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From the earliest years of the eighteenth century the violin has been a popular concerto instrument. Giuseppe Torelli was first, in about 1698, and the subsequent interest shown by Vivaldi, Locatelli, Geminiani and others saw the rapid development of the genre. By the middle of the century there was a dip in production but this was reversed by Myslivecek, who wrote eight such works between 1764 and 1772.
Myslivecek's vivacious personality endeared him to the Mozart family when they met in Bologna in 1770. 'He exudes fire, spirit and life', wrote Wolfgang, who was himself influenced significantly by the work of his lesser-known colleague. Viotti's famous Concerto No 22 dates from the last years of the eighteenth century and was highly praised by Brahms in a letter to Clara Schumann.
Both Schubert's Rondo and Spohr's Concerto No 8 date from 1816. Schubert wrote no violin concertos and yet the Rondo could almost be described as one, such is its level of development. Spohr's concertos far outstripped those of Beethoven in terms of their popularity at the time the two composers were writing, and the Eighth is fascinating in that it is more of an operatic aria, with the violin simply replacing the singer (hence its subtitle: in modo di scena cantate).