A Performer’s Guide and Structural Analysis of Sergei Taneyev’s Concert Suite for Violin and Orchestra

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This research paper is a study of Sergei Taneyev’s Concert Suite for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 28 and includes Taneyev’s biography, a brief musical analysis which benefits the interpretation, and

This research paper is a study of Sergei Taneyev’s Concert Suite for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 28 and includes Taneyev’s biography, a brief musical analysis which benefits the interpretation, and performance suggestions from the perspective of a concert violinist. The purpose of this paper is to enable performers to achieve a better understanding of this artwork and make informed musical choices.

Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev (1856-1915) was a Russian composer. As a composition pupil of Tchaikovsky, and a teacher of Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Lyapunov, and Glière, Taneyev is an important figure in Russian music. His compositions include operas, symphonies, chamber music, songs, and piano music. Taneyev’s style was influenced by Bach, Handel, Mozart, Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and various European composers. His cosmopolitan style, and wide-ranging compositional interests do not easily lend themselves generalization. This difficulty in categorizing his music along with his self-criticism and aversion to self-promotion, contribute to his lack of recognition when compared with his contemporaries.

The Concert Suite for Violin and Orchestra, composed six years before his death, is his only work for Violin and Orchestra and was his last large composition. This work is cast in an unusual five-movement structure and embodies various brilliant violin techniques and rich Romantic-era harmonies. Taneyev’s interests in “old fashioned” style and folk music are evidenced by some of the movements titled “Prelude,” “Gavotte,” and “Theme and Variation” which contains a double fugue. He also utilizes folk dances such as the mazurka and tarantella. This performance guide provides practical interpretational advice based on an analysis of harmony, form and structural divisions, stylistic considerations and violin techniques. A brilliant and charming work, it has sadly been neglected. Through the study and performance of this piece, the author hopes to provide performers with useful information that enables more musicians to know and enjoy this valuable masterwork.