Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music


Music Performance

First Advisor

Donald Portnoy


Benjamin Britten is known for his opera, vocal and symphonic works. His violin concerto was composed around the time of the second world war. During that time, there were many great violin works produced by composers such as Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Barber, etc., and their violin concertos are still considered staples of the violin repertoire. However, Britten’s violin concerto is not performed as often as other twentieth-century violin concertos. Although the popularity of his violin concerto is increasing in recent years, there is relatively little scholarly work devoted to it. The goal of this paper is to provide guidelines for performers that wish to approach this work. After providing background information on the concerto’s composition, I discuss the tonal structure, motives, and some left-hand techniques applied in the concerto, as well as some technical problems. Lastly, I examine Britten’s use of the passacaglia form as an example of his fascination with Baroque music. The purpose of this document is to introduce violin works by Britten to performers and raise awareness for Britten’s violin concerto.