Henryk Wieniawski, reproduction: FoKa / Forum

A violinist, composer and music teacher, born in Lublin 10 July 1835, died in Moscow 31 March 1880.

His father, Tadeusz, was a renowned surgeon, and his mother, Regina, nee Wolff, was a proficient piano player. A true Lublin salon, the house of family Wieniawski was frequented by leading artists and hosted concerts, literary meetings and discussions. This had a major influence on the later life of Henryk and his two brothers, Julian, the elder one, becoming a writer and columnist, and the younger Józef pursuing the pianist's career.

Initially Henryk was taught by his mother, then by Jan Hornziel, the violinist of the Grand Theatre in Warsaw, and Stanisław Serwczyński, the soloist and concertmaster of the Budapest Opera. In 1843, at the age of eight, Wieniawski went to Paris to study with Lambert-Joseph Massart at the Paris Conservatory, from which he graduated three years later, winning the first prize and a gold medal. He then continued to take lessons from Massart for two more years, followed by a two-month concert tour in St Petersburg, the Baltics and Warsaw. In 1849 Wieniawski returned to the Paris Conservatory to study composition with Hippolite Collet, and graduated with distinction the following year.

In 1850 Henryk embarked on a series of concerts, starting from all major towns of the Russian empire and continuing in a number of European cities. His brother Jozef accompanied him until 1850. The response was enthusiastic wherever they appeared. Having enjoyed tremendous success in Paris, Brussels, Dresden, London and elsewhere, in 1860 Wieniawski accepted the posts of the first violinist at the tsar's court and the soloist of the Russian Music Society, simultaneously teaching the violin in the Society's music classes, turned into a Conservatory in 1862. Wieniawski's several years of teaching created the foundations of the St Petersburg violin school, later developed into the great Russian school by Leopold Auer.

Every year Wieniawski would spend three to four months playing concerts outside Russia, mostly in the fashionable spas of Europe. After twelve years in Russia, he left for a grand concert tour in the United States, to play - together with Antoni Rubinstein - 215 concerts over a period of eight months. Wieniawski stayed in the US until 1874, playing more concerts with Paulina Lucca, the famous singer. On returning to Europe, he took over as a teacher from the ailing Henry Vieuxtemps at the Brussels Conservatory, the position he held until 1877. One of his students there was Eugene Ysaye. Deteriorating heart condition and obesity forced Wieniawski to play concerts in the sitting position in his last years.

Wieniawski died in Moscow, in the house of Nadiezhda von Meck. The burial ceremony took place in Warsaw and was attended by forty thousand people.

Since 1935 Poland has been the venue of the Henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition. Initially held in Warsaw, the event, recurring every five years, was moved to Poznań in 1952.

See also page on Wieniawski's "Violin Concertos" .

Compositions:

 

  • Grand caprice fantastique sur un theme original op. 1 (1847)
  • Wariacje na temat wlasnego mazurka / Variations on his own mazurek (ca. 1847)
  • Aria z wariacjami E-dur / Aria and variations E-major (przed 1848)
  • Fantazja i wariacje E-dur / Fantasy and variations in E-major (1848)
  • Nocturne pour violon seul (1848)
  • Romance (ca. 1848)
  • Rondo alla polacca e-moll / Rondo alla polacca E-minor (1848)
  • Allegro de sonate, presto pour violon et piano concertant op. 2 (1848?)
  • Duo concertant na temat z opery "Lucja z Lammermooru" Donizettiego / Duo concertant on the theme from the opera "Lucia di Lammermoor" by Donizetti (ca. 1850)
  • Duo concertant na temat hymnu rosyjskiego A. Lwowa / Duo concertant on the theme of the Russian national anthem by A. Lwow (ca. 1850)
  • Duo concertant na temat rosyjskiej melodii ludowej / Duo concertant on the theme of Russian folk melody (ca. 1850)
  • Fantazja na temat z opery "Prorok" Meyerbeera / Fantasy on the theme from the opera "The Prophet" by Meyerbeer (ca. 1850)
  • Mazur wiejski / Village Mazur (ca. 1850)
  • Fantazja na temat z opery "Ryszard Lwie serce" Gretry'ego / Fantasy on the theme from the opera "Richard the Lion Heart" by Gretry (ca. 1851)
  • Duet na tematy finlandzkich pieśni (ok. 1851)
  • Dwa mazurki / Two Mazurkas (1851)
  • Marsz / March (1851)
  • Wariacje na temat hymnu rosyjskiego / Variations on the theme of the Russian national anthem (ca. 1851)
  • Wariacje na temat 'Jechał Kozak zza Dunaju' / Variations on the theme of 'Jechał Kozak zza Dunaju' (ca. 1851)
  • PremiEre polonaise de concert D-major op. 4 (ca. 1852)
  • Adagio ElEgiaque A-major op. 5 (ca. 1852)
  • Souvenir de Moscou, deux romances russes op. 6 (ca. 1852)
  • Capriccio-Valse E-major op. 7 (1852)
  • Grand duo polonais pour violon et piano concertant op. 8 (ca. 1852)
  • Romance sans paroles et Rondo Elegant op. 9 (ca. 1852)
  • Premier grand concerto fis-moll op. 14 (1852)
  • Le Carnaval russe, improvisations et variations humoresques op. 11 (ca. 1853)
  • Deux mazourkas de salon: La champetre (1850?) et Chanson polonaise op. 12 (1853)
  • Fantaisie pastorale op. 13 (ca. 1853)
  • Kujawiak A-minor (1853)
  • Wariacje na temat hymnu austriackiego / Variations on the theme of the Austrian national anthem (1853)
  • Souvenir de Posen, mazurek D-minor op. 3 (1854)
  • L'Ecole moderne, etudes-caprices pour le violon seul op. 10 (1854)
  • Theme original varie op. 15 (1854)
  • Rozumiem / I understand, composition for voice and piano (1854)
  • Souvenir de Lublin, concert polka (ca. 1855)
  • Fantazja na temat z opery "Lunatyczka" Belliniego / Fantasy on the theme from the opera '"La sonnambula" by Bellini (ca. 1855)
  • Scherzo-tarantelle g-moll op. 16 (1855)
  • LEgende op. 17 (ca. 1860)
  • Deux mazourkas caracteristiques: Obertass et le Menetrier op. 19 (1860?)
  • Etudes-Caprices na dwoje skrzypiec op. 18 / Etudes-Caprices for two violins (1862)
  • Fantaisie orientale a-moll op. 24 / Fantasie orientale A-minor (1862?)
  • Fantaisie brillante sur "Faust", opera de Charles Gounod op. 20 (ca. 1865)
  • Polonaise brillante A-dur op. 21 / Polonaise brillante A-major (ca. 1870)
  • Wspomnienie z San Francisco / Souvenir de San Francisco (ca. 1874)
  • Deuxieme grand concerto d-moll op. 22 / Deuxieme grand concerto D-minor
  • Gigue e-moll op. 23 / Gigue E-minor
  • Kujawiak C-dur / Kujawiak C-major
  • Polonaise triomphale
  • Reverie fis-moll na altówke i fortepian / Reverie F sharp minor pour alto et piano


Author: Polish Music Information Center, Polish Composers' Union, February 2004