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Jacques Thibaud

Jacques Thibaud, whose gifts as an interpreting artist brought him many friends and admirers, is often considered the foremost representative of the modern Franco-Belgian school of violin playing. According to Flesch, ‘his playing was imbued with his yearning for sensual pleasure, with an unchastity that was all the more seductive for its refinement.’ The rather more conservative Albert Spalding, at whose wedding Thibaud performed, said: ‘The same grace and charm that individualized his violin playing was evident in everything else he undertook. He was irresistible to women, young and old, and was as proud of this power as he was modest about his musical genius.’

Born into a musical family (his father a violinist and music teacher), Thibaud made his public piano debut aged five. Two years later, having heard Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, he insisted on violin lessons. Ysaÿe (who later dedicated his Sonata No. 2 for solo violin to Thibaud) heard him when he was nine and encouraged him, probably leading to his entering the Paris Conservatoire to study with Martin Marsick. He continued with Marsick after graduating and evidently held him in great renown: ‘With him I believe that three essentials—absolute purity of pitch, equality of tone and sonority of tone, in connection with the bow—are the base on which everything else rests.’




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