Eduard d’Aubert (1813−1873)

Theodor Eduard Adolf d’Aubert was born in Braunschweig, Germany on 24 October 1813 and died in Stockholm on 17 April 1873. He was a virtuoso violinist who as a 19-year-old came to Sweden to stay. d’Aubert gave numerous performances, was a member of the Royal Court Orchestra and was active as a violin teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Music. As a composer he wrote almost exclusively for solo violin and accompaniment. Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1849.

Eduard d’Aubert introduced a new ideal to Sweden, which would prove to be both meaningful and lasting: the virtuoso violinist. His skill on the instrument and acquaintance with audience-winning works led to his frequent performance in his hometowns of Gothenburg and Stockholm, but also on many tours throughout the rest of the country. Naturally, one of his compositions bears the name Polonaise à la Paganini.

Life

From Braunschweig to Gothenburg

Eduard d’Aubert (Daubert) was born in 1813 in the city of Braunschweig in Southeast Lower Saxony. Nothing certain is known about his background, childhood and musical education, but he likely grew up in a musical family and was given a substantial musical education. In any case, he came to Gothenburg in 1832 at the age of 19, together with two ‘Styrian Alps singers’ to perform at Mindre teatern. It was common then for touring artists to draw a public with exoticism or other spectacular features (such as child prodigies).

The two singers seem to have disappeared from the picture after a short time. d’Aubert remained in Gothenburg, likely because he was able to make a living as a musician there. He quickly became a part of the city’s growing musical life, both in public and private contexts. But, he also continued to tour as a concert violinist.

Establishment in Stockholm

By 1840 d’Aubert had established himself in Stockholm, a city he would call home for the rest of his life, and which gave him even better income opportunities. However, he kept in contact with Gothenburg for a long time through letters with, among others, Joseph Czapek, and by returning to perform as a concert violinist. In his new hometown he continued with his main activity: performing for a paying public. Newspaper reports give the impression that he was immediately greatly appreciated. ‘Mr d’Aubert is a young virtuoso, and we have been given many opportunities of late to form the opinion that his advancements in the new violin school’s direction are outstanding’ (Aftonbladet 18/3 1842). d’Aubert performed in a virtuosic style that had scarcely been heard in Sweden before, but which soon gained the public’s favour.

Aside from performances in Stockholm he often travelled with his instrument. Uppsala was a recurring concert venue. He first visited in 1839, while he still resided in Gothenburg. His tours were otherwise comprehensive from the perspective of the standards of the time. In 1840 he visited Finland and Russia. At times he travelled alone and arranged a pianist at the concert venue, as was common. Other times he toured with another musician. He did not have any consistent musical partner.

His repertoire was − of course − very violinistic; he preferred to perform works that gave him the opportunity to show off his mastery of the instrument. Concert programmes show that he had good knowledge of contemporary works within that area of repertoire. He performed less frequently his own violin-centred compositions.

Eduard d’Aubert was hired as a violinist at the Hovkapellet (the Royal Court Orchestra) in 1841 he became associate concertmaster in 1861, principal concertmaster in 1864 and ended his service in 1868.

Strengthened relationships

In 1847 Eduard d’Aubert married Ebba Bergström (1813−1860). His wife was a distinguished pianist. On many occasions the pair gave concerts together, both in Stockholm and on tour. Ebba d’Aubert was also a teacher and had Elfrida Andrée as one of her students.

In 1864 d’Aubert became violin teacher at the Kungliga Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music), replacing Andreas Randel. He worked in this position until 1872. d’Aubert seems to have been appreciated as a teacher as much as he was as a musician. Among his successful students one can name Joseph Dente, Adolf Fredrik Lindroth, Anna Lang-Wolseley and Fridolf Book. He was made professor in 1868. In Johan Peter Cronhamn’s history of the conservatory he mentions that d’Aubert wrote a method book for violin ‘that will soon be published’. It never reached the publishers, however.

Although d’Aubert had two jobs − neither of which was full-time − he continued making music in public. His performances with colleagues from the Hovkapellet, Adolf August Berens (violin), Adolf Frerik Lindroth (violin), and Heinrich Mollenhauer (cello) in the De la Croix salons at Brunkebergstorg in 1863 are particularly storied.

Eduard d’Aubert was additionally an appreciated member of the Mazerska kvartettsällskapet (the Mazer String Quartet Society). He was named chief of music for the society in 1869 and a member of its management board. ‘His nearly three years as chief of music was a brilliant time for the society, both musically and from the perspective of membership’ (150 år med kammarmusik, 1973). His engagement was genuine: he left a violin (Paolo Maggini) and a viola (Gaspar da Salo) to the society in his will.

Works

Eduard d’Aubert was a musician, teacher, and composer − in that order. His greatest contributions were made in the two former rolls. His compositions are connected to his musicianship in that they all have a solo violin in the forefront. Composition titles such as Variations brillantes, Introduction et variations sur un thème très favori and the previously mentioned Polonaise à la Paganini speak clearly of the character of the pieces. Thus it is not difficult to imagine that the works were written to be performed by the artist d’Aubert. It is unknown if they were at all played by any other soloist than the composer himself.

His violin-focused works are of two kinds: for violin and ensemble (ranging from chamber music format to orchestra), and for violin and piano. This division likely mirrors the composer’s need for appropriate music to perform. The solo lines are technically very demanding, full of idiomatic runs, that is, they are adapted to d’Aubert’s ability on the instrument and his desire to captivate the audience. The piano parts are, on the other hand, much more straightforward on a technical level. At the piano there was often a temporary accompanist who had to learn the piece quickly, at least on tours. Besides, it was hardly likely that anyone in the audience listened to the accompaniment − the soloist stood alone in the limelight.

A number of his compositions are theme and variation pieces, a forgiving sort to perform. Compositions in theme and variation created variety, could surprise, and additionally gave d’Aubert the possibility to demonstrate the scope of his ability in one and the same piece.

Only a few of d’Aubert’s compositions are dated. It is therefore impossible to say anything with certainty about the period in which he was active as a composer. The few dated works suggest, however, that he composed during a large part of his time in Sweden. A few compositions are signed in Djuvarp, outside of Huskvarna in the south of Sweden, though it is unknown what brought d’Aubert there. 

Gunnar Ternhag © 2015 
Trans. Nicole Vickers

Bibliography

150 år med kammarmusik, Stockholm: Mazerska kvartettsällskapet, 1999.
Berg, Wilhelm: Bidrag till musikens historia i Göteborg 1754−1892, vol. 2, Gothenburg: Wettergren & Kerber, 1914.
Brodin, Gereon, Nils Castegren & Seve Ljungman: Mazerska kvartettsällskapet 125 år: 1849 13/1 1974, Stockholm: Mazerska kvartettsällskapet, 1973.
Carlsson, Anders: Handel och Bacchus eller Händel och Bach? Det borgerliga musiklivet och dess orkesterbildningar i köpmannastaden Göteborg under andra hälften av 1800-talet. Diss. Gothenburg 1996: Tre böcker förlag, p. 295.
Hedwall, Lennart: Oscar Byström. Ett svenskt musikeröde från 1800-talet, Hedemora: Gidlunds, 2003.
Jonsson, Leif: Offentlig musik i Uppsala 1747−1854. Från representativ till borgerlig konsert, Stockholm: Statens musikbibliotek, 1998.

Sources

Musik- och teaterbiblioteket.

Summary list of works

Works for violin and ensemble, works for violin and piano, etc.

Collected works

Violin and ensemble
Divertissement des Introduction, Variations et Polonaise pour le violin aves acc. de deux Violins, Alto, Violoncell et Contrabasso (ab lib.).
Divertissement pour le violin et orchestre ou de piano.
Grand Pot-pourri pour le violin avec acc. de deux violins, alto, violoncello (contrabasso ad libitum).
Grandes fantasie sur le motif de l’opera 'Il Pirata' [for violin and orchestra].
Introduction et variations sur un thème très favori pour le violin avec acc. de deux violins, alto, violoncello et basso ou de pianoforte.
Introduzione, variations et finale [for violin and orchestra].
Larghetto. Theme and variations for string quintet.
Morceau de Concert Allegro Militaire pour le violin avec acc. orchestre.
Polonaise à la Paganini pour le violin avec acc. d’un second violin, alto et basso.
Potpourri over Swedish tunes [for violin and orchestra].
Theme and variations in D [for violin and orchestra].

Violin and piano
Andante et Rondo villageoise pour violin avec acc. de piano.
Concert-allegro pour violin avec acc. de piano.
Concert-Allegro. Introduction, variations et finale pour violin avec acc. de piano.
Concerto pour violin avec acc. de piano.
Fantasie pour le violin sur des thèmes de l’opera Le prés aux Cleres de Herold avec acc. de piano.
Introduction et variation sur un thème très favori pour violin avec piano.
Introduction pour violin avec acc. de piano.
Introduzione for violin & piano.
Polacca. Violin & piano.
Sonate for violin & piano.
Variations brillantes [for violin and piano] op. 1.
Variations [for violin and piano] op. 2.
Variations et Rondoletto [for violin and piano] op. 5.

Voice and piano
Lieder für eine Singstimme mit Begl. des Pianoforte.

Piano
Hyllningspolonaise komponerad och DDMM Konung Carl XV och drottning Louise i djupaste underdånighet tillegnad av Eduard d’Aubert [polonaise]. Arranged for solo piano. Abraham Hirsch, no. 980, 1860.


Works by Eduard d’Aubert

There are no works by the composer registered