Giovanni Battista Viotti

Giovanni Battista Viotti ( born May 12, 1755 in Fontanetto Po; † March 3, 1824 in London ) was an Italian violinist and composer, he is considered one of the fathers of modern violin technique.


1768 Viotti went to Turin and in 1770 students of Pugnani, who had studied with Giuseppe Tartini there. 1775 Viotti was a member of the Royal Chapel in Turin. As of 1780 the acclaimed violin virtuoso with Pugnani traveled throughout Europe to St. Petersburg, where he separated in 1782 by Pugnani. Then Viotti lived in Paris, where he was on March 17, 1782 his debut at the Concert spiritual. Also, he was temporarily in the service of Queen Marie Antoinette. In the turmoil of the French Revolution Viotti moved to London, where he co-founded the Royal Philharmonic Society.

A close and lifelong friendship he maintained with William and Margaret Chinnery. 1798 Viotti was expelled from the country because he was suspected of being an agent of revolutionary France. However Contemporary English newspapers also suspected an intrigue in favor of inferior car Viotti rival, Wilhelm Cramer, and call influential nobles who had intrigued against Viotti the King. Despite intercession important people, even of the royal house, Viotti had to leave the country on March 8, 1798 and lived until 1799 or 1801 withdrawn in Schenefeld near Hamburg (now Schenefeld, Pinneberg district ) on the estate " Friedrichshulde " that a rich English Kaufmann, John Smith from Altona belonged. There, he taught for several months to seventeen- year-old Friedrich Wilhelm Pixis. After several newspaper reports, he returned in the summer of 1799 or at the latest early 1800 returned to England and lived incognito on the estate of Chinnerys in Gillwell in London. From the spring of 1801, he reappears, of course, as there living relatives of the household in the correspondence of the Chinnery. He retired completely from public musical life back, but concerted much at private events, especially in Gillwell. Since the 1790s, he was a partner in a wine trade. In July 1811 he became a British citizen.

After William Chinnery was dropped in 1812 for embezzlement of a large sum in disgrace, Viotti and Margaret Chinnery lived together.

After the Restoration in 1818 he returned to Paris. Meanwhile, the wine trade was gone bankrupt and had Viotti huge debt left behind. Hoping to be able to pay off this, he assumed the management of the Théâtre-Italien and the Opéra. From 1818 to 1821 he was director of the Grand Opera de Paris. In 1823 he returned with Margaret Chinnery to London, where he lived with her, and soon after died penniless and in debt. In his estate is found, inter alia, two violin concertos ( Nos. 28 and 29).

Create and effect

Viotti composed mainly for the violin. He took classical structures. The last Paris concert (No. 14-19, from 1788) already participated in early romantic traits. Composers such as Pierre Rode, Pierre Baillot, Rodolphe Kreutzer and in Germany Louis Spohr followed the style and model of his concerts, to a lesser extent Ludwig van Beethoven. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart added the 16th Viotti Violin Concerto, two trumpets and timpani (K. 470a ). The best known was Viotti 22 Violin Concerto in A minor, Johannes Brahms quoted in his Double Concerto in A minor op.102. The friend of Brahms famous violinist and composer Joseph Joachim wrote for this concert Viotti cadences that are still played today. Viotti wrote ten of his violin concertos for piano concertos.

His violin playing was characterized by a highly differentiated, sometimes forceful, energetic, sometimes soft sheet guide. Significantly, this is his statement: Le violon, c'est l' archet. Witnesses reported by his strong for that time vibrato.


29 violin concertos, two of them in the estate:

  • 2 Symphonies Concertante for Two Violins and Orchestra
  • 70 Violin Sonatas
  • Many duos, trios and quartets

Reception, Miscellaneous

The Italian violinist Franco Mezzena played from 1990 to 2004 every 29 violin concertos one. In addition, more than 20 CDs with works by Viotti in 2011 were available.