Arthur Grumiaux, the search for poetry and emotion
Arthur Grumiaux was one of the key figures in the Walloon violin school, a worthy heir of Henri Vieuxtemps, Guillaume Lekeu and Eugène Ysaÿe, loved and recognised by a large audience for the purity and simplicity of his performances; he won acclaim throughout the world not only as a soloist but also as a chamber musician.
Arthur Grumiaux's childhood was not unlike that of Mozart. Arthur was born in Villers Perwin, near Charleroi, on 21 March 1921, into a family of musicians; from the age of three, he received violin and piano lessons from his grandfather, who soon noticed his musical talents and gave him his first violin. The young boy performed in his first concept when he was just five and a half years old. He charmed his audience not due to his youth, but thanks to his ability to arouse emotion. The young Grumiaux then entered the Charleroi Conservatory and earned a diploma in violin and piano when he was just 11 years old. After this, he joined the Brussels Conservatory in the class of Alfred Dubois, a teacher who was a student of Eugène Ysaÿe and who did his utmost to bring the adolescent to maturity. Lastly, he perfected his art with Georges Enesco, the great Romanian violinist and composer who lived in Paris.
At the age of 18, he had his first professional engagement, a radio concert recorded in public, where he played Vieuxtemps' Concerto No. 5 and Mendelssohn's Concerto, conducted by Charles Munch, with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra. This first public concert should have been the start of a great career. However Grumiaux was forced to stop performing for a time as he refused to play for the Germans. After the war, he recorded his first records, in 1945, and resumed his career with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the pianist Gerald Moore. In 1949, he took over from Dubois at the Brussels Conservatory and, despite his personal success, he threw himself into his role as a teacher. At the same time, he played with the greatest orchestras in the world, and under the direction of the most famous conductors. With Romanian pianist Clara Haskil, he recorded the entirety of Beethoven's piano and violin sonatas and six Mozart sonatas. At the end of the 1960s, Arthur Grumiaux created a trio, with Georges Janzer and Eva Czako. Its recordings and concerts led to the Trio Grumiaux immediately becoming one of the leading international chamber music ensembles. In 1972, King Baudouin awarded him the title of Baron and, 24 years later, the Charleroi Conservatory was renamed the Conservatoire Arthur Grumiaux. Although the virtuoso died in Brussels on 16 October 1986, his music travelled to the stars, on board the two American Voyager rockets launched in 1977, which carried musical extracts beyond our solar system, including his performance of Bach's Partita No. 3.