Richard Strauss completed Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 8 in 1882 when he was only seventeen years old. It was dedicated to Benno Walter, the concertmaster of the Munich Court Orchestra where Strauss’ father was a horn player. The work was first performed on December 5, 1882, with Strauss playing the piano reduction of the orchestra parts. The premiere of the concerto with orchestral accompaniment did not take place until March 4, 1890.
Strauss’ Violin Concerto is written in the Romantic tradition, in which the rich sonority of the violin is explored. The first several notes of the solo violin, which enters for the first time after a brief fanfare-like phrase played by the full orchestra, appear, for instance, in the lowest register of the violin. This makes it possible for the audience to immediately recognize the fully projecting sound that the violin is capable of producing. A similar compositional technique can be found at the beginning of Tchaikovsky’s well-known Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, composed in 1878 only a few years before Strauss wrote his violin concerto.