Marteau, Henri



Noted French violinist; born at Rheims. His musical talents were early fostered because his parents were both musically inclined, his father being an amateur violinist, president of the local Philharmonic Society and his mother a finished pianist who had studied with Clara Schumann. When he was five years old Sivori visited his parents and took the greatest interest in him, giving him a violin and persuading his father to educate him to be a professional violinist. For three years he was taught by Bunzl, then sent to Leonard in Paris, and when ten years old he made his debut under Richter at a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Society, and afterward played in Germany and Switzerland. In 1885 Gounod chose him to play the violin obbligato of a piece he had written for the Joan of Arc Centenary celebration at Rheims, which he had dedicated to him. At the Paris Conservatory he received first prize for violin playing in 1892 and Massenet wrote a concerto for him. He came to America first in 1893, when he was most cordially received and his rendering of Bruch's G minor concerto was given twelve recalls at a Boston Symphony concert He also played in Russia in 1897 and the spring of 1899. He returned to America in 1898 and this time he played a violin concerto written for him by Dubois, with whom he had studied composition and harmony at the Conservatory. Marteau's tone is warm and brilliant and his technique is remarkable for its sureness and delicacy. His violin is a fine Maggini which once belonged to Maria Theresa of Austria, and was given by her to one of her chamber musicians who carried it back to Belgium, where it fell into the hands of a collector who sold it to Leonard, from whom Marteau received it at that master's death. It is an instrument of almost viola-like depth of tone and is heard to special advantage in the marvelous chords of a Bach sonata. In the field of composition Marteau is represented by a cantata, entitled La Voix de Jeanne d'Arc. At the present he is occupying the position of professor of violin at Geneva Conservatory.