Carey Campbell


The relationship between soloist and orchestra is central to the way many listeners, scholars, and performers understand the concerto. In particular, the juxtaposition of solo and tutti sections often guides our perceptions of form, dialogue, and meaning for the genre. Some regard the soloist and orchestra as conceptually separate entities, and this is reflected onstage in most modern performances by the physical separation of soloist and orchestra, whose interactions are mediated by a non-playing conductor. This strict division between soloist, orchestral player, and leader was not necessarily what late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century composers had in mind. The bulk of this article will focus on Mozart’s violin concertos, for which the autograph scores reveal a clear expectation for the soloist to participate during some or all ritornello sections. Extant parts from Mozart’s time to the early nineteenth century confirm that this was a widespread expectation, not limited to any particular region or school. In addition to participating in some tuttis, a violin concerto soloist also had the option of serving as the orchestral leader; I will point to evidence of this practice in printed parts of the period. In spite of all of this, the practice of violin soloist participation during tuttis has not been widely reinstated in today’s performances. Soloist involvement during orchestral tuttis has already been discussed in connection with late eighteenth-century keyboard concertos, and this study expands that debate to include concertos for violin.