The works of Rodolphe Kreutzer are probably known to all young violinists. His 42 Etudes and Capriccios accompany future virtuosos from an early age, introducing them to the secrets of violin techniques. The undoubted talent of the French teacher and virtuoso was appreciated not only by his students but also by other artists. Thanks to Ludwig van Beethoven, Kreutzer was the dedicatee of several works, interestingly not only musical. We will hear them at the National Forum of Music performed by the Lutosławski Quartet and their guests.
Beethoven and Kreutzer were never friends. Yet the composer of ‘Eroica’ was hugely impressed by the skills of the French virtuoso and decided to dedicate one of his violin sonatas to him. It happened under the influence of a certain impulse (Beethoven did not have a temperate or calm character). In 1803, the composer suggested performing his latest sonata to another great violinist who had just come to Vienna. It was George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, a personality that aroused sensation not only because of the amazing skills, but also because of his African-European roots. The artist agreed to perform the work together with the composer, and their joint performance was a big success. Unfortunately, just before the composition was published, the musicians quarelled. That is why Beethoven dedicated his Ninth Violin Sonata to Kreutzer, who at that time enjoyed the reputation of the most famous violinist in Europe. After receiving the manuscript, the French virtuoso said that the work was unfeasible, and he never decided to present it to the public. Regardless of that, the name ‘Kreutzer’ has already clung to the composition forever.
The thrilling Beethoven work became an inspiration for Leo Tolstoy. The writer heard it in the comfort of his home after 85 years since its creation. Being impressed by the work, he sketched a short story running to a dozen pages or so, which he gave the same title. In the resulting dramatic story of a jealous spouse, Beethoven's composition is of great importance. It is this work that the hero's wife performs along with the newly-met violinist, which makes her husband suspect a love affair between them, leading to the tragic ending of the story. In turn, Tolstoy's moving prose was used by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček in String Quartet No. 1 – one of the few of his chamber programme pieces. Janáček, in contrast to Tolstoy, concentrated mainly on the character of dishonestly suspected wife.