Famous Violinists of To-day and Yesterday
Henry C. Lahee
Boston The Page Company Publishers
1899 L.C. PAGE AND COMPANY (INCORPORATED)
Ninth Impression, February, 1912 Tenth Impression, January, 1916
THE COLONIAL PRESS C.H. SIMONDS CO., BOSTON, U.S.A.
In "Famous Violinists" the writer has endeavoured to follow the same general plan as in "Famous Singers," viz., to give a "bird's-eye view" of the most celebrated violinists from the earliest times to the present day rather than a detailed account of a very few. Necessarily, those who have been prominently before the public as performers are selected in preference to those who have been more celebrated as teachers.
It was at first intended to arrange the chapters according to "schools," but it soon became evident that such a plan would lead to inextricable confusion, and it was found best to follow the chronological order of birth.
The "Chronological Table" is compiled from the best existing authorities, and is not an effort to bring together a large number of names. If such were the desire, there would be no difficulty in filling up a large volume with names of the violinists of good capabilities, who are well known in their own cities.
HENRY C. LAHEE.
I. INTRODUCTORY 11 II. 1650 TO 1750 30 III. 1750 TO 1800 60 IV. PAGANINI 104 V. 1800 TO 1830 135 VI. OLE BULL 172 VII. 1830 TO 1850 204 VIII. JOACHIM 244 IX. VIOLINISTS OF TO-DAY 261 X. WOMEN AS VIOLINISTS 300 XI. FAMOUS QUARTETS 345
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE OLE BULL Frontispiece ARCANGELO CORELLI 30 NICOLO PAGANINI 104 CAMILLO SIVORI 154 MARTIN PIERRE JOSEPH MARSICK 238 JOSEPH JOACHIM 244 EMIL SAURET 264 MAUD POWELL 340 FRANZ KNEISEL 362
FAMOUS VIOLINISTS OF TO-DAY AND YESTERDAY.
There is no instrument of music made by the hands of man that holds such a powerful sway over the emotions of every living thing capable of hearing, as the violin. The singular powers of this beautiful instrument have been eloquently eulogised by Oliver Wendell Holmes, in the following words:
"Violins, too. The sweet old Amati! the divine Stradivari! played on by ancient maestros until the bow hand lost its power, and the flying fingers stiffened. Bequeathed to the passionate young enthusiast, who made it whisper his hidden love, and cry his inarticulate longings, and scream his untold agonies, and wail his monotonous despair. Passed from his dying hand to the cold virtuoso, who let it slumber in its case for a generation, till, when his hoard was broken up, it came forth once more, and rode the stormy symphonies of royal orchestras, beneath the rushing bow of their lord and leader. Into lonely prisons with improvident artists; into convents from which arose, day and night, the holy hymns with which its tones were blended; and back again to orgies, in which it learned to howl and laugh as if a legion of devils were shut up in it; then, again, to the gentle dilettante, who calmed it down with easy melodies until it answered him softly as in the days of the old maestros; and so given into our hands, its pores all full of music, stained like the meerschaum through and through with the concentrated hue and sweetness of all the harmonies which have kindled and faded on its strings."
Such, indeed, has been the history of many a noble instrument fashioned years and years ago, in the days when violin playing did not hold the same respect and admiration that it commands at the present time.
The evolution of the violin is a matter which can be traced back to the dark ages, but the fifteenth century may be considered as the period when the art of making instruments of the viol class took root in Italy. It cannot be said, however, that the violin, with the modelled back which gives its distinctive tone, made its appearance until the middle of the sixteenth century. In France, England, and Germany, there was very little violin making until the beginning of the following century. Andrea Amati was born in 1520, and he was the founder of the great Cremona school of violin makers, of which Nicolo Amati, the grandson of Andrea, was the most eminent. The art of violin making reached its zenith in Italy at the time of Antonio Stradivari, who lived at Cremona. He was born in 1644, and lived until 1737, continuing his labours almost to the day of his death, for an instrument is in existence made by him in the year in which he died. It is an interesting fact that the art of violin making in Italy developed at the time when the painters of Italy displayed their greatest genius, and when the fine arts were encouraged by the most distinguished patronage.
As the art of violin making developed, so did that of violin playing, but, whereas the former reached its climax with Stradivari, the latter is still being developed, as new writers and players find new difficulties and new effects. While there are many proofs that orchestras existed, and that violins of all sizes were used in ecclesiastical music, there is still some doubt as to who was the first solo violinist of eminence. The earliest of whom we have any account worthy of mention, was Baltazarini, a native of Piedmont, who went to France in 1577 to superintend the music of Catharine de Medici. In 1581 he composed the music for the nuptials of the Duke de Joyeuse with Mlle. de Vaudemont, sister of the queen, and this is said to have been the origin of the heroic and historical ballet in France.
The progress of violin playing can also be judged somewhat by the compositions written for the instrument. Of these the earliest known is a "Romanesca per violone Solo e Basso se piaci," and some dances, by Biagio Marini, published in 1620. This contains the "shake." Then there is a "Toccata" for violin solo, by Paolo Quagliati, published in 1623, and a collection of violin pieces by Carlo Farina, published in 1627 at Dresden, in which the variety of bowing, double stopping, and chords shows a great advance in the demands upon the execution.
Farina held the position of solo violinist at the Court of Saxony, and has been called the founder of the race of violin virtuosi. One of his compositions, named "Cappriccio Stravagante," requires the instrument to imitate the braying of an ass, and other sounds belonging to the animal kingdom, as well as the twanging of guitars and the fife and drum of the soldier.
Eighteen sonatas composed by Giovanni Battista Fontana, and published at Venice in 1641, show a distinct advance in style, and Tomasso Antonio Vitali, himself a famous violinist, wrote a "Chaconne" of such merit that it was played by no less a virtuoso than Joachim, at the Monday popular concerts in London, in 1870, nearly two hundred years after its composition.
Italy was the home of the violin, of composition for the violin, and of violin playing, for the first school was the old Italian school, and from Italy, by means of her celebrated violinists, who travelled and spread throughout Europe, the other schools were established.
Violin playing grew in favour in Italy, France, Germany, and England at about the same time, but in England it was many years before the violinist held a position of any dignity. The fiddle, as it was called, was regarded by the gentry with profound contempt. Butler, in "Hudibras," refers to one Jackson, who lost a leg in the service of the Roundheads, and became a professional "fiddler:"
"A squeaking engine he apply'd Unto his neck, on northeast side, Just where the hangman does dispose, To special friends, the knot or noose; For 'tis great grace, when statesmen straight Dispatch a friend, let others wait.
His grisly beard was long and thick, With which he strung his fiddle-stick; For he to horse-tail scorned to owe, For what on his own chin did grow."
Many years later Purcell, the composer, wrote a catch in which the merits of a violin maker named Young, and his son, a violin player, are recorded. The words are as follows:
"You scrapers that want a good fiddle, well strung, You must go to the man that is old while he's Young; But if this same Fiddle, you fain would play bold, You must go to his son, who'll be Young when he's old. There's old Young and young Young, both men of renown, Old sells and young plays the best Fiddle in town, Young and old live together, and may they live long, Young to play an old Fiddle; old to sell a new song."
In the course of time the English learned to esteem all arts more highly, and in no country was a great musician more sure of a warm welcome.
Two celebrated violinists were born in the year 1630, Thomas Baltzar, and John Banister, the former in Germany, at Lubec, and the latter in London.
Baltzar was esteemed the finest performer of his time, and is said to have been the first to have introduced the practice of "shifting." In 1656 Baltzar went to England, where he quite eclipsed Davis Mell, a clockmaker, who was considered a fine player, and did much to give the violin an impetus toward popularity. The wonder caused by his performances in England, shortly after his arrival, is best described in the quaint language of Anthony Wood, who "did, to his very great astonishment, hear him play on the violin. He then saw him run up his Fingers to the end of the Fingerboard of the Violin, and run them back insensibly, and all with alacrity, and in very good tune, which he nor any in England saw the like before."
At the Restoration Baltzar was appointed leader of the king's celebrated band of twenty-four violins, but, sad to relate, "Being much admired by all lovers of musick, his company was therefore desired; and company, especially musical company, delighting in drinking, made him drink more than ordinary, which brought him to his grave." And he was buried in the cloister of Westminster Abbey.
John Banister was taught music by his father, one of the waits of the parish of St. Giles, and acquiring great proficiency on the violin was noticed by King Charles II., who sent him to France for improvement. On his return he was appointed chief of the king's violins. King Charles was an admirer of everything French, and he appears, according to Pepys, to have aroused the wrath of Banister by giving prominence to a French fiddler named Grabu, who is said to have been an "impudent pretender." Banister lost his place for saying, either to or in the hearing of the king, that English performers on the violin were superior to those of France.
John Banister lived in times when fiddle playing was not highly esteemed, if we may judge by the following ordinance, made in 1658: "And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons, commonly called Fiddlers, or minstrels, shall at any time after the said first day of July be taken playing, Fiddling, or making music in any inn, alehouse, or tavern or shall be proffering themselves, or desiring, or entreating any person or persons to hear them play ... shall be adjudged ... rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars."
John Banister seems to have been a somewhat "sturdy beggar," though not exactly in the sense meant by the ordinance, for he established regular concerts at his house, "now called the Musick-school, over against the George Tavern in Whitefriars." These concerts began in 1672, and continued till near his death, which occurred in 1679. He too, was buried in the cloister of Westminster Abbey. His son, also, was an excellent performer on the violin, and played first violin in the Italian opera when it was first introduced into England. He was one of the musicians of Charles II., James II., William and Mary, and of Queen Anne.
Henry Eccles, who lived about the end of the seventeenth century, went to France, where he became a member of the king's band, and William Corbett, who went to Italy to study the violin in 1710, was a player of much ability; but one of the most eminent of English violinists was Matthew Dubourg, born 1703, who played at a concert when he was so small that he was placed on a stool in order that he might be seen. At eleven years of age he was placed under Geminiani, who had recently established himself in London. Dubourg was appointed, in 1728, Master and Composer of State-Music in Ireland, and on the death of Festing, in 1752, he became leader of the king's band in London, and held both posts until his death in 1767.
An amusing incident is related of Dubourg and Handel. The latter visited Dublin and presided at a performance of the "Messiah." A few evenings later, Dubourg, who was leader of the band at the Theatre, had to improvise a "close," and wandered about in a fit of abstract modulation for so long that he forgot the original key. At last, however, after a protracted shake, he landed safely on the key-note, when Handel called out in a voice loud enough to be heard in the remotest parts of the theatre, "Welcome home, welcome home, Mr. Dubourg."
Dubourg's name is the first on record in connection with the performance of a concerto in an English theatre.
John Clegg, a pupil of Dubourg, was a violinist of great ability, whom Handel placed at the head of the opera band, but his faculties became deranged by intense study and practice, and he died at a comparatively early age, in 1742, an inmate of Bedlam.
Another very promising young English violinist was Thomas Linley, who exhibited great musical powers, and performed a concerto in public when eight years old. He was sent to Italy to study under Nardini, and through the mediation of that artist he became acquainted with Mozart, who was about the same age. Linley's career was prematurely closed, for at the age of twenty-two he was drowned through the capsizing of a pleasure-boat.
This completes the list of English violinists of note who were born previous to the nineteenth century. The later ones we shall find in their place in succeeding chapters, but there have been very few violinists of English birth who have followed the career of the "virtuoso." Even Antonio James Oury, who made a series of concert tours lasting nine years, during which he occasionally appeared in conjunction with De Beriot and Malibran, is hardly known as a "virtuoso," and was not all English. But there are pathetic circumstances in regard to the career of Oury. He was the son of an Italian of noble descent, who had served as an officer in the army of Napoleon, and had been taken prisoner by the English. Making the best of his misfortunes the elder Oury settled in England, married a Miss Hughes, and became a professor of dancing and music.
The son, Antonio, began to learn the violin at the age of three, in which he was a year or two ahead of the average virtuoso, and he made great progress. By and by he heard Spohr, and after that his diligence increased, for he practised, during seven months, not less than fourteen hours a day. Even Paganini used to sink exhausted after ten hours' practice. In 1820, we are told, he went to Paris and studied under Baillot, Kreutzer, and Lafont, receiving from each two lessons a week for several successive winters. With such an imposing array of talent at his service much might be expected of Mr. Oury, and he actually made his debut at the Philharmonic concerts in London.
There was another unfortunate officer of Napoleon who became tutor to the Princesses of Bavaria. His name was Belleville. Mr. Oury met his daughter, and, there being naturally a bond of sympathy between them, they married. She was an amiable and accomplished pianist, and together they made the nine years' concert tour.
During the period in which the art of violin playing was being perfected on the Continent, the English were too fully occupied with commercial pursuits to foster and develop the art. Up to the present day the most eminent virtuoso is commonly spoken of as a "fiddler." Even Joachim, when he went to a barber's shop in High Street, Kensington, and declined to accept the advice of the tonsorial artist, and have his hair cropped short, was warned that "he'd look like one o' them there fiddler chaps." The barber apparently had no greater estimation of the violinist's art than the latter had of the tonsorial profession, and the situation was sufficiently ludicrous to form the subject of a picture in Punch, and thus the matter assumed a serious aspect.
England has not been the home of any particular school of violin playing, but has received her stimulus from Continental schools, to which her sons have gone to study, and from which many eminent violinists have been imported.
The word "school," so frequently used in connection with the art of violin playing, seems to lead to confusion. The Italian school, established by Corelli, appears to have been the only original school. Its pupils scattered to various parts of Europe, and there established other schools. To illustrate this statement, we will follow in a direct line from Corelli, according to the table given in Grove's Dictionary.
The pupils of Corelli were Somis, Locatelli, Geminiani (Italians), and Anet (a Frenchman), whose pupil Senaille was also French. The greatest pupil of Somis was Pugnani, an Italian, and his greatest pupil was Viotti, a Piedmontese, who founded the French school, and from him came Roberrechts, his pupil De Beriot and his pupil Vieuxtemps, the two latter Belgians, also Baillot, etc., down to Marsick and Sarasate, a Spaniard, while through Rode, a Frenchman, we have Boehm (school of Vienna) and his pupil Joachim, a Hungarian (school of Berlin).
Several violinists are found under two schools, as for instance, Pugnani, who was first a pupil of Tartini and later of Somis, and Teresa Milanollo, pupil of Lafont and of De Beriot, who appear under different schools.
The only conclusion to be drawn is that the greatest violinists were really independent of any school, and, by their own genius, broke loose from tradition and established schools of their own. Some of them, on the other hand, had but few pupils, as for instance, Paganini, who had but two, and Sarasate. Many also were teachers rather than performers. We have to deal chiefly with the virtuosi.
1650 TO 1750.
Arcangelo Corelli, whose name is recognised as one of the greatest in the history of violin playing and composition, and who laid the foundation for all future development of technique, was born in 1653, at Fusignano, near Imola, in the territory of Bologna.
He showed an early propensity for the violin, and studied under Bassani, a man of extensive knowledge and capabilities, while Mattei Simonelli was his instructor in counterpoint.
Corelli at one time sought fame away from home, and he is said to have visited Paris, where Lulli, the chief violinist of that city, exhibited such jealousy and violence that the mild-tempered Corelli withdrew. In 1680 he went to Germany, where he was well received, and entered the service of the Elector of Bavaria, but he soon returned to Rome. His proficiency had now become so great that his fame extended throughout Europe, and pupils flocked to him. His playing was characterised by refined taste and elegance, and by a firm and even tone.
When the opera was well established in Rome, about 1690, Corelli led the band. His chief patron in Rome was Cardinal Ottoboni, and it was at his house that an incident occurred which places Corelli at the head of those musicians who have from time to time boldly maintained the rights of music against conversation. He was playing a solo when he noticed the cardinal engaged in conversation with another person. He immediately laid down his violin, and, on being asked the reason, answered that "he feared the music might interrupt the conversation."
Corelli was a man of gentle disposition and simple habits. His plainness of dress and freedom from ostentation gave the impression that he was parsimonious, and Handel says of him that "he liked nothing better than seeing pictures without paying for it, and saving money," He was also noted for his objection to riding in carriages.
He lived on terms of intimacy with the leading artists of his time, and had a great fondness for pictures, of which he had a valuable collection. These he left at his death to Cardinal Ottoboni.
It was at Cardinal Ottoboni's that Corelli became acquainted with Handel, and at one of the musical evenings there a "Serenata," written by the latter, was performed. Corelli does not seem to have played it according to the ideas of the composer, for Handel, giving way to his impetuous temper, snatched the fiddle out of Correlli's hand. Corelli mildly remarked, "My dear Saxon, this music is in the French style, with which I am not acquainted."
For many years Corelli remained at Rome, but at last he yielded to temptation and went to Naples, where Scarlatti induced him to play some of his concertos before the king. This he did in great fear, for he had not his own orchestra with him. He found Scarlatti's musicians able to play at first sight as well as his own did after rehearsals, and, the performance going off well, he was again admitted to play, this time one of his sonatas, in the royal presence. The king found the adagio so long and dry that he quitted the room, much to Corelli's mortification. But greater trouble was in store for the virtuoso. Scarlatti had written a masque, which was to be played before the king, but owing to the composer's limited knowledge of the violin, Corelli's part was very awkward and difficult, and he failed to execute it, while the Neapolitan violinists played it with ease. To make matters worse, Corelli made an unfortunate mistake in the next piece, which was written in the key of C minor, and led off in C major. The mistake was repeated, and Scarlatti had to call out to him to set him right. His mortification was so great that he quietly left Naples and returned to Rome. He found here a new violinist, Valentini, who had won the admiration of the people, and he took it so much to heart that his health failed, and he died in January, 1713.
Corelli was buried in princely style in the Pantheon, not far from Raphael's tomb, and Cardinal Ottoboni erected a monument over his grave. During many years after his death a solemn service, consisting of selections from his own works, was performed in the Pantheon on the anniversary of his funeral. On this occasion, the works were performed in a slow, firm, and distinct manner, just as they were written, without changing the passages in the way of embellishment, and this is probably the way in which he himself played them.
Corelli's compositions are remarkable for delicate taste and pleasing melodies and harmonies. He must be considered as the author of the greatest improvement which violin music underwent at the beginning of the eighteenth century. These compositions are regarded as invaluable for the instruction of young players, and some of them may be frequently heard in the concert-room at the present day, two hundred years since they were written. Corelli's most celebrated pupils, Somis, Locatelli, Geminiani, and Anet, settled respectively in Italy, Holland, England, and Poland.
Giovanni Battista Somis was born in Piedmont, and, after studying under Corelli, he went to Venice and studied under Vivaldi. He was appointed solo violinist to the king at Turin and leader of the royal band, and seems scarcely ever to have left Turin after these appointments. Little is known of his playing or his compositions, but, by the work of his pupils, it is evident that he possessed originality. He formed a style more brilliant and more emotional, and caused a decided step forward in the art of violin playing. He was the teacher of Leclair, Giardini, and Chiabran, as well as Pugnani, and he forms a connecting link between the classical schools of Italy and France.
Pietro Locatelli was born at Bergamo, and became a pupil of Corelli at a very early age. He travelled considerably, and was undoubtedly a great and original virtuoso. He has been accused of charlatanism, inasmuch as he overstepped all reasonable limits in his endeavours to enlarge the powers of execution of the violin, and has, on that account, been called the grandfather of our modern "finger-heroes."
Locatelli settled in Amsterdam, where he died in 1764. There he established regular public concerts, and he left a number of compositions, some of which are used at the present day.
Jean Baptiste Lulli, one of the earliest violinists in France, is perhaps associated with the violin in a manner disproportionate to the part he actually played in its progress. He was a musician of great ability, and his compositions are occasionally heard even to this day. Lulli was born near Florence about 1633. When quite young he was taken to France by the Chevalier de Guise, and entered the service of Mlle. de Montpensier. He was employed in the kitchen, where he seems to have lightened his burdens by playing tricks on the cook and tunes on the stewpans. He also beguiled his leisure hours by playing the violin, in which art he made such progress that the princess engaged a regular instructor for him. Fortunately, as it turned out, his wit led him into composing a satirical song on his employer, and he was sent off, but shortly afterwards secured a post as one of the king's violinists in the celebrated band of the twenty-four violins. Soon after this a special band called Les Petits Violons was formed with Lulli at their head, and under his direction it surpassed the band of twenty-four.
Lulli found great favour at court, and, indeed, astonished the world with his exquisite taste and skill. That he was firmly established in the favour of the king is shown by the story that, when Corelli came to France and played one of his sonatas, King Louis listened without showing any sign of pleasure, and, sending for one of his own violinists, requested him to play an aria from Lulli's opera of "Cadmus et Hermione," which, he declared, suited his taste.
There is little doubt that the principles of the great Italian school of violin playing were, some years later, brought into France by Anet, who was born in 1680, and returned from Italy about 1700, but owing to the jealousies of his colleagues, he found it advisable to leave France in a short time, and he is said to have spent the rest of his life as conductor of the private band of a nobleman in Poland.
Lulli is said to have been very avaricious, and his wealth included four houses, all in the best quarters of Paris, together with securities and appointments worth about $70,000. His death, in 1687, was caused by a peculiar accident. While conducting a performance of his orchestra he struck his foot with the cane which he used for marking the time. The bruise gradually assumed such a serious condition that it ended his life.
Jean Baptiste Senaille, who was a pupil of Anet, was born in 1687, and turned to the Italian school. In 1719 he entered the service of the Duke of Orleans.
Francesco Geminiani was considered the ablest of the pupils of Corelli, and was born about 1680. When about twenty-four years of age he went to England, where his talent secured a great reputation for him, some people even declaring him to be superior, as a player, to Corelli. He lived to an advanced age, and was in Dublin visiting his pupil Dubourg at the time of his death. He was a man of unsettled habits, and was frequently in dire necessity, caused chiefly by his love of pictures, which led him into unwise purchases, and thus frequently into debt.
About the year 1650 three violinists were born in Italy, who all left their mark upon the history of violin playing.
Tommaso Vitali was born at Bologna, and was leader of the orchestra in that city, and later in Modena.
Giuseppe Torelli was leader of a church orchestra in Bologna, and afterwards accepted the post of leader of the band of the Markgraf of Brandenburg-Anspach, at Anspach, in Germany. To him is generally ascribed the invention of the "Concerto."
Antonio Vivaldi was the son of a violinist, and sought his fortune in Germany, but returned to his native city in 1713. He wrote extensively for the violin, and is said to have added something to the development of its technique. An anecdote is told of him to the effect that one day during mass a theme for a fugue struck him. He immediately quitted the altar at which he was officiating, for he united clerical with musical duties, and, hastening to the sacristy to write down the theme, afterwards returned and finished the mass. For this he was brought before the Inquisition, but being considered only as a "musician," a term synonymous with "madman," the sentence was mild,—he was forbidden to say mass in the future.
The most illustrious pupil of Vivaldi was Francesco Maria Veracini, who was born about 1685. He is said to have been a teacher of Tartini, who, if he did not actually receive instruction from him, at least profited by his example.
Veracini's travels were extensive, for he visited London in 1714 and remained there two years, during which time he was very successful. He then went to Dresden, where he was made composer and chamber virtuoso to the King of Poland.
While in Dresden he threw himself out of a window and broke his leg, an injury from which he never entirely recovered. This act is said to have been caused by his mortification at a trick which was played upon him for his humiliation by Pisendel, an eminent violinist, but this story is discredited by some of the best authorities.
He left Dresden and went to Prague, where he entered the service of Count Kinsky. In 1736 he again visited London, but met with little success, owing to the fact that Geminiani had ingratiated himself with the public. In 1847 Veracini returned to Pisa.
Veracini has been sometimes ranked with Tartini as a performer. He was also a composer of ability. In making a comparison of him with Geminiani it has been said that Geminiani was the spirit of Corelli much diluted, while Veracini was the essence of the great master fortified with l'eau de vie.
Veracini was conceited and vainglorious, and these traits of his character have given rise to a number of rather inconsequential stories. He was a most excellent conductor of orchestra, and Doctor Burney mentions having heard him lead a band in such a bold and masterly manner as he had never before witnessed. Soon after leaving London Veracini was shipwrecked, and lost his two Stainer violins, which he stated were the best in the world. These instruments he named St. Peter and St. Paul.
The name of Giuseppe Tartini will ever live as that of one of the greatest performers on, and composers for, the violin. Born at Pirano, in 1692, his career may be said to have commenced with the eighteenth century. He was not only one of the greatest violinists of all time, and an eminent composer, but he was a scientific writer on musical physics, and was the first to discover the fact that, in playing double stops, their accuracy can be determined by the production of a third sound. He also wrote a little work on the execution and employment of the various kinds of shakes, mordents, cadenzas, etc., according to the usage of the classical Italian school.
Tartini's father, who was an elected Nobile of Parenzo, being a pious Church benefactor, intended his son for the Church, and sent him to an ecclesiastical school at Capo d'Istria, where he received his first instruction in music. Finding himself very much averse to an ecclesiastical career, Tartini entered the University of Padua to study law, but this also proved distasteful to him. He was a youth of highly impulsive temperament, and became so much enamoured of the art of fencing that he, at one time, seriously contemplated adopting it as a profession. This very impulsive nature caused him to fall in love with a niece of the Archbishop of Padua, to whom he was secretly married before he was twenty years of age.
The news of this marriage caused Tartini's parents to withdraw their support from him, and it so enraged the archbishop that the bridegroom was obliged to fly from Padua. After some wanderings he was received into a monastery at Assisi, of which a relative was an inmate. Here he resumed his musical studies, but though he learned composition of Padre Boemo, the organist of the monastery, he was his own teacher on the violin. The influence of the quiet monastic life caused a complete change in his character, and he acquired the modesty of manner and serenity of mind for which he was noted later in life.
One day, during the service, a gust of wind blew aside the curtain behind which Tartini was playing, and a Paduan, who remembered the archbishop's wrath and recognised the object of it, carried the news of his discovery to the worthy prelate. Time had, however, mollified him, and instead of still further persecuting the refugee, he gave his consent to the union of the young couple, and Tartini and his wife went to Venice, where he intended to follow the profession of a violinist.
Here he met and heard Francesco Maria Veracini, who was some seven years his senior, and whose style of playing made such a deep impression on him that he at once withdrew to Ancona, to correct the errors of his own technique, which, as he was self-taught, were not a few.
After some years of study and retirement, he reappeared at Padua, where he was appointed solo violinist in the chapel of San Antonio, the choir and orchestra of which already enjoyed a high reputation. It is said that the performance of Veracini had an effect upon Tartini beyond that of causing him to quit Venice. It made him dream, and the dream as told by Tartini himself to M. de Lalande is as follows:
"He dreamed one night (in 1713) that he had made a compact with the devil, who promised to be at his service on all occasions; and, during this vision, everything succeeded according to his mind; his wishes were anticipated, and his desires always surpassed, by the assistance of his new servant. In short, he imagined that he presented the devil with his violin, in order to discover what kind of a musician he was, when, to his great astonishment, he heard him play a solo so singularly beautiful, which he executed with such superior taste and precision, that it surpassed all the music he had ever heard or conceived in his life. So great was his surprise, and so exquisite his delight upon this occasion, that it deprived him of the power of breathing. He awoke with the violence of his sensations, and instantly seized his fiddle in hopes of expressing what he had just heard; but in vain. He, however, directly composed a piece, which is perhaps the best of all his works, and called it the 'Devil's Sonata;' he knew it, however, to be so inferior to what his sleep had produced, that he stated he would have broken his instrument, and abandoned music for ever, if he could have subsisted by other means."
This composition is said to have secured for him the position in the chapel of San Antonio, where he remained until 1723, in which year he was invited to play at the coronation festivities of Charles VI. at Prague. On this occasion he met Count Kinsky, a rich and enthusiastic amateur, who kept an excellent private orchestra. Tartini was engaged as conductor and remained in that position three years, then returning to his old post at Padua, from which nothing induced him to part, except for brief intervals. At Padua Tartini carried on the chief work of his life and established the Paduan school of violin playing. His ability as a teacher is proved by the large number of excellent pupils he formed. Nardini, Bini, Manfredi, Ferrari, Graun, and Lahoussaye are among the most eminent, and were attached to him by bonds of most intimate friendship to his life's end.
Tartini's contemporaries all agree in crediting him with those qualities which make a great player. He had a fine tone, unlimited command of finger-board and bow, enabling him to overcome the greatest difficulties with remarkable ease, perfect intonation in double stops, and a most brilliant shake and double-shake, which he executed equally well with all fingers. The spirit of rivalry had no place in his amiable and gentle disposition. Both as a player and composer Tartini was the true successor of Corelli, representing in both respects the next step in the development of the art.
Tartini lived until the year 1770. He had, as Doctor Burney says, "no other children than his scholars, of whom his care was constantly paternal," Nardini, his first and favourite pupil, came from Leghorn to see him in his sickness and attend him in his last moments with true filial affection and tenderness. He was buried in the Church of St. Catharine, a solemn requiem being held in the chapel of San Antonio, and at a later period his memory was honoured by a statue which was erected in the Prato della Valle, a public walk at Padua, where it may be seen among the statues of the most eminent men connected with that famous university.
Jean Marie Leclair, a pupil of Somis, was a Frenchman, born at Lyons, and he began life as a dancer at the Rouen Theatre. He went to Turin as ballet master and met Somis, who induced him to take up the violin and apply himself to serious study. On returning to Paris, he was appointed ripieno-violinist at the Opera, and in 1731 became a member of the royal band, but he, although undoubtedly superior to any violinist in Paris at that time, never seems to have made much of a success, for he resigned his positions and occupied himself exclusively with teaching and composition, and it is on the merits of his works that he occupies a high place among the great classical masters of the violin. Leclair was murdered late one night close to the door of his own house, shortly after his return from Amsterdam, to which place he had gone solely for the purpose of hearing Locatelli. No motive for the crime was ever discovered, nor was the murderer found.
Gaetano Pugnani was a native of Turin, and to him more than to any other master is due the preservation of the pure, grand style of Corelli, Tartini, and Vivaldi, for he combined the prominent qualities of style and technique of all three. He became first violin to the Sardinian court in 1752, but travelled extensively. He made long stays in Paris and London, where he was for a time leader of the opera band, and produced an opera of his own, also publishing a number of his compositions. In 1770 he was at Turin, where he remained to the end of his life as teacher, conductor, and composer.
Felice Giardini, another pupil of Somis, was born at Turin and became one of the foremost violinists in Europe. In 1750 he went to England where he made his first appearance at a benefit concert for Cuzzoni, the celebrated opera singer, then in the sere and yellow leaf of her career. His performance was so brilliant that he became established as the best violinist who had yet appeared in England, and in 1754 he was placed at the head of the opera orchestra, succeeding Festing. Soon afterwards he joined with the singer Mingotti in the management of opera, but the attempt was not a financial success. Notwithstanding his excellence as a performer and composer and the fine appointment which he held, Giardini died in abject poverty at Moscow, to which place he had gone after finding himself superseded in England by newcomers.
Among the pupils of Tartini the most eminent was Pietro Nardini, who was born at Fibiano, a village of Tuscany, in 1722. He became solo violinist at the court of Stuttgart and remained there fifteen years. In 1767 he went to Leghorn for a short time, and then returned to Padua, where he remained with his old master Tartini until the latter's death, when he was appointed director of music to the court of the Duke of Tuscany, in whose service he remained many years.
Of his playing, Leopold Mozart, himself an eminent violinist, writes: "The beauty, purity and equality of his tone, and the tastefulness of his cantabile playing, cannot be surpassed; but he does not execute great difficulties." His compositions are marked by vivacity, grace, and sweet sentimentality, but he has neither the depth of feeling, the grand pathos, nor the concentrated energy of his master Tartini.
Antonio Lolli, who was born at Bergamo about 1730, appears to have been somewhat of a charlatan. He was self-taught, and, though a performer of a good deal of brilliancy, was but a poor musician. He was restless, vain, and conceited, and addicted to gambling. He is said to have played the most difficult double-stops, octaves, tenths, double-shakes in thirds and sixths, harmonics, etc., with the greatest ease and certainty. At one time he appeared as a rival of Nardini, with whom he is said to have had a contest, and whom he is supposed to have defeated. According to some accounts, he managed to excite such universal admiration in advance of the contest that Nardini withdrew.
Lolli was so eccentric that he was considered by many people to be insane, and Doctor Burney, in writing of him, says, "I am convinced that in his lucid intervals, he was in a serious style a very great, expressive, and admirable performer;" but Doctor Burney does not mention any lucid interval.
Early in the eighteenth century Franz Benda was born in Bohemia at the village of Altbenatky, and Benda became the founder of a German school of violin playing. In his youth he was a chorister at Prague and afterward in the Chapel Royal at Dresden. At the same time he began to study the violin, and soon joined a company of strolling musicians who attended fetes, fairs, etc. At eighteen years of age Benda abandoned this wandering life and returned to Prague, going thence to Vienna, where he pursued his study of the violin under Graun, a pupil of Tartini. After two years he was appointed chapel master at Warsaw, and eventually he became a member of the Prince Royal of Prussia's band, and then concert master to the king.
Benda was a master of all the difficulties of violin playing, and the rapidity of his execution and the mellow sweetness of his highest notes were unequalled. He had many pupils and wrote a number of works, chiefly exercises and studies for the violin.
A violinist whose career had a great influence on musical life in England was Johann Peter Salomon, a pupil of Benda, and it is necessary to speak of him because his name is so frequently mentioned in connection with other artists during the latter half of the eighteenth century.
Salomon was born at Bonn in the same house in which Beethoven was born, and of Salomon, after his death, Beethoven wrote: "Salomon's death grieves me much, for he was a noble man, and I remember him ever since I was a child."
Salomon became an expert violinist at an early age, and travelled a good deal in Europe before he settled in England, which was in 1781, when he made his appearance at Covent Garden Theatre. He was criticised thus: "He does not play in the most graceful style, it must be confessed, but his tone and execution are such as cannot fail to secure him a number of admirers in the musical world."
He established a series of subscription concerts at the Hanover Square rooms, and produced symphonies of Mozart and Haydn. In fact, he was connected with almost every celebrity who appeared in England for many years. He was instrumental in bringing Haydn to England, and toward the end of his career he was actively interested in the foundation of the Philharmonic Society. He was noted more as a quartet player than as a soloist, and Haydn's last quartets were composed especially to suit his style of playing. He was a man of much cultivation and moved in distinguished society. His death was caused by a fall from his horse. He was the possessor of a Stradivarius violin which was said to have belonged to Corelli and to have had his name upon it. This he bequeathed to Sir Patrick Blake of Bury St. Edmunds.
1750 TO 1800.
Giovanni Baptiste Viotti has been called the last great representative of the classical Italian school, and it is also stated that with Viotti began the modern school of the violin. In whatever light he may be regarded, he was undoubtedly one of the greatest violinists of all. He retained in his style of playing and composing the dignified simplicity and noble pathos of the great masters of the Italian school, treating his instrument above all as a singing voice, and keeping strictly within its natural resources. According to Baillot, one of his most distinguished pupils, his style was "perfection," a word which covers a host of virtues.
Viotti was born in 1753 at Fontanetto, a village in Piedmont. His first musical instruction was received from his father, who is severally mentioned as a blacksmith and as a horn player. His musical talent being early noticeable, he was sent to Turin and placed by Prince Pozzo de la Cisterna under the tutelage of Pugnani, and was soon received into the royal band. In 1780 he travelled extensively, visiting Germany, Poland, and Russia, and meeting with great success. The Empress Catharine endeavoured to induce him to remain at St. Petersburg, but without success, and he proceeded to London, where he soon eclipsed all other violinists. In 1782 he went to Paris and made his debut at the celebrated Concert Spirituels. He was at once acknowledged as the greatest living violinist, but soon after this he ceased altogether to play in public. This decision seems to have been caused by the fact that an inferior player once achieved a greater success than he. He was evidently of a sensitive nature, and there is an anecdote told of him which is amusing even if its authenticity is open to question. Viotti was commanded to play a concerto at the Court of Louis XVI., at Versailles, and had proceeded through about half of his performance, when the attention of the audience was diverted by the arrival of a distinguished guest. Noise and confusion reigned where silence should have been observed, and Viotti, in a fit of indignation, removed the music from the desk and left the platform.
In 1783 Viotti returned to Italy for a short time, but the following year he was back in Paris teaching, composing, and benefiting the art of music in every way except by public performance. He became the artistic manager of the Italian Opera, and brought together a brilliant number of singers. In this business he came in contact with Cherubini, the composer, with whom he was on great terms of friendship. This enterprise was suddenly stopped by the revolution, and Viotti was obliged to leave France, having lost almost everything that he possessed.
He went to London and renewed his former successes, playing again in public at Salomon's concerts, and in the drawing-rooms of the aristocracy. But here his ill-luck followed him, for London being full of French refugees, and the officials being suspicious of them all, he was warned to leave England, as it was feared that he was connected with some political conspiracy.
This misfortune occurred in 1798, and Viotti retired to a small village called Schoenfeld, not far from Hamburg, where he lived in strict seclusion. During this time he was by no means idle, for he composed some of his finest works, notably the six duets for violins, which he prefaced by these words: "This book is the fruit of leisure afforded me by misfortune. Some of the pieces were dictated by trouble, others by hope." It was also during this period of retirement that he perfected his pupil Pixis, who, with his father, lived at Schoenfeld a whole summer for the express purpose of receiving Viotti's instruction.
In 1801 Viotti found himself at liberty to visit England once more, but when he returned he astonished the world by going into the wine business, in which he succeeded in getting rid of the remainder of his fortune. As a man of business the strictest integrity and honour regulated his transactions, and his feelings were kind and benevolent, whilst as a musician, he is said never to have been surpassed in any of the highest qualities of violin playing.
At the close of his career as a wine merchant, he returned to Paris to resume his regular profession, and was appointed director of the Grand Opera, but he failed to rescue the opera from its state of decadence, and, finding the duties too arduous for one of his age and state of health, he retired on a small pension. In 1822 he returned once more to England, where he passed the remainder of his life in quietude.
While travelling in Switzerland, and enjoying the beauties of the scenery, Viotti heard for the first time the plaintive notes of the Ranz des Vaches given forth by a mountain horn, and this melody so impressed him that he learned it and frequently played it on his violin. The subject was referred to by him with great enthusiasm in his letters to his friends.
There are numerous anecdotes about Viotti in reference to his ready repartee and to his generous nature. One of the most interesting is that concerning a tin violin. He had been strolling one evening on the Champs Elysees, in Paris, with a friend (Langle), when his attention was arrested by some harsh, discordant sounds, which, on investigation, proved to be the tones of a tin fiddle, played by a blind and aged street musician. Viotti offered the man twenty francs for the curious instrument, which had been made by the old man's nephew, who was a tinker. Viotti took the instrument and played upon it, producing some most remarkable effects. The performance drew a small crowd, and Langle, with true instinct, took the old man's hat and, passing it round, collected a respectable sum, which was handed to the aged beggar.
When Viotti got out his purse to give the twenty francs the old man thought better of his bargain, for, said he, "I did not know the violin was so good. I ought to have at least double the amount for it."
Viotti, pleased with the implied compliment, did not hesitate to give the forty francs, and then walked off with his newly acquired curiosity. The nephew, however, who now arrived to take the old man home, on hearing the story ran after Viotti, and offered to supply him with as many as he would like for six francs apiece.
Violin literature owes much to Viotti, for his compositions are numerous and contain beauties that have never been surpassed. His advice was sought by many young musicians, and among these was Rossini, who was destined to become great. De Beriot also sought out Viotti and played before him, but the old violinist told him that he had already acquired an original style which only required cultivating to lead to success, and that he could do nothing for him.
Viotti was one of the first to use the Tourte bow, and he studied its effects closely, so that the sweep of his bow became his great characteristic, and was alike the admiration of his friends and the despair of his rivals. He died in 1824, after about two years of retirement.
Among Viotti's most prominent pupils were Roberrechts, Pixis, Alday le jeune, Cartier, Rode, Mori, Durand, and Baillot, also Mlle. Gerbini and Madame Paravicini. Roberrechts became the teacher of De Beriot, who in turn taught Vieuxtemps, Teresa Milanollo, and Lauterbach. Baillot taught Habeneck, who taught Alard, Leonard, Prume, Cuvillon, and Mazas. From Alard we have Sarasate, and from Leonard, Marsick and Dengremont, while through Rode we have Boehm, and from him a large number of eminent violinists, including G. Hellmesberger, Ernst, Dont, Singer, L. Strauss, Joachim, Rappoldi. Some of them we shall refer to at length as great performers, others were celebrated more as teachers.
Rodolphe Kreutzer, who was born at Versailles in 1766, is the third in order of development of the four great representative masters of the classical violin school of Paris; the others being Viotti, first, Rode, second, and Baillot, fourth. With Baillot he compiled the famous "Methode de Violon" for the use of the students at the Conservatoire. Kreutzer's first teacher was his father, who was a musician in the king's chapel, but he was soon placed under Anton Stamitz, and at the age of thirteen he played a concerto in public, with great success. This is said by some writers to have been his own composition, though by others it was attributed to his teacher.
Kreutzer made a tour through the north of Italy, Germany, and Holland, during which he acquired the reputation of being one of the first violinists in Europe. On his return to Paris, he turned his attention to dramatic music, and composed two grand operas, which were performed before the court, and secured for him the patronage of Marie Antoinette. He also became first violin at the Opera Comique, and professor at the Conservatoire, where he formed some excellent pupils, among them being D'Artot, Rovelli, the teacher of Molique, Massart, the teacher of Wieniawski and Teresina Tua, and Lafont, who also became a pupil of De Beriot. On Rode's departure for Russia, Kreutzer succeeded him as solo violin at the Opera, later becoming Chef d'Orchestre, and after fourteen years' service in this capacity he was decorated with the insignia of the Legion of Honour, and became General Director of the Music at the Opera. In 1826 he resigned his post and retired to Geneva, where he died in 1831. Kreutzer was a prolific composer, and his compositions include forty dramatic works and a great number of pieces for the violin.
In 1798, when Kreutzer was at Vienna in the service of the French ambassador, Bernadotte, he made the acquaintance of Beethoven, and was afterwards honoured by that great composer with the dedication to him of the famous Sonata, Op. 47, which was first played by Beethoven and the violinist Bridgetower, at the Augarten, in May, 1803, either the 17th or the 24th. This is the sonata the name of which Count Leo Tolstoi took for his famous book, though to the vast majority of hearers it will always remain a mystery how the classical harmonies of the sonata could have aroused the passions which form the raison d'etre of the book.
Kreutzer was noted for his style of bowing, his splendid tone, and the clearness of his execution.
With three such masters as Baillot, Rode, and Kreutzer, besides Viotti, who was frequently in Paris, the French school of violin playing had now superseded the Italian.
Pierre Marie Francois de Sales Baillot, who was associated with Rode and Kreutzer in the compilation of the celebrated "Methode du Violon," was born at Passy, near Paris, in 1771, and became one of the most excellent violinists that France ever produced. His eminence in his profession was not obtained without a long struggle against great difficulties, for at the age of twelve he lost his father, who had kept a school, and became dependent upon friends for his education. His musical talent was remarkable at an early age, and he received his first instruction from an Italian named Polidori. At the age of nine he was placed under a French teacher named Sainte-Marie, whose training gave him the severe state and methodical qualities by which his playing was always distinguished.
His love for his instrument was greatly augmented when, at the age of ten, he heard Viotti play one of his concertos, and from that day the great violinist became his model.
When his father died a year or two later, a government official, M. de Boucheporn, sent him, with his own children, to Rome, where he was placed with Pollani, a pupil of Nardini, under whom he made rapid progress, and soon began to play in public. He was, however, unable to follow directly in the path of his profession, and for five years he travelled with his benefactor, acting as private secretary, and securing but little time for his violin playing.
In 1791 he returned to Paris, and Viotti secured a place for him in the opera orchestra, but on being offered a position in the Ministere des Finances, he gave up his operatic work, and for some years devoted only his leisure to the study of the violin. He now had to serve with the army for twenty months, at the end of which time he once more determined to take up music as a profession, and soon appeared in public with a concerto of Viotti. This performance established his reputation, and he was offered a professorship of violin playing at the Conservatoire, then recently opened.
His next appointment was to the private band of Napoleon, after which he travelled for three years in Russia with the violoncello player Lemare, earning great fame.
Returning to Paris, he established concerts for chamber music, which proved successful, and built up for him a reputation as an unrivalled quartet player. He travelled again, visiting Holland, Belgium, and England, and then he became leader of the opera band in Paris and of the royal band. He made a final tour in Switzerland in 1833, and died in 1842.
Baillot is considered to have been the last distinguished representative of the great classical school of violin playing in Paris. In his "L'Art du Violon" he points out the chief distinction between the old and the modern style of violin playing to be the absence of the dramatic element in the former, and its predominance in the latter, thus enabling the executive art to follow the progress marked out by the composer, and to bring out the powerful contrasts and enlarged ideas of the modern musical compositions. After the time of Baillot and his contemporaries the style of Paganini became predominant in Paris, but the influence of the Paris school extended to Germany, where Spohr must be considered the direct descendant artistically of Viotti and Rode.
Perhaps the most illustrious pupil of Viotti was Pierre Rode, who was born at Bordeaux in 1774, and exhibited such exceptional talent that at the age of sixteen he was one of the violins at the Theatre Feydeau in Paris. He had made his debut in Paris at the Theatre de Monsieur, when he played Viotti's thirteenth concerto with complete success. In 1794 he began to travel, and made a tour through Holland and North Germany, visiting England, driven there by stress of weather, on his way home. He appeared once in London, and then left for Holland and Germany again. On his return to France he was appointed professor of the violin at the Conservatoire, then newly established. In 1799 ne made a trip to Spain, where he met Boccherini. The following year he returned to Paris, where he was made solo violinist to the First Consul, and it was at this period that he gained his greatest success, when he played with Kreutzer a duo concertante of the latter's composition. After this he went to Russia, where he was enthusiastically received, and was appointed one of the emperor's musicians. The life in Russia, however, overtaxing his strength, from that time his powers began to fail, and he met with many disappointments. In 1814 he married, and, although he made an unsuccessful attempt to renew his public career, he may be said to have retired. He died at Bordeaux in 1830.
Of Rode's playing in his best days we are told that he displayed all the best qualities of a grand, noble, pure, and thoroughly musical style. His intonation was perfect, his tone large and pure, and boldness, vigour, deep and tender feeling characterised his performances. In fact he was no mere virtuoso but a true artist. His musical nature shows itself in his compositions, which are thoroughly suited to the nature of the violin, and have a noble, dignified character and considerable charm of melody, though they show only moderate creative power. He had few pupils, but his influence through his example during his travels, and through his compositions, was very great indeed.
Beethoven wrote for Rode, after hearing him play in Vienna, the famous violin Romance in F, Op. 50, one of the highest possible testimonials to Rode's ability as a violinist. It is known, however, that he was obliged to seek assistance in scoring his own compositions, and therefore lacked an important part of a musical education.
The most celebrated pupil of Baillot was Francois Antoine Habeneck, the son of a musician in a French regimental band. During his early youth Habeneck was taught by his father, and at the age of ten played concertos in public. He visited many places with his father's regiment, which was finally stationed at Brest. At the age of twenty he went to Paris and entered the Conservatoire, where in 1804 he was awarded first prize for violin playing, and became a sub-professor.
The Empress Josephine, on hearing him play, was so pleased that she granted him a pension of twelve hundred francs. He became one of the first violins at the Opera, but his special forte was as leader of orchestras, and he held that post at the Conservatoire, on account of his efficiency, until 1815, when the advent of the allied armies caused it to be closed.
Habeneck was instrumental in bringing forward the great orchestral works of Beethoven. He became director of the Grand Opera, and inspector-general of the Conservatoire.
Habeneck is said to have been greatly addicted to taking snuff, and this habit led to an amusing episode with Berlioz, which the latter regarded in a very unfriendly light. At a public performance of the Requiem of Berlioz, the composer had arranged with Habeneck to conduct the music, Berlioz taking his seat close behind the conductor. The work was commenced, and had been proceeded with some little time, when Habeneck (presumably taking advantage of what seemed to him a favourable moment) placed his baton on the desk, took out his snuff-box, and proceeded to take a pinch. Berlioz, aware of the breakers ahead, rushed to the helm and saved the wreck of his composition by beating time with his arm. Habeneck, when the danger was passed, said, "What a cold perspiration I was in! Without you we should assuredly have been lost." "Yes," said the composer, "I know it well," accompanying his words with an expression of countenance betokening suspicion of Habeneck's honesty of purpose. The violinist little dreamed that this gratification of his weakness for snuff-taking would be regarded in the pages of Berlioz's Memoirs as having been indulged in from base motives.
Habeneck died in 1849. He published only a few of his compositions.
One of the most eminent violinists of the French school, who flourished during the early part of the nineteenth century, was Charles Philippe Lafont. Besides brilliant technical capabilities he had a sympathetic tone and a most elegant style, and these qualities gave him a very high position in the ranks of performers.
Lafont was born at Paris, December 7, 1781, and received his first lessons from his mother, who afterward placed him under her brother, Berthaume. Under his care he made a successful concert tour through Germany and other countries as early as 1792, after which he returned to Paris and settled down to study under Rudolf Kreutzer.
For a time his studies were interrupted by an attempt to become a singer, and he appeared at the Theatre Feydeau, which had then been opened by Viotti. This diversion being soon at an end, he returned to the violin, but on the outbreak of the revolution in France he left the country and travelled throughout Europe, being absent from Paris, with the exception of a short visit in 1805, until 1815.
During his travels he was made chamber virtuoso to the Czar Alexander, and on his return to France he became first violinist of the royal chamber musicians of Louis XVIII., and musical accompanist to the Duchesse de Berry.
Lafont's career came to a sudden end by the overturning of a carriage while on a concert tour in the south of France in 1839.
He was one of the numerous violinists who challenged Paganini to an artistic duel, in which he got the worst of it, though his admirers accounted for his defeat by the fact that the contest took place at La Scala, in Milan, where the sympathy of the audience was in favour of the Italian virtuoso.
Lafont was a prolific composer, but few of his works have survived. He was also the owner of a magnificent Guarnerius violin, which is now said to be the property of Adolf Brodsky.
As a composer Spohr probably influenced the modern style of violin playing even more than as a player, for he lifted the concerto to the dignity of a work of art, whereas it had formerly been simply a show piece, though not always without merit. He set a great example of purity of style and legitimate treatment of the instrument, and is considered to have had a more beneficial effect on violin playing than Paganini, who was born in the same year, 1784.
Louis Spohr was the son of a physician, who, two years after Louis was born at Brunswick, took up his residence at Seesen, where the childhood of the future virtuoso was passed. Both father and mother were musical, the former playing the flute, while the latter was a pianist and singer. It is said that young Spohr showed his talents remarkably early, and was able to sing duets with his mother when only four years of age. At five he began to learn the violin and at six he could take part in Kalkbrenner's trios. He also began to compose music, and under his father's methodical guidance acquired the habit of finishing everything that he began to write, without erasure or alteration. His instruction in the art of composition was confined to the mere rudiments, and he acquired the art chiefly by studying the scores of the great composers.
Spohr's first public appearance was at a school concert, and such was his success that he was asked to repeat the performance at a concert given by the duke's band. More study ensued, and then, at the age of fourteen, he undertook to make his first artistic tour, and set out for Hamburg, carrying with him some letters of introduction.
It seems that the people of Hamburg did not show much enthusiasm over the young artist, for he was unable to arrange a hearing, and, having exhausted his funds, he returned to Brunswick in the time-honoured manner of unsuccessful artists,—on foot. Spohr's experience seems to have produced upon him the same effect that many aspiring young players have since felt, viz., that he had better go on with his studies. He accordingly presented a petition to the Duke of Brunswick asking for means to carry out his desires. The duke was pleased with him, and not only gave him a place in his band, but also agreed to pay his expenses while he studied with one of the most eminent teachers of the day.
Neither Viotti nor Ferdinand Eck could receive him as a pupil, but by the advice of the latter, young Spohr was placed under his brother, Franz Eck, who was then travelling in Germany. With Franz Eck an agreement was made by the duke, under which Spohr should travel with him, and study en route. During the continuance of this agreement Spohr practised sometimes ten hours a day, and being so constantly with his teacher he made great progress. On his return to Brunswick he was appointed first violinist in the duke's band, and the following year he once more undertook a concert tour on his own account, travelling through Saxony and Prussia, and meeting with great enthusiasm.
While in Russia he met Clementi and Field, and he was presented with a most valuable Guarnerius violin by an enthusiast. This instrument he lost while on the way to France, where he intended to make a concert tour. Just before entering Goettingen the portmanteau which contained the violin was taken from the coach, and owing to the delays of officialism it was never recovered. The thieves had been seen with the booty in their possession, but in order to arrest them it was necessary to travel some nine miles for the necessary warrant and officer. In the meantime they had disappeared, as thieves occasionally do.
In 1805 Spohr was appointed concert-master in the band of the Duke of Gotha, and while holding this position he met, wooed, and wedded the Frauelein Dorothea Scheidler, an excellent harp player, who for many years afterwards appeared with him in all his concerts, and for whom he wrote many solo pieces as well as some sonatas for violin and harp. In view of this important step the following description of Spohr's personal appearance may be interesting: "The front of Jove himself is expressed in the expansive forehead, massive, high, and broad; the speaking eyes that glance steadfastly and clearly under the finely pencilled arches of the eyebrows, which add a new grace to their lustrous fire; the long, straight nose with sharply curved nostrils, imperial with the pride of sensibility and spiritual power; the firm, handsome mouth, and the powerful chin, with its strong outlines melted into the utter grace of oval curves. In its calmness and repose, in its subdued strength and pervading serenity, it is the picture of the man's life in little." Spohr seems to have been somewhat attractive.
Another authority tells us, in less flowery language, that he was of herculean frame and very strong constitution.
In 1807 he made a tour, with his wife, through Germany, and while at Munich the king showed his gallantry to Madame Spohr in a most gracious manner. The usher had neglected to place a chair on the platform for her, and the king handed up his own gilded throne chair, in spite of her protestations. The anecdote would be more satisfactory if it stated what the king sat upon during the concert, but that is left to the imagination. The king had some bad habits, and, we are told, was very fond of playing cards during the concerts. Spohr was not accustomed to having his audiences indulge in cards, and so informed the chamberlain, absolutely declining to play unless the cards were put aside for the time being. It was a delicate task that fell to the lot of the chamberlain, but he carried it through with the greatest diplomacy, each side making a slight concession: the king on his part promising to abstain from card playing during Spohr's performance on condition that the violinist's two pieces should immediately follow each other on the program, and Spohr withdrawing his embargo from the whole concert on condition that the king would abstain from his favourite amusement during his particular performance. The king, however, seems to have put in the last blow, for on the conclusion of the violin solos he gave no signal for applause, and as it would be a breach of court manners for any one to applaud without his Majesty's consent, the artist was obliged to make his bow and retire amidst deathly silence.
In 1808 Spohr wrote his first opera, but although it was accepted for representation, it was never performed in public.
During this year Napoleon held his celebrated congress of princes at Erfurt. Spohr was consumed by a burning desire to behold Napoleon and the surrounding princes, and went to Erfurt. Here he found that a French theatrical troupe was performing every evening before the august assembly, but only the privileged few could by any possibility gain admittance to the theatre. Spohr's ingenuity was equal to the emergency, and making friends with the second horn player, he induced that artist to allow him to substitute for him one night. Spohr had never in his life attempted to play the horn, but it was now necessary for him to acquire the art before night, and he set to work with such vim that by the time of the performance his lips were swollen and black, but he was able to produce the requisite tones. The orchestra having received strict injunctions to sit with their backs to the brilliant assembly, probably to protect their eyesight from its dazzling effects, Spohr fitted himself out with a small mirror, and placing this upon his music-rack, he was able to enjoy for a couple of hours the vision of the great Napoleon, who, with his most distinguished guests, occupied the front row of the stalls.
Spohr remained at Gotha until 1813, when he was offered and accepted the post of the leadership at the Theatre an der Wien at Vienna, and while here he composed his opera of "Faust," which, however, was not produced at that time. He also wrote a cantata in celebration of the battle of Leipzig, which he did not succeed in producing, and not feeling satisfied with his position, and having various disagreements with the management, the engagement was cancelled by mutual consent. During his stay in Vienna Spohr was frequently in contact with Beethoven, and though he admired that great master he criticised some of his compositions very severely, and is said to have remarked that "Beethoven was wanting in aesthetic culture and sense of beauty," a remark difficult to understand in these later days. It is the more incomprehensible from the fact that Spohr in after years was the very first musician of eminence to interest himself in Wagner's talent, for he brought out at Cassel "Der Fliegende Hollaender," and continued with "Tannhaeuser," notwithstanding the opposition of the court. He considered Wagner to be by far the greatest of all dramatic composers living at that time. In 1815 he made a concert tour in France and Italy, during which he met Rossini and Paganini, playing at Venice a sinfonia concertante of his own composition, with the latter.
On his return to Germany in 1817 Spohr was appointed conductor of the Opera at Frankfort-on-the-Main, where his opera "Faust" was now produced, also "Zemire and Azor." Owing to difficulties with managers again he left Frankfort after a stay of only two years, and his next venture was a visit to England, where he appeared at the concerts of the Philharmonic Society in London. His success was brilliant, for his clear style and high artistic capacity, added to his reputation as a composer, carried him into popularity, and the artistic world vied with the public in doing honour to him. At his farewell concert, his wife made her last appearance as a harp player, for on account of ill-health she was obliged to give it up, and thereafter she played only the pianoforte.
On his way home from England Spohr visited Paris for the first time, and made the personal acquaintance of Kreutzer, Viotti, Habeneck, Cherubini, and other eminent musicians, who received him with the greatest cordiality. But the public did not seem to appreciate his merits, for his quiet, unpretentious style was not quite in keeping with the taste of the French.
On his return to Germany Spohr settled in Dresden, and remained there until 1822, when he became Hofkapellmeister to the Elector of Hesse-Cassel, and he remained in Cassel for the rest of his life. This position he obtained on the advice of Weber.
In 1831 he completed his great "Violin School," which has ever since its publication been considered a standard work. The following year the political disturbances interfered with the opera performances at Cassel, and caused him much annoyance. In 1834 he lost his wife, but his work of composition proceeded with vigour.
In 1839 he again visited England, where his music had become very popular, and during the remainder of his career he repeated his visit several times, many of his works being produced by the various societies.
His life at Cassel was not free from cares and friction, and he was subjected to many indignities and annoyances by the elector. Perhaps his sympathy with the revolutionists of 1848 was the chief cause of these petty persecutions. When Spohr married his second wife, Marianne Pfeiffer, the elector objected, and only gave his reluctant consent when Spohr agreed to waive the right of his wife to a pension. All his proposals were met with opposition. "Tannhaeuser" was produced and well received, but a repetition of the performance was not allowed, and "Lohengrin" was ordered to be withdrawn from rehearsal, for Wagner was one of the revolutionists and was obliged to live in seclusion.
America is indebted to this revolution of 1848 for some excellent musicians, for the Germania Orchestra, an organisation of young revolutionists, sought these shores, and after a prosperous career, begun under great trials and discouragements, the various members settled in different cities and became identified with the musical life of the nation.
In 1851 the elector refused to sign the permit for Spohr's two months' leave of absence, to which he was entitled under his contract, and when the musician departed without the permit, a portion of his salary was deducted. In 1857 he was pensioned off, much against his own wish, and in the winter of the same year he had the misfortune to break his arm, an accident which put an end to his violin playing. Nevertheless he conducted his opera "Jessonda" at the fiftieth anniversary of the Prague Conservatorium in the following year, with all his old-time energy. In 1859 he died at Cassel.
Through all his long career Spohr had lived up to the ideal he had conceived in his youth. He was a man of strong individuality, and invariably maintained the dignity of his art with unflinching independence. Even the mistakes that he made, as for instance his criticism of Beethoven, bore the strongest testimony to his manly straightforwardness and sincerity in word and deed. He was a most prolific composer, leaving over two hundred works in all. His violin concertos stand foremost among his works, and are distinguished as much by noble and elevated ideas as by masterly thematic treatment, yet there is a certain monotony of treatment in all, and his style and manner are entirely his own.
As an executant Spohr stands among the greatest of all time. In slow movements he played with a breadth and beauty of tone, and a delicacy and refinement of expression almost unequalled. His hands were of exceptional size and strength, and enabled him to execute the most difficult double stops and stretches with the greatest facility. Even in quick passages he preserved a broad, full tone, and his staccato was brilliant and effective. He disliked the use of the "springing bow," which came with the modern style of playing.
Spohr had a great many pupils, of whom the best known were Ries, Ferd. David, Blagrove, Bargheer, Koempel, and Henry Holmes. He was also considered one of the best conductors of his time, and introduced into England the custom of conducting with a baton.
Amongst the amusing episodes in the life of Spohr was one which took place in London, when a servant brought him a letter desiring M. Spohr to "be present at four o'clock to-morrow evening at the closet of the undersigned," Spohr had not the faintest idea as to the identity of "the undersigned," nor the least inkling of that gentleman's design. He therefore replied that he had an engagement at that time. To this note he received another polite epistle asking him to be good enough to honour the "undersigned" with an interview, and to choose his own time. He therefore made an appointment, which he kept punctually, and on arriving at the house to which he was directed, he found an old gentleman, who was very genial, but who could speak neither French nor German. As Spohr spoke no English the communication between them was of necessity carried on by pantomime. The old gentleman led the way into a room, the walls of which were literally covered with violins, from which Spohr gathered the idea that he was to pick out that which he considered the best. After trying them all he had to decide between the merits of half a dozen, and, when he finally gave his opinion, the gentleman seemed delighted, and offered him a five pound note to compensate him for his trouble. This the violinist declined to accept, for he had found as much enjoyment as his host, and considered it a privilege to be able to examine such a fine collection of beautiful instruments. The gentleman found a way of satisfying his ideas of compensation by buying tickets to the value of ten pounds, for one of Spohr's concerts.
Among the most talented violinists of the early part of the nineteenth century was Karl Joseph Lipinski, the son of a Polish violin player whose gifts were uncultivated. He was born in Poland, in 1790, at a small town named Radzyn. After learning, with the aid of his father, to play the violin, he took up the 'cello, and taught himself to play that instrument, and in later days he attributed his full tone on the violin to the power which his 'cello practice gave to his bow arm.
Lipinski seems to have been an energetic and original man. He was in the habit of appearing at concerts both as violinist and 'cellist. He was unable to play the piano, so when he was conductor of the opera at Lemberg he directed with the violin, and frequently had to play two parts, which gave him great command over his double stops. When the fame of Paganini reached him he set forth to Italy, that he might profit by hearing the great virtuoso, and when the opportunity came at Piacenza, he distinguished himself by being the only person in the audience to applaud the first adagio. After the concert he was introduced to Paganini, and he did not fail to improve the acquaintance, frequently visiting Paganini and playing with him, sometimes even in his concerts.
Lipinski declined the honour of going on a concert tour with Paganini, as he wished to return to his home. On stopping at Trieste he heard of an old man, over ninety years of age, who had once been a pupil of Tartini, and sought him out in order to "get some points" on Tartini's style. The old man, Doctor Mazzurana, declared himself too old to play the violin, but suggested that if Lipinski would play a Tartini sonata he would tell him if his style reminded him of the great master. It did not, but Doctor Mazzurana brought out of a cupboard a volume of Tartini's sonatas having letter-press under the music, and this Lipinski was ordered to read in a loud tone and with all possible expression. Then he had to play the sonata, and after numerous attempts and corrections, the old man began to applaud his efforts. Lipinski ever afterwards profited by these lessons.
Later on he met Paganini again at Warsaw, where they were rivals, for the time being, and different factions waxed warm over their respective merits. Paganini himself, who is said to have been asked whom he considered to be the greatest violinist, replied, with conscious modesty, "The second greatest is certainly Lipinski."
Lipinski travelled throughout Europe, meeting with great success, until in 1839 he was appointed concert-meister at the Royal Opera in Dresden, where he remained for many years. He also organised a string quartet, and was considered a most excellent performer of chamber-music. He wrote a large quantity of music for the violin, but little of it was of a lasting quality. In 1861 he was pensioned, and retired to Urlow, near Lemberg, where he had some property, and there he died in December of the same year.
The name Paganini stands for the quintessence of eccentric genius,—one of the most remarkable types of mankind on record. Paganini was able to excite wonder and admiration by his marvellous technical skill, or to sway the emotions of his hearers by his musical genius, while his peculiar habits, eccentric doings, and weird aspect caused the superstitious to attribute his talent to the power of his Satanic Majesty. Yet Paganini was not only mortal, but in many respects a weak mortal, although the most extraordinary and the most renowned violinist of the nineteenth century.
Nicolo Paganini was the son of a commercial broker, Antonio Paganini, and was born at Genoa, February 18, 1784. He was a child of nervous and delicate constitution, and the harsh treatment accorded to him by his father tended to accentuate and develop the peculiarities of his character. He was a good violinist at the age of six, and before he was eight years of age he had outgrown, not only his father's instruction, but also that of one Servetto, a musician at the theatre, and that of Costa, the director of music and principal violinist to the churches of Genoa. He had also written a sonata for violin, which was afterwards lost. At the age of nine he appeared in his first concert, given by Marchesi and Albertinatti in a large theatre at Genoa. At the age of twelve he was taken to Rolla, the celebrated violinist and composer at Parma, upon whom he made a great impression. When Paganini arrived with his father at Rolla's house they found him ill in bed, and not at all disposed to receive them. Whilst awaiting him, young Paganini found on the table a copy of Rolla's last concerto, and a violin. Taking up the violin, he played the piece off at first sight. This brought Rolla out of bed, for he would not believe, without seeing, that such a feat could be accomplished by so young a boy. Rolla said that he could teach him nothing, and advised him to go to Paer, but Paer was then in Germany, and the boy went to Ghiretti.
Although Paganini denied ever having taken lessons with Rolla, he nevertheless had frequent discussions with him concerning the new effects which he was continually attempting, and which did not always meet with the unqualified approval of the older musician.
The music which he wrote for his instrument contained so many difficulties that he had to practise unremittingly to overcome them, often working ten or twelve hours a day and being overwhelmed with exhaustion.
In 1797 Paganini made his first tour, with his father, through the chief towns of Lombardy, and now he determined to release himself, on the first opportunity, from the bondage in which he was held by his father. This opportunity presented itself when the fete of St. Martin was celebrated at Lucca, and after much opposition he at last obtained the consent of his father to attend the celebration. Meeting with much success, he went on to Pisa, and then to other places, in all of which he was well received. Being now free from the restraint of his home he fell into bad company, and took to gambling and other vices, the most natural result of his father's harsh training showing itself in lack of moral stamina.
For a time his careless life had its allurements, but the young virtuoso was frequently reduced to great straits, and on one occasion, if not more, pawned his violin. This happened at Leghorn, where he was to play at a concert, and it was only through the kindness of a French merchant, M. Livron, who lent him a beautiful Guarnieri, that he was able to appear. When the concert was over, and Paganini brought back the instrument, its owner was so delighted with what he had heard that he refused to receive it. "Never will I profane strings which your fingers have touched," he said, "the instrument is now yours." And Paganini used that violin afterwards in all his concerts.
This violin was, some time later, the means by which he was cured of gambling, for having been reduced to extreme poverty, he was tempted to sell it. The price offered was a large one. At this juncture he won one hundred and sixty francs, which saved the violin, but the mental agony he endured through the affair convinced him that a gamester is an object of contempt to all well regulated minds.
Paganini won another violin by his ability to read music at sight. Pasini, an eminent painter and an amateur violinist, refused to believe the wonderful faculty for playing at sight, which had been imputed to Paganini, and in order to test it brought him a manuscript concerto containing some difficulties considered as insurmountable. "This instrument shall be yours," said Pasini, placing in his hands an excellent Stradivari, "if you can play, in a masterly manner, this concerto, at first sight." Paganini accepted the challenge, threw Pasini into ecstasies, and became the owner of the instrument.
The severe course of dissipation in which Paganini indulged during these days of his youth ruined his health, and caused him frequently to disappear from the public gaze for long periods, throughout his career. With the fair sex he had more than one romantic episode. At one time a lady of high rank fell in love with him and led him captive to her castle in Tuscany. Here the lovers solaced themselves with duets on the guitar, and the violinist attained a proficiency, on that instrument, equal to the expression of the tenderest passion. This adventure brought retribution in after days, and in a most unexpected manner, for as his genius began to excite the wonder of the world, sundry malicious stories concerning him were invented and circulated. One of these stories was to the effect that he had been imprisoned for stabbing one of his friends, another rumour said that he strangled his wife, and that during his imprisonment he had been allowed only the solace of playing his violin with but one string. This story was told in order to account for his wonderful one-stringed performances, and it was absolutely untrue, but the time allotted by rumour to his supposed imprisonment coincided with the period which was really occupied with this romance.
At the end of three years he resumed his travels and his violin playing, returning to Genoa in 1804, where he set to work on some compositions. At this time he became interested in a little girl, Catarina Calcagno, to whom he gave lessons on the violin. She was then about seven years of age, and a few years later she became well known as a concert violinist.
Paganini did not remain long in Genoa, for the following year found him wandering again, and another love affair in Lucca led to the composition of a piece to be played on two strings, the first and the fourth: the first to express the sentiments of a young girl, and the fourth the passionate language of her lover. The performance of this extremely expressive composition was rewarded by the most languishing glances from his lady-love in the audience, but the most important result was that the Princess Elise Bacchiochi, sister of Napoleon, declared to him that he had performed impossibilities. "Would not a single string suffice for your talent?" she asked. Paganini was delighted, and shortly afterward composed his military sonata entitled "Napoleon," which is performed on the G string only.
At Ferrara he once nearly lost his life through unwittingly trampling upon the susceptibilities of the people, in the following manner. It appears that the peasantry in the suburbs of Ferrara bore ill-will toward the citizens of that town and called them "asses." This little pleasantry was manifested by the suburbanites in "hee-hawing" at the citizens when fitting opportunity presented itself. Now it happened that Paganini played at a concert, and some of the audience expressed dissatisfaction with the singer, Madame Pallerini, and hissed her. Paganini decided to have revenge, and when about to commence his last solo, he amused the public by giving an imitation of the notes and cries of various animals. The chirping of various birds, the crowing of the chanticleer, the mewing of cats, the barking of dogs were all imitated and the audience was delighted. Now was the time to punish the reprobates who hissed. Paganini advanced to the footlights exclaiming, "This for the men who hissed," and gave a vivid imitation of the braying of an ass. Instead of exciting laughter and thus causing the confusion of the enemy as he expected, the whole audience rose as one man, scaled the orchestra and footlights, and swore they would have his blood. Paganini sought safety in flight. He was eventually enlightened as to the mistake he had made.
Once, when he was at Naples, Paganini was taken ill, and in his desire to secure lodgings where the conditions would be favourable for his recovery, he made a mistake and soon became worse. It was said that he was consumptive, and consumption being considered a contagious disease, his landlord put him out in the street, with all his possessions. Here he was found by Ciandelli, the violoncellist, who, after giving the landlord a practical and emphatic expression of his opinion by means of a stick, conveyed his friend Paganini to a comfortable lodging, where he was carefully attended until restored to health.
In 1817 Paganini was urged by Count Metternich and by Count de Kannitz, the Austrian ambassador to Italy, to visit Vienna, but several times he was prevented from carrying out his plans by illness, and it was not until 1828 that he reached Vienna and gave his first concert. His success was prodigious. "He stood before us like a miraculous apparition in the domain of art," wrote one of the critics. The public seemed to be intoxicated. Hats, dresses, shoes, everything bore his name. His portrait was to be found everywhere, he was decorated and presented with medals and honours.
He continued his tour through Germany, being received everywhere with the utmost enthusiasm, and he visited England, after a sojourn in Paris, in 1831.
When he reached home after an absence of six years, he was the possessor of a considerable fortune, part of which he lost by injudicious investments. Some friends induced him to join them in the establishment of a casino in a fashionable locality in Paris. It was called the Casino Paganini, and was intended to be a gambling-house. The authorities, however, refused to grant a license, and it was found impossible to support it by concerts only. After some vicissitudes a law-suit was established against Paganini, who was condemned to pay fifty thousand francs, and to be imprisoned until the amount was paid, but this decision was not reached until Paganini was in a dying condition, and he went, by the advice of his physicians, to Marseilles, where he remained but a short time. Finding that his health did not improve, he decided to pass the winter at Nice, but the progress of his ailment was not checked, and on May 27, 1840, he expired.
By his will, made three years previously, he left an immense fortune and the title of baron, which had been conferred on him in Germany, to his son Achille,—the fruit of a liaison with the singer Antonia Bianchi of Como,—whose birth had been legitimised by deeds of law. His fortune amounted to about four hundred thousand dollars, besides which he had a valuable collection of musical instruments. His large Guarnieri violin he bequeathed to the town of Genoa, that no artist might possess it after him.
During his last illness Paganini, not realising that death was so near, devoted himself to music and to arranging for another concert tour. During his lifetime he had never paid much attention to religion and there were some doubts as to his belief. Although he expressed his adherence to the Roman Church, yet he dallied with its formalities, and when the priest visited him three days before his death to administer the final consolations of religion, the dying man put him off on the ground that he was not yet ready, and would send for him when the time came. Death prevented this, and burial in consecrated ground was therefore denied him. An appeal was made to the spiritual tribunal and in the meantime the body was embalmed and kept in a hall in the palace of the Conte di Cessole, whose guest he was during his last illness.
People now began to come from all parts of Italy to pay honour to the dead artist, and this so angered the bishop and priests that an order was obtained for the removal of the body. Under military escort the remains of the great violinist were taken to Villafranca and placed in a small room, which was then sealed up. And now Paganini became a terror to the ignorant peasants and fishermen, who crossed themselves as they hurried past the spot where the excommunicated remains lay. It was said that in the dead of night the spectre of Paganini appeared and played the violin outside his resting-place.
In the meantime every effort was being made to secure Christian burial. The spiritual tribunal decided that Paganini had died a good Catholic. The bishop refused to accept the decision, and an appeal to the archbishop was unavailing. Eventually the case was brought before the Pope himself by the friends of the dead man, and the Pope overruled the decision of the archbishop and ordained that Christian burial should be accorded to the artist. On the 21st of August, 1843, the Conte di Cessole took away the coffin from Villafranca, and interred it in the churchyard near Paganini's old residence at Villa Gavona, near Parma. Thus even after death he was the victim of superstition, as he had been during his lifetime.
Paganini resolved not to publish his compositions until after he had ceased to travel, for he was aware that his performances would lose much of their interest if his works were available to everybody. He seldom carried with him the solo parts, but only the orchestral scores of the pieces that he played. His studies were pronounced impossible by some of the best violinists of the day, so great were the difficulties which they contained, and in his mastery of these difficulties, which he himself created, may be found the true secret of his success. People accounted for it in many ways, one man declaring that he saw the devil standing at his elbow, and others stating that he was a child of the devil, and that he was bewitched.
His compositions are remarkable for novelty in ideas, elegance of form, richness of harmony, and variety in the effects of instrumentation. Few compositions ever attained such fame as the "Streghe," of which the theme was taken from the music of Suessmayer to the ballet of "Il Noce di Benevento."
While it may be readily admitted that many of the effects with which Paganini dazzled the multitude were tainted with charlatanism, yet the fact remains that no one ever equalled him in surmounting difficulties, and it is doubtful if, among all the excellent violinists of the present day, any of them compares with that remarkable man.
Some of his studies have been adapted to the pianoforte by Schumann and by Liszt, and of the collection arranged by Liszt, consisting of five numbers from the Caprices, Schumann says: "It must be highly interesting to find the compositions of the greatest violin virtuoso of this century in regard to bold bravura—Paganini—illustrated by the boldest of modern pianoforte virtuosi—Liszt." This collection is probably the most difficult ever written for the pianoforte, as its original is the most difficult work that exists for the violin. Paganini knew this well, and expressed it in his short dedication, "Agli Artisti," that is to say, "I am only accessible to artists."