Beriot, Charles Auguste de


Famous violinist. Born in Belgium of French parents. At nine years of age, he was left an orphan, without means, the noble family from which he came having lost everything through the French Revolution. He was, however, well cared for by his guardian, Tiby, who also gave him the thorough foundation in music which made him the great master that he was. His talent developed so rapidly that, at the age of nine, he was able to play one of Viotti's concertos. From this time on the influence of his friend Jacotot, the scholar and philosopher, had a great effect upon his life and work, giving him that perseverance and energy that overcame all obstacles. At the age of nineteen he left his native place and went to Brussels, where, for a short time, he worked with Robrecht, a pupil of Viotti's, who was especially noted for his fine style. Going to Paris, De Beriot played before the celebrated violinist Viotti, who told him that he had already a fine style and should give all his time to perfecting it, hearing all men of talent and profiting by everything, but imitating no one. Viotti also advised him to enter the Conservatory, which he did, becoming a pupil of Baillot, then at the head of the violin department. He remained here only a few months, however, as he preferred to do his studying and work alone. He soon began to appear publicly in concerts and was brilliantly successful from the beginning. In 1826 he visited England, appearing with the greatest success at the Philharmonic Society. On returning to Belgium he was appointed solo violinist to William I., King of the Netherlands, and this position he held until he lost it through the Revolution of 1830. He now formed a concert company with Malibran, the famous contralto and Lablache, the celebrated and magnificent basso, and for the next five years they traveled and gave concerts in France, Italy, Belgium and England, meeting with great success. In 1836, when Madam Malibran secured her divorce from her former husband, she married De Beriot, who was devotedly attached to her. This marriage, which was a very happy and congenial one, ended in a few months, when Malibran died of injuries, received from a fall from her horse. De Beriot retired to Brussels and did not appear for more than a year. In 1840 he made a concert tour through Germany, where he married Marie Huber. In this year he also became identified with the Royal Conservatory of Music at Brussels and, in 1843, was appointed professor of violin-playing, which position he held until 1852, when his eyesight failed. In 1858 he became totally blind. Many of his pupils became distinguished players, Vieuxtemps being the most noted. De Benot's works consist of seven violin concertos; eleven sets of variations; several books of studies; some sonatas; and four trios for the piano, violin and cello. His book of instruction for the violin is one of the best ever written. De Beriot is considered the founder of the Franco-Belgium School of violinists, as distinguished from the Classical French School founded by Viotti. He was noted for his deft and easy bowing and his playing was remarkable for grace and elegance and for accuracy of tone.