Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rodolphe Kreutzer

Rodolphe Kreutzer

Having studied violin with his father in Versailles Kreutzer was also able to study violin and composition with Anton Stamitz from 1778. In travels to Paris, and winning the Concert Spirituel, Kreutzer met Viotti and heard him play. It is not likely that Viotti taught Kreutzer but speculation continues to some degree. As a fine, prodigious and virtuoso performer, Kreutzer was patronized by Marie Antoinette and was probably accepted into the king's music. Even through the turmoil of the Revolution, Kreutzer remained diligent in his work. He acceeded to positions with the Institut National de Musique which later developed into the Conservatoire. Kreutzer was the professor of the violin at the Conservatoire until 1826; even a broken arm, which he suffered in 1810, did not impede his teaching though he never again gave concerts. As a violinist Kreutzer had the exterior abilities of the virtuoso as well as the interior sentiment of an artist. He may not have had a flair for the "high" positions on the violin, or the continual shifting of positions, but, he was an advocate, teacher and technician of closed and open hand methods. His playing ability was appreciated so much by Beethoven that the latter composed his "Violin Sonata, Opus 47" in honor of Kreutzer. The sonata is often referred to as the "Kreutzer Sonata"; it was probably never performed by the musician to whom it was dedicated. Though Kreutzer was a noted violinist not all of his compositions were instrumental. His most successful and important works included the "42 Etudes ou Caprices," and also the ballet "Paul et Virginie," and the operas "Astyanax," "Abel," and "Lodoiska." The violin studies were particularly important for the composers aim at extending the left hand in the open position. It met the demands of later compositions and the requirements of settings yet to come. Because of the quality of Kreutzer's studies they have remained current and contemporized through editorial practices and adherents of his methods. "Paul et Virginie" was so popular that it maintained a run for fifteen years. The opera "Abel" contains some of the best music ever composed by Kreutzer and the scene contained and scored in "Astyanax" where the Greeks were leaving Troy was illustrative of powerful musical painting. Exceptional passages in his operatic compositions were rare as Kreutzer rarely exceeded simple melodic lines and accompaniment in his musical vision. Clearly his musical abilites were best served in the form of violin playing and the influence of both Stamitz and Viotti were present in his earliest compositions.

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