But there was also an added bonus from my attempts to play the fiddle. I can really appreciate how difficult it is to play the instrument after trying (in vain) to coax out more than a squawk from it myself. When I hear a piece like the Sarasate Gypsy Airs played by a virtuoso (and no one other than a virtuoso could come close to doing it justice) I marvel at the agility, reflexes, musical ear, talent and hard work that is required.
Sarasate was one of the top violin virtuosos of his time, and composed his Gypsy Airs in 1878 and premiered the piece the same year. It is based on the music of the Roma, or Gypsy people. Many composers wrote pieces based on this type of music including Liszt, Brahms and Dvořák.
Zigeunerweisen is in one movement, and consists of two dance melodies preceded by an introduction. There are four tempo changes in the piece:
I. Moderato - A dramatic, slow introduction begins with the orchestra with the violin entering. The violin restates the opening, with virtuosic flourishes.
II. Lento - The first theme is a sad, highly decorated tune played while the orchestra gently accompanies.
III. Un poco più lento - The muted violin continues to play the same sad melody.
IV. Allegro molto vivace - The tempo suddenly increases dramatically along with the volume with the beginning of the second theme The violin crackles with energy as Sarasate has the violin play a manic friss, the rapid section of the traditional Csárdás dance.