For as long as I can remember, the name Joseph Joachim has intrigued me. I first saw it on the title page of Brahms’s Violin Concerto – which he dedicated to Joachim – when I was a boy studying the piece, then again in the score of the Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor, which Joachim edited.
It was a great challenge to decide what to include. Joachim was arguably the greatest and most influential violinist of the 19th century. There’s enough material for 20 CDs. The idea for the album was to share as much as I could of the whole spectrum of Joachim’s life and work.
In fact the CD is varied showing a wide range of styles including Mendelssohn, the Schumanns, Brahms and Dvorak with whom he had important personal contacts and collaborations.
Joseph Joachim, born in 1831, was an unusually gifted young violinist. At an early age he played for Felix Mendelssohn and was among the first to play the composer’s violin concerto (having studied it under Mendelssohn’s guidance). It was Joachim (at age 12) and Mendelssohn’s performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto that helped to re-establish the piece as part of the standard repertoire. Following Mendelssohn’s death in 1847 the violinist continued to travel and make new acquaintances including both Schumanns, Brahms, Dvorak, Bruch and others. Though he performed relatively little compared to his influence, Joachim inspired many composers to write concerti and chamber works with him in mind, whether the violinist ever performed the works or not. The most intriguing work ever composed for Joachim is the F-A-E Sonata with individual movements contributed by R. Schumann, Brahms and Albert Dietrich.
Joachim’s writing for the violin is technically extremely challenging, yet always highly intelligent. You never find virtuosity for its own sake. His concern was with deep musical values and expression. That also seems consistent with what I’ve read about Joachim’s playing in letters, reviews and descriptions by his contemporaries. The few sound recordings he made late in his life show the same qualities. He wasn’t a Paganini. He had no interest in showing off. The great musician always shines through. You can hear for yourself on YouTube!
And so you can!
And here’s Hope; the trailer for The Romantic Violinist,