The Red Violin: Suite for Violin and Orchestra




Soloist(s) and orchestra



Soloist(s) and orchestra


Violin solo and orchestra: timpani, percussion (3 players), harp, and strings


25 minutes

commissioned by


Joshua Bell, violin, with the Eos Orchestra, Jonathan Sheffer, conductor; New York, NY (June 3, 1999)

Program note

The film 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 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.

To emphasize the "stringness" of the picture, I scored the film just for the soloist and string orchestra; the Suite employs very nearly the same orchestration.

– John Corigliano


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