New-York Daily Tribune (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.




Celebrated Violinist Passes Away in Berlin.

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


Joseph Joachim was born in Hungary, on July 15, 1831, [sic] and early in life attracted much attention by his rare skill as a violinist. He studied under the great masters and appeared at all the capitals of Europe while still a young man. He was created an honorary musical doctor of the University of Cambridge in 1877, and in 1882 was appointed conductor of the Royal Academy of Music in Berlin and music director of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Herr Joachim’s first appearance was made at Pesth, when, after two years’ study, he had attained his seventh year. He first became acquainted with the violin at Kitsee, [sic] a small village in the neighborhood of Pressburg, where he was born. At the age of five he began to learn the instrument. On his first appearance Joachim played a duet with his professor, a Polish maestro named Szervacsinsky, who directed the music at the Pesth Opera House. From Pesth he moved to Vienna, and from Vienna to Leipsic, where, in 1842, he visited Ferdinand David, the eminent violinist, for whom Mendelssohn wrote his famous concerto. David declined to give lessons to one who, he said, already played better than himself. But the experienced virtuoso helped the young player with his advice, and behaved in a fatherly way toward him during his stay at Leipsic, where he studied composition under Hauptmann, chiefly known in the present day as the friend and frequent correspondent of Spohr. In the early part of 1844 Joachim went to London with introductions from Mendelssohn, who, in a letter to Sterndale Bennett, said of him: “I assure you that, although he is only thirteen, I already regard him as one of my most intimate and dearest friends.” Soon afterward Mendelssohn himself went to London, and at a Philharmonic concert given under his direction the brilliant young violinist played in marvellous style the Beethoven concerto.

In 1848, at the age of eighteen, [sic] Joachim was nominated to the post of concert master and professor of the Leipsic Conservatory, in association with his friend, Ferdinand David. A year or two afterward he became, on Liszt’s invitation, concert master at Weimar, and later on received from the King of Hanover a like appointment at the Hanoverian court. Most of the artistic and literary centres of Germany were, indeed, well known to Herr Joachim when he was still a young man; and it must be mentioned that, apart from his musical instruction, he went through a course of study at Göttingen. At Paris he played with great success the year after his first visit to London. This visit was repeated from time to time with brief intervals until 1859; and since that year, from which dates the establishment of the popular concerts, he appeared in London almost every year. His visits to London were broken in 1905, and on August 27 of that year the music critic of The Tribune wrote, on receipt of news that Joachim was too ill to make the journey to England, “whither he has gone with great regularity to preach the evangel of his noble art for half a century,” as follows:

In 1889 he celebrated the semi-centenary of the beginning of his artistic career, and $25,000 was raised as the beginning of a fund for providing poor students at the Hochschule für Musik, which he founded in 1869, with fitting instruments. Last year the diamond jubilee of his first appearance in England was celebrated in Queen’s Hall, London, when a portrait painted by J. S. Sargent, R. A., was presented to him by the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, and at a concert he conducted his own overture to “Henry IV” and played the Beethoven Concerto, which he had played in London for the first time at a concert of the Philharmonic Society under the direction of Mendelssohn on May 27, 1844. At a similar celebration in Berlin in 1899 past and present pupils of his to the number of 116 violins and violas, with twenty-four violoncellists who had attended his ensemble classes, took part in a concert conducted by Fritz Steinbach. From these circumstances it may be gathered how significant a figure Joachim has been in the musical life of the world since his advent as a prodigy nearly two generations ago.”

The critic of the Tribune quotes as follows from a monograph written by J. A. Fuller Maitland, the music reviewer of “The London Times.”

“Though it were universally conceded that the personal character and disposition of eminent men were to be guarded never so strictly from public inspection, yet in the case of public performers, where technical skill has reached its highest perfection, a kind of self-revelation takes place in every performance; and, besides the ideal interpretation of the music which he plays, Joachim unconsciously tells every one who has ears to hear what manner of man he is in himself. Truth, rectitude, earnestness of purpose, singleness of artistic aim, a childlike clarity of the inner vision, combined with the highest dignity—all these are evident to any but the most superficial listener, and there is a certain quiet ardor, eloquent of strong emotion strongly controlled, such as distinguishes only those who possess the highest imagination. It is recorded that on one occasion, when he played at first sight Schumann’s ‘Fantasia,’ for violin, the composer, instead of bursting into ecstasies over the player’s immediate grasp of the inner meaning of the music or the cleverness of his execution, whispered to his neighbor, ‘One can never love him enough.’ It is, perhaps, this power of stirring up a real personal affection in worthy hearers that is the greatest of all the player’s attributes, and such a power is indeed of priceless value.

“If one had to say in a word what was the secret of Joachim’s influence as an artist, one would surely say that this quality was that in which he stands alone among all the musicians who have ever lived. To hear him lead the Cavatina in Beethoven’s Quartet in B flat, Op. 130, or the Canzona in mode lidico from that in A minor, Op. 132, is to be allowed to gaze into the uttermost profundity of human emotion, into a depth far below the source of tears. In the former quartet two contrasting qualities of the great violinist’s art are set in close proximity, for the beginning of the finale is one of those things in which his youthful impetuosity is almost startlingly displayed. No one who has ever heard him lead a quartet of Haydn can have failed to realize that the dignity of a noble old age is associated with the insouciance, the buoyant fun and frolic of a schoolboy.”

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