Sunday, January 25, 2009

Francois Habeneck

François Antoine Habeneck was a French violinist, composer, and conductor born on January 22, 1781 (Mozart was about 25 years old and would only live another ten years.) He was initially taught by his father (what else is new?), and by the age of ten was already playing in public. In 1801, he entered the Paris Conservatory. In the same year, he joined the orchestra of the Opera Comique, but shortly afterwards moved to that of the Opera. In 1817 (at age 36), Habeneck succeeded Rodolphe Kreutzer as concertmaster at the Opera, and in 1821 he became its director, a position which he held until 1846. During that time, he conducted the premiere performances of many operas. In 1828, Habeneck became the founding conductor of the Paris Conservatory Orchestra. By means of this orchestra’s concerts, he introduced Beethoven’s symphonies to a French audience. He composed two concertos, small violin pieces, and several songs. Habeneck died in 1849. A famous Stradivarius violin bears his name. I’ll try to locate a picture of it.

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