There would be no modern period without the waltz. The first twelve-tone piece was precisely this, and Ferruccio Busoni, the visionary of a composition that moved in unprecedented tonal galaxies, did not simply compose a temporal counterpart to Ravel’s “La valse” at the beginning of his second period in Berlin in 1920. He had a tribute to Johann Strauß in mind, as the composer stated on January 13, 1921 on the occasion of its premiere by the Berlin Philharmonic. This did not culminate in an “invitation to dance”, but in the musical imitation of a dance scene, written from the variable distance of the observer. The history of the unrest of those times can be perceived under its surface.
From 1888-1989, Busoni taught at the Helsinki Conservatory, attracting a group of like-minded musical spirits who called themselves “Leskovites”, after his dog named Lesko. Among them was Jean Sibelius. Busoni encouraged him to follow his chosen path. After his great tone poems, Sibelius’ Second Symphony marks a major stage for the Finnish composer along the route to European grandeur. It was written during the struggle for independence against Russian paternalism. The Second Violin Concerto was the last work that Bartók completed before his US exile. Concerning its formal disposition it is oriented versus classicism, in the middle movement, its expressiveness finds a concentrated form.