24. May 2010 · 4 comments · Categories: Videos

I had heard, as has nearly everyone who has ever played the Barber Violin Concerto, that the person it was originally written for claimed that last movement was “too difficult”. Now I read this, over at David Thomas’s blog:

I can assure you that Mr. Briselli never found the third movement too difficult nor claimed it was too difficult. As Barbara Heyman (Barber’s biographer) noted, Briselli performed some of the most difficult violin repertoire to significant critical acclaim. Broder’s report of “unplayability” was simply a contrived excuse for Briselli’s rejection of the finale. Having spent the down-payment, Barber needed a way to salvage the commission. Barber and his backers consequently staged the “test” of the third movement’s playability without Briselli’s knowledge.

Interesting to read the whole thing.

Here’s the last movement:

Mostly I just love the second movement!


  1. I know why you love the second movement! It’s one of the (ho hum, yet another) great oboe solos in the lit!

  2. Just as it should be, David. Except when it should be for English horn instead! 🙂

  3. Looks like he’s playing a thumbplate oboe. Check out the high C# in 00:00:49 – 52. It looks like some mechanism under the 8ve key, and he slams his thumb back down on the following B.

    Who’s the orch?

  4. I asked on the YouTube page once, Bob, and never received an answer. I’m guessing it’s a UK orchestra, but that’s just a guess.