Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26, is one of the most popular violin concertos in the repertoire and, along with the Scottish Fantasy, the composer’s most famous work. It has been recorded often.
The concerto was first completed in 1866 and the first performance was given on 24 April 1866 by Otto von Königslow, with Bruch conducting. The concerto was then considerably revised with help from celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim and completed in its present form in 1867. The premiere of the revised concerto was given by Joachim in Bremen on 5 January 1868, with Karl Martin Rheinthaler conducting.
Bruch sold the score to the publisher N. Simrock outright for a small lump sum - but he kept a copy of his own. At the end of World War I, he was destitute, having been unable to enforce the payment of royalties for his other works because of chaotic world-wide economic conditions. He sent his autograph to the duo-pianists Rose and Ottilie Sutro (for whom he had written his Concerto in A-flat minor for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Op. 88a, in 1912), so that they could sell it in the United States and send him the money. Bruch died in October 1920, without ever receiving any money. The Sutro sisters decided to keep the score themselves, but they claimed to have sold it, and sent Bruch's family some worthless German paper money as the alleged proceeds of the alleged sale. They always refused to divulge any details of the supposed purchaser. In 1949, they sold the autograph to Mary Flagler Cary, whose collection, including the Bruch concerto, now resides at the Pierpont Morgan Public Library in New York City.
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