LEON DE SAINT-LUBIN (1805 - 1850)
Léon de Saint-Lubin, originally Napoléon-Antoine-Eugène-Léon de Saint-Lubin, was born on 5 July 1805 in Turin, the son of an officer who emigrated to Italy after the French Revolution and who was active as a language teacher in Italy. Little is known about his life. No recent dictionaries of music contain his name and no music academic has researched his biography. It can be gathered from earlier literature that in 1809 the boy moved with his family to Hamburg, where his musical education began. At first he was taught to play the harp and later the violin, which became his principal instrument. He first appeared before the public at the age of nine, performing a violin concerto and winning great approval. In 1817 he made guest appearances in Berlin and Dresden. It was in Dresden that he had lessons with the violinist Giovanni Battista Polledro, the same Polledro with whom Beethoven gave a concert in the summer of 1812 in Karlsbad. In 1818 Saint-Lubin went to Frankfurt-on-Main and became a pupil of the famous violinist and composer Louis Spohr. After that he travelled around Germany and in the autumn of 1820 made his Vienna début playing a violin concerto by his teacher Spohr. For ten years the musical capital of Austria became his home; here he also received intensive lessons in composition and, at an early age, published his first works.
Saint-Lubin left behind a wide variety of works, of which only a small number, about fifty, were published. His operas, symphonies and five violin concertos remain unpublished. He himself considered his most important work to be his Octet, Op. 33, written for the delightful combination of piano, flute, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, viola, cello and double-bass. It was published in 1835 by Anton Diabelli in Vienna. An unknown friend wrote about the piece in a short biography of Saint-Lubin which appeared on 17 February 1833 in the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung. Today Saint-Lubin is almost completely forgotten, although his compositions were highly thought of in his time and were distinguished by great originality and creative power. These qualities apply especially to the works for solo violin. The great Hungarian violinist Jenő Hubay (1858–1937) re-edited some of these and also performed them, although without having been able to get them accepted with any regularity into the concert repertoire. For virtuoso violinists these works represent a welcome addition to the relatively limited repertoire of music for solo violin.