August Wilhelmj

August Emil Daniel Ferdinand Wilhelmj (German pronunciation: [vɪlˈhɛlmi] vil-HEL-mee; 21 September 1845 in Usingen – 22 January 1908 in London) was a German violinist and teacher.[1]

August Wilhelmj
photo of August Wilhelmj
Born(1845-09-21)21 September 1845
Died22 January 1908(1908-01-22) (aged 62)
Other namesAugust Emil Daniel Ferdinand Wilhelmj

Wilhelmj was considered a child prodigy; when Henriette Sontag heard him in 1852 at seven years old, she said, "You will be the German Paganini".[2] In 1861, Franz Liszt heard him and sent him to Ferdinand David with a letter containing the words "Let me present you the future Paganini!".[3] His teachers included: Ferdinand David, for the violin, Moritz Hauptmann, for music theory and composition, and Joachim Raff for composition.[1]

A personal friend of Wagner, he led the violins at the première of Der Ring des Nibelungen in Bayreuth in 1876. He visited Australia in 1881, playing in the old Freemasons' Hall, but though appreciated by those who attended his concerts, their number was not sufficient to make the tour a financial success. It was not until introduced to London audiences by Jenny Lind in 1886 that Wilhelmj became a "household name".[4]

He has become famous for his late nineteenth century arrangement of the second movement of J. S. Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 for violin and piano, known as Air on the G String[2] and for his re-orchestration of the 1st movement of Niccolò Paganini's Violin Concerto No.1 in D major Op. 6 (1883/1884).[5]

From 1894 on he was a Professor of violin at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Among his pupils were American violinist Nahan Franko, Canadian musician Donald Heins, and the Australian conductor Aylmer Buesst.[1] Wilhelmj owned a Stradivari 1725 violin from 1866 until his retirement, which later came to be known by his name.[6] Another known violin was made by Giovanni Francesco Pressenda 1843 (Ex Wilhelmj) His 1785 Guadagnini was later owned (as "ex-Wilhelmj") by Jack Liebeck.[7]

Wilhelmj's sister-in-law was composer and singer Maria Wilhelmj.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Duncan Druce. "August Wilhelmj". CHASE: Collection of Historical Annotated String Editions. University of Leeds School of Music. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b Aryeh Oron. "August Wilhelmj (Arranger)". Bach Canatas Website. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  3. ^ Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed, 1954, reprinted 1966, Vol. IX, p. 297
  4. ^ "Music and Drama". The Sydney Morning Herald (21, 854). New South Wales, Australia. 1 February 1908. p. 4. Retrieved 27 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ Ivry Gitlis plays Paganini-Wilhelmj Violin Concerto No.1 (rec.1950)
  6. ^ "Stradivarius 1725 Violin: Wilhelmj". Instruments Owned by Nippon Music Foundation. Nippon Music Foundation. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  7. ^ Graeme Skiller (2010). "Australian Festival of Chamber Music : Brandenburg Concerto No.6 in B flat major". p. 41. Retrieved 26 May 2016.

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