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Jean-Baptiste Accolay

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Jean-Baptiste Accolay (17 April 1845 (Brussels , Belgium) ? – 19 August 1910 (Brugge, Belgium ?) was a Belgian violin teacher, violinist, conductor, and composer of the romantic period . His best known composition is a student concerto with only one movement in A minor. It was written in 1868 originally for violin and orchestra. There is controversy about Accolay’s real existence, with no documentation of where he lived and taught, and no record of him by contemporaries. A hypothesis often mentioned is that Henri Vieuxtemps wrote his pedagogical pieces under the name Accolay.

Accolay’s Concerto in A minor has been played by many well-known violinists, including Itzhak Perlman. The liner notes for Perlman’s recording of “Concertos from My Childhood” indicate that there are at least “seven works by the long forgotten French violinist and teacher Jean-Baptiste Accolay, whose concertos (including the one in question) were edited for publication by the Walloon virtuoso Mattieu Crickboom, a protege of the great Eugène Ysaÿe, and professor at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels.” Accolay’s Concerto in A minor (1868) is “one of the most enduring of all tutorial violin concertos, it is still regularly studied today. Though its executant demands are slight, this agreeably spontaneous piece highlights one of music’s great paradoxes - that expressive power often derives from the simplest of technical means.”

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