Sunday, September 1, 2013

Jules Garcin

Jules Garcin (Jules Auguste Salomon Garcin) was a French violinist, teacher, composer, and conductor born (in Bourges) on July 11, 1830.  He was an important musician in his day but, as were so many other significant violinists of his time, he was, after his death, soon forgotten.  Nevertheless, unlike orchestral musicians, he can never be completely invisible because of two historical facts: he taught Henri Marteau and he conducted the premiere of Cesar Franck’s d minor symphony.  In old age, he bore a striking resemblance to Czech violinist, Ottokar Novacek, although his claim to fame does not in the least depend on that fact.  He must have started violin lessons at an early age but I don’t know what age.  At 13, he entered the Paris Conservatory, studying with Jean Delphin Alard among other teachers.  He graduated in 1853, and was about 23 years old by then.  Three years later (1856) he became a member of the opera orchestra.  Fifteen years after that (1871), he was appointed concertmaster and assistant conductor of the orchestra.  Fourteen years later (1885), he was made chief conductor.  During all that time, he had also been assistant conductor and solo violinist of other orchestras (or concert associations) in Paris.  One such orchestra was the Orchestra of the Concert Society of the Conservatory.  He began teaching at the Paris Conservatory in 1875.  He was 45 years old.  On February 17, 1889, he conducted the premiere of Cesar Franck’s symphony in d minor, a work which was initially much-maligned by French musicians and critics alike.  Garcin played a copy (constructed in 1868 by JB Vuillaume) of the famous Messiah Stradivarius (1716), a Stradivarius from 1715 (the Cremonese, later owned by Joseph Joachim and now held by the City of Cremona), and another Strad from 1731 which bears his name.  The 1731 Strad was later owned by Israel Baker, then Sidney Harth, and later still by Kees Hulsmann.  Among the small number of Garcin compositions is a violin concerto which he used to play.  I don’t know if anyone else ever played it.  After retiring from the conservatory due to illness, Garcin died (in Paris) on October 10, 1896, at age 66.  


  1. "Mr. Gruppman plays the 1731 “Julles Garcin” Stradivarius violin generously provided by the Erasmus Foundation."