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Nicolas Laoureux,
A Practical Method for Violin

Nicolas Laoureux: Biographical Notes - Essay by Lynn Wallisch

Excellent books to use in conjunction with the Suzuki materials

Nicolas Laoureux, A Practical Method for Violin. The open string approach at the beginning of the first book is very effective in teaching good sound production, proper bow alignment and rhythmic accuracy in reading: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Supplement to Part 1, Supplement to Part 2. Note that I was unable to find a copy of Part 4, but a print-out may be purchased directly from the publisher, $29.00 plus Shipping. Email: rental@schirmer.com. Part 3 also available for download: Part 3.

UPDATE - Received the following email today (Jan. 17, 2014):
Let me introduce myself: I am Matthias (Mathy) Becker. (Hasselt - Belgium) The sister of my paternal grandmother, Marguerite De Guchtenaere was married to Marcel Laoureux, son of Nicolas Laoureux. They were both piano professors at Le Conservatoire de Gand (in French) or Het Conservatorium van Gent (in Dutch). Marguerite was Marcel's second wife. 

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a grandson of Marcel Laoureux's first marriage, Robert Vrydagh.  He knew very little about his second wife, so I sent him some information about Marguerite De Guchtenaere. In return, he gave me some information about Marcel and his father Nicolas Laoureux.  I read your post on Maestronet, so here is what I know about Nicolas Laoureux (it's not very much).

Nicolas was born in Dolhain-Limbourg near Verviers in Belgium.  Robert Vrydagh, writes: Nicolas, qui était violoniste, était professeur de violon au Conservatoire de Musique de Bruxelles, premier violon à La Monnaie et auteur d’une méthode de violon.

The following two photographs were sent to Mr. Becker by Robert Vrydagh; the third one is Mr. Becker's:

photo Nicolas Laoureux
Nicolas et son fils Marcel, lors de l’attribution du prix de virtuosité en 1905
photo Nicolas Laoureux
De gauche à droite, Marguerite De Guchtenaere, Marcel Laoureux, Stana Laoureux, fille de Marcel, Jeanne Laoureux, sœur de Nicolas, Nicolas et Marguerite (Boune), femme de Nicolas

photo Nicolas Laoureux
From left to right: Nicolas Laoureux, Marguerite Tasnier (sitting, Nicolas' wife), Jeanne Laoureux, sister of Nicolas, Louise Van den Heede, an aunt of Marguerite De Guchtenaere, Marguerite De Guchtenaere (sitting) and Marcel Laoureux

Nicolas Laoureux died in 1945; Belgium was liberated in September 1944. Only in the Ardennes during The Battle of the Bulge, a small piece of Belgium was reoccupied by the Germans. There was no famine in Belgium; most Belgians were able to survive. I think you refer to the north of The Netherlands that remained occupied by the Germans until the end of the war. They suffered from a great famine in the winter of 1944 (hongerwinter) and many Dutch citizens died. So, I don't think Nicolas Laoureux died because of the war.


I ordered the Supplement to Part II, and the Part IV, from the publisher, as these two books were not available for sale online anywhere that I could locate. Schirmers sent them in book form; in other words, I thought they might send me an array of printed sheets that I would need to three-hole punch and put in a notebook, but instead, they sent printed copies in book form which are like the actual other books, just clearly printed out but beautifully put together. It's nice to have the complete set to examine:

Nicolas Laoureux Part 2 Supplement
Supplement 2
Nicolas Laoureux Part 4
Part 4









Wallisch, Lynn: "Nicolas Laoureux: Biographical Notes." BestStudentViolins.com. Lynn Wallisch, 2013. Web. 07/01/13. http://beststudentviolins.com/Laoureux.html#essayNL

Nicolas Laoureux was a French [or possibly Belgian?] violinist and composer who lived from 1863-1945 (link). He is best known as the author of a method of violin instruction, A Practical Method for Violin, that seems to have been first published (or at least copyrighted) by G. Schirmer in 1907; the preface notes that it was recommended for use for violin instruction at the Royal Conservatory at Brussels (link) Parts 1 and 2 of this method are available online at the aforementioned IMSLP link; however, the method seems to be comprised of four parts and two supplements overall (link)

Laoureux is also mentioned on different websites as the author of various other works for violin or violin and piano, including the following:

Rêverie for violin and piano; Principes fondamentaux de la technique de l'archet et de la main gauche; Des cinq positions et de leur emploi. Etude pratique du démanché; 28 Etudes complémentaires aux 5 positions, précedées d'exercices préparatoires (link), Petite Berceuse, Chanson Vénitienne and Danse Bretonne and A travers champs, Légende suédoise, and Saltarella (link; link)

The Rêverie as well as a Serenade are mentioned in an article called "Violin Solos with Piano Accompaniment" by Otto Merz in the Music Supervisors' Journal [1928, 15: 96] (link) with the following commentary:

  1. Rêverie, by Nicolas Laoureux. A melodious Andante number that is not difficult, yet affords many opportunities for artistic interpretation. A good number for concert or recital.
  2. Serenade, by Nicolas Laoureux. A bright, cheerful Allegretto Moderato, that can be played with satisfaction by the performer, and will be enjoyed by any audience

Relatively little is known about the life of Nicolas Laoureux; major sources such as Grove Music Online or Oxford Music Online do not include him at all. There are a few books in French that have been digitized on Google Books that mention him in passing: apparently he was a first-prize winner in the class of Jenó Hubay at the Brussels Conservatory (1886) and shortly afterwards played in the newly-founded Thomson Quartet from 1898 to 1900. There are also mentions of chamber music performances he gave in Brussels in 1902 and 1909. He may have had a sibling or other family member who was a pianist, as there is mention of a concert he played with a Marcel Laoureux. These facts are documented in the following excerpts (originally in French at the URLs cited; translations are by Lynn Wallisch).

From Euègne Ysaýe et la musique de chambre by Michel Stockhem [Liège: Editions Mardaga, 1990]: (p. 127) Lèon Van Hout was immediately drawn into an adventure, albeit rather short: the Thomson Quartet. César Thomson, always the slightly unfortunate rival of Ysaýe…had given notice from the Liége Conservatory in August 1897. Relocating to Brussels, he immediately founded a quartet with Nicolas Laoureux (first prize in the class of Jenó Hubay in 1886), Van Hout and Edouard Jacobs, cello professor at the Conservatory.  (link)

From Correspondance by Guillaume Lekeu [Liège: Editions Mardaga, 1993]: (p. 40) César Thomson…formed from 1898 to 1900 a string quartet with Nicolas Laoureux (2nd violin), Léon Van Hout (viola) and Edouard Jacobs (cello).  (link)

From Le Guide musical, Vol. 48 [Brussels: Th. Lombaerts, 1902]: (p. 831) Mademoiselle Palmyre Buyst, pianist, Monsieur Nicolas Laoureux, violinist, and Monsieur Maurice Delfosse, cellist, will present two performances of chamber music, with the participation of singers Mesdemoiselles C. Fichefet and Fanny Collet, in Ravenstein Hall, Tuesday, November 25 and Thursday, December 11 [listed under the heading of events in Brussels]. (link)

From L'Art moderne, Volume 17, 1897 [a Sunday paper reviewing art and literature published in Brussels]: (p. 419) We have learned that Monsieur César Thomson has just formed, with Messieurs Laoureux, Van Hout and E. Jacobs, a quartet that will present several concerts this winter in Brussels. Considering the individual qualities of each of these artists, we can predict that, under the careful and efficient direction of the master violinist, this quartet will produce remarkable results. We will publish the dates, programs and subscription information for these concerts at a later time. (link)

From Le Guide musical: revue international de la musique et des théâtres, 1909: (p. 145) Nicolas and Marcel Laoureux will perform two concerts of sonatas for piano and violin on Thursday, February 11 and 18, in the hall of the German School. On the program: Bach, Beethoven and Grieg—Mozart, Brahms and Franck.  (link)

From these few references, as well as the fact of his relatively important violin method—still in use today—and intriguing-sounding pieces for violin and piano, it seems a shame that more is not known about Monsieur Laoureux. The most recent of the references cited above mention a performance in 1909, when he would have been 46; however, he lived until the age of 82, so presumably there is more to his musical life beyond that currently documented on the web. Perhaps a trip to Belgian or French musical archives is in order!

Addendum:
He may actually have been born in the French-speaking Belgian city of Verviers, near Liège, since there is a book called A Virtuoso from Verviers: Nicolas Laoureux (see citation below).

Bisschop, Herr. Un virtuose verviétois: Nicolas Laoureux. B. du Cercle verviétois, 1907, No. 71. [Listing in a book called Bibliographie de Belgique, Volume 33, Parts 2-3] (link)

Note that Verviers was also the birthplace of composers Henri Vieuxtemps and Guillaume Lekeu, whose dates overlap partially with Laoureux's. Euègne Ysaýe, also a contemporary, was born nearby in Liège. I'll bet they all ran in the same musical circles.

There is also apparently a Laoureux street in Verviers, but unclear whether it was named after our guy, since there was also an industrialist and senator from Verviers named Laoureux - old enough to be Nic's grandfather. Who knows whether they were related?

Lynn



By Lynn Wallisch
Used with permission


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