In London, where he was frequently heard between 1792 and 1796, he once gave a concert which was fully attended, but annoying to the player on account of the indifference of the audience and the clatter of the tea-cups; for it was then the custom to serve tea during the performance, as well as during the intervals. Giornowick turned to the orchestra and ordered them to cease playing. “These people,” said he, “know nothing about music; anything is good enough for drinkers of warm water. I will give them something suited to their taste.” Whereupon he played a very trivial and commonplace French air, which he disguised with all manner of meretricious flourishes, and achieved a great success. When Viotti arrived in Paris in 1779, Giornowick started on his travels after having heard this new rival once.
A distinguished virtuoso and composer, with whom Viotti had already been thrown into contact, though in a friendly rather than a competitive way, was Boccherini, who was one of the most successful early composers of trios, quartets, and quintets for string instruments. During the latter part of Boccherini’s life he basked in the sunlight of Spanish royalty, and composed nine works annually for the Royal Academy of Madrid, in which town he died in 1806, aged sixty-six. A very clever saying is attributed to him. The King of Spain, Charles IV, was fond of playing with the great composer, and was very ambitious of shining as a great violinist; his cousin, the Emperor of Austria, was also fond of the violin, and played tolerably well. One day the latter asked Boccherini, in a rather straightforward manner, what difference there was between his playing and that of his cousin Charles IV. “Sire,” replied Boccherini, without hesitating for a moment, “Charles IV plays like a king, and your Majesty plays like an emperor.”
Giovanni Battista Viotti was born in a little Piedmontese village called Fontaneto, in the year 1755. The accounts of his early life are too confused and fragmentary to be trustworthy. It is pretty well established, however, that he studied under Pugnani at Turin, and that at the age of twenty he was made first violin at the Chapel Royal of that capital. After remaining three years, he began his career as a solo player, and, after meeting with the greatest success at Berlin and Vienna, directed his course to Paris, where he made his debut at the “Concerts Spirituels.”
Fetis tells us that the arrival of Viotti in Paris produced a sensation difficult to describe. No performer had yet been heard who had attained so high a degree of perfection, no artist had possessed so fine a tone, such sustained elegance, such fire, and so varied a style. The fancy which was developed in his concertos increased the delight he produced in the minds of his auditory. His compositions for the violin were as superior to those which had previously been heard as his execution surpassed that