Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

1963 20 minutes
Double wind and strings – solo violin
Revised 19642016
 Cambridge, New Zealand

Written after my stage III music year, in which one of the set works was the Berg Violin Concerto. My work also uses the 12-tone note row (freely), but the general mood of the piece is quite different. The five movements use arch form (A B C D C B A), and the same material is used in a different order in the odd numbered movements. Similarly for the even numbered movements.

First performed at Cambridge Music School Jan. 1964 with Marjorie Dumbleton (now Sutton) as soloist and conductor Larry Pruden.

Extract from my reminiscences of Florence, where I stayed in 1966 with Helena Monti, an elderly friend of my mother's:

She went on to say that she knew Luigi Dallapiccola and if I wished she would accompany me to visit him and I could show him an example of my work. I was in awe! The thought of visiting the great pupil of Arnold Schönberg and one of Italy’s most prestigious composers was rather frightening. What would I show him? And what would I ask him? I wasn’t prepared for such a meeting so soon.
The next morning we set out on foot, Signorina Monti with her tiny hand holding on to my arm. The impression I had had that she knew everybody was confirmed as we walked along, time and time again she was greeted by people on the street or in shops near her home. She said: Mi vogliano bene (They like me). As we passed a flower shop she explained to me that it would be appropriate if I were to buy her a flower for her button hole, which of course I was delighted to do but dreadfully ashamed that the thought of doing so had not occurred to me.
Finally we arrived at our destination—where it was I don’t remember, I assume it was the local conservatory. Dallapiccola was a little man with short grey hair and a friendly look. Throughout the whole time I had been with Signorina Monti I had spoken Italian—she knew that it was more important for me to practise my Italian than for her to improve her English. But I had barely managed to stutter to Dallapiccola “piacere …", when he burst into English and so we stayed in that language. He looked at the score I had brought with me, my “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” which had been played at the Cambridge Music School in New Zealand a year before. He said nothing for a couple of minutes and then he closed the score and turned to me and said: “In Ibsen’s famous play, Peer Gynt makes a journey to Egypt to ask advice from the Sphynx. Its advice to him was: Know yourself!” and the same advice he was now offering me. I was speechless. Like any young artist I had been doing the only thing possible, studying the most recent models I had. In my case it had been Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto, although I doubt whether that was possible to read from my score. I can only assume that Dallapiccola had seen that the score didn’t show him anything he hadn’t seen before, and he responded with a piece of advice which he had given many times before. Whatever the reason, the advice was by no means bad, and whether or not I have achieved this self knowledge I will probably never know, but I have never forgotten the man who gave it. We parted cordially and he and Helena Monti talked briefly together in Italian, but I was in such a numb state that I couldn’t follow what they said.