William Bolcom - Violin Concerto in D Major

April 16, 2022

Bienen faculty violinist Desirée Ruhstrat performs William Bolcom's Violin Concerto in D Major with the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra. Victor Yampolsky conducts. 

(00:21) Quasi una fantasia
(12:02) Adagio non troppo ma sostenuto
(19:33) Rondo – Finale

Bolcom received the Bienen School's 2021 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. The biennial prize recognizes a composer who shows the highest level achievement in a body of work and a unique creativity.

Program Note

Bolcom’s Violin Concerto masterfully showcases his melding of musical styles. Composed for violinist Sergiu Luca, a classically trained performer who frequently collaborates in jazz settings, the concerto makes use of expanded harmonic and rhythmic language. Quasi una fantasia (Like a fantasy) opens with an animated theme, capturing a city soundscape. Adagio non troppo ma sostenuto (Not too slow, but sustained) showcases bluesy lyricism in the solo violin. This hybrid work shows textural subtlety in the juxtaposition of the winds and strings throughout the middle movement. The middle movement, in memory of pianist Paul Jacobs, is a grave Adagio with stylistic resonances reaching back to Baroque music. The bitonal opening chords set the scene for the soloist’s lament. This tranquil section lifts into the celebratory rondo finale.

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