Jeremy Yudkin is a professor of music at Boston University. His gives preconcert talks for Tanglewood weekends every Friday at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. at Lenox Town Hall.

7.10.21 BSO All Beethoven Program, Couple on Tanglewood Lawn (Hilary Scott).jpeg

A couple enjoys an afternoon program on the Tanglewood Lawn.

LENOX — The widely held consensus that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D (to be performed at Tanglewood on Saturday night by violinist Joshua Bell and the Boston Symphony Orchestra during Grammy-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta’s BSO debut) is one of the greatest concertos for the instrument and that it is high on the list of the composer’s best works belies some of its earlier reception.

The first violinist Tchaikovsky approached to play the work, Iosif Kotek, who was a student of Tchaikovsky and a close friend, turned down the opportunity, believing the concerto was so bizarre that it would hurt his reputation as a soloist.

Next, the composer intended the piece for the distinguished violinist Leopold Auer and dedicated the concerto to him, hoping that he would give the premiere. Auer, however, decided that some of the parts needed to be rewritten and did so himself, publishing his version of the score but not performing it. Tchaikovsky finally turned to a third violinist, Adolph Brodsky, rededicated the concerto to him and finally was able to attend the premiere, with Brodsky performing, three years after completing the work.

Even then the reaction was hostile. The conservative but influential Viennese music historian and critic Eduard Hanslick hated Tchaikovsky’s composition, saying that it was pretentious and “stinks to the ear.” “The violin is not played but beaten black and blue,” he groused.

History has redeemed the concerto and turned Hanslick’s words risible. It is now one of the most widely performed violin concertos in the repertoire and admired the world over. Its themes are well-known by audiences and every serious violin virtuoso feels obliged to learn the music, which does indeed make heavy demands on the soloist. Every possible technical difficulty is explored, but always in the service of expression. The first movement is both tuneful and thrilling, the second more meditative, while the finale is swirling with Russian tunes and ends in spectacular fashion.

Also on the program on Saturday are two works by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi, who died in 1936 at the early age of 56, but who, during that short life, was indefatigable. He was a violinist, musicologist, professor of music, and prolific composer of operas, ballets, chamber music, and songs, but he is best known today for his orchestral “paintings,” including “Fountains of Rome,” “Pines of Rome,” and “Roman Festivals.” We shall hear the first two of these Roman suites.

The first (“Fountains”) depicts the scenes at four different fountains in the Italian capital at four different times of day (dawn, morning, noon, and sunset). The music is delightful and as refreshing as a light spray in the air on a warm day.

“Pines” also is in four movements, each named for a site in Rome where pine trees grow: the Villa Borghese, a Roman catacomb, the Janiculum, and the Appian Way. This work also traces the movement of time, now from afternoon to evening, night, and dawn. There are children singing and playing in the first movement, hymns and Gregorian chants in the second, dreamy music in the third (which ends with the recorded sound of the nightingale — a distinct innovation for the time), and, in the fourth, an evocation of an ancient Roman legion marching into Rome on the grand old road.

To paint all these evocative pictures, Respighi calls for an enormous orchestra, with over a dozen woodwinds, including bass clarinets and contrabassoon, about a dozen brass instruments, including contrabass trombone, flugelhorns, and saxhorns, a vast number of strings, and piano, harp, celeste, and glockenspiel, together with organ (for the most subterranean notes), and a battery of percussion. What fun!

To begin the program, we shall hear the “Fandangos” of Roberto Sierra, a Puerto Rican composer, born in 1953, whose works are widely performed across the United States and Europe. He teaches composition at Cornell University. “Fandangos” was composed twenty years ago for the BBC Promenade Concerts in London. It is a colorful and evocative piece, based on the Spanish triple-meter dance form and offering a post-modern take on compositions from the 18th century, with new comments, interventions, and spicy harmonies. Its constant rhythmic background is evocative of Ravel’s famous “Bolero.”UNDER THE SHEDA look at Tanglewood concerts at the Koussevitzky Music Shed this week ...

What: Earl Lee conducts Brian Raphael Nabors, Poulenc, and Mendelssohn featuring Christina and Michelle Naughton, pianos

When: 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 5. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

BSO Assistant Conductor Earl Lee makes his BSO debut, joined by the virtuosic piano duo of twins Christina and Michelle Naughton in their Tanglewood debuts performing Francis Poulenc’s impish neoclassical Concerto for Two Pianos. The evening also includes American composer Brian Raphael Nabors’ “Pulse” and Felix Mendelssohn’s Romantic Symphony No. 3. Ticket includes admission to the 6 p.m. Prelude Concert.

What: Rehearsal: Thomas Adès conducts Thomas Adès, Mozart, and Holst featuring Leonidas Kavakos, violin, Antoine Tamestit, viola, and Lorelei Ensemble

When: 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 6. Gates open at 9 a.m.

What: JoAnn Falletta conducts Roberto Sierra, Tchaikovsky, and Respighi featuring Joshua Bell, violin

When: 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

In her BSO debut, Grammy-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta is joined by violinist Joshua Bell, a Tanglewood mainstay since 1989, performing Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s beloved Violin Concerto. Opening the concert is the Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra’s “Fandangos.” The evening also includes Ottorino Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome” and “Pines of Rome.” Ticket includes admission to the 6 p.m. Prelude Concert.

What: Thomas Adès conducts Thomas Adès, Mozart, and Holst featuring Leonidas Kavakos, violin, Antoine Tamestit, viola, and Lorelei Ensemble

When: 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 7. Gates open at noon.

BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès is joined by Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos and French violist Antoine Tamestit in Wolfgang Mozart’s abundantly tuneful Sinfonia concertante. English composer Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” covers a vast range of musical territory, from the fleet energy of Mercury through the pounding aggression of Mars to the ethereal mysticism of Neptune, which here features the versatile women’s vocal group Lorelei Ensemble for the wordless choral part. Opening the concert is Adès’ own “Shanty – Over the Sea.” In this atmospheric string orchestra piece, many lines interweave to “create a widening seascape.”

Jeremy Yudkin is Professor of Music at Boston University. His gives pre-concert talks for Tanglewood weekends every Friday at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. at Lenox Town Hall.