Rózsa’s Sinfonia concertante was composed between 1958 and 1963 for Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky , who were both living in the Los Angeles area near Rózsa at the time. These two artists had performed on innumerable occasions together in chamber music and in the Brahms Double Concerto. But, as Rózsa explains in Double Life, the super-sized egos of his soloists made life difficult for all of them: “I called Piatigorsky and told him the first draft was finished, and I thought we should all try it through [with the composer playing a piano reduction of the orchestral part]. The first movement began with a long passage for the cello alone before the violin entered. Heifetz pulled a face. ‘I can’t wait as long as that. Give him [Piatigorsky] about four bars and then I’ll take over.’ ” Things did not improve one iota in the second movement. It begins with a long theme in the solo cello. “Do you expect me to stand there like an idiot all that time?” Heifetz groused. “Yes, Jascha,” Piatigorsky retorted, “we expect you to stand there like an idiot!” As compensation, Heifetz won from the composer the return of the theme at the end in the high range of the instrument. Actually, Heifetz came to like this movement and requested that Rozsa rescore it for a classical orchestra of strings plus pairs of oboes and horns so that he and Piatigorsky could perform it at one of the Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts on September 29, 1963. In this form the two super soloists played (and later recorded) the movement, which now exists as the separate work 'Tema con variazioni'. The first performance of the complete work, with the fully scored Tema con variazioni, was eventually given by two other soloists, concertmaster Victor Aitey and principal cellist Frank Miller of the Chicago Symphony, with Jean Martinon conducting that orchestra on September 22, 1966. The central theme-and-variations movement is based on a long, Hungarian inspired theme first presented by the cello. For the first variation the violin takes over initially, then shares the theme with the cello. The second variation is livelier, with much give-and-take between the soloists. Sharp, biting attacks announce the third variation, which is dancelike and highly rhythmic in character. The full orchestra gets its moment in the spotlight for the fourth variation, with big, sweeping lines for the violins; there is also a quasi-cadenza for the soloists. An angry, aggressive dialogue between soloists united against the orchestra constitutes much of the fifth variation. Calm is restored at the beginning of the sixth variation, but the mood soon turns to one of intense yearning. As the solo cello announced the theme at the beginning of the movement, so the solo violin gets the final word in a re-presentation of that theme in its gleaming high range against a backdrop of gentle trilling from the woodwinds and solo cello.