“Caricatures are one of the signs of growing fame.” So speaks a leading Sibelius scholar of this cartoon of the composer, drawn in 1904, the year the Violin Concerto was born.
That there are two versions might hint at the shaky start it had, starting with its premiere(s). Sibelius had arranged for the former leader of the Helsinki Orchestra and then renowned virtuoso Willy Burmeister to premiere the concerto in March 1904. Burmeister followed the progress of the work attentively, showing much interest and confidence in its musical value. But Sibelius, broke as usual, was forced to hold the premiere concert one month before the aforementioned date, just to get some cash to tide over. But perhaps, as a big name, Burmeister would probably have attracted more attention and therefore more ticket sales. But he was unavailable to travel to Finland. Continue reading The Violin Concerto