Sunday, 5 January 2014

Find that first champion

Prokofiev’s 1st Violin Concerto in D major (Opus 19) is somewhat different to many other concertos. It is not overtly virtuosic and it ends quietly rather than with a bright and brilliant flourish. Its goal is the expression of feeling rather than the demonstration of virtuosity. This makes it romantic rather than modernistic in style, so going against the trend that was being set by most other music composed during the early 20th century.

These differences meant that the concerto did not conform to the expectations and assumptions of concert-goers, critics, or even many virtuoso violinists of the time, and consequently it was not immediately recognised as a major addition to the concerto repertoire.

It was only when the violinist Joseph Szigeti began to champion the work that the concerto gradually began to be appreciated and accepted as a major work.

Almost all new and innovative ideas and approaches need support and some of the most effective support comes from those who are willing to champion them. The most important of these champions is the 1st champion. This is the person who is willing to be first in demonstrating their support for something through meaningful and significant action, as Szigeti did by repeatedly playing and promoting Prokofiev’s concerto.

Gaining the 1st champion will encourage others to follow suit and start supporting an idea. It will also encourage the person who had the idea to belief in it more keenly and to work harder at finding ways to improve it.

So, the next time you come up with a good, worthwhile and innovative idea search for its 1st champion. Find the pioneering spirit that will take the lead in convincing others of the merits of your idea and provide the initial support and encouragement you need.

One last thought – occasionally it might be more valuable for you to be the 1st champion rather than the person with the new ideas. Sometimes the most innovative thing you can do is adopt and adapt to someone else’s great idea!

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