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Rodolphe Kreutzer

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Rodolphe Kreutzer (November 16, 1766 – January 6, 1831) was a French violinist, teacher, conductor, and composer of forty French operas.

Kreutzer was born in Versailles, and was initially taught by his father, who was a musician in the royal chapel, with later lessons from Anton Stamitz. He became one of the foremost violin virtuosi of his day, appearing as a soloist until 1810. He was a violin professor at the Paris Conservatoire from its foundation in 1795 until 1826. He was co-author of the Conservatoire’s violin method with Pierre Rode and Pierre Baillot, and the three are considered the founding trinity of the French school of violin playing. For a time, Kreutzer was leader of the Paris Opera, and from 1817 he conducted there too.

Kreutzer is probably best known as the dedicatee of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47 (1803), though he never played the work, and indeed declared it unplayable. Kreutzer had made the acquaintance of Beethoven in 1798, when at Vienna in the service of the French ambassador, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte (later King of Sweden and Norway). The sonata had originally been dedicated to the violinist George Bridgetower, but he had a quarrel with the composer, who revised the dedication in favour of Kreutzer.

Kreutzer died in Geneva.

Kreutzer’s compositions include nineteen violin concertos and forty operas. His best known works, however, are the 42 études ou caprices (1796), which are fundamental pedagogic studies.

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