Schirmer's Library of Musical Classics

~

Vol.

230

Rodolphe Kreutzer
FORTY-TWO STUDIES
OR

CAPRICES
FOR THE

VIOLIN

r
EDITED AND REVISED
BY

EDMUND
WITH ,. BIOGRAPHICAi. DR. THI!O.

SINGER
SKETCH
OF

THI! AUTHOR

BY

BAKEl

G. SCHIRMER, INC., NEW YORK
Copyright. 1894, by G. Schirmer, Inc.

Printed In the U. S. A.

Bom at Versaillesthe 16thof Nov., 1766, of German parentage, RODOLPHE KREUTZER enjoyed to the full the advantages of musical lineage and environment. From his father, a violinist in the Royal Band, he received his first lessons in music, and early manifested extraordinary musical talent, with a decided predilection for the violin. Anton Stamitz, a violinist of repute, instructed him in violin-playing for a time; he later learned much from hearing Viotti, and may have received direct instruction from the latter. At twelve, his playing was distinguished by brilliancy and 'lJe11Je at " thirteen, he composed his first violinconcerto, which he himself performed with great applause at one of the Concerts Spirituels in Paris. At this time he was often invitee' to the Trianon, where he sang with taste in the petits concerts of the Qpeen, besides enchanting the select company by his performances on his favorite instrument. In 1782, when but 16, he became first violinist in the royal orchestra, thanks to the good offices of his protectress, Marie Antoinette; taking the position then made vacant by his father's decease. Eight years thereafter, his indomitable perseverance smoothed the way to his appointment as solo violinist at the Theatre Italien (afterwards the Opera Comique) j his position and influence were now such as to enable him to bring out his first opera, Jeanne d' Arc 4 Orleans, the first in a series of more than 40 dramatic works and ballets produced between 1790 and 1825, in part at the above theatre, in part , at the Grand Opera. During and after the Revolution, Kreutzer seems to have adapted himself with facility to his changing surroundings j there is no noticeable break in his productivity and his general artistic success. He wrote with apparently equal nonchalance the operas designed to delight the unfortunate royal family, those celebrating the events of the bloody social upheaval, and his dramas of the Consulate and the Empire.-Imagine Wagner under like circumstances !-In ISo2 he was first violin in the orchestra of the Consul Bonaparte j in 1806, solo violinist of the Emperor Napoleon j in 1815, maitre de chapelle to Louis XVIII. Kreutzer was, indeed, a musician who lived in and for his art ; transient externalities influenced him only in so far as they furnished new material for his facile fancy to work with. In 1796he made an extended tour through Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, on returning from which he was appointed professor of violin at the newly founded Paris Conservatory. Here he entered upon a new phase of professional activity, and soon attracted and developed numerous distinguished pupils. The teachings of Viotti were now bearing fruit; Kreutzer's brilliant and fascinating style won the enthusiastic admiration and confidence of the students, and placed him in the front rank

of contemporary virtuosi. He owed this remarkable success to a naturally fine musical instinct, and zeal for art, rather than to strict schooling or study. His execution was characterized by fiery energy, great purity and breadth of tone, nobility of phrasing, and that indescribable individualism of interpretation which is the birthright of genius alone. In ISoI he advanced to Rode's place as solo violinist at the Grand Opera, of which, in 1816, he was made second, and in 1817 first, chef d'orchestre. All this time, Kreutzer was still passionately devoted to composition,-not solely for the lyric stage, but also for his chosen instrument. Works of this latter description are 19 concertos, I, string-quartets and as many trios, various duos, symphonies concertantes, sonatas, airs with variations, etc. ; and with these, the work on which his fame as a composer chiefly rests, namely, the" 42 Studies" (often published in an incomplete edition of but 40 numbers). Kreutzer, a leader ofthat renowned school of violinplaying which originated in Italy, and was further developed in France by Vietti, BailIot,Rode, and himself, gave to posterity, in these "42 Etudes ou Caprices pour Ie Violon," a work which still of right occupies a prominent place in every course of violin-training,-which is, in fact, a classic in its province, and indispensable in laying a firm foundation for violin-technique, and as a preparation for the more difficult "24 Caprices" by Rode. Another work which has served-though in a different way-to embalm his memory, is Beethoven's Kreut{If Sonata, dedicated in 1806to ,. his friend" Kreutzer. In the dearth of positive information-even Thayer dismisses the subject in a few words-we can only conjecture the extent of the friendship between the two; it is averred that Kreutzer, who visited Vienna in 1798, never even played the sonata, and had but scant sympathy for Beethoven's style. He was created a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1824. In the same year he exchanged his post as chef d' archestre for that of general director of the music at the Grand Opera ; but held this position only until 1826, then retiring on a pension. In 1825, the breaking of an arm compelled his retirement from the Conservatory and concertstage. Having written a last opera, Mathilde, with unwonted care, he confidently applied, in 1827. to the then Director for its production ; but his solicitations were in vain. Mortified by this repulse, and a prey to mortal disease, he lingered for some years near the scene of his life-long triumphs. Advised to try the air of Switzerland for the benefit of his health, he proceeded thither in 1831; but it was too late. He expired in Geneva on June the 6th, 1831. It is related that a priest of that town refused him Christian burial, on the ground that he had been connected with the theatre. THBO. BAKER.

Up - bow. ,.., Down-bow. I~ E-string. IE ~A- string. III~ {D- string. IVi;l G- string.

v

Explanation of th~ Signs.

Pt., POlflt. HB., half- bow. WB., whole bow.

Fortv _two Studies. 'J

8

_

hold the finger down.

R. KREUTZER.

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