Concertare and Conserere: Debate and Concord in the Twenty-first Century Violin Concerto
Steeves, Timothy Brennan
Brandt, Anthony K
Doctor of Musical Arts
This document concerns the ways in which the relationship between the violin and orchestra in the violin concerto has changed in the first decades of the twenty-first century. Using the concerti of Unsuk Chin (2001), Jennifer Higdon (2008), and Esa-Pekka Salonen (2009) I show that composers have challenged but not abandoned the supremacy and centrality of the violin soloist. The role of the orchestra has been expanded, being given greater aesthetic and structural responsibility. The virtuosity expected of professional orchestra musicians is exploited with these composers frequently calling on secondary soloists. Chamber music and contrapuntal textures are also employed to relegate the violinist to a first among equals. These innovations and the resultant violinistic implications represent a new path forwards in the genre of the violin concerto. These composers are however cognizant of both tradition and the expectations of virtuoso soloists. Strides towards equality can be made but a true, irrevocable hierarchical leveling is not achieved. This tension, the new balance of power, and their musical ramifications are the focus of this study.