A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Servais, Adrien

3712903A Dictionary of Music and Musicians — Servais, AdrienThomas Percy Hudson

SERVAIS, Adrien François, a great violoncellist, was born at Hal, near Brussels, June 7, 1807. His study of music began early, but it was not till he heard a solo by Platel on the cello, that he fixed on the instrument on which he became so famous. He became a pupil of Platel's in the Brussels Conservatoire, where he rapidly rose to the first rank. At the advice of Fétis he went to Paris, where his success was great. In 1835 he visited England, and on May 25 played a concerto of his own at the Philharmonic Concert, where he was announced as 'principal violoncello to the King of the Belgians.' He then returned home, and wisely resolved to study for a year, and it was during this period that he formed the style by which he was afterwards known. In 1836 he reappeared in Paris, and the next dozen years were occupied in a series of long tours through Germany, Holland, Austria, Norway, Russia, and even Siberia. In 1842 he married in St. Petersburg. In 1848 he settled at Brussels as Professor in the Conservatoire, and formed many distinguished pupils. He died at his native village Nov. 26, 1866, of an illness contracted during his third visit to Petersburg. His works comprise 3 Concertos, and 16 Fantasies, for cello and orchestra; 6 Etudes for cello and PF.—with Grégoir; 14 Duos for ditto; 3 Duets for violin and cello—with Léonard; one Duet for ditto—with Vieuxtemps. His honours were many, and gave point to Rossini's bon mot—that he was the King of Cellists still more than the Cellist of Kings. Servais' tastes were very simple, and his great delight was to slip on a blouse and (like Mozart) play skittles. At the close of his life he became very stout, and the peg now used to support the cello is said to have been invented by him as a relief. A biography of Servais was published at Hal by Vanderbroeck Desmeth, 1866. His eldest son Joseph, born at Hal Nov. 28, 1850, succeeded his father in June 1872 as professor of the cello at the Brussels Conservatoire. He appeared first at Warsaw with his father, and the pair excited the greatest enthusiasm. In 1868 he was appointed solo violoncellist at Weimar and remained two years. In 1875 he played for the first time in Paris at one of Pasdeloup's Popular Concerts, when some of the journals spoke in terms of extravagant praise of his performance. The instrument used by both father and son is a fine Stradivarius presented by the Princess Yousoupoff. [App. p.792 "Add date of death of Joseph, Aug. 29, 1885."] A second son, Francis Matthieu was a pupil in the same establishment.