Henri Vieuxtemps

Henry Vieuxtemps attracted early attention as a prodigy, making his first public appearance as a violinist at the age of six. He later studied with Charles de Bériot and moved with him from Brussels to Paris in 1829. Two years later he embarked on the first of his concert tours, impressing musicians such as Schumann and Paganini. He took composition lessons with Simon Sechter in Vienna and later with Anton Reicha in Paris, and he wrote violin music for his own use on extended concert tours that took him to the major cities of Europe and, with the pianist Sigismond Thalberg, to the United States of America. In 1871 he was appointed professor at the Brussels Conservatoire, where his pupils included Eugène Ysaí¿e. He died in Algeria in 1881 after eight years of intermittent ill health that had impeded his teaching and put an end to his playing.

Vieuxtemps wrote a number of pieces for violin and piano. These include operatic fantasias and variations on other well-known melodies in a series of twelve duos concertants. These and other similar compositions provided topical material for concert tours, including Souvenir d’Amérique, based on ‘Yankee Doodle’, and Souvenir de Russie, as well as Old England, Caprice on 16th- and 17th-Century English Airs. He also left three string quartets and a viola sonata.