Hungarian violinist; born at Kittsee, near Presburg, Hungary, June 28, 1831. He began to study the violin when he was five years old, and was placed under Szervaczinski, leader of the orchestra at the Budapest opera-house. He advanced so rapidly that after two years he was able to make his first appearance in a public concert given at the Adels Casino, Budapest, March 17, 1839.
At the age of nine he was sent to study with Joseph Böhm at the Vienna Conservatorium, whence, after a course of three years, he went to Leipsic. There he met Mendelssohn and played at a concert of Madame Viardot's. A few months later he played Ernst's "Otello Fantasia" at a Gewandhaus concert, and achieved such success that in the following year—that is, at the age of twelve—he was invited to play in a violin quartet with Ernst, Bazzini, and Ferdinand David.
Joachim remained in Leipsic until 1849, studying with Ferdinand David (violin) and Moritz Hauptmann (composition), and making occasional concert tours through Germany and elsewhere. In 1844 he was taken by Mendelssohn to England, where he made his début at a benefit concert given at Drury Lane in March, 1844. He revisited England in 1847, and thereafter played annually at the Monday Popular, the Crystal Palace, and other concerts. In 1849 he spent two months at Paris, where he achieved his first success in an orchestral concert given by Hector Berlioz. Shortly afterward he accepted the position of concert-master at Weimar. In 1852 he accepted a call as solo violinist to the King of Hanover; and it was here, in 1863, that he married Amalie Weiss, the well-known contralto.
After a residence of sixteen years at Hanover, Joachim, in 1868, removed to Berlin, where he was appointed director of the newly established Königliche Hochschule für Musik, and member of the Academy of Fine Arts (musical section). His famous quartet, originally established in 1869, and later consisting of Joachim, De Ahna, Wirth (followed by Kruse and Halir), and Hausmann, has, by reason of its artistic character and perfect ensemble, set the standard for high-class chamber-music performances.
Among the compositions of Joachim, most of which are somewhat tinged by the influence of Schumann, the Hungarian concerto in D minor is generally regarded as the most perfect as to both form and content. Other important compositions are: overture to "Hamlet," for orchestra, op. 4; "Hebrew Melodies," for viola and piano, op. 9; nocturne in A for violin and small orchestra, op. 12; "Dem Andenken Kleists," op. 14; "Szene der Marta" (from Schiller's "Demetrius"), for contralto solo and orchestra, op. 14; 3 cadenzas to Beethoven's violin-concertos, etc.
Joachim has embraced Christianity.
- Moser, Joseph Joachim, 1900;
- Labee, Famous Violinists, pp. 244-260;
- Grove, Dict. Music and Musicians.