Would you please write me a violin concerto? A truly original one, full of melodies and written for good violinists? Please, drop me a line!”
These words in a letter from the publisher Simrock to , dated January 27, 1879, resulted in the composition of his Violin Concerto in A minor. Although Dvorák concluded the work towards the end of the summer of 1879, after completing his exceedingly successful Slavonic Dances, a further four years would pass before the violin concerto finally appeared in print and actually received its première. With his reference to “good violinists”, Simrock (ever on the lookout for a good business deal) prob- ably had one person in particular in mind: Joseph Joachim. Two years previously, this violinist – who nowadays would enjoy the status of a megastar – had “launched” the violin concerto written by Johannes Brahms, following a period of intensive collaboration with the composer. So it seemed only logical that Dvorák – who was now also gaining an international reputation – would write the next concerto specifically for the famous virtuoso. During the summer, Dvorák and Joachim spent some “pleasant and delightful moments” together in Berlin. It seemed as if nothing would stand in the way of a rewarding and steady collaboration. Thus in the autumn of 1879, Joachim received the manuscript of the concerto. However, apart from his thanks for the dedication, his reaction was mainly to send back a list of requests for massive changes in both the formal structure of the work and the solo violin part. After meeting personally with him in April 1880, Dvorák decided to fundamentally revise the work, which he concluded the following May.