Monday, July 07, 2014

Great Polish Composers: Henryk Wieniawski

(10 July 1835 – 31 March 1880)

Henryk Wieniawski was born in Lublin, Congress Poland, Russian Empire. He was the son of a Jewish physician - his mother was the daughter of a Jewish physician. 

His father, Wolf Helman, aka Tobiasz Pietruszka, changed his name to Tadeusz Wieniawski, to better integrate into Polish society. By the time Tadeusz earned his medical degree he had decided to convert to Catholicism.

 At a very young age Henryk already demonstrated his exceptional talent for playing the violin.  He was promptly enrolled in the prestigious Paris Conservatoire, but not without initial objections. At issue was the fact that he was not a French citizen, and was only nine years old! But genious knows no bounds.  When Henryk graduated he embarked on an extensive tour performing many recitals, while his brother Jozef accompanied him on piano.

At the age of 12 Henryk published his first opus, a Grande Caprice Fantastique, which was only the introduction to what followed - an impressive catalogue of 24 opus compositions!

Piotr Janowski on violin, "Kujawiak" composed by Henryk Wieniawski 

When he was twenty five years of age, he was smitten by the lovely, demure Isabella Hampton and became engaged, much to the consternation of her parents.  It wasn' t until he wrote his famous Legende, Op .17, that her parents finally conceded and blessed the happy union. Henryk and Isabella married in 1860.
Shortly thereafter Henryk and Isabella moved to St. Petersburg, at the invitation of Anton Rubinstein, a famous Russian pianist, composer and conductor. Wieniawski led the Russian Musical Society's orchestra and string quartet, and found time to teach violin to hopeful young students. 

At the peak of his career, Wienawski replaced Henri Vieuxtemps as violin professor at the illustrious Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles.(1875)  But unfortunately his health began to decline and his concert performances were often interrupted abruptly.  Four years later Henryk attempted to arrange a tour of Russia but it was never completed.  Several weeks later he died in Moscow from a heart attack.  His remains are interred in Warsaw's Pawazki Cemetery.

Among his great compositions, Wieniawski wrote exceptional violin concertos, as well as two popular mazurkas for solo violin and piano accompaniment.  He is renown for developing techniques such as the left-hand pizzicato, harmonics, large leaps and many double steps.  Henryk taught his students the "Wieniawski bow grip" (previously called the Russian bow grip.  It is a rigid bowing technique that allows the violinist to play what Henryk called a "devil's staccato" with the greatest of ease.  It was the "devil's staccato" that molded his student's skill at playing violin.


Published works, with opus numbers

Grand Caprice Fantastique, Op. 1
Allegro de Sonate, Op. 2
Souvenir de Posen, Op. 3
Polonaise de Concert No. 1, Op. 4 (sometimes known as Polonaise Brillante)
Adagio Élégiaque, Op. 5
Souvenir de Moscow, 2 Russian Romances, Op. 6 (in this work he quoted Alexander Egorovich Varlamov's's song The Red Sarafan)
Capriccio-Valse, Op. 7
Grand Duo Polonaise for Violin and Piano, Op. 8
Romance sans Paroles et Rondo elegant, Op. 9
L'École Moderne, 10 Études-Caprices for Violin Solo, Op. 10
Le Carnaval Russe, Improvisations and Variations, Op. 11
2 Mazurkas de Salon, Sielanka et Piesn Polska (Chanson polonaise), Op. 12
Fantasie Pastorale, Op. 13 (Lost)
Concerto No. 1 in F♯ minor, Op. 14
Thème Original Varié, Op. 15
Scherzo-Tarantelle, Op. 16
Legende, Op 17
8 Études-Caprices for 2 violins, Op. 18
2 Mazurkas caractéristiques, Obertass et Dudziarz (Le Ménétrier), Op. 19 (NB. No 2 is known as both 'The Bagpipe Player' [ABRSM Vln Gr VIII Syllabus], and 'The Village Fiddler' [Naxos Records])
Fantaisie Brillante sur  Faust de Gounod, Op. 20
Polonaise Brillante, Op. 21
Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22
Gigue in E minor, Op. 23
Fantasie Orientale, Op. 24

Unpublished works, and works without opus numbers:

Wariacje na Temat Własnego Mazurka (c. 1847)
Aria with Variations in E major (before 1848)
Fantasia and Variations in E major (1848)
Nocturne for solo violin (1848)
Romance (c. 1848)
Rondo Alla Polacca in E minor (1848)
Duo Concertant on themes from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (c. 1850)
Duo Concertant na Temat Hymnu Rosyjskiego A. Lwowa (c. 1850)
Duo Concertant na Temat Rosyjskiej Melodii Ludowej (c. 1850)
Fantasia on themes from Meyerbeer's Le prophete (oc. 1850)
Mazur Wiejski (c. 1850)
Fantasia on themes from Grety's Richard Coeur-de-lion (c. 1851)
Duet on themes from Finnish songs (c. 1851)
Two Mazurkas (1851)
March (1851)
Kujawiak in A minor (1853)
Wariacje na Temat Hymnu Rosyjskiego (c. 1851)
Wariacje na Temat "Jechał Kozak Zza Dunaju" (c. 1851)
Variations on the Austrian Hymn (1853)
Rozumiem, pieśń na głos z fortepianem (1854)
Souvenir de Lublin, concert polka (c. 1855)
Fantasia on themes from Bellini's La sonnambula (c.1855)
Reminiscences of San Francisco (c. 1874)
Kujawiak in C major
Polonaise Triomphale
Reverie in F sharp minor na Altówkę i Fortepian
Violin Concerto No. 3 in A minor? (1878, unpublished, disappeared? Premiered in Moscow, December 27, 1878)

Suggested  Websites:

Henryk K. Wieniawski Music Society in Poznan


No comments:

Post a Comment