Tchaikovsky’s warhorse Violin Concerto is one of the most popular pieces for violin ever written and is implicitly linked to his emotional turmoil and sham marriage. His doomed union with Antonina Milyukova lasted just 6 weeks (the original “Hollywood marriage”) before he fled for the countryside.
After his marriage, Tchaikovsky spent time with his former student, violinist Joseph Kotek. Tchaikovsky’s feelings for Kotek may have been much more than platonic. During the stay, he confided to a friend, "I love him very much, but by now quite differently from before." Its undisputed that Kotek was the inspiration for the Violin Concerto but in an attempt to avoid gossip, Tchaikovsky dedicated the work to another violinist, Leopold Auer.
In addition to being an active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu serves on the faculty of the University of Maryland and has taught at Boston Conservatory, Harvard and MIT. Her violin is 170 years old, built in 1849!
Edward Elgar returned home one night from teaching violin lessons, lit a cigar, and sat down at the piano and began improvising. His wife Alice commented favorably on the tune that emerged and Elgar responded by suggesting how their certain friends might play it. Out of that spontaneous exchange grew the idea of Enigma Variations. Each variation is headed by the initials of the friend portrayed, beginning with “C.A.E.” (Elgar’s wife, Caroline Alice).
Music enthusiasts continue to come out of the woodwork claiming to have solved the riddle buried in Enigma Variations. Elgar himself said the title “Enigma” was to be interpreted as a “dark saying that must be left unguessed, expressing the nothingness from which it came.”