Arthur Grumiaux

Born: 1921
Died: 1986

Grumiaux studied the violin in Brussels and composition in Paris (with Enescu), and went on to represent the Belgian tradition established by Ysaÿe. Known for his consistently beautiful tone and flawless intonation, he is most closely associated with the Beethoven and Mendelssohn Violin Concertos. In 2004, Edward Greenfield wrote of Grumiaux that he was ‘a master virtuoso who consistently refused to make a show of his technical prowess’.

Tribute by Rob Cowan

The principal properties of Arthur Grumiaux’s playing style are memorably distinctive: the warm, lightly brushed tone, switching in a trice to a deft flick of the bow. His accounts of the Beethoven Concerto are ethereal, and grounded in a sure feeling for musical architecture. His solo Bach, which is neither romantically excessive nor dogmatically ‘authentic’, has long been considered a benchmark, while his Beethoven sonatas with Clara Haskil are both artfully crafted and intelligently phrased. The Grumiaux Trio’s deeply expressed performances of the Mozart quintets and the great E flat String Trio likewise serve as models of interpretative equilibrium. And yet Grumiaux could charm with the best of them. My favourite of his recordings in this kind of repertoire is the version of Saint-Saëns’s Introduction and Rondo capriccioso he made under Jean Fournet’s direction, cast half-way between Heifetz’s cut-glass precision and David Oistrakh’s poised urbanity. Was there anything musical that this man couldn’t do with fiddle and bow? 

Recommended recording

Mozart Violin Concertos

LSO / C Davis

Philips

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