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Thread: Violin concertos vs. Piano concertos

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    Senior Member pcnog11's Avatar
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    Question Violin concertos vs. Piano concertos

    Why are violin concertos not as common as piano concertos?

    Mozart had 27 PCs and only 5 VCs, Beethoven had 5 PCs and only 1 VCs. Did any composer write more VCs than PCs? Could it be VCs are more difficult technically to write?
    "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Paganini wrote at least five violin concertos and none for piano that I know of. Vieuxtemps wrote at least seven and, again, none for piano.
    Last edited by KenOC; Jan-11-2017 at 22:15.


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    Mozart and Beethoven were trained as pianists so it was natural to write music predominantly meant for their own performance, hence more piano concertos than violin concertos.

    Mozart had some facility on violin, even though he "majored" in piano, hence 5 violin concertos too.

    Paganini, on the other hand (no pun intended) WAS absolutely a violinist, so he wrote violin concertos and no piano concertos.
    Last edited by hpowders; Jan-11-2017 at 22:17.
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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    There have been far more virtuoso pianists than violinists throughout history, I would assume. More demand for piano concertos therefore. Also, more composers played the piano than the violin.

    That said, personally I prefer violin concertos - I could easily pick ten violin concertos that I like better than any piano concerto.
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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Paganini, in fact, could hardly play the piano at all. He worked out his compositions aided by a guitar, which he played very well indeed.


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    Senior Member pcnog11's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Paganini wrote at least five violin concertos and none for piano that I know of. Vieuxtemps wrote at least seven and, again, none for piano.
    Good point! Love both of them.
    "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    I prefer piano concertos, in general I find the sound of a piano very pleasing. Violins in a lead role have more of a tendency to sound whiny, schmaltzy or a little 'off' in terms of pitch or intonation.

    There are still quite a few violin concertos I really enjoy such as Bach's, Bartok's, Brahms etc.
    Last edited by tdc; Jan-12-2017 at 08:21.

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    Although I love both, if I had to choose, it would be the violin concerto!

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    Senior Member jurianbai's Avatar
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    I prefer violin concertos too. It's the electric guitar in the past, invented to create a blast of shredding notes.

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    Senior Member Pugg's Avatar
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    Although I love both, if I had to choose, it would be the piano concertos .
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    Maybe piano concertos are more popular because the piano can produce both melody and harmony, whereas the violin is primarily a melodic instrument. Perhaps the piano's ability to sustain chords makes it better suited for solo display.

    That's just a guess, though...and I must admit that I am biased because piano is my instrument!

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    The answer is pretty simple: The tonal range of a piano is vastly broader than that of a violin. (Hint: Why do you think the majority of violin concertos are written in a single key (D)? The open strings of the instrument -- GDAE -- resonate best with the D string and produce a naturally brilliant sound that using other keys struggle to match. The piano, obviously, doesn't have this limitation.)

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    Senior Member Dedalus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GodotsArrived View Post
    The answer is pretty simple: The tonal range of a piano is vastly broader than that of a violin. (Hint: Why do you think the majority of violin concertos are written in a single key (D)? The open strings of the instrument -- GDAE -- resonate best with the D string and produce a naturally brilliant sound that using other keys struggle to match. The piano, obviously, doesn't have this limitation.)
    Are the open strings a bug or a feature though? A piano has no great special affinity for any key while with a violin one can take advantage of the fact that the open strings can be used in cool ways.

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    There are also plenty of composers who wrote more VC than PC. I don't think the number itself is a big matter. For me, the thing is, in a VC we work with one orchestra and one solo instrument which has the same timbre and the same way to play as a big part of the orchestra; while in a PC, we almost have two orchestras, which sharply different sounds and ways of playing.
    Last edited by Bruckner Anton; Jan-12-2017 at 10:14.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bettina View Post
    Maybe piano concertos are more popular because the piano can produce both melody and harmony, whereas the violin is primarily a melodic instrument. Perhaps the piano's ability to sustain chords makes it better suited for solo display.

    That's just a guess, though...and I must admit that I am biased because piano is my instrument!
    Mine too, but I don't think you're (necessarily!) biased. While I have no data to support this my guess would be that, across the musicmaking world at all levels, there probably always have been more pianists than violinists and that this has a lot to do with there being a higher tally of piano concertos.

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