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  • Writer's pictureBibi


What violinist has not played at least one of the 42 Kreutzer etudes? Or listened and if highly skilled played the Beethoven's Kreutzer sonata?

I believe most of us violinists have. I myself have practiced most of the Kreutzer etudes and think of them as my Bible. After a vacation or if I sense my technique needs polishing what better piece to practice than Kreutzer étude no.2?

What do we know of him? Less is known that he lived in turbulent times, big social and political upheaval, was employed by three different rulers and while others practically lost their head, Kreutzer built us a legacy without which violin playing as we know today would not have been possible.


Rodolphe Kreutzer was born in Versailles, the son of a local musician. He studied violin with the renowned Anton Stamitz and by the age of 13 composed his first violin concerto. After the death of his parents he was taken under the patronage of Marie Antoinette and played in the royal orchestra which secured him an income so he could devote his time to studying and composing. During the French Revolution and afterwards he feverishly devoted himself to practice, study and violin technique analysis, G.B.Viotti being a major inspiration. His devoted work made him eventually Napoleon's solo violinist. After the downfall of Napoleon, Kreutzer came under the patronage of Louis XVIII.

In 1804 Kreutzer met Beethoven, who was a big fan of Kreutzer. Beethoven was so inspired by him that he dedicated to him his Sonata no.9. Kreutzer however never played the sonata.

Kreutzer was considered in his day a star concert violinist. Unfortunately he broke his arm in an accident and was forced to stop his concert performing career. He continued to compose and play in ensembles till his death in 1831.

42 Caprices

Kreutzer left us with an important legacy, as composer and violin pedagogue. He was violin professor over 20 years at the Paris conservatory, and together with Rode and Baillot established the French violin school. Their work left us with violin studies which up to today are indispensable in building a solid violin technique. As composer, Kreutzer wrote 19 violin concertos, chamber music but is best known as the author of the 42 studies. Not much known is that he wrote 40 operas. Rodolphe Kreutzer continues to direct and inspire us to this day. What etude are you practicing today?


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