Charles Auguste de Beriot

Charles Auguste de Beriot
20.02.1802 - 8.04.1870


Charles Auguste de Bériot (20 February 1802 – 8 April 1870) was a Belgian violinist and composer.

Born in Leuven, where there is now a street named in his honour, he moved to France in 1810, where he studied violin with Jean-François Tiby, a pupil of Giovanni Battista Viotti. He was later encouraged by Viotti himself and briefly worked with Baillot but did not embrace all their teachings and was also influenced by Paganini. He served as chamber violinist to King Charles X of France and to King William I of the Netherlands and toured with great success to London, Paris and the great music centres of Europe. In addition to playing the violin, he was a virtuosic pianist who toured through much of China despite the emperor's objections.

Bériot lived together with the opera singer Maria Malibran and had a child with her in 1833 (Charles-Wilfrid de Bériot, a piano professor who taught Maurice Ravel, Ricardo Viñes, Enrique Granados and others). They were married in 1836 when Malibran obtained an annulment of her previous marriage. Felix Mendelssohn wrote an aria accompanied by a solo violin especially for the couple. However, Malibran died the same year from injuries sustained in a fall from a horse.

After Malibran's death, de Bériot lived in Brussels, playing little in public. In 1841, however, he went on tour in Germany, where he met and married Marie Huber, daughter of a magistrate of Vienna. She was an orphan who had been adopted by Prince von Dietrichstein, the natural father of Sigismond Thalberg. Marie and de Bériot met in a café in his hometown, Leuven. They met through mutual friends and both played the piano quite well.

In 1842, Baillot died in Paris at the age of 71, and his position as instructor at the Paris Conservatoire was offered to de Bériot. He rejected the offer, however, and in 1843 became chief violin instructor at the Brussels Conservatory where he established the Franco-Belgian school of violin playing. On account of failing eyesight he retired in 1852, and in 1858 became totally blind. Paralysis of the left arm ended his career in 1866. His most illustrious disciples were Hubert Léonard, Henri Vieuxtemps and Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst.

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