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Joseph Joachim

JOACHIM, JOSEPH (1831–1907), violinist. Born in Kittsee (Kopczeny), Joachim moved with his family to Budapest where his musical education began at the age of five. He gave his first concert at seven and at nine he was taken to Vienna to study with Hellmesberger and Boehm. At 12 he went on to Leipzig, where his studies were supervised and fostered by Felix *Mendelssohn, Ferdinand *David, and Moritz Hauptmann. From 1849 to 1854 he was concertmaster of Liszt's orchestra at Weimar, and from 1854 to 1864, concertmaster and conductor of the Royal Hanoverian Orchestra. He finally settled in Berlin in 1866 as director of the newly founded Hochschule fuer Musik. There he also founded the Joachim Quartet which became the leading quartet in Europe. His pedagogical talent attracted a great number of pupils, among whom were Leopold *Auer, Jenő Hubay, and Tivadar *Nachez.

Joachim's concert activity in Europe and England continued steadily throughout his career. Although he eschewed the character and role of a "traveling virtuoso," he became, at an early age, the most notable violinist of his generation (and its most distinguished teacher): an artist in whom technique, taste, intellect, and emotion were combined to a rare degree. His interpretation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, for example, was considered definitive. He also re-edited Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in conformity with the original manuscript; revived the works of Tartini; and established in the repertoire Bach's works for solo violin in their original form, without the accompaniments added by 19th-century "improvers." Joachim's friendships with the great composers and performers of his time are an important factor in the history of music in the 19th century, especially his association with Mendelssohn, Liszt, Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, and Brahms. Joachim introduced the young Brahms to Liszt, and arranged the fateful meeting between Schumann and Brahms in 1853. Of his own compositions, which include works for violin and orchestra, violin and piano, and songs, only the Violin Concerto op. 11 ("Hungarian") survived. His cadenzas for the Beethoven and Brahms concertos, however, are still performed. He also wrote a violin method with A. Moser. Although Joachim had converted to Protestantism in 1855, his decision to resign from the Hanoverian service was finally brought about in 1864, when the violinist J.M. Gruen was refused tenure as a Jew (a principle which had not been observed in Joachim's case). Joachim tendered his resignation on the grounds that he "would never be able to surmount the purely personal feeling of having been enabled through my earlier conversion… to enjoy worldly advantages in the Royal Hanoverian Orchestra while the members of my race occupy a humiliating position there." His Hebraeische Melodien for viola and piano, op. 9 (1854), were inspired mainly by Schumann's enthusiasm for Byron's poems. Although Wagner thought that Joachim's break from the Liszt-Wagner circle in 1857 was due to the republication at that time of Das Judentum in der Musik in Wagner's name (it had first been published anonymously in 1850), the break was undoubtedly caused by musical considerations.

Hundreds of works were dedicated to Joachim, including the Schumann, Brahms, Dvorak and Bruch (nos. 1 and 3) violin concertos, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no. 12, and Schumann's Fourth Symphony (second version, 1853).

Joachim's grandnieces, the sisters Adila Fachiri (d'Aranyi, 1888–1962) and Jelly E. d'Aranyi (1895–1966), were well-known violinists.


A. Moser, Joseph Joachim (Ger., 19043); J. Joachim and A. Moser (eds.), Briefe von und an Joseph Joachim, 3 vols. (1911–13); MGG, incl. bibl.; Riemann-Gurlitt, incl. bibl.; Baker, Biog Dict, incl. bibl.; Grove, Dict, incl. bibl.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.