Henri Vieuxtemps

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Vieuxtemps, Henri

Vieuxtemps, Henri, celebrated Belgian violinist and composer; b. Verviers, Feb. 17, 1820; d. Mustapha, Algiers, June 6,1881. His first teacher was his father, an amateur musician. He then continued his training with Lecloux-Dejonc. At age six he made his debut in Verviers. After performing in Liège in 1827, he gave several concerts in Brussels in 1828, where he attracted the notice of Bériot, who accepted him as a pupil; Vieuxtemps studied with Bériot until 1831. In 1833 his father took him on a concert tour of Germany. He continued his studies in Vienna, where he received lessons in counterpoint from Sechter. On March 16, 1834, he performed as soloist in the Beethoven Violin Concerto in Vienna, scoring a notable success. On June 2,1834, he made his British debut with the Phil. Society of London. After training in composition from Reicha in Paris (1835-36), he set out on his first tour of Europe (1837). During his constant travels, he composed violin concertos and other violin works which became part of the standard repertoire, and which he performed in Europe to the greatest acclaim. He made his first American tour in 1843-4. In 1846 he was engaged as a prof, at the St. Petersburg Cons., and remained in Russia for five seasons; his influence on Russian concert life and violin composition was considerable. In 1853 he recommenced his concert tours in Europe. Vieuxtemps paid two more visits to America, in 1857-58 (with Thalberg) and in 1870-71 (with Christine Nilsson). He was a prof, of violin at the Brussels Cons. (1871-73). A stroke of paralysis, affecting his left side, forced him to end all his concert activities, but he continued to teach privately. He went to Algiers for rest, and died there; one of his most prominent pupils, Jenö Hubay, was with him at his death. In 1844 Vieuxtemps married the pianist Josephine Eder (b. Vienna, Dec. 15,1815; d. Celle-St. Cloud, June 29, 1868). His great-grandson was Marcel Landowski. With Bériot, Vieuxtemps stood at the head of the French school of violin playing; contemporary accounts speak of the extraordinary precision of his technique and of his perfect ability to sustain a flowing melody; the expression “le roi du violon” was often applied to him in the press. He had two brothers who were musicians: (Jean-Joseph-) Lucien Vieuxtemps (b. Verviers, July 5, 1828; d. Brussels, Jan. 1901), was a pianist and teacher who studied with Edouard Wolff in Paris, made his debut at a concert given by his elder brother in Brussels (March 19, 1845), devoted himself mainly to teaching there, and also wrote a few piano pieces. (Jules-Joseph-) Ernest Vieuxtemps (b. Brussels, March 18,1832; d. Belfast, March 20,1896), was a cellist. He appeared with his elder brother in London (1855). He was solo cellist in the Italian Opera Orch. there before going to Manchester as principal cellist of the Hallé Orch. (1858).

Works

ORCH: 7 violin concertos: No. 1 in E major, op.10 (1840); No. 2 in F-sharp minor, op.19 (1836); No. 3 in A minor, op.25 (1844); No. 4 in D minor, op.31 (c. 1850); No. 5 in A minor, op.37, Grétry (1861); No. 6 in G major, op.47 (Paris, 1883); No. 7 in A minor, op.49 (Paris, 1883). Violin and Orch. or Piano: Hommage à Paganini,op.9 (Leipzig, c. 1845); Fantaisie-caprice,op.11 (Mainz, 1845); Norma,fantasia on the G string, op.18 (Leipzig, c. 1845); Fantasia appassionata,op.35 (Leipzig, c. 1860); Ballade and Polonaise,op.38 (Leipzig, c. 1860); 2 cello concertos (Paris, 1877, c. 1883); Duo brillantfor Violin, Cello, and Orch., op.39 (Paris, c. 1864); Overture and Belgian national anthem for Chorus and Orch., op.41 (Mainz, 1863). CHAMBER: 3 string quartets (1871,1884,1884); Piano Trio on themes from Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine (Paris, n.d.); Elégiefor Viola or Cello and Piano, op.30 (c. 1854); Viola Sonata, op.36 (1863); Allegro and Scherzo for Viola and Piano, op.60 (1884); numerous works for Violin and Piano.

Bibliography

M. Kufferath, H. V (Brussels, 1882); J. Radoux, V, Sa vie, ses oeuvres (Liège, 1891; Eng. tr., 1983); P. Bergmans, H. V.(Turnhout, 1920).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Vieuxtemps, Henri (Joseph François) (b Verviers, 1820; d Mustapha-lez-Alger, Algeria, 1881). Belg. violinist and composer. Played conc. with orch. in Verviers at age of 6. Toured Ger. 1833. Revived interest (1834) in Beethoven's vn. conc. Visited Russia 1838, USA 1844. Court violinist and prof. of vn., St Petersburg 1846–52. Prof. of vn., Brussels Cons. 1871–3. Regarded as one of greatest violinists of his day. Wrote 7 vn. concs., vn. sonata, 3 str. qts., many vn. pieces, and cadenzas for Beethoven conc.