Chaconne for Violin and Piano
The fillm, the Red Violin spans three centuries in the life of a magnificent but haunted violin in its travels through space and time. A story this episodic needed to be tied together with a single musical idea. For this purpose I used the Baroque device of a chaconne: a repeated pattern of chords upon which the music is built.
Against the chaconne chords I juxtaposed Anna's theme, a lyrical yet intense melody representing the violin builder's doomed wife. From these elements I wove a series of virtuosic etudes for the solo violin, which followed the instrument from country to country, century to century.
I composed these elements before the actual filming, because the actors needed to imitate actual performance of the music. Then, while the film itself was shot, I made - from Anna's theme, the chaconne, and the etudes - this concert work. While I scored the film just for the soloist and string orchestra (to emphasize the "stringness" of the picture), I subsequently composed a seventeen-minute concert work for violin and full orchestra, here available in a version for violin and piano.
– John Corigliano