The violin is my second favorite instrument. After the piano of course.
Then why am I a guitarist?
For the babes. Duh.
Anyways, this list is subject to change except the top two. Those are written in stone.
#5 – Sibelius Violin Concerto
What a melancholic piece! But what do you expect from Finland? It’s fucking cold over there. I’d be melancholic too.
Just look at their recent pop music. HIM. Nightwish. 69 Eyes. The Rasmus. Apocalyptica. All good stuff but not exactly happy happy joy joy tunes.
Sibelius ventures in between the lines of late Romanticism and early Modernism. He experiments with some dissonance. Sure, there was plenty of dissonance since Beethoven’s later string quartets. But this violin concerto is borderline post-Romantic.
Still, it has enough melody for me to enjoy it. I hate Modernism (and especially Post Modernism) with a passion.
#4 – Brahms’ Violin Concerto
I actually prefer Brahms’ Dual Concerto over this piece. But it’s a dual concerto – violin & cello. It can’t be ranked with this group.
Still, damn good concerto. I rank Brahms as the most underrated and most underappreciated composer. He’s one of the best, but rarely do I hear people refer to his work as passionately as they do for Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, or Bach. (I threw Bach in there despite the fact that I find Baroque music boring and studied it only because I had to).
This violin concerto is classic Brahms. If you enjoy his four symphonies (I especially enjoy his 1st and 4th), I can guarantee you’ll love this piece as well. There are pieces within the concerto where you just know Brahms had an unshakeable confidence within himself. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you hear it.
The melodies scream Johannes Brahms. They’ll touch you. They’ll grip you. And you’ll feel something, unless of course you have no soul.
#3 – Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto
I freaking love this piece! Of the five, it’s probably the simplest. I studied the notes thoroughly when working on some of my compositions.
Despite its relative simplicity, Mendelssohn has a way with melody. His melodies simply are memorable.
Sure, many folks would rank Brahms’ concerto ahead of this one. I’ll stick to my guns and put Mendelssohn’s as #3. Simply put, I fell in love with the melodies all the way back in high school and have never looked back. This is my favorite of Mendelssohn’s works, even above his Third Symphony.
#2 – Bruch’s First Violin Concerto
“Who the fuck is Max Bruch?” That’s what I initially asked when I bought Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and this one was on the back, all the way back in the late 80s.
Of all the ironies. I ended up liking Bruch’s even more than Mendelssohn’s.
This piece is magical. Remember the first time you went to Disneyland as a kid and were uncontrollably happy in Fantasyland? That’s how I feel when I listen to this concerto. It really is magical.
No matter how bad a day I’m having (unless someone I care about dies), this concerto will fix it.
#1 – Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto
The best violin concerto ever? How about the best piece of music ever written? Well, I wouldn’t go that far. It’s definitely up there.
Yes, Tchaikovsky’s piano playing could make you either want to fall in love or slit your wrists. He was a pianist, not a violinist. Then how did he manage to write something this great for the violin? It’s because he’s Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, that’s why.
You hear this and you hear his Piano Concerto #1 and you’ll understand why I rank him above even the great Beethoven as the greatest composer who ever lived.
Nobody wrote melodies like Tchaikovsky. Nobody. His melodies melt people. His melodies emote better than anyone before and anyone after. And besides his 6th Symphony, this is his best piece.
You left out a bunch of great violin concertos
No shit. I said top five violin concertos and had to cut this down to five. I regretfully leave out anything by Paganini. As you probably already know, Paganini wrote the book on the violin. He pretty much invented every trick in the book.
He wasn’t however a great composer. Paganini ruled as a performer and trickster. His melodies though are good, not great.
And of course Beethoven. Sorry Beethoven fans. I rank him as the #1 symphony composer of all-time, ahead of even my beloved Tchaikovsky. But his violin concerto was good, not great. It simply doesn’t rank ahead of any of these violin concertos I just mentioned.
If you wanted me to rank anything non-Romantic, I’ve said before why I favor Romanticism above all else. Not gonna happen. I’m a Romantic. I can practically name everything I liked before Romanticism and after Romanticism on one piece of paper (of course, not including my beloved Metal music and 80s pop songs I have positive anchors to).
The Romantic era of music ruled. But then again, I’m a man of wealth and taste. Plenty of folk have the former but not too many have the latter.
Agree? Disagree? Don’t be afraid to say why or why not. I like strong opinions as long as you can back them up.