Friday, July 10, 2009

Henryk Wieniawski

Henryk Wieniawski (Henryk Helman) was a Polish violin virtuoso, composer, and teacher born on July 10, 1835 (Paganini was 53 years old and Joseph Joachim was 4 years old.) Among violinists, he is most famous for his Scherzo Tarantelle and his second violin concerto (d minor – 1862 – dedicated to Sarasate), which all violinists – without exception – have in their repertoire (it’s the one Heifetz played on his U.S. debut.) He began his violin studies at age 5 and at age 8 (1843 - some sources say age 9), Wieniawski entered the Paris Conservatoire. Upon graduation, he concertized all over Europe. By all accounts, he was an extremely busy artist, presenting hundreds of concerts every year. His first published composition was the Caprice Fantastique (1847.) From 1860 to 1872, Wieniawski lived and taught in St Petersburg. He toured the U.S from 1872 to 1874. In 1875, he lived and worked (in the Royal Conservatory) in Brussels, Belgium. Among his pupils is Spanish violinist Achille Rivarde.  Wieniawski also composed, among many other works, Etudes (Caprices) for violin (dedicated to Ferdinand David), Caprices for 2 violins (1862), cadenzas for the Beethoven, Vieuxtemps (#5), and Mendelssohn (!!) violin concertos, and a third (unpublished) violin concerto in a minor (1878.) Few violinists – if any - have ever had their image engraved on a coin but he has (Poland - 1979.) No fewer than three Guarneri and two Stradivari violins still bear his name. He died in Moscow on March 31, 1880, at age 44. 

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