Henri Vieuxtemps

Henri Vieuxtemps (* February 17, 1820 in Verviers, † June 6, 1881 in Mustapha Supérieur, a suburb of Algiers ) was a Belgian composer and one of the most significant violinists of the 19th century.


Henri Vieuxtemps received his first lessons from his father, a violinist and amateur violin maker. When he noticed the talent of his son, he was teaching the acting in Verviers violinist Joseph Lecloux - Dejonc ( 1798-1850 ). At the age of six years had Vieuxtemps in his native town his first public appearance with the 5th violin concerto by Pierre Rode. In the following years he gave further concerts in several neighboring towns. From 1829 to 1831 he studied with Charles -Auguste de Bériot at the Brussels Conservatory. After completion of studies, he moved with his teacher de Bériot to Paris. The unrest in the reintroduction of the monarchy in France, but also the wedding of his friend de Bériot led him back to Brussels. There he perfected his violin technique. In 1833, he led his second concert tour to Germany, where he developed friendships with Robert Schumann and Louis Spohr, who compared him with Niccolò Paganini. In the same year he appeared in Frankfurt am Main for the first time in public in front of a German audience in the hotel Weidenbusch with the 7th concert Rode, Air varié of de Beriot and variations of Mayseder. In the winter of 1835/1836 he studied with Simon Sechter counterpoint in Vienna, then at Anton Reicha in Paris composition. His first composition was known as the Violin Concerto No. 2. In 1837, he led with great enthusiasm and appreciation of the audience in St. Petersburg his Concerto No. 1. Living in Paris, he devoted himself with great success the composition of other works.

Vieuxtemps was taken on August 26, 1841 in Brussels in the masonic lodge Les Amis de l' Union Vrais et du Progres réunis. He later affiliated with the city's Lodge Amis Philanthropes.

In 1843, he broke for the first time to tour in the New World on. On this trip, the Viennese pianist Josephine Eder accompanied him ( 1815-1868 ). Only after returning home in 1844, she became his wife, the marriage took place in Frankfurt am Main. In the course of their joint concerts in America, she appeared as his sister and was therefore announced as " Josephine Vieuxtemps ": " His sister, a beautiful blonde who does not look like him, go on tour with him and accompanied him on the wing " wrote a New York newspaper in 1844. Both artists apparently feared that the Americans could visit less or not " prudish " the concerts of an unmarried couple. After he had spent in December 1843 with concerts in Boston, New York and other northern cities in the Union, he broke in early January 1844 in the south. In New Orleans, he made his debut on January 17, 1844; two months later he was in this city - after concerts in Veracruz and other Mexican cities and Havana ( February and March 1844) - on March 29, 1844 his farewell concert in the south of the Union. Then he drove the Mississippi and Ohio rivers upward again toward the north, and there he gave further concerts. In June 1844, he came back to Europe, " a wealth of experience richer ," as he wrote in his autobiography.

In 1846 he settled for 6 years in St. Petersburg, as a court musician of Tsar Nicholas I and soloist at the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg. In this position, he has composed four more violin concertos. Vieuxtemps was a founder of the St. Petersburg school violin at the Conservatory.

After he left Russia in 1852, he returned to his job as a traveling violin virtuoso. Together with Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894), he played Beethoven's violin sonatas and performed with the Russian pianist at numerous concerts in Paris. Until the autumn of 1864 he lived from May 1855 his wife Josephine Eder and their two children Julie (* 1846) and Maximilian (* 1848) on his " Good in Hayn " in Dreieichenhain near Frankfurt am Main. Because of the deteriorating political situation in Germany, he moved the end of 1864, initially for a short time to Frankfurt, then in 1866 he moved back to Paris, where he continued to develop his international career.

Six years later, in 1871, he transferred his violin class at Henryk Wieniawski, returned to Brussels and took over for the umpteenth time professor at the Brussels Conservatory. His most renowned pupil was Eugène Ysaÿe. He 1882schlug as head of the class in front of the German - Hungarian violinist Jenő Hubay.

In 1873 he suffered a stroke of paralysis of the left side of the body, which made it impossible for him to continue to play violin. From then on he lived a secluded mostly in Paris. From 1879, he spent his last years in a sanatorium near Algiers ( Mustapha Superieur ), which led his son Eduard Landowski. He continued his work as a composer continued tirelessly, but bitter about having to leave his music perform by other soloists.

Henri Vieuxtemps and Eugène Ysaÿe can be described as the founder of the Franco- Belgian violin school, which is partially maintained until today at the conservatories of Liège, Brussels and Paris.

His father Verviers erected a monument to him in 1898 and named the place of the location after him.

Prix ​​Henri Vieuxtemps

Queen Elisabeth of Belgium founded in 1920 to commemorate the 100th birthday of Vieuxtemps the "Prix de la Reine ". The first winner was the violinist Alfred Dubois ( 1898-1949 ). 1923, in this context, the first national violin competition "Prix Henri Vieuxtemps ", awarded every two years. Since the 20th competition in 1966, the award ceremony will take place at young artists every four years in Verviers instead ..


  • 7 Violin Concertos No. 1 in E - flat major, Op 10
  • No. 2 in F sharp minor, Op 19
  • No. 3 in A major, Op 25
  • No. 4 in D minor, Op 31
  • No. 5 in A minor Op 37
  • No. 6 in G major, Op 47
  • No. 7 in A minor op 49


Letters from Henri Vieuxtemps are in stock at the Leipzig music publisher CF Peters in Leipzig State Archives.