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A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Habeneck, François

HABENECK, François Antoine, born at Mezieres, Jan. 22, 1781, [App. p.662 "June 1"] eldest of three brothers (Joseph and Corentin), violinists, sons of a German musician in a French regimental band. He was a pupil of Baillot, obtained the first violin prize at the Conservatoire in 1804, and soon showed remarkable aptitude as a conductor—his real vocation. He was successively appointed assistant professor at the Conservatoire (1808–16), solo violin at the Opéra (1815), director of the 'Académie de Musique' (1821–24), conductor of the theatre de l'opéra, conjointly with Valentino from 1824 to 31, and alone from 31 to 47. In 1825 a special violin class was formed for him at the Conservatoire, which he retained till Oct. 1848. Among his pupils may be mentioned Cuvillon, Alard, Clapisson, and Léonard. Habeneck has the merit of having founded (1828) and conducted for 20 years the 'Société des Concerts du Conservatoire.' He was also the first to introduce Beethoven's symphonies in France, steadily persevering against all opposition, and at length executing them with a force, sentiment, and delicacy, which are not likely to be soon surpassed. As a conductor he was exacting, and unmerciful to singers who did not keep strict time. Out of respect to Cherubini he never exercised his office of 'Inspecteur général des classes du Conservatoire,' but he was an energetic director of Louis Philippe's concerts at the Tuileries. He composed violin music, several pieces for 'Aladin' (1822), and a ballet 'Le Page inconstant' (1823). This distinguished musician and conductor died in Paris, Feb. 8, 1849. He received the Legion of Honour in 1822. For many curious anecdotes of Habeneck, see the 'Memoires' of Berlioz.

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