December 6, 2010 at 10:06 PM ·

just heard Grumiaux on a cd of violin classics (Decca)  he seems to stand head and shoulders above others.  why have i not heard of him?

Replies (40)

December 6, 2010 at 10:54 PM ·

I don't know, but he's certainly famous.  His Mozart and Bach are very well loved.  

December 6, 2010 at 11:40 PM ·

Grumiaux ,during the 60's and the 70's was a top soloist at the same time as Henryk Szeryng, David Oistrach and Stern. He came once in the U.S.A. and had a huge success. He mostly played in Europe and recorded exclusively for Phillips... He was the greatest Belgian violinist since Eugene Ysaïe. He studied with Alfred Dubois, himself one of the best students of Ysaïe. Grumiaux was a first class violinist, chamber musician and pianist. David Oistrach was one of his best admirer and friend. They spent lots of time together and had mutual admiration...

December 7, 2010 at 12:43 AM ·

Grumiaux was another "one of a kind," with a unique sound and violinistic voice. I'm old enough to have been able to hear him live had I known about him at the time. But, unfortunately, I didn't. His recorded legacy is astonishing. To me, his recorded performances of the following pieces are in a class by themselves:
Bach, Solo Sonatas and Partitas (You don't feel like you're listening to a great violinist; you feel like you're listening to Bach)
Brahms Horn Trio (an unbelievable performance)
Anything by Mozart (Grumiaux may indeed be the ultimate Mozart interpreter)
Brahms and (of all things) Tchaikovsky Concertos.
The Paganini 4th Concerto (his premier recording of it is incredible)
Beethoven Sonatas
Lalo Symphonie Espagnole
Ravel Tzigane
....and I'm probably missing a few dozen more.
- Sandy
PS. By the way, there is no "h" in his name; it is "Artur." It's an easy mistake to make, and I see it all the time.

December 7, 2010 at 01:53 AM ·


you@ve gotta be kidding. Actually,  Grumiaux may posisbly be slightly less familiar to some people in some countries, especially as time goes by and we are swamped by more and more modern verisons of the repertoire.  I think Sander said he had a good career in America but if I remeber correctly actually it didn`t happen there due to reasons of mismanagment and perhaps even some prejudice in certain quarters.

Nonetheless,  AG has one of the most beautiful ,  elegant , fluid sounds of all time and a phenomenal tecnique.  I don`t need ot beleabour his musician ship was unparalleled.  For many violnists his Bach and Mozart are the ultimate. I often do blind tests of the mOzart cocnertos with various palyers for my studnets.  Honestly,  most of the time Grumiaux come sout on top.   For many players of my generation and earlier he -really- was the ultimate violinst.    Note that Oistrakh loved his playing and actually changed to the Franco belgian approach to bowing as a direct result of hearing AG play. Without AG we might not have een priviliged to enjoy Oistrakh at his absolute best over the years (Idle speculation...)

Probably the recording of the Mendelssohn I treasure the most is the live DVD currently available from Amazon etc.



December 7, 2010 at 02:06 AM ·

Violinist Jennifer Koh plays the lovely ex-Grumiaux strad. 

December 7, 2010 at 09:31 AM ·

 I listen over and over to the mozart concerti, and wayyy back in 1981 I purchased (with ablsoutely no idea who he was, and I didn't play violin) the double casette which had I think Mendelssohn, brahms perhaps tchikovsky and beethoven. I played it in my very stylish and new tech Walkman as I cycled around the UK and Southern France.  The tape gave up the ghost long before Iw as ready to stop listening to it. (You just don't get that sense of time passing with disc, the way you did with a gradually stretching cassette).  ANYhoo, All of the violinist teachers I know are enamoured, and non violinists have never heard of him. they only vaguely recognise the name menuhin.

December 7, 2010 at 02:02 PM ·

Perhaps Arthur illustrates better than anyone how poor the link is between popular recognition and performance ability.  Arthur fiigures predominantly on a 5 CD set that I have (the name of the set escapes me), perhaps most notably on his Mozart concerto renditions.  They have served as my 'source' for this music though I have to admit to taking him rather for granted myself.

Which is why I want to thank you for starting this topic - nothing is more impressive in any field than to be recognized by one's peers.  I suppose that should be one of V.com's missions - share the brilliant yet unrecognized - and I think we're doing it pretty well (well, to be fair, you are, I'm mostly benefitting!). 

[edit - dutifully put the 'h's back in - thanks Marc]

December 7, 2010 at 02:14 PM ·

I have plenty of Grumiaux cds, mostly Mozart and Bach.  He was excellent, just not as well known as some of the others among the music-going public.

December 7, 2010 at 04:01 PM ·

Sander!!!  Arthur Grumiaux is spelt with an H and has always been...  You can go to his official website  No offense, but this is the french guy making the correction... and do not hesitate to do the same with my English... 




I would like to add that many great artist are acclaimed in Europe and not famous at all in the U.S.A.  This is still going on today... Many recordings of past and actual soloists are not sold in the U.S.A.   It is the same in many fields... It is very difficult for many artists to be recognized in the U.S.A. I know outstanding opera singers in Italy who never made it at the Metropolitain and that are much superior to anything they present out there in New-York...

December 7, 2010 at 05:10 PM ·

Marc: Thank you. I stand corrected. All these years I've seen it with and without the "h," and I indeed always thought it was without. There's always something to learn.

December 7, 2010 at 05:25 PM ·

The recorded legacy of this great violinist is superb. I think of him a one of the greats. It's never occurred to me that he could ever be considered "little known". Cruel fate. I treasure his Bach especially, both accompanied and with harpsichord. As well as the Concerto repertoire from Mozart onwards there are chamber music recordings, which include a fine set of Mozart String Quintets. A fine MUSICIAN, not just a fiddler.

Funnily enough, although mention has been made in this thread of a Grumiaux Strad, I always thought of him as a "Guarneri" player. And I think he had a Guadagnini too. Someone out there will know.

December 7, 2010 at 05:56 PM ·

Grumiaux played on the Titan Strad and after , he owned a Del Gesù ,that was bought by Joseph Silverstein after Grumiaux's death...

December 7, 2010 at 05:57 PM ·

Thanks, Marc.

December 7, 2010 at 06:46 PM ·

Your welcome David...If you go on the above mentionned website of Grumiaux, you will see pictures of his favorite violin, the 1744 Rose-Grumiaux Del Gesù. It is one of the top Del Gesùs as mentionned by the Hills and several other experts... I do not think that the Vieuxtemps is superior... The Leduc owned by Szeryng is another top Del Gesù and has similar features in accordance to the Rose-Grumiaux...


And Elise, yes it is true that these kind of discussions are so rewarding.

December 7, 2010 at 08:35 PM ·

I saw Grumiaux a couple of times in Strasbourg, Beethoven and Bruch concertos. Beautiful sound, powerful but never harsh.

If I remember right, he suffered a kind of airplane phobia, this may account for the scarcity of his US appearances. Many of his recordings are available, either on the ex-Philips label (Decca), on Brilliant classics (especially his legendary Beethoven sonatas with Haskil), Pentatone and more. Several live recordings on Music and arts (recordings in Prades with Casals, Kappell), and Doremi

December 7, 2010 at 09:43 PM ·

Recordings available in the US is an interesting thing.  I once bought Primrose CDs for a family friend in Japan.

Turns out they are printed in Japan only.  They were shipped here and back again -__- 

The internet is a wonderful thing, but I often want the CD for my shelf.  =\

December 8, 2010 at 02:16 AM ·

The greatest recording of the Beethoven concerto I have ever heard:  this one, by Grumiaux.  Greatest recording of Bach sonatas or the unaccompanied works I have ever heard:  Grumiaux, and Grumiaux.  Mozart violin concerti?  Grumiaux.  Mozart string quintets? Grumiaux & friends.  Most elegant performance of the Stravinsky concerto:  Grumiaux.

I first got to know the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole from Grumiaux's recording.  I didn't even know it was supposed to be a difficult piece - it didn't sound difficult until I heard Kyung-Wha Chung play it :-)

December 8, 2010 at 08:04 AM ·

Bruce, nice that you mention this Grumiaux recording of the Beethoven...he played it with the same conductor when I saw him, Alceo Galliera!

December 8, 2010 at 09:23 AM ·

I discovered Grumiaux several years ago while looking for recordings of Brahms trios.  I immediately considered his recordings to be exactly as they should be, not knowing much about various violinists and interpretations of Brahms at the time.  Having heard many violinists since then, I now understand how exceptional this man was in expression and interpretation.  His playing is warm and tender, like a cradle.

December 8, 2010 at 05:29 PM ·

I have many recordings of Grumiaux at home... He played very well from the beginning of his career until the very end, like David Oistrach. I have a live performance of his Paganini number 4 and Saint¨-Seans number 3 , and also, some live recordings of Mozart and Beethoven with Clara Haskil... Grumiaux was a master violinist and musician who could give top performances of all the classics, modern or any virtuoso work by Paganini and Sarasate...

He was always constant as a performer... At his best, his vibrato and tone were unique and there is a definite link between him,Oistrach and Kreisler. Today, the only violinist who immediately comes to my mind and of the same class is James Ehnes. James just released the Mendelssohn concerto on Onyx, and when you compare his live performance of that recording to Grumiaux, Oistrach and Kreisler, you sense immediately that Ehnes, in his own way, is following their path...

December 8, 2010 at 06:43 PM ·

I have several recordings of the Bach sonatas and partitas, but if I had to choose just one, it would be Grumiaux's.

December 9, 2010 at 05:21 PM ·

The Grumiaux/Haskil recordings of the Mozart sonatas are among the gold standard ones along with Szeryng/Habeler and Goldberg/Kraus.

December 10, 2010 at 01:47 AM ·

 By coincidence the first recording I ever bought of Bach was Grumiaux (the first I owned was gifted to me, Heifetz).  It is admirable playing.  I never thought of him as an obscure violinist; I've not met violinists who haven't heard of him.

A tiny clarification re: Buri's comment.... Oistrakh played fb bow grip (until later in life), but the bow arm itself remained Russian rather than fb.  Much like Kogan.  At any rate, I certainly enjoy Oistrakh (and Kogan and Boris Golstein but I digress).


December 10, 2010 at 04:26 AM ·


sorry, but i really don@t agree about the bow arm remaining Russian,  except that it was Oistrakh`s and he was Russian;)   Change the way you hold the bow, change the tension of the hair to FB and you automaticvalaly have to use the speed and pressure concominat with those changes IE FB hold. FB bowing..  other uses of the arm are not reaslly definable as sopecifcially Russian. They are more to do with the individual cocnerned.



December 10, 2010 at 07:33 AM ·

 Of course bow grip impacts the sound....

However, so does the bow arm.

Every player's position will differ, but there are two arms if you will.... that used by, say, sarah chang/Hahn/zukerman/rabin (arm square with string/forearm moves forward)...... and the other, which is playing from the upper arm (or, put another way, distinctly different from that used by the aforementioned soloists).

Either we have different ways of describing things or we have to agree to disagree.  But, considering this discussion is about Grumiaux.... let's leave it at that.  :)  I haven't watched (much) footage of Grumiaux.  Like Szeryng, he lived in the time of other greats.... that time period was so spoiled by great players that many were easy to overlook.

March 19, 2011 at 04:16 PM ·

At long last, this stunning Grumeaux/Concertgebuow recording that I've been flogging here for years (including the offering of free MP3s for a coupla years) has been reissued by Decca! I have it here in my sweaty hands. But....that version seems to be no longer available. Instead, it is now an Australian import, available at www.amazon.com/Brahms-Concerto-Rhapsody-Overture-Academic/dp/B000UNBQVY/ref=sr_1_1.

Two of the reviews there vindicate my impressions and frequent posting about it, that is, I agree with them.   :-)

Joey Joe Joe Jr. Shabadoo (Boston, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brahms: Violin Concerto; Alto Rhapsody; Tragic Overture; Academic Festival Overture (Audio CD)

Grumiaux is not one normally associated with the Brahms concerto as one of its prime expositors: I tend to think of Oistrakh, or Szeryng, or Milstein or Heifetz. However, this is a magical collaboration. Recorded in 1958 when Grumiaux was still in his prime, he sounds more at ease with the technical challenges of the work than he would in his later (inferior) recording with Colin Davis. His trademark gossamer tone and faithful articulation aptly complement the tonal beauty of the Concertgebouw - one of the best orchestras in the world - led by a noted Brahmsian, Eduard van Beinum, who provides wonderfully supportive and idiomatic accompaniment. If you want further proof of van Beinum's Brahms credentials, listen to his amazing Brahms Symphony No. 4. But back to the concerto: Tempi are brisk, rhythms firm, with architectural integrity a focus for both conductor and soloist. The result is surely one of the finest Brahms concertos on disc, which along with recordings by the aforementioned Oistrakh and Szeryng, is one of a select few performances worthy of being in the discussion for best recording of the work, ever.

The sound is very good early Philips stereo, warm and full with good dynamic range. It certainly doesn't sound like a 50 year old recording. Kudos to the Philips engineers, they turned out some real gems in the days of early stereo and this is surely one of them.

This is a great Brahms concerto, and if someone told me I could only have this recording of it for the rest of my life, I wouldn't complain. Those in search of the "grail" Brahms VC should also investigate:
A composer for a conductor!, December 1, 2009

This review is from: Brahms: Violin Concerto; Alto Rhapsody; Tragic Overture; Academic Festival Overture (Audio CD)

Historically it's well known the great affinity that always existed between Brahms and Van Beinum as one of his most famed interpreters.

And once more, this recording validates the previous affirmation. His Alto Rhapsody still remains among the best available golden choices ever. Tonal opulence, wonderful phrasing and vigorous expression.

The version recorded here of Brahms violin Concerto is a true exhumation. This is the first time it has been released on CD and believe me, one of the top five versions ever recorded (to my mind the other four would be Ginette Neveu, Jasha Heifetz, Isaac Stern and Henryk Szeryng, under the baton of Rafael Kubelik in a live performance, still available under Orpheus label) . Arthur Grumiaux demonstrates why he was one of the ten violinists of the century. His marvelous tune, his kaleidoscopic temperament and sheer technique confer this Op. of sobriety, charm, expressiveness, elegance and special emphasis around its introspective character. Grumiaux- like Cortot- uses the violin to express the unsaid facets of the score.

The result is a formidable album, whose historical importance is by itself a primordial factor at the moment to make your choice.

Don't let this album pass in front of you and acquire it before it becomes unavailable.



March 19, 2011 at 04:44 PM ·

Hi, Scott. This great. Wonderful performance. And I've suddenly re-discovered the long-available recording of the Grumiaux recording of the Tchaikovsky Concerto. It's a performance you don't expect from Arthur Grumiaux. Sure, it's got his patented elegance and technical mastery, but it is a barn-burner. It's a spectacular, dare-devil, go-for-the-throat performance you don't expect from Grumiaux. Give it a listen (if you haven't already).

March 19, 2011 at 04:52 PM ·


Do you have details on which recording this is? Or is it the only one?


March 19, 2011 at 05:45 PM ·

On the Grumiaux website there is a video of Bach. Wonderful playing.

I wonder what cheapo fiddle he was using. Del boy Gesu?

Half way through there was definitely a wolf note!!

Made my ******* day!!

I suffer from wolf's a lot, and now I put two fingers up to Mr Wolf.

March 19, 2011 at 06:00 PM ·

My mom always told me to stop crying wolf.

March 19, 2011 at 08:34 PM ·

Thanks, Scott.  Just ordered it.

March 20, 2011 at 06:55 AM ·

In my somewhat dubious quest to find the definitive recording of Andaluza by Granados I have just bought a double CD of "Favourite Violin Encores" by Grumiaux. It seems to have been recorded mostly around 1962/3.

I have to say that, apart from one track, the whole listening experience, as I travelled down the Wye Valley, was entrancing. I will definitely be seeking out more repertoire by him.

March 21, 2011 at 12:08 PM ·

Scott: The Grumiaux recording is a Phiips 2-CD set (#442-287-2) entitled "Favourite Violin Concertos." It has the Beethoven (Davis, Royal Concertgebouw), Brahms (Davis, New Philharmonia), Mendelssohn (Haitink, Royal Concertgebouw), and Tchaikovsky (Krenz, New Philharmonia). It also has the Beethoven Romance #2 It seems to be fairly recent, so I think you should be able to find it.

March 21, 2011 at 01:57 PM ·

Thanks, Sander. I got it! Perhaps I should listen to it!

An old version of Oistrakh playing the Tchaikovsky (which one, I am not sure) is so ingrained into my soul that I wonder if I can ever stand to hear another. I'll let you know soon if I share your enthusiasm for this.


March 21, 2011 at 03:13 PM ·

Hi, Scott: Yes, Oistrakh's Tchaikovsky is beyond outstanding, and I don't think the Grumiaux will replace it. However, I think you'll find it quickly occupying a special place. There are so, so many recordings of it, and so many of them are worth listening to. There's something about the Tchaikovsky that, I think, brings out the best (or is it "brings out the ham"?) in violinists who can master it.

March 22, 2011 at 12:49 AM ·

 Grumiaux, Grumiaux--wherefore Arthur Grumiaux?


March 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM ·

Old MacDonald had a farm,
Grumi, Grumiaux.

March 22, 2011 at 02:03 PM ·

Sander, I learned a new word/expression because of you...

I knew that a ham is that bottock/back of the thigh pork peice. (often served with pineapples and cherries...) 

But I didn't know it could also mean "overacting, perform in an unusual way"....

That's why I was laughing when I read that Tchaikovsky made "come out the ham" in every player!  

Perhaps, it's not for nothing if you talk about Uncle Mc Donald's farm in your post, no? : ) Oink... 



More seriously, I don't know much about Grumiaux but he surely does play very well!!


March 22, 2011 at 03:16 PM ·

Of course one could not accuse him of being a sow's ear - more a silk purse ...

April 16, 2011 at 02:54 PM ·

@ Bruce Bodden,

So, what was your impression? Hope I'm not putting you on the spot. Did it measure up to the hype in your opinion?



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