Late Eighteenth-Century English Violin Concertos: A Genre in Transition
Doctor of Musical Arts
Classical violin concertos by English composers are relatively obscure nowadays, as the genre is largely monopolized by Mozart’s last three concertos. This study explores the compositional and violinistic traits of ten English concertos from the late eighteenth century, as well as the social and cultural circumstances under which they were written. These concertos are challenging violinistically, suggesting that they were primarily intended as virtuosic showpieces. In addition, a number of the concertos display musical eccentricities that hint at the quirky personalities of their composers. In some respects, these concertos are unadventurous, particularly in terms of harmony and thematic contrasts. However, they contain a number of unique compositional features that are worthy of our attention. The most notable of these is the incorporation of Baroque features in a large number of the concertos, despite their general adherence to the new galant style. All evidence suggests that the two styles were combined deliberately as a compositional technique, and this is perhaps the most distinctly “English” characteristic of these concertos.