The key of C sharp minor is not a natural one on the violin, and may be intended to recall Beethoven's Opus 131 String Quartet, or Mahler's Fifth Symphony.
The first movement is in sonata form, referring to the composer's Fifth Symphony and concluding with a contrapuntalcadenza. The adagio is in three parts, with a central accompanied cadenza. The final movement is a complex rondo. It has a slow introduction, three episodes between the refrains, and a further long cadenza before the third episode reprising material from earlier in the work.
He composed his ViolinConcertoNo. 1 in 1947-48, giving it the opus number 77; however, he kept the work to himself until 1955, when he released it for publication and performance and gave it the opus number 99.
Shostakovich found it prudent to add four of his strongest compositions to the desk drawer that held the score of the Fourth Symphony—the ViolinConcertoNo. 1 and the song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry (both completed in 1948), the String Quartet No. 4 (1949), and the String Quartet No. 5 (1952).
The concerto's dominant sound, after solo violin, is that of woodwinds, used as a choir, in unisons and octaves (often with a typically Shostakovich grittiness of sound), or, as in the DSCH place, as surrogate trumpets.
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