Hellmesberger, Joseph sr.


Son of Georg Hellmesberger, sr. Born in Vienna. The most distinguished of the Hellmesberger family. Was a brilliant violinist and noted teacher. He was educated with his younger brother Georg by his father, and early gave evidence of musical ability appearing as an infant prodigy. When eighteen years old he played in concerts, in many cities of Germany, with his father and brother Georg. In 1849 he founded a string quartet with Heissler, Durst and Schlesinger, which became immensely popular not only in Austria but throughout the musical world. Hellmesberger, through his quartet, was among the first to awaken interest in Beethoven's later quartets, and other works, now well-known, were brought from oblivion by him. In 1851 he was made violin professor and director of the Conservatory of Vienna and professional conductor of the Gesellschaft concerts. The position of director he held as long as he lived but resigned the professorship in 1859, and the position of concertmaster in 1877. Joseph Hellmesberger received great distinction in his own and other countries, was given the Cross of the Legion of Honor when president of the jury for musical instruments at the Paris Exhibition in 1855. On his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the Conservatory he was given the freedom of the city of Vienna. His compositions are all of an educational character.