Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Giovanni Battista Viotti

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 15
Giovanni Battista Viotti

by William Henry Grattan Flood


Founder of the modern school of violinist, b. at Fontanetto, Piedmont, 23 May, 173; d. 3 March, 1824. He studied under Giovannini, and at Turin under Pugnani, with whom he went on a tour n 1780. He showed not only an extraordinary virtuosity, but wrote several concertos for the violin, and his playing in Germany, Russia, and France attracted considerable attention. For a time he was attached to the Court of Marie Antoinette, and he lived with Cherubini in 1785 and 1786. Owing to the Revolution, he quitted Paris, and arrived in London in July, 1792. He succeeded Cramer as leader at the King's Theatre, and was in the highest esteem as a teacher, but owing to base intrigue he had to leave England in 1798. Returning to London in 1801 he resumed his violin classes, but had a disastrous experience as a wine merchant. Again devoting himself to the violin, he returned to Paris in 1814 and was Director of the French Opera from 1819 to 1822. Unfortunately, his directorate was not a financial success and he came back to London in the spring of the year 1824. As a composer, he enriched violin music by his numerous concertos and sonatas, and by a few dainty songs. However, it is as a virtuoso and as the founder of modern violin playing that Viotti will be remembered. Among his pupils were Pixis, Rode, Alday, Vacher, Labarne, and others.

GROVE, Dict. of Music and Musicians, new ed., V (London, 1909); DUNSTAN, Cyclopedia of Music (London, 1909); Contemporary French and English papers.

W. H. Grattan-Flood.