Hommage à Paganini : Work information

Henry Vieuxtemps ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Richard Kapp (Piano), Mela Tenenbaum (Viola)

This work

Work name
Hommage à Paganini
Work number
Op. 9
1845-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Adam Abeshouse
Adam Abeshouse
Recording date
1997-04-14 00:00:00

Track listing

  • Capriccio 3:14 min

The Composers

Henry Vieuxtemps

The Belgian violinist and composer, Henri Vieuxtemps, made his first public appearance at the age of six in his hometown of Verviers. A couple of years later in 1828, a series of performances in Brussels attracted the attention of Charles de Bériot, who became his teacher, and took Vieuxtemps to Paris in May 1829 where he made his debut. He continued studying under Bériot until his teacher's departure for Italy in 1831, his further studies to be supported by a royal Belgian stipend.

In 1833 his father took him on a concert tour through Germany where he met and heard many of his famous contemporaries, including Molique, Spohr, and Mayseder. That winter he studied counterpoint with Sechter in Vienna, and was introduced into a circle of musicians who had been close to Beethoven. A concert in Leipzig resulted in a comparison of his technique to that of Paganini , by Schumann. Subsequently Vieuxtemps travelled to London where he met Paganini who predicted that he would have a great future.

Returning to Paris in 1835, Vieuxtemps began studying composition with Reicha. It was then that he produced his F# minor Violin Concerto (to be his renamed his Second Concerto), which reveals the strong influence of his encounter with Paganini, and the technical elements of Bériot's compositions. In 1837 he resumed his travels, finding particular success in Russia where he premièred two of his works, the Fantaisie-caprice and the First Concerto, at a concert in St. Petersburg in March 1840. Further performances of his concerto throughout Europe heightened his fame. Three tours of America, undertaken with Thalberg between 1843 and 1871 met with increasing acclaim, and a five year period (between 1846 and 1851) was spent in Russia as soloist to the Tsar and professor of the violin. There he composed his pioneering Concerto No. 4 in D minor which Berlioz  described as magnificent after Vieuxtemps performed it in Paris in December 1851.

In 1871 he accepted the post of violin professor at the Brussels Conservatoire, where his pupils included Eugène Ysaye, but he had to step down temporarily two years later when he suffered a paralytic stroke, and, after a limited resumption of teaching, permanently in 1879.

He spent the last years of his life in a nursing home in Algiers where he died in 1881.