Saturday night the SPCO with Roberto Abbado and Veronika Eberle transported us to the halls of God, even us secular humanists. I kept wondering what it would be like for Beethoven himself to be there. He certainly never heard his violin concerto performed with this kind of majesty, precision, drama, and transcendence. No one in the audience and barely anyone in the SPCO knew of Veronika Eberle. This is a testament to the fact that there is an abundance of great players in the world, and that having a recognizable name does not equal greatness, and greatness has nothing to do with fame.
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about its disastrous premiere:
Beethoven wrote the concerto for his colleague Franz Clement, a leading violinist of the day… The work was premiered on 23 December 1806 in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, the occasion being a benefit concert for Clement. The first printed edition (1808) was also dedicated to Franz Clement.
It is believed that Beethoven finished the solo part so late that Clement had to sight-read part of his performance. Perhaps to express his annoyance, or to show what he could do when he had time to prepare, Clement is said to have interrupted the concerto between the first and second movements with a solo composition of his own, played on one string of the violin held upside down; however, other sources claim that he did play such a piece but only at the end of the performance.
The premiere was not a success, and the concerto was little performed in the following decades.
The work was revived in 1844, well after Beethoven’s death, with performances by the then 12-year-old violinist Joseph Joachim with the orchestra conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. Ever since, it has been one of the most important works of the violin concerto repertoire, and is frequently performed and recorded today.