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Austrian-Hungarian violinist, one of the greatest exponents of that instrument; also conductor, teacher, composer, and editor.

Career Summary

Joseph Joachim, who was a first cousin of Fanny Wittgenstein (née Figdor; he was thus distantly related to Felix Salzer), and had been adopted at the age of 12 by Fanny and her husband Hermann, studied violin at the Vienna Conservatory (1841–: Georg Hellmesberger, Josef Böhm). In 1843, the Wittgensteins sent him to Leipzig to study with Mendelssohn; he began giving concerts there and in London, rising rapidly to international fame. In addition to his solo career, he was also a fine chamber music player, founding the Joachim Quartet in 1869 and leading it until his death in 1907. From 1868, he was director of the Hochschule für Ausübende Tonkunst in Berlin.

Joachim was closely associated with Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Schumann in the first part of his career. From 1850 on, he came to be associated also with Brahms, the two performing together, Brahms dedicating his Violin Concerto (1878) to him; after a rift between the two in 1881 there was a reconciliation and Joachim was the violin soloist in the first performance of the Double Concerto (1887).

In addition to compositions in many genres, and arrangements, Joachim made editions of the solo violin works of J. S. Bach, the Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano, and the Beethoven string quartets (score and parts, with Andreas Moser).

Joachim and Schenker

In his early years as a music critic, Schenker wrote in laudatory terms of Joachim's own playing and that of his quartet, e. g., in 1894: "In the course of recent years, since Hellmesberger senior, the great quartet connoisseur and player, we found only one single quartet that could do complete justice to the demands of Beethoven, Mozart, and Schumann—that quartet was the Joachim Quartet from Berlin."

Joachim's association with Brahms in itself perhaps disposed Schenker (who considered himself a late-comer to the Brahms circle) toward Joachim. Moroever, Schenker saw Joachim, like the singer Johannes Messchaert, as an exemplary advocate of authenticity in interpretation, and this comes through many times in his writings, diaries, and correspondence, e.g. in Kontrapunkt 1 (1910): "Why is he [the typical pianist of the day] not eager, like a violinist or singer who follows a good tradition (Joachim or Messchaert, for example) to rise to the full measure of Bach's art of expression?" (p. 129, Eng. trans. p. 9)

in his diary for December 8, 1915, of the Brahms Violin Concerto: "How often did the master Joachim himself perform the work, how often did he teach it to countless pupils, and yet nowadays what is passed off as the Brahms Concerto no longer bears any relation to that [work]."

or in a letter to Anthony van Hoboken in 1927 concerning their newly-founded Photogrammarchiv: "The Archive in spirit represents what we have seen with Joachim, Messchaert, [etc.], but which regrettably is lacking today." (OJ 89/1, [8])

and those to Felix-Eberhard von Cube in 1928: "Further blessings of my life: Joachim, Messchaert as models of the very difficult art of performance." (vC 14); "with regard to Joachim, he was always my model in matters of performance (I did not know him personally)." (vC 17).

In his article "Weg mit dem Phrasierungsbogen," in Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, vol. I (1925), Schenker quotes extensively from Joachim's correspondence with Brahms about notational issues (pp. 55–58; Eng. trans. 27–28).

Sources:

  • MGG
  • NGDM
  • Baker's 1971
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985), pp. 202, 209, 225, 248, 304, 345
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, ed., Heinrich Schenker als Essayist und Kritiker … (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1990), pp. 130, 270, 273
  • Monk, Ray, Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (London: Vintage, 1991), pp. 5–6

Contributors:

  • Marko Deisinger and Ian Bent

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Correspondence

Diaries