Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jacques Thibaud

Jacques Thibaud was a French violinist born on September 27, 1880 (Brahms was 47 years old.) After studying with his father, he entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of 13, studying with Martin Marsick, among others. Upon graduation in 1896, he shared first prize in violin with Pierre Monteux (who later dedicated his life to conducting.) At first, in order to just make a living, he played in the Cafe Rouge in Paris. The French conductor, Edouard Colonne, heard him playing there and offered Thibaud a position in his orchestra. In 1898, he made his debut with this orchestra and subsequently enjoyed great success as a soloist in Europe and everywhere else. This episode mirrors that of another famous violinist who was discovered playing in an Italian Cafe by Toscanini – Vasa Prihoda. (Albert Sammons was also discovered in similar fashion by Thomas Beecham.) In any case, Thibaud made his first tour of the U.S. in 1903 and thereafter came often. He was in the French armed forces during World War One (1914) and suffered injuries which required him to rebuild his technique. With his two brothers (a pianist and a cellist), he also formed a piano trio. Later, he disbanded the brothers’ trio in order to join Pablo Casals and Alfred Cortot in another trio (1930-1935.) Eugene Ysaye dedicated his second unaccompanied violin sonata to him. In 1943, with pianist Marguerite Long, he established the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud International Competition for violinists and pianists. His recordings are (understandably) few but they are now collectors’ items. He had a habit of holding his violin pointing downward although that did not detract from the technique or the sound. There are even a few videos of him playing on YouTube – from filming done in the 1930s. Here is one of them. Thibaud died on September 1, 1953 in an airplane crash in the French Alps. He was 72. His fellow French concert violinist, Ginette Neveu, had earlier died in a plane crash as well (1949 - at age 30.) Thibaud owned the 1716 Colossus Stradivarius violin which was stolen in 1998. It has been missing ever since. 

1 comment:

  1. Thibaud's Colossus Stradivarius had previously been owned by Viotti and Baillot.