huntley of Boosey & Hawkes.[3]


The work calls for solo violin, 2 flutes (both doubling piccolos), 2 oboes (2nd. doubles cor anglais), 2 clarinets (2nd. doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 2 horns in F, trumpet in C, timpani, guiro, 5 bongo drums, 4 conga drums, bass drum, suspended cymbal, tambourine, claves, high cowbell, vibraphone, marimba, tubular bells, 2 synthesizers, and strings (minimum 6 1st. violins, 6 2nd., 5 violas, 5 cellos, 2 double basses)


The first recording was with the London Symphony Orchestra, featuring soloist Gidon Kremer,[3] and conducted by Kent Nagano, released as Nonesuch 79360-2.[6]


  1. ^ a b "1995 – John Adams". Grawemeyer Awards. 20 July 1995. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  2. ^ "John Adams - Violin Concerto". Boosey & Hawkes. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Adams, John. "About the Piece - Violin Concerto". Los Angeles Philharmonic. Archived from the original on 24 January 2018.
  4. ^ Christopher Latham, review of recording by Chloë Hanslip, Limelight, January 2007, p. 47
  5. ^ sometimes written "♩ = 78", "I. = 78" or "Crotchet = 78"
  6. ^ Schwartz, Steve (1998). "Classical Net Review - Adams - Violin Concerto, Shaker Loops". Classical Net. Retrieved 24 May 2019.

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