The Joachim tradition at the Gewandhaus

Joachim and the Gewandhaus: a sixty-year symbiosis

Among the lore of this historic institution is Joachim’s debut as a twelve-year-old at the Gewandhaus in 1843. (Robert Eshbach has documented this event on his website). The Gewandhaus’s conductor Felix Mendelssohn and concertmaster Ferdinand David oversaw Joachim’s development as the child prodigy went through his teenage years.1See Eshbach’s piece on David, Mendelssohn, and Joachim. He was a frequent soloist in the 1840s, and officially concertmaster in 1850. Subsequently, when there were important events to be observed, Joachim was part of the proceedings. This included performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto on a concert of 5 November 1857 for the tenth anniversary of Mendelssohn’s death.
When the new, enlarged Gewandhaus was dedicated on 13 December 1884, Joachim performed the A major Mozart Violin Concerto and the Adagio from the Spohr Violin Concerto No. 6 on one of the three concerts.2The three concerts were on three successive days: 11 December featured Beethoven’s Ninth, 12 December had Handel’s Messiah, and the concert on the 13th also had the singer Hermine Spies. Die hundertundfünfzigjährige Geschichte der Leipziger Gewandhaus-Concerte, 150-151. As a book published on the occasion explained: “Josef Joachim, of all people, could not be absent from the ‘consecration of the house’, the new one, after his past, which is so closely connected with the past of the Gewandhaus!”3“Josef Joachim gerade – so wird man wohl sagen können – durfte nach seiner Vergangenheit, der so sehr mit der Vergangenheit des Gewandhauses verknüpften, doch nicht fehlen bei der ‘Weihe des Hauses’, des neuen!”Die hundertundfünfzigjährige Geschichte der Leipziger Gewandhaus-Concerte, 151. Another historic occasion was the dedication of the Mendelssohn statue in front of the building on 25 May 1892.

The Gewandhaus in the second half of the nineteenth century

Reading up on Henri Petri for the last post gave me food for thought about the orchestras at Leipzig and Dresden, where Petri served as concertmaster.4There are some interesting tidbits in a history of the Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1943, oddly unblemished by Nazi propaganda and war-time poor-quality publishing. See Hans-Joachim Nösselt, Das Gewandhausorchester. Entstehung und Entwicklung eines Orchesters (Leipzig: Koehler & Amelang, 1943), digitized by Dresden, SLUB. In 1850 the Gewandhaus orchestra was made up of 56 players, which was considered a large group: its 22 violins were more than all but five other European orchestras.

Orchestra rehearsal with Julius Rietz, conductor from 1848-1860, and concertmaster Ferdinand David, from Hans-Joachim Nösselt, Das Gewandhausorchester. Entstehung und Entwicklung eines Orchesters (Leipzig: Koehler & Amelang, 1943)

By 1880 the symphony orchestra’s transformation into a modern, high-profile institution was underway. Leipzig and Dresden kept to the practice of using a single orchestra for both their concert series and for the opera; Berlin’s Königliche Kapelle had a similar dual role. During Petri’s time as concertmaster in Leipzig (1882-89) he played under Carl Reinecke at the Gewandhaus, and Arthur Nikisch, Anton Seidl, and the young Gustav Mahler at the opera. The orchestra at this point was made up of 72 men, with players still doubling on other instruments. This practice was documented in 1883, when an oboist refused to play English horn because it was not in his contract. Arthur Nikisch weighed in, arguing that of course the oboist would play English horn; it was an unwritten understanding, just as the clarinetist also played bass clarinet, the bassoonist the contrabassoon, the flutist the piccolo, and the violinist the viola.5Nösselt, 183. However, after three years the vacant positions began specifying any required additional instruments in the job description. But it took a while to acquire a more formal approach to the hiring process. In 1889 there were pleas to follow the requirement for applicants to submit written applications. By 1893 the orchestra had added five more positions, totaling 77 players. They did have a pension fund, but it took ten years to qualify. The orchestra’s size had jumped to 100 musicians by 1907.670 musicians in the Stadtorchester, 100 in the Gewandhaus: 20 1st violins, 20 2nd violins, 12 violas, 10 cellos, 10 basses. See Eugène d Harcourt, La musique actuelle en Allemagne et Autriche-Hongrie : conservatoires, concerts, théâtres, avec 90 portraits, vues et plans hors texte (Paris : F. Durdilly, 1908), 314, 319.

This advertisement from January 1898 makes clear that Leipzig’s first concertmaster filled three positions: for the Gewandhaus concerts, the city theater, and the church. The combined salaries amounted to 5487 marks.

The high turnover in concertmasters was at least partly due to the heavy duties that went along with the prestige. Carl Prill, who succeeded Petri in 1891, left for Vienna in 1897. Max Lewinger then replaced him, but moved on to Dresden after only one season. His successor, the virtuoso Felix Berber, tried unsuccessfully to get the opera orchestra position turned into a separate job; he ended up leaving instead.7Nösselt, 196.

New Year’s Day Concerts

The Gewandhaus Orchestra website has a marvelous searchable database of performances going back to 1781. The tradition of giving a New Year’s Day concert goes back as far as the records and has been observed most recently with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth on 1 January 2020. On 1 January 1859 Joachim appeared as the soloist playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto which, incidentally, had only been on the program five times in the fourteen years since he had first played it.8These performances of the Beethoven Violin Concerto were by David, 26.2.1852; Kömpel, 3.2.1853; Laub, 24.11.1853; Dreyschock 26.10.1854; Laub 11.10.1857. See Eshbach for Joachim’s first performance of the Beethoven Concerto at the Gewandhaus. Starting in the mid-1870s it became part of the tradition to have Joachim on the concert. He appeared on fifteen of the next 25 New Year’s Day concerts, with the last being 42 years after the first. These concerts included the premieres of the Brahms Violin Concerto in 1879 and the Brahms Double Concerto in 1888.

New Year’s Day concerts at the Gewandhaus, 1859-1901

1859JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto
1860choralBeethoven Ninth
1861choralBeethoven Ninth
1862Desiree Artot de Padilla, mezzosoprano, Herr Bruhns, tromboneDavid, Concertino for Trombone
1863choralBeethoven Fifth
1864Julius StockhausenBach cantata
1865Ferdinand DavidMozart VC, D major K. 218
1866ChoralHiller and Schumann, Manfred
1867Joachim and AmalieSpohr No. 7, Schumann Fantasie
1868Alfred JaellReinecke Piano Concerto f#
1869WilhelmjRubinstein VC (1st mvt) Ernst Othello Fantasie
1870WilhelmjDavid Violin Concerto No. 3
1871Emma BrandesSchumann Piano concerto
1872Ferdinand DavidIntroduction et Rondo Brilliant by Schubert, arr. David
1873Minna Peschka-Leutner, sopranoMozart aria
1874Eugen Gura, tenor; Nathalie Janotha, pianoMendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1, Schubert, Schumann
1875JoachimSpohr No. 7, JJ Nocturne, Hungarian Dance
1876JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto, Bach partita mvts.
1878BrahmsBrahms Piano Concerto
1879JoachimBrahms Violin Concerto
1880SarasateBruch Violin Concerto No. 1
1881Babette LobachMendelssohn Violin Concerto
1882BrahmsBrahms Piano Concerto No. 2
1883Adele Asmann, alto; ReineckeGluck, Reinecke PC No. 1
1884JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto
1885ReineckeBeethoven Piano Concerto No. 3
1886D'AlbertBeethoven Piano Concerto No. 4
1888Joachim and HausmannBrahms, Double Concerto
1889JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto, JJ Romanze
1891JoachimJoachim, Violin Concerto in G major
1892ChoralBach cantata
1893JoachimMozart Violin Concerto in A major
1894JoachimSpohr No. 7
1895JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto
1896JoachimViotti Violin Concerto No. 22
1897Multiple vocalistsVocal pieces
1898JoachimBrahms Violin Concerto
1899JoachimBach Violin Concerto
1900JoachimMendelssohn Violin Concerto
1901JoachimMozart Violin Concerto, D major, K 218
New Year's Day Concerts at the Gewandhaus, 1859-1901

The next table presents all of Joachim’s appearances on Gewandhaus concerts as a soloist. It also lists the performances by fifteen violinists who had studied with him, including two of the orchestra’s concertmasters, Henri Petri and Carl Prill. Their repertoire was comprised mainly of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.

Concerts with Joachim or a Joachim student at the Gewandhaus

184319.8, 16.11Joachim
18443.1, 29.1, 25.11, 12.12Joachim
184516.1JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto4.12 JJ Adagio & Rondo, Ernst11.12 Hubert Léonard
184611.10JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto23.11
184718.2JoachimBach Chaconne3.10 Mendelssohn Violin concerto
184810.1Joachim2.3 Spohr Violin Concerto No. 9, Beethoven Romanze F19.10 Beethoven Violin Concerto
184925.1, 30.9, 10.12, 13.12JoachimSpohr No. 7Mendelssohn Violin concertoBach Prelude and Fugue
185412.1, 21.12JoachimSchumann Fantasie, JJ Konzertstück g
18575.11, 7.11JoachimMendelssohn Violin Concerto
18591.1JoachimBeethoven Violin ConcertoBach solo sonata
186026.11JoachimJJ Hungarian VCSolo Bach solo movements
186114.2Carl BargheerSpohr No. 9Beethoven Romanze F
186326.11Leopold AuerSpohr No. 7Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski
18643.3JoachimSpohr No. 9, Devil’s Trill10.3 Beethoven Violin Concerto
18659.2JoachimJJ Violin Concerto G majorBach, Spohr
186521.12Leopold AuerSpohr No. 9Schumann Abendlied
186615.3Carl BargheerBeethoven Violin Concerto
18671.1Joachim and AmalieSpohr No. 7, Schumann FantasieBach and Marcello cantatas
186713.10Heinrich DeeckeSpohr No. 8
186822.10JoachimSpohr No. 6Bach solo sonata C M
18694.3Heinrich DeeckeSpohr No. 7
186915.3Jean de GraanSpohr No. 8Beethoven Romanze G
187013.10JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto
18724.1Leopold AuerSpohr No. 9
18739.1Josef LudwigSpohr No. 9 (II, III)
187313.2Richard BarthSpohr No. 8Schumann Abendlied, Hungarian Dance
18739.10Carl BargheerViotti Violin Concerto No. 22Spohr
18751.1JoachimSpohr No. 7, JJ Nocturne, Hungarian Dance21.10 Spohr No. 6, Bach a minor concerto, Hungarian dance
18761.1JoachimBeethoven Violin Concerto, Bach partita mvts.21.12 Reinecke g m Violin Concerto (premiere), Devils Trill
187722.3Leopold AuerVieuxtemps No. 5
187729.11JoachimViotti Violin Concerto No. 22
18791.1JoachimBrahms Violin ConcertoBach Chaconne
187918.12Martin MarsickSaint Saens No. 2Sarasate Zigeunerweisen
18805.2Isidor SchnitzlerVieuxtemps No. 5Devil’s Trill
18809.12JoachimBrahms Violin ConcertoJoachim Variations
18811.1Babette LobachMendelssohn Violin ConcertoSpohr Violin Concerto No. 9/II
188127.1Leopold AuerSpohr No. 9Wieniawski
188125.11JoachimMendelssohn Violin ConcertoMozart Sinfonia Concertante
18811.12Willem KesKes Violin ConcertoSpohr No. 9/II
188226.10Henri PetriBeethoven Violin ConcertoSpohr Violin Concerto No. 9/II
18831.11Henri PetriHans Sitt Violin Concerto No. 1Bruch Romanze
18841.1JoachimBeethoven Violin ConcertoTartini, Devil’s Trill
188424.3Henri PetriSpohr No. 8
188413.12JoachimMozart Violin Concerto in A majorSpohr No. 6/III
188512.3Henri PetriBach Violin Concerto for 2 violins
188611.3Henri PetriFerdinand Ries Violin ConcertoSpohr Violin Concerto No. 6/II, III
188720.1Henri PetriBeethoven Violin Concerto
18881.1Joachim and HausmannBrahms, Double Concerto
188811.1Marie SoldatBrahms Violin Concerto
18882.2Henri PetriSpohr No. 7Beethoven Romanze F
188829.11Henri PetriRode Violin Concerto No. 11Reinecke Suite for Violin and Piano
189013.3Leopold AuerSpohr No. 8Hungarian Dance
18911.1JoachimJoachim, Violin Concerto in G majorBruch Romanze
189110.12Carl PrillBeethoven Violin Concerto
189211.2JoachimBruch Violin Concerto No. 3Devil’s Trill
189213.10WietrowetzBrahms Violin ConcertoSpohr No. 9/II
189224.11Carl PrillVieuxtemps Violin Concerto No. 5Spohr Violin Concerto No. 8
18931.1JoachimMozart Violin Concerto in A major
18937.12Carl PrillMendelssohn Violin ConcertoSpohr Violin Concerto No. 9/II
18941.1JoachimSpohr No. 7Schumann Fantasie
189429.11Carl PrillBruch Violin Concerto No 1Wieniawski, Legende
18951.1JoachimBeethoven Violin ConcertoJoachim Hungarian Concerto, 2nd mvt
189524.1Jeno HubaySaint Saens No. 1Corelli, Hubay
189514.11Carl PrillKlughardt Violin Concerto
18961.1JoachimViotti Violin Concerto No. 22Hungarian Dance
18965.3Leopold AuerTchaikovsky Violin Concerto
189629.10Carl PrillErnst, Violin Concerto f#Bach Chaconne
18981.1JoachimBrahms Violin Concerto
189818.2Jeno HubayHans Koessler VC
18991.1JoachimBach Violin ConcertoMozart A Major
189923.2Leonora JacksonBrahms Violin Concerto
189916.3Leopold AuerBeethoven Violin Concerto
189930.11WietrowetzBeethoven Violin Concerto
19001.1JoachimMendelssohn Violin Concerto
19008.2Jeno HubayMozart Violin Concerto in A majorDevil’s Trill
19011.1JoachimMozart Violin Concerto, D major, K 218
190128.11JoachimViotti Violin Concerto No. 22Hungarian Dance
190428.1Leonora JacksonBrahms Violin Concerto
19052.2Marie SoldatBrahms Violin Concerto

As the table indicates, Joachim and his students also maintained a strong connection with Ludwig Spohr’s violin music, which lasted into the twentieth century. Ludwig Spohr was Ferdinand David’s teacher, and his concertos were part of Joachim’s repertoire for his entire career. Still, I did not expect such a bounty of Spohr: just look at this table of performances of his works for violin and orchestra at the Gewandhaus! According to the Gewandhaus concert archive, a total of 370 performances of Spohr’s works were performed at the Gewandhaus over a period from 1800-1920; of these 110 were for violin and orchestra.

Concerts with a work for violin and orchestra by Ludwig Spohr

 Concerto No. 6Concerto No. 7Concerto No. 8Concerto No. 9Concerto No. 9/mvt/sConcerto No. 11Other worksOther worksConcerto for Two Violins
18209.3 M. Klengel
182129.11 M. Klengel
1822No. 4: 5.12 Klengel
18233.3 O. Gerke, 5.10 Klengel6.2
1824No. 2: 22.1 KlengelPotpourri Irische Lieder: 18.3 Mühlenbruch18.11
1825No. 10: 20.1 LangeKonzert-Polonaise: 8.12 Eichler
1826No. 4: 16.3 KlengelPotpourri op. 22: 1.1 David
1827Concerto (not specified): 1.11 Eichler
18281.1 Gerke13.3
182922.10 (arr. for flute)
18308.2 Eichler
1831Konzert-Polonaise: 27.1 LindnerConcert (not specified): 8.12 Winter
18346.2 PolandPotpourri on Jessonda: 9.11 Winter
18354.10 Gerke
18367.4 David
18372.3 David
18381.11 Brandenburg (2nd+3rd)Potpourri on Jessonda: 8.2 Hubert Ries
184118.3 Hilf
184326.1 David23.3 Zimmermann
184414.11 ErnstNo. 14: 18.1 Bott
18456.2 Königslow
18481.10 Katski2.3 Joachim
184925.1 Joachim
1852“Adagio”: 11.11 Pott
18549.3 Haubold
185515.11 Lauterbach
18566.11 Singer4.12
185811.2 Dreyschock28.1 L. Damrosch (1st)
18609.2 Lauterbach
186114.2 Bargheer17.1 RömpelNo.10: 28.11 Dreyschock
186326.11 Auer5.11 Heermann
18643.3 Joachim
186523.3 Kömpel; 9.11 Pettersson21.12 Auer23.2 WalterBaracole & Scherzo: 9.2 Joachim
186618.10 Brandt
18671.1 Joachim31.10 Deecke
186822.10 Joachim
18694.3 Deecke15.3 de Graan21.10
187017.2 Friese (2nd); 3.11 Krancevic
187112.1 Walter
18727.3 Schradieck
18739.10 Bargheer (3rd)13.2 Barth9.1 Ludwig (2nd & 3rd)Potpourri Irische Lieder: 9.10 Bargheer“Adagio”: 20.2 Lauterbach
187429.10 Schradieck (1st)
187521.10 Joachim1.1 Joachim4.3 De Ahna (2nd)
187725.1 De Ahna; 18.11 Bertha HaftBaracole: 22.2 SauretBaracole & Scherzo: 29.11 Joachim
187821.3 Schradieck
187916.1 Hohlfield9.10 Schradieck
188127.1 Auer1.1 Lobach (2nd); 1.12 Kes (2nd)
18825.10 Norman-Neruda26.10 Petri (2nd)
18834.1 De Ahna
188413.12 Joachim (3rd)6.11 Kömpel20.3 Petri
188519.3 Auer (2nd)15.1 Brodsky (2nd)
188611.3 Petri (2nd & 3rd)2.12 Brodsky
188717.3 Norman-Neruda
18882.2 Petri10.10 Hilf1.1 Joachim (2nd)
188928.11 Hilf (2nd)
189013.3 Auer20.2 Brodsky (2nd)
189115.10 Brodsky
189224.11 Prill13.10 Wietrowetz (2nd)
18937.12 Prill (2nd)16.2 Hilf (2nd)
18941.1 Joachim
189510.10 Burmester21.2 Hilf
1899“Scherzo”: 2.2 Heermann

Spohr is clearly a topic that needs to be explored…another time!

To sum up: Joachim’s part in memorializing Leipzig’s musical heritage of Bach, Mendelssohn, and Schumann was a life-long labor of love. His role in the story of the Gewandhaus went beyond his legendary debut: his presence over the course of sixty years of orchestra concerts kept traditions alive.

MUSIC IN BERLIN, 1870-1910 (August 9, 2022) The Joachim tradition at the Gewandhaus. Retrieved from
"The Joachim tradition at the Gewandhaus." MUSIC IN BERLIN, 1870-1910 - August 9, 2022,
MUSIC IN BERLIN, 1870-1910 May 19, 2021 The Joachim tradition at the Gewandhaus., viewed August 9, 2022,<>
MUSIC IN BERLIN, 1870-1910 - The Joachim tradition at the Gewandhaus. [Internet]. [Accessed August 9, 2022]. Available from:
"The Joachim tradition at the Gewandhaus." MUSIC IN BERLIN, 1870-1910 - Accessed August 9, 2022.
"The Joachim tradition at the Gewandhaus." MUSIC IN BERLIN, 1870-1910 [Online]. Available: [Accessed: August 9, 2022]
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