Baillot, Pierre Marie François de Sales


Great French violin-player. He was the last representative of the great classical school of violin-playing in Paris. He showed great talent early. Studied first with an Italian, named Polidori, and afterwards with Sante Marie at Paris. From this very thorough teacher he gained the solid foundation, which made him the great artist he afterward became. After the death of his father, in 1783, he was sent to Rome, to study the violin, by a wealthy Frenchman who had adopted him. At Rome he was a pupil of Pollani, who had studied with Nardini, and he made rapid progress, but for five years remained with his foster-father as secretary. In 1791 he made up his mind to put his musical knowledge to practical use and went to Paris, where he played first violin at the Theatre Feydeau, but resigned to accept a position in the Ministry of Finance, giving only his leisure time to the violin. In 1795, after a compulsory service for twenty months in the army, Baillot decided to become a professional musician. He worked diligently under Catel, Reicha and Cherubmi and studied thoroughly the works of the great violin-masters. He soon became a musician of such a reputation that he was appointed professor of the violin in the Paris Conservatory. From 1805 until his death, he made many successful concert tours through the different European countries. In 1821 he was made leader of the Grand Opera and, in 1825, also violinist and leader of the Royal band. He produced a large number of compositions for the violin which are valuable for violin practice rather than as music. His Art for the Violin still ranks as a standard work. After the death of Baillot, the style of Paganini became the ruling influence in France and, since then the followers of the classic school of violin playing are to be found only among the disciples of the German School.