Another Delay for Troubled Golijov Violin Concerto

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The Philadelphia Orchestra announced Thursday that it is pulling its scheduled premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's Violin Concerto from its January programs after the composer said the piece would not be ready in time.

The concerto was to debut in Philadelphia on Jan. 16, followed by a Carnegie Hall performance on Jan. 17.

Leonidas Kavakos, the work’s dedicatee, will instead perform Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2. A spokesman for Carnegie Hall said there are currently no plans for a new premiere date. (WQXR will broadcast the Jan. 17 Philadelphia Orchestra concert from Carnegie Hall.)

By all accounts, Golijov’s Violin Concerto has had a troubled genesis. It was jointly commissioned by three of the world’s leading arts organizations – the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and the Barbican Centre in London – for Kavakos, a major soloist in the prime of his career.

The intended premiere, by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in May 2011, was scrapped after the composer said the piece wasn't ready. Two further premiere dates – by the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican – were called off for the same reason. By then, Los Angeles's part of the commission was assumed by Carnegie Hall, where Golijov is the current holder of the composer’s chair.

Golijov, a much-decorated and beloved composer, acknowledged the concerto's fraught history in a statement. "Regardless of how they fare later in life, some works have a pleasant birth, while others a difficult one,” he said. "The violin concerto belongs to the second type, and I can only hope that when it is ready to see the world, it will be worthy of the artistry of Leonidas Kavakos, as well as that of the other artists and presenters who entrusted me with its creation.”

On Thursday, a page for the Violin Concerto on the website of Goliov’s publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, was blank.

Golijov has suffered from past deadline troubles, including a delayed string quartet for the St. Lawrence Quartet. His compositional methods and penchant for borrowing material have also come under considerable scrutiny. The composer has responded that he sometimes prefers to work collaboratively.