Friday, January 15, 2010

Staying Power

Have you heard Achron's violin concerto? No? Neither have I. How about Krenek's violin concerto? Sivori's? Molique's? Reed's? Well, it's ok. These are not works that have entered the standard repertoire. They probably never will. I will list here a few composers who have written concertos for the violin which have been popular for a brief time then completely dropped out of sight and out of earshot. Who determines the staying power in a work? The performers? No. The composers? No. The critics? No. It is the public - the audience. From the Vivaldi concertos to the Sibelius, it has always been the public that demands to hear a work again, and again. It is also the public that chooses to forget a work. A majority of works are neglected, but for good reason. Some are brought back by well-meaning performers but they don't stay. They have no staying power. Even if the works are recorded and promoted to the nth degree, if the public does not embrace a work, it will be forgotten. The violin concerto repertoire is comprised of approximately 30 concertos - the war horses. Some (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Lalo, Bruch, Sibelius) are played more often than others, but all 30 of them are played year in and year out. The neglected ones are perhaps played five times then completely forgotten forever. For instance, have you ever heard the concertos by Achron, Aitken, Arensky, Arutunian, Atterberg, Baillot, Bennet, Bliss, Britten, Clement, Collins, DeBeriot, Delius, Egge, Gabaidulina, Ginastera, Goldmark, Halffter, Hubay, Krenek, Laderman, Larsson, Lees, Lipinski, Marteau, Massenet, Maw, Molique, Ogermann, Ott, Panufnik, Pfitzner, Previn, Rautaavara, Reed, Reger, Remenyi, Richter, Rode, Rosenman, Sauret, Secunda, Schnittke, Sivori, Spalding, Svendsen, Szeryng, Tower, Wiren, Yardumian, Ysaye, or Zimbalist? If you hear any of them once, you will probably not feel compelled to hear them again. Take my word. 

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