Théophile Laforge

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Theophile Laforge Theophile Laforge.jpg
Théophile Laforge

Théophile Édouard Laforge (6 March 1863 in Paris – 31 October 1918 in Paris) was a French violist and first professor of viola at the Conservatoire de Paris.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Viola bowed string instrument

The viola (; Italian pronunciation: [viˈɔːla]) is a string instrument that is bowed or played with varying techniques. It is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above) and the cello (which is tuned an octave below). The strings from low to high are typically tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4.

Conservatoire de Paris music school

The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795 associated with PSL Research University. It is situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France. The Conservatoire offers instruction in music, dance, and drama, drawing on the traditions of the "French School".

Laforge studied violin at the Conservatoire de Paris with Eugène Sauzay and was awarded first prize in 1886. From 1883, he was a violinist at the Opéra de Paris and in 1887 became principal violist. Furthermore, from 1887 he was viola soloist with the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, now the Orchestre de Paris.

Violin bowed string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths

The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments exist, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.

Eugène Sauzay French classical violinist and composer

Charles Eugène Sauzay was a French violinist and composer.

A First Prize diploma in music is a high honor Diploma of Musical Studies, typically in performance or composition. It is awarded by European music conservatories and European-styled conservatories elsewhere. A First Prize diploma does not denote first in class, but rather, a very high level of artist proficiency. The typical period of study to earn a First Prize is one to two years. A First Prize diploma is sometimes wrongly described as being similar to a master's degree in music performance or composition. As of the mid-1990s, the degree in many European countries has been discontinued.

In 1894, he was selected as the first professor of viola of the Conservatoire de Paris. Indeed, 99 years after the implementation of the violin and cello programs, a class entirely reserved for viola players was created. Laforge devoted himself to his post until his death after a short illness in 1918.

During his career at the Conservatoire, Théophile Laforge initiated works for viola from composers of the time, also setting them as a requirement in partial fulfillment of a degree. More than a dozen works would be dedicated to him as well, of which the Concertpiece by George Enescu is the most widely performed.

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In his 22 years of teaching, Laforge created a generation of new violists; notable students include Maurice Vieux (who succeeded him at the Conservatoire), Henri Casadesus, Louis Bailly, Paul-Louis Neuberth and Pierre Monteux.

Maurice Edgard Vieux was a French violist whose teaching at the Conservatoire de Paris plays a key role in the history of the viola in France.

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The conductor Pierre Monteux made a large number of recordings throughout his career. His first recording was as a violist in "Plus blanche que la blanche hermine" from Les Huguenots by Meyerbeer in 1903 for Pathé with the tenor Albert Vaguet. His first recording as a conductor was the first of his five recordings of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. His last studio recordings were with the London Symphony Orchestra in works by Ravel at Wembley Town Hall at the end of February 1964. He recorded works by more than fifty composers. However, he disliked recording, saying of studio sessions,

You may give an excellently played, genuinely felt performance of a movement, but because the engineer is not satisfied because there is some rustling at one point, so you do it again and this time something else goes wrong. By the time you get a "perfect" take of the recording the players are bored, the conductor is bored, and the performance is lifeless and boring. … I detest all my own records.

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