New York Times (August 16, 1907) p. 7.

N. B.: Obituaries are posted for historical interest only, and should not be taken as sources of accurate biographical information.




The Celebrated Violinist Had Been Unconscious for Several Days.




But Americans Were Among His Pupils — Critics Class Him as the Greatest Violinist of His Day.


BERLIN, Aug. 15. — Joseph Joachim, the celebrated violinist, conductor of the Royal Academy of Music, Berlin, and Music Director of the Royal Academy of Arts, died at 1:45 P. M. to-day.

Dr. Joachim had been suffering for a long time from asthma and had been unconscious for several days.


Joseph Joachim has been classed by many critics as the greatest violinist of his day. He was born at Kittsee, near Presburg, on June 28, 1831. Like so many other great musicians he showed his talent at an early age, and he was put to work under an opera conductor in Pesth. In 1841 he became a pupil of Boehm in Vienna, and in 1843 he went to Leipsic, where Mendelssohn was presiding in the zenith of his fame and influence. Although Joachim was only 12 years old, he was at once recognized as a violinist of ability, and he made his début at a concert given by Mme. Viadot [sic] on Aug. 19, 1843. He was accompanied on the piano by Mendelssohn.

On the following Nov. 16 he apeared [sic] at a Gewandhaus concert, playing Ernst’s “Otello” fantasia. No [sic] Nov. 25, 1844, he took part at the Gewandhaus in a performance of Maurer’s concertante for four violins, the other players being such distinguished artists as Ernst, David, and Bazzini. He was of too serious a mind, however, to be beguiled by the temptation to enter at once on the career of a virtuoso. He devoted himself to close and earnest study under the famous David, under whose guidance he learned such standard works as the Mendelssohn concerto, the concertos of Spohr and Beethoven, and the solo works of Bach. His general education was at the same time so wisely directed that he developed a broad and deep artistic mind. Joachim remained in Leipsiz [sic] until October, 1850, playing at the same desk as David in the famous Gewandhaus Orchestra, but occasionally making artistic tours with great success. In 1844, on the recommendation of Mendelssohn, who was a great musical power in London, the violinist visited the English capital, where he played the Beethoven violin concerto at a Philharmonic concert. His success with the English press and public was emphatic, and he speedily attained a position which made him one of the features of the London musical season. He visited England again in 1847, 1849, 1852, 1858, 1859, and 1862. After that, he visited England yearly. From the time of the foundation of the Monday Popular Concerts Joachim was the principal violinist, and beyond all doubt he did more than any other one person toward making chamber music popular in London.

In 1849 he was made leader of the Grand Duke’s Band at Weimar, of which Liszt was the conductor. Joachim, however, was not in sympathy with Liszt and his Wagnerian tendencies, and in 1854 he became solo violinist and concert conductor to the King of Hanover, in whose service he remained till 1866. On June 10, 1863, he married the contralto, Amalia Weiss, who visited this country after her once great powers had declined. In 1868 he went to Berlin as the head of the musical department of the Royal Academy of Arts. The University of Cambridge conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Music in 1877. Glasgow made him an LL. D. in 1887, and Oxford made him a Doctor of Music in 1888. In 1899 the sixtieth jubilee of his first public appearance was celebrated in Berlin. Former pupils came from all parts of Europe to take part in it. The same year Frau Joachim died.

Dr. Joachim never visited America, but several Americans studied with him. He was a complete master of the technique of his instrument, but he used his technical skill solely as a means for the performance of great music in a noble style. In his maturity he eliminated from the répertoire all music that could by any possibility be classed as merely brilliant, and devoted himself to the interpretation of the acknowledged masterpieces for the violin. He was an authority on the correct performance of the great classical concertos, and to these he added the works of Brahms, for whom he had particular admiration.

Dr. Joachim also essayed composition, and though he attained no great celebrity he adhered to his artistic principles. He was essentially a disciple of Schumann, and most of his works are grave and sombre in character. He produced one composition, his Hungarian concerto, Opus 11, which has obtained high rank. He wrote, also, an andantino and allegro scherzo for violin and orchestra, an overture to “Hamlet,” an overture in memory of Kleist, the poet, a “Scena der Marga,” [sic] from Schiller’s unfinished play “Demetrius,” for contralto, solo, and orchestra, and some minor pieces.


NY Times Obituary