Giovanni Battista Viotti
Giovanni Battista Viotti was born at Fontaneta da Po, Vercelli, Italy, May 23, 1753, and died in London, March 3, 1824.
His gifts as a self-taught violinist earned him the patronage of the Prince of Cisterna, to whose residence in Turin he went in 1766.
The Prince sent him to study with Pugnani, and, according to Viotti’s own statement, paid for “and education that cost twenty thousand francs before it was completed.”
He then went on tour to Switzerland, Russia, Germany and France.
He intended to remain in Paris only a few months, but remained there ten years, and was acclaimed the greatest living violinist by his many admirers.
Owing, some say, to jealousy, he gave up violin playing to become manager of Italian opera.
The Revolutionary troubles, however, forced him to retire to London, where he achieved further success, and gained the friendship of Mr. and Mrs. Chinnery, who befriended him through his later misfortunes.
He was wrongly accused of taking part in a revolutionary correspondence, and was obliged to leave England in 1798, and took refuge on the continent.
He returned to London in 1801 and established himself as a wine merchant, in which, however, he was woefully unsuccessful.
Viotti settled in Paris and from 1819 to 1822 he was director of the Opera.
He returned eventually to London, where he died in a great poverty at the house of the Chinnerys.
He was undoubtedly the greatest classical violin player of his day.
His pupils included Pixis Baillot and Rode.