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Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
June 6
Can You Guess? Before the development of metal strings for a violin, strings were made of "catgut.  Can You Guess what "catgut" is?

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1757 - Ignaz Pleyel,  Austrian-French pianist,  piano manufacturer and music publisher, was born.

1807 - Adren-Francois Servais, Belgian cellist and composer  was born.

1869 - Siegfried Wagner, Swiss composer, was born.

1875 - Georges Bizet, French composer, died.

1903 - Araam Khachaturian, Armenian composer, was born.

- Vincent Persichetti, US composer, was born.

1921 - Birth of composer Joan Crowell.

1924 - Premiere of Mahler's unfinished Tenth Symphony. Zemlinsky conducted in Prague.

1924 - Premiere of Arnold Schoenberg's one-act melodrama Erwartung 'Expectation' in Prague.

1925 - Premiere of Prokofiev's Symphony No. 2 at a Koussevitsky concert, in Paris.

1931 - Premiere of Henry Cowell's Synchrony in Paris.

1940 - Phillip Rhodes, US composer, was born.

1947 - Premiere of Leroy Anderson's Irish Suite. The Best of Leroy Anderson at Amazon.

1960 - Mary C. Wright, US composer, was born.

1998 - Premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Gambit.
Henri Vieuxtemps
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Violin Strings Shirt, Catgut
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Henri Vieuxtemps died in Algiers June 6, 1879.

He was born February 17, 1820 in Verviers, not far from Ličge, Belgium.  His father was an amateur violin maker and his first teacher.  He then went on to study under Lecloux-Dejonc  He was recognized as a prodigy very early, and made his public debut as a violinist when he was just 6, playing a Rode concerto.  When he was 7 he went on a concert tour of nearby cities.  When he was 8 he was accepted as a student by  Charles de Bčriot in Brussels.
After de Bčriot's death, he continued to perfect his technique.  He broadened his musical tastes through study with his teacher’s sister-in-law, Pauline Garcia, a pupil of Liszt.  As he played concerts throughout Germany and Vienna he was met with wide acclaim.  When Robert Schumann heard him in Leipzig in 1833, Schumann compared him to Paganini.  He also met Spohr that year, and Paganini in London in 1834.

In 1836 Henri wrote Violin Concerto No. 2 in F sharp minor, published as Opus 19.  He had some technical instruction in composition from Simon Sechter in Vienna and Anton Reicha in Paris.

Vieuxtemps travelled to Russia in 1837, returning in the following years.  Here he wrote the Concerto No. 1 in E major, published as Opus 10.  He introduced this work i Paris in 1841, and received critical acclaim, as well as that of Wagner and Berlioz.  Henri toured the US In 1843 and 1844, and wrote his Concerto No. 3 in A major, Opus 25. Ysa˙e described this work as a great poem rather than a concerto, influenced by Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, which Vieuxtemps had revived in 1834.

From 1846 to 1852 he was in St Petersburg as court violinist, soloist in the Imperial Theatres.  Here he wrote his Concerto No. 4 in D minor, Opus 31, a work described by Berlioz, as a symphony with a violin solo.

Henri settled in Dreieichenain, Germany, for a time.  In 1858, he began work on his fifth violin concerto at the request of Hubert Leonard, a professor at Brussels Conservatory, as a competition piece. Vieuxtemps said his goal was to "combine the pure form of the Viotti concerto with the technical demands of modern times,"

Henri continued to tour and perform as well as compose.  He spent time in Paris, then returned to Brussels in 1871 as a Professor of Violin in the Conservatory there.

Vieuxtemps's virtuoso career ended in 1873, when he suffered a stroke that affected is bow arm.  He was replaced by Wieniawski, but resumed teaching and conducting in 1877.

In 1879, Vieuxtemps resigned and joined his daughter and son-in-law in Mustapha in Algeria.  Here he continued to compose, completing his Concerto No. 6 in G Major, Opus 47, and soon thereafter Concerto No. 7 in A minor, Opus 49.

He died in Algiers June 6, 1881, and was buried in his hometown of Verviers, Belgium.
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Did You Guess?
"Catgut" or "gut" strings are still used, especially on historical violins.  They are not made of "cat guts," but are traditionally made of the intestines of sheep
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