Violin Concerto

John Devlin

Born in 1961 in New Orleans, jazz and classical trumpet player, and composer, Wynton Marsalis grew up playing in churches, jazz bands, and orchestras. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, his 2015 violin concerto reflects the varied musical landscape of America.

This Sunday at 1 pm, WRTI’s Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast brings to the airwaves another sensational violinist, Nicola Benedetti, who joins the Philadelphia Orchestra in her subscription debut for a performance of the jazz-inspired Violin Concerto of Wynton Marsalis. Cristian Măcelaru conducts.

Tchaikovsky wrote his violin concerto in 1878, but his friends and family were critical and he didn’t find a violinist to premiere it for over three years. Now, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the concerto is one of the most frequently performed concertos in the repertoire.

Twentieth-century Austrian composer Alban Berg dedicated his Violin Concerto to the memory of the 18-year-old daughter of a friend. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the work evokes emotion not typically associated with the 12-tone style.


Jazz great Wynton Marsalis, a virtuoso trumpet player and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, has written — wait for it — a violin concerto.

As the daughter of the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. So I spent an hour with Marsalis — and the violinist he wrote his concerto with and for. (More on that later.)

John Williams, so famous for his award-winning film scores including Jaws, Star Wars, and Schindler’s List, wrote a violin concerto that transcends the personal story behind it. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.