The Elegant Artistry of Arthur Grumiaux

Elegance, good taste and a beautiful, bell-like singing tone were all characteristics of Franco-Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986). In contrast to today’s relatively homogenized violin playing, Grumiaux exhibits a distinctly French style. Listening to Grumiaux, I’m also struck by the musical honesty and lack of fussiness in his playing. His musical phrases speak with a purity and simplicity which is hard to come by today.

In his book, Great Masters of the Violin, Boris Schwarz wrote:

Over the years, Grumiaux’s playing underwent a marked development. He began as an intellectually cool player, with a tone of limited volume and restrained vibrato. As he grew in years and maturity, his interpretations acquired more sensuous warmth and fire without losing any of the former noble qualities. Perhaps it is the nobility and uncompromising musicianship that keeps Grumiaux’s career within certain limits, as if marked “for connoisseurs only.”

Let’s become “connoisseurs” and listen to a few great old recordings by Grumiaux:

Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3

It’s hard to imagine better Mozart than this:

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Here are the second and third movements.

Faure and Franck Sonatas

Here is a clip of Gabriel Fauré’s two violin sonatas (A major and E minor) as well as the César Franck sonata (beginning at 44:45):

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Beethoven Minuet in G

Beethoven’s Minuet in G is included in Book 2 of Suzuki’s violin repertoire. I was surprised to come across this performance by Grumiaux:


This short piece has been attributed to Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824), an Austrian composer and pianist. Mozart is thought to have written his Piano Concerto No. 18 for her. Violinist Samuel Dushkin, who “discovered” and arranged this beautiful piece, is now believed to have written it:

Paganini’s I Palpiti

Let’s finish up with the virtuoso fireworks of Niccolò Paganini. Before the fireworks start, you’ll hear a singing melody, which might remind you of Italian Bel canto opera:

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5 Responses to The Elegant Artistry of Arthur Grumiaux

  1. Anonymous March 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Another brilliant presentation and your input is the best material on the blog. It allows reflective time and the knowledge of many of the forgotten musical masters that must be preserved. Thank you. Norman Duncan

  2. Prashant Kumar October 1, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    Loved your blog. I am also an avid admirer of Baron Arthur Grumiaux, whom I count as the first and the finest among equals. Grumiaux, Oistrakh, Heifetz, Szeryng, Milstein, Kogan, Menuhin and Francescatti are my most favourite, in that order. If one considers all the aspects of classical violin playing, it is difficult to find a more complete and perfect artist than Monsieur Grumiaux. He had it all. His technique was second to none, not even to Heifetz, but unlike many others, he never showed off virtuosity for its sake. Rather he subjugated it to serve the composers as well as possible. His tone was unblemished and golden, but just like the great pianist Sviatoslav Richter, he could change it to perfectly suit the music being played. His balance, poise, classicism, elegance, masterful control of vibrato and uncanny ability to infuse just the right amount of feeling into a piece without over-emoting at all times lend him an aura of his own. He is unparalleled in Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, his recordings of these Austro-German masters are the benchmarks against which others are judged. But even in other Baroque as well as Romantic repertoire, he brings his own nobility to the fore, making the listeners see these works in a new light and revealing hitherto unseen facets. He was truly one of a kind. And the best ever in my book. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this blog entry and look forward to keep visiting.

  3. Fickelson Laurent August 27, 2016 at 8:49 pm #

    Contrairement à Mr bob Schwarz, je pense que Grumiaux n’a jamais été aussi inspiré que dans ses jeunes années. Écoutez le concerto de Mozart numéro 3 ou le 5 en la majeur ds sa première version 1955 (orchestre de vienne) et comparez le avec la version très connue de 1962 avec colin Davis, vous verrez que celle de 1955 est plusque sublime !!celle d’après est plus sage, et, à mon avis, moins inspirée. Mais celle de 1955 atteint un tel niveau, qu’il était difficile de faire mieux.

    • Timothy Judd August 27, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

      Thank you for these comments, Fickelson. For English readers here is a translation:

      “Unlike Mr Bob Schwarz , I think Grumiaux has never been so inspired in his youth . Listen to Mozart concerto number 3 or 5 in A major in its first version in 1955 ( orchestra of Vienna ) and compare it with the famous 1962 version with Colin Davis, you’ll see that the 1955 is that of sublime morethan !! According wiser , and , in my opinion, less inspired . But the 1955 reached such a level that it was difficult to do better.”


  1. Grumiaux's Cosmic Bach | Timothy Judd - March 14, 2014

    […] the meantime, following up on last Friday’s post, The Elegant Artistry of Arthur Grumiaux, let’s listen to a few of Grumiaux’s exquisite Bach […]

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