When Hector Berlioz first went to hear the six-year-old violinist Henri Vieuxtemps perform, there was no way he could have guessed that the young boy whose fingers danced over the strings would grow up to revolutionize the Romantic concerto. Following in the footsteps of Paganini, and paralleling the
path of Liszt, Vieuxtemps composed works for his own instrument, and for his own use; today, these pieces - and particularly the concertos - stand as masterpieces beloved by all students of the violin.
One of the greatest Russian pianists of the nineteenth century, Anton Rubinstein was also a phenomenally prolific composer capable of dashing off whole volumes of music in a breathtakingly short period of time. Unfortunately, Rubinstein's works were not popular in his own day, owing to his inability to assimilate the quirks of Russian nationalism into his own musical style. Oddly enough, Rubinstein's greatest contributions to musical life in Russia had nothing to do with performing or composing: he was a co-founder of the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music, and served two terms as its director.