Henryk Wieniawski (10 July 1835 – 31 March 1880) was a Polish composer and violinist.
Born in Lublin, a Polish city under Russian rule at the time, his talent for playing the violin was recognized early on, and in 1843 he entered the Paris Conservatoire. After graduation, Wieniawski toured extensively, giving many recitals on which he was often accompanied by his brother Józef on piano. In 1847 Henryk Wieniawski published his first opus, a Grand Caprice Fantastique, the start of a modest but important catalog of 24 opus numbers.
When his engagement to Isabella Hampton was opposed by her parents, Wieniawski wrote Légende, Opus 17, and this work helped the parents change their mind and the couple married in 1860.
At the invitation of Anton Rubinstein, Wieniawski moved to St. Petersburg, where he lived from 1860 to 1872, teaching many violin students and leading the orchestra and string quartet of the Russian Musical Society.
From 1872 to 1874 Wieniawski toured the United States with Rubinstein. In 1875 Wieniawski replaced Henri Vieuxtemps as violin professor at the conservatory at Brussels. During those years, Wieniawski's health was in obvious decline, often stopping him in the middle of concerts. He gave a farewell concert in Odessa on April 1879 and died the following year.
Henryk Wieniawski was considered a violinist of genius and wrote some of the most important works in the violin repertoire, including two extremely difficult violin concertos. He has been given a number of posthumous honors. His portrait appeared on a postage stamp of Poland in 1952 and again in 1957. A 100 Zloty coin was issued in 1979 bearing his image. The town of Wieniawska, in the Czechowka River valley is a recent community named in his honor.
But what is sometimes called the 'Russian bow grip' ought to be called the 'Wieniawski bow grip': Wieniawski taught his students his own kind of very stiff bowing that allowed him to play a 'devil's staccato' with ease.
The first violin competition named after Wieniawski took place in Warsaw in 1935, and the International Henryk Wienawski Violin Competition has since 1952 been held every five years.
Henryk Wieniawski died in Moscow during one of his frequent concert tours. He is interred in the Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw.
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