- Sheet music at NRML’s Muziekschatten (Music Treasures).
- List of compositions at Netherlands Radio Music Library.
Composed 7 Violin Concertos and One Movement of an 8th Violin Concerto. All are now available on CD except for the 8th! He also composed some charming variations on Yankee Doodle Dandy. (Submitted by Jay Silman <MUSC1800Saol.com>)
Henry Vieuxtemps was born in 1820 in Verviers, not far from Liège, a district of Belgium that was fertile ground for violinists. He had his first lessons from his father, a weaver and amateur violin-maker and player, followed by study with Lecloux-Dejonc, a teacher who won praise from Eugène Ysaÿe, whose own younger brother, the pianist Thèophile Gautier, was born in Verviers. Vieuxtemps made his first public appearance as a violinist at the age of six, playing a concerto by Rode and the following year embarking on a concert tour of neighbouring cities with his teacher. In 1828 he was heard in Brussels by Charles de Bériot, who accepted him as a pupil. In the following years, now in absence of de Bériot, he continued to perfect his technique and broaden his musical tastes, assisted in the latter task by his teacher’s sister-in-law, Pauline Garcia, later Pauline Viardot, then a pupil of Liszt. Concerts throughout Germany and Vienna won him an increasing reputation, leading Schumann, in Leipzig, to compare him to Paganini, whom Vieuxtemps met and heard in London in 1834.
It was in 1836 that Vieuxtemps wrote his first violin concerto, the Concerto No. 2 in F sharp minor, published as Opus 19. He had some technical instruction in Vienna from Simon Sechter, the teacher with whom Schubert was planning to study at the time of his death in 1828, and further lessons in Paris with Anton Reicha. At the same time he had taken care to observe possible techniques of instrumentation by attending orchestral rehearsals with score in hand.
Vieuxtemps made his first visit to Russia in 1837, returning in the following years. It was in Russia that he wrote the Concerto No. 1 in E major, published as Opus 10, a work he introduced to Paris audiences in 1841, to the admiration of musicians and critics, including Wagner and Berlioz. In 1843 and 1844 he toured America and in the summer of the latter year, during a holiday in Cannstadt, near Stuttgart, he wrote his Concerto No. 3 in A major, Opus 25, a work later described by Ysaÿe as a great poem rather than a concerto, influenced, he went on to suggest, by Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, a work that Vieuxtemps had revived in Vienna in 1834, seven years after its composer’s death, and was to play again there eight years later, in 1842.
1844 also brought for Vieuxtemps marriage to Vienna-born pianist Josephine Eder. From 1846 to 1852 he was in St Petersburg as court violinist, soloist in the Imperial Theatres and teacher, writing there his Concerto No. 4 in D minor, Opus 31, a work described by Berlioz, as a symphony with a violin solo, and a number of other compositions. After leaving Russia, he spent two years in Brussels, before settling for a time in Dreieichenhain, neat Frankfurt. Vieuxtemps’s Concerto No. 5 in A minor, Opus 37, was written in the years 1858 and 1859 at the request of his fellow countryman and colleague Hubert Lèonard, a professor of the Brussels Conservatory, for a competition there. To this day the Fifth concerto, expressive and poetic in its melodies, colorful in its virtuosity and orchestration, and original in form, continues to attract violinists seeking music for concerts.
In 1866 Vieuxtemps moved with his family to Paris, continuing all the time his international career. In 1871 he returned again to Brussels, now as professor of the violin the Conservatory. Here he devoted considerable time and energy to teaching, his work interrupted by a stroke that affected his bowing arm, making further virtuoso playing impossible. He was replaced by Wieniawski, but in 1877 resumed teaching and conducting once more. Illness led finally to his resignation in 1879, when he joined his daughter and son-in-law at Mustapha in Algeria. Here he continued to compose, completing his Concerto No. 6 in G Major, Opus 47, and soon thereafter Concerto No. 7 in A minor, Opus 49. He died in 1881 and was buried in his hometown of Verviers, Belgium.
(Contributuion by <brucescambler.com>.)
- Belgium, Verviers, Cimetière de Verviers — 6 Jun 1881