JÓZEF WIENIAWSKI (1837 - 1912)
The reputation of the Polish violinist Henryk Wieniawski has lasted longer than that of his once equally distinguished brother, the pianist Jozef Wieniawski. Henryk was born in Lublin in 1835 and was a pupil there of Servaczyński and Jan Hornziel and later of Massart in Paris. His younger brother Jozef was born two years later, in 1837, and, like his brother, studied first in Lublin, where his teacher was Franciszek Synek, and then in Paris, studying there from 1847 at the Conservatoire with Zimmermann, Alkan and Marmontel, and subsequently, in 1855–1856, with Liszt in Weimar. Henryk Wieniawski had embarked on his career very early, entering the Paris Conservatoire at the age of eight and making his debut in Paris in 1848 at the age of thirteen. In 1848 he travelled to St Petersburg, where he made an excellent impression on Vieuxtemps, the distinguished court violinist. Jozef Wieniawski had made an even earlier start on his career as a virtuoso pianist, starting from 1848, while Henryk, in 1849, returned to Paris to improve his technical abilities as a composer. Between 1851 and 1853 the Wieniawskis were in Russia, giving concert after concert. Henryk Wieniawski had already turned his attention to composition, with a Grand caprice fantastique in 1847 and an Allegro de sonate the following year in collaboration with his brother. By 1853 he had written some fourteen compositions for violin and piano and violin and orchestra, and in 1853 and 1854 the brothers gave concerts in Germany, and elsewhere in Europe.
Henryk Wieniawski’s career took him to London, where he played with the Beethoven Quartet Society, together with the cellist Piatti and the violinist-composers Joachim and Ernst. In 1860 he married the niece of the Irish pianist and composer George Osborne. Performance in Paris with Anton Rubinstein led to an invitation to move to Russia, where he served as court violinist and for some years as professor of the violin at the Conservatory that Rubinstein had established in St Petersburg. In 1872 he left Russia, resuming his career as a virtuoso, initially in partnership with Rubinstein. From 1875 to 1877 he taught at the Brussels Conservatory, where he succeeded Vieuxtemps, and during this period and thereafter continued his performing career, now with deteriorating health. In Russia again he set out on a concert-tour with Tchaikovsky’s onetime innamorata Desiree Artot, but this was interrupted by a breakdown in health and a brief attempt at convalescence at the house of Tchaikovsky’s patroness Nadezhda von Meck. He died in Moscow on the last day of March 1880, at the age of forty-four.
Jozef Wieniawski had gone on to forge a separate career for himself as a pianist, composer and conductor. From 1856–1858 he studied counterpoint in Berlin with Adolph Bernhard Marx, a friend of the Mendelssohns. He taught for a term at the newly established Moscow Conservatory in 1866 and in Brussels from 1878 until his death in 1912. At home in Poland he became one of the founders of the Warsaw Music Society, eventually serving as its conductor and music director, and as a chambermusic player. His compositions include a piano concerto, a symphony, songs, chamber music and a number of works for the piano.