Korngold had vowed to give up composing anything other than film music, with which he supported himself and his family, until Hitler had been defeated. With the end of World War II, he retired from films to concentrate on music for the concert hall. The Violin Concerto was the first such work that Korngold penned, following some initial persuasion from the violinist and fellow émigré Bronisław Huberman. Korngold had been hurt by the assumption that a successful film composer was one that had sold his integrity to Hollywood, just as earlier he had been hurt by many critics' assumptions that his works were performed only because he was the son of music critic Julius Korngold. He was thus determined to prove himself with a work that combined vitality and superb craftsmanship.
Although Korngold was credited with introducing the sophisticated musical language of his classical training to the soundscapes of Hollywood films, a kind of reverse inspiration also occurred. Like many of Korngold's "serious" works in traditional genres, the violin concerto borrows thematic material from his movie scores in each of its three movements.