GREAT VIOLINISTS AND PIANISTS
By George T. Ferris
The title of this little book may be misleading to some of its readers, in its failure to include sketches of many eminent artists well worthy to be classed under such a head. There has been no attempt to cover the immense field of executive music, but only to call attention to the lives of those musical celebrities who are universally recognized as occupying the most exalted places in the arts of violin and pianoforte playing; who stand forth as landmarks in the history of music. To do more than this, except in a merely encyclopedic fashion, within the allotted space, would have been impossible. The same necessity of limits has also compelled the writer to exclude consideration of the careers of noted living performers; as it was thought best that discrimination should be in favor of those great artists whose careers have been completely rounded and finished.
An exception to the above will be noted in the case of Franz Liszt; but, aside from the fact that this greatest of piano-forte virtuosos, though living, has practically retired from the held of art, to omit him from such a volume as this would be an unpardonable omission. In connection with the personal lives of the artists sketched in this volume, the attempt has been made, in a general, though necessarily imperfect, manner, to trace the gradual development of the art of playing from its cruder beginnings to the splendid virtuosoism of the present time. The sources from which facts have been drawn are various, and, it is believed, trustworthy, including French, German, and English authorities, in some cases the personal reminiscences of the artists themselves.
THE VIOLINISTS AND PIANISTS.
The Ancestry of the Violin.—The Origin of the Cremona School of Violin-Making.—The Amatis and Stradiuarii.—Extraordinary Art Activity of Italy at this Period.—Antonius Stradiuarius and Joseph Guarnerius.—Something about the Lives of the Two Greatest Violin-Makers of the World.—Corelli, the First Great Violinist.—His Contemporaries and Associates.—Anecdotes of his Career.—Corelli's Pupil, Geminiani.—Philidor, the Composer, Violinist, and Chess-Player.—Giuseppe Tartini.—Becomes an Outcast from his Family on Account of his Love of Music.—Anecdote of the Violinist Vera-cini.—Tartini's Scientific Discoveries in Music.—His Account of the Origin of the "Devil's Trill."—Tartini's Pupils.
Viotti, the Connecting Link between the Early and Modern Violin Schools.—His Immense Superiority over his Contemporaries and Predecessors.—Other Violinists of his Time, Giornowick and Boccherini.—Viotti's Early Years.—His Arrival in Paris, and the Sensation he made.—His Reception by the Court.—Viotti's Personal Pride and Dignity.—His Rebuke to Princely Impertinence.—The Musical Circles of Paris.—Viotti's Last Public Concert in Paris.—He suddenly departs for London.—Becomes Director of the King's Theatre.—Is compelled to leave the Country as a Suspected Revolutionist.—His Return to England, and Metamorphosis into a Vintner.—The French Singer, Garat, finds him out in his London Obscurity.—Anecdote of Viotti's Dinner Party.—He quits the Wine Trade for his own Profession.—Is made Director of the Paris Grand Opéra.—Letter from Rossini.—Viotti's Account of the "Ranz des Vaches."—Anecdotes of the Great Violinist.—Dies in London in 1824.—Viotti's Place as a Violinist, and Style of Playing.—The Tourté Bow first invented during his Time.—An Indispensable Factor in Great Playing on the Violin.—Viotti's Pupils, and his Influence on the Musical Art.
Birth and Early Life of the Violinist Spohr.—He is presented with his First Violin at six.—The French Emigré Dufour uses his Influence with Dr. Spohr, Sr., to have the Boy devoted to a Musical Career.—Goes to Brunswick for fuller Musical Instruction.—Spohr is appointed Kammer-musicus at the Ducal Court.—He enters under the Tuition of and makes a Tour with the Violin Virtuoso Eck.—Incidents of the Russian Journey and his Return.—Concert Tour in Germany.—Loses his Fine Guarnerius Violin.—Is appointed Director of the Orchestra at Gotha.—He marries Dorette Schiedler, the Brilliant Harpist.—Spohr's Stratagem to be present at the Erfurt Musical Celebration given by Napoleon in Honor of the Allied Sovereigns.—Becomes Director of Opera in Vienna.—Incidents of his Life and Production of Various Works.—First Visit to England.—He is made Director of the Cassel Court