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Lithograph. Published in La France Musicale, [c.1836].

Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881)

February 2020

(b.Verviers, 17 February 1820; d.Mustapha, Algeria, 6 June 1881)

The celebrated violinist, Henri Vieuxtemps, whose death in Algiers has just been announced, was born at Verviers in 1820.  He was the son of an old soldier who subsequently devoted his attention to music.  At an early age the boy displayed a considerable aptitude for that art.  At eight he played in several Belgian towns, and M. Bériot, struck with his talent, gave him lessons for several months.  Soon M. Vieuxtemps’s life became nothing but a series of long journeys from one end of Europe to the other.  When only ten he was warmly applauded in Paris, and a year later he visited Vienna.  St. Petersburg and Moscow received him with enthusiasm :  and some time after he started again on a tour through France, Holland, Germany, and Poland, even undertaking a voyage to America, to which country he several times returned.  His visits to London will be in the memory of all.  M. Vieuxtemps was appointed professor of the violin at the Brussels Conservatoire, but resigned the post in 1879, owing to ill-health.  He died at Mustapha, near Algiers.

From The Daily Telegraph, 8 June 1881.

The death of M. Vieuxtemps deprives the artistic world of the foremost representative of the great Belgian school of violinists.  Vieuxtemps was not merely an executant in his way unsurpassed, but a musician of large and varied acquirements, and a composer for the instrument, as his concertos show, of the highest eminence.

From The Graphic 11 June 1881


This programme above features Vieuxtemps in two of the above items.  An account of the first concert appeared in The Caledonian Mercury the following day and included :

M. Vieuxtemps, however, was satisfactory as ever, playing, as he only can, to that purpose which even the dullest can appreciate.  Few violinists, if any, can thrust so many good things into notice as M. Vieuxtemps, and, like a true artist, his best effects seem never to be striven after.  He seemed last night, as before, the most non-demonstrative, as well as the most substantial, of players. He was of course encored, but as is usual with him – it is an example to others more prolix – he only bowed his acknowledgments.