Biography of Joseph Joachim (1831-1907)

Violinist, composer and conductor of Orchestra Austro-Hungarian, born in Kittsee (next to Presburg-Bratislava) on June 28, 1831 and died in Berlin on August 15, 1907. He/She was one of the five most important violinists of the 19th century, together with Paganini, Sarasate, Wieniawsky and Vieuxtemps. He/She began his studies in his native city before moving to Vienna at just ten years old. Later, he/she perfected with Ferdinand David in Leipzig, the city which gave its first concert in the famous room of the Gewandhaus with success that immediately launched it a tour of cities such as Vienna, Prague and London (city that would be a second musical Centre for it and where would form a trio that played when he/she was there). In 1847, with just seventeen years, he/she managed the post of concertmaster in the Orchestra of the same Gewandhaus where earlier triumphed as a soloist. Two years later, he/she went to Weimar, where locked contact musical circle surrounding Liszt; later, his friendship with Brahms away it from this circle unless it accordingly his friendship with the Hungarian composer. Regarding his friendship with Brahms, the links that were established between the two were such that kept them in relationship even after his personal alienation. This departure occurred at the time of the divorce of the composer, jealous, seems that at end of the fidelity of his wife. Divorce took a lawsuit in which Brahms manifested rigged in favour of the wife of Joachim, to which accused jealous groundless. This made that they split apart so far as not to see again. However, Brahms did not send to Joachim all his chamber music production to get their vote, nor Joachim, touching it and correct it, as well as interpret it.

Subsequently, and after a period as Orchestra conductor in Hannover, he/she went on to manage the Musikhochschule in Berlin in 1866. From here, he/she settled in the capital of Brandenburg for the rest of his life and shaped to your around around a musical circle. Also in Berlin, he/she founded the Joachim Quartet, which toured Europe playing the BeethovenChamber music work, especially his last quartets, little known at that time.

As a teacher, he/she stressed Joachim by the attention given to the expressive and elegant phrasing, as well as avoid all kind of exhibitionism are. Among his nearly four hundred students, it is interesting to highlight the presence of the Spanish Enrique Fernández Arbós , which joined especially intimate friendship (even shared house after Joachim mentioned divorce). In the case of Arbós, was Joachim real father and teacher, every time that allowed him to participate on occasions such as the premiere of the Fourth Symphony of Brahms, or revision of the metronome of the quartets of Schumann, carried out by Joachim with the help of Clara Schumann, as well as the interpretation of the originals that Brahms sent to Joachim so that it would give its opinion. In this way, it acted Joachim as factotum of German musical life so far as directing, even unwittingly, outside opinions. It is in this excellent dot the testimony of the same Arbós, which has as it needed to move away from his revered teacher to reach an own musical criteria.

As a violinist, he/she stressed Joachim for the elegance of his phrasing and the expressiveness of his line, though, as it was usual in the German school, he/she neglected the sound for the sake of musicality. By its seriousness, almost religious, facing the music, he/she was opposed in his time Sarasate, improviser and impulsive mood. Also both violinists differentiated by repertoire in which specialized, so that Sarasate specialized in Belgian-French repertoire, while Joachim did in German, with an emphasis on the music of Bach for solo violin, which navarro violinist demeaning and that Joachim managed to reassess after more than one century of oblivion. In this way was Joachim halfway between classicism and romanticism, in the same way that happened in the compositional aspect to Brahms.

Its height as a performer led him to be the dedicatee and first performer of the violin concerto and the double concerto of Brahms - the first after the refusal of Sarasate to interpret it, and the second by have been composed for him after the mentioned distance- or by Max Bruch, Robert Schumann and Antonin Dvorakviolin concertos, as well as the Rhapsody No. 12 of Liszt and various sonatas, including one Brahms based on the initials F to E (Frei aber Einsam, "free but only") that correspond in German notation to Fa the Mi and were the theme of the violinist.

Given its position, Joachim achieved numerous honours, among which stand out the appointments of Senator and Vice-President of the Academy of the arts in Berlin, as well as doctorates Honoris Causa from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow and Göttingen.

He also carried out Joachim compositional work which are fruit works as the Hebrew variations, five overtures and concerts for violin (notably the Hungarian concert); However, the best known of this facet are cadenzas written for concerts of Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, who are still performing up to the present day.


HONEGGER, Marc. Dictionary of music. Madrid, Espasa Calpe, Second Edition, 1993

History of classical music. Madrid, planet, 1983.