Braunstein shares how the iconic Abbey Road album provides the catalyst for a new album paired with British works

Guy Braunstein 3 c Boaz Arad

Violinist Guy Braunstein © Boaz Arad

Discover more Featured Stories  like this in The Strad Playing Hub 

Tell us about what The Beatles mean to you  - how did the band play a part in your musical upbringing?  

I’m a very simple person. I don’t really know, or rather care for the difference between different ’genres’. There is only great music.

The music of The Beatles has been a big part of the soundtrack of my life, together with Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Ray Charles and Billy Joel, to name a few.   

You’ve recorded the Abbey Road Concerto’ based on The Beatles’s Abbey Road album. How did this come about? Can you tell us about the process of arrangement, composition, to it being performed and recorded?  

My son – in full-on ’Beatlemania’-mode – had begged me to play the songs of Abbey Road for quite a while, but I didn’t have the time to do an arrangement. When the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, this changed dramatically. I listened to the full album Abbey Road and suddenly it hit me: this must be a violin concerto!  

After this, I started running from the piano to the violin and back, trying to capture what was going on in my head. I chose eleven of the songs, first separately, re-wrote them for violin and piano, then composed an overture to start off, interludes to connect them all into two big movements, and a monster cadenza. Then I tried it with my pianist, and finally orchestrated the whole thing. 

Thanks to the pandemic, I had a lot of free time and finished everything within a few months. 

I recorded the concerto with my long-time friend and ’sister-from-another-mister’, Alondra de la Parra – who loves The Beatles as much as I do. From the beginning, she was the one conductor I wanted to record this with; she can read my mind musically and quickly understood the meaning of the piece. The recording took place in the wonderful historic Liège Philharmonic Hall, home of the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, a most perfect partner-in-crime for this piece.  

How do you retain the essence of The Beatles’s music in this work?  

I want to make something very clear: this is not what people label as ’crossover’. My Abbey Road Concerto is (re)composed as a virtuoso classical piece, in the historical tradition remniscient of Paganini. Any violinist, that would take a shot at it would confirm this, I can assure you of that – even I have to practise a lot to play this piece, but it’s so much fun! It was my plan to take the quintessence of Abbey Road and mould it into my own musical language. It is as challenging as playing the Sibelius or Tchaikovsky concertos. 

Why did the songs of The Beatles inspire me? Because I find their music eternal! Their ideas, harmonies, rhythms – you can listen to their music over and over again without it getting boring or redundant. And again, there are no ‘genres’, just one world of good music. 

I consider this concerto as a possible turning point for orchestras and concert promoters, who are partially struggling to fill their halls with a younger audience. A – maybe audacious – thought: it could help them to reconsider always programming the same six or seven concertos again and again. Their audience, as much I love Beethoven and Brahms, would surely be intrigued to experience something like the Abbey Road Concerto – a highly virtuoso piece, but hearing the originial songs inside your head.  

What significance does the Abbey Road Studio have for you, given that works on your new album were first recorded there? 

The other two pieces on the album, Delius’s Violin Concerto and Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, have been, for many years, favourites of mine. Only after deciding to pair my concerto with the other two, the label and I found out that all three pieces had their first recordings in the same studio, 50 years apart. What a coincidence! I find it kind of cute that the pieces are linked in that way and of course, by their very British heritage.   

What instrument and bow did you use to record the album?  

The violin I played on this album, and for the last 16-17 years, is a Francesco Rugieri from 1679. I found it accidentally, without even searching for a new instrument. The memory of my first encounter with this violin is very vivid: I played no more than ten seconds on it and knew immediately that this would be my instrument. Many violinists would tell you that this is impossible, since it usually requires a long process of searching, trying out in different halls, listening carefully… but I swear: after a few notes, I just knew! 

The bow is a modern one, made by American bow maker Lee Guthrie. Fun fact: When I was comparing it with the bows of my colleagues in the Berlin Philharmonic, some of them old expensive French bows, it really produced the best sound, to me.

Guy Braunstein’s Abbey Road Concerto with Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège and Alondra de la Parra is released on 7 June 2024 on Alpha.

Best of Technique

In The Best of Technique you’ll discover the top playing tips of the world’s leading string players and teachers. It’s packed full of exercises for students, plus examples from the standard repertoire to show you how to integrate the technique into your playing.


The Strad’s Masterclass series brings together the finest string players with some of the greatest string works ever written. Always one of our most popular sections, Masterclass has been an invaluable aid to aspiring soloists, chamber musicians and string teachers since the 1990s.


American collector David L. Fulton amassed one of the 20th century’s finest collections of stringed instruments. This year’s calendar pays tribute to some of these priceless treasures, including Yehudi Menuhin’s celebrated ‘Lord Wilton’ Guarneri, the Carlo Bergonzi once played by Fritz Kreisler, and four instruments by Antonio Stradivari.