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Papers of Joseph Joachim and family

Identifier: Coll-1711

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of letters, notes, newspaper clippings, photographs, concert programmes and music scores mainly relating to Joseph Joachim. Most of the records date from the later part of his life and after his death. Other members of his family are mentioned too, in particular his wife Amalie Joachim and his nephew Harold Henry Joachim, as well as his grand-nieces Jelly d'Arányi and Adila Fachiri.

The collection contains descriptions of Joseph Joachim’s character by his relatives, photographs of him in a private setting, extensive correspondence with his nephew Harold, leaflets and newspaper clippings on important events such as Jubilee celebrations and commemorative concerts (including the 40th anniversary of his first debut in England in 1884, his Diamond Jubilee on the 4th of May 1904, and several concerts and events for his 100th anniversary in 1931), and information on his descendants and his legacy.

  1. Correspondence to and from Joseph Joachim himself, and relating to Joachim (1847-2002)
  2. Notes relating to Joseph Joachim (1890-c 2000)
  3. Newspaper clippings (1874-1989)
  4. Family documents (1882-1984)
  5. Photographic material (1884-1990s)
  6. Concert Programmes (1904-1931)
  7. Music scores (19th century-1960s)
  8. Tape recording on magnetic recording tape (20th century)
  9. Album on Joseph Joachim including announcement of death, funeral details, programmes of memorial concerts, English newspaper cuttings and obituaries, quartet programmes, and transcripts (late 19th century-20th century)


  • Creation: 19th-20th century


Language of Materials

Mostly English; but also German and French.

Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation, but certain material is covered by Data Protection legislation and the researcher may be required to complete a Data Protection undertaking form. Please contact repository in advance for details.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Some items are protected by data protection legislation and cannot be copied or reproduced.

Biographical / Historical

Joseph Joachim was born on the 28th of June 1831 in Kittsee (Kopčany/Köpcsény), Hungary (now in Austria), to Franziska Figdor Joachim and Julius Friedrich Joachim, a wool merchant. The family moved in Pest (now Budapest) two years later, in 1833. Joseph’s talent for the violin was recognised very early on and despite their modest means his parents made sure to hire the best violin teacher in the city: Stanislaw Serwaczynski, the concertmaster and conductor of the opera of Pest.

In 1839, Joachim went to live and study in Vienna. He studied privately with Joseph Böhm for more than two years before enrolling at the Vienna Conservatory, where he only stayed one year. His talent was recognised anywhere he went and soon after moving to Leipzig in 1843 he became a protégé of Felix Mendelssohn, who arranged for him to study with Moritz Hauptmann at the Leipzig Conservatory. During this time, Joachim also played in the Gewandhaus Orchestra, which Mendelssohn was conducting, and did a number of public appearances. One of the most important events for Joachim’s early career was certainly his first visit to England on 27th of May 1844, where he played the solo part in Beethoven's violin concerto at the London Philharmonic. It was a tremendous success: his skilful and soulful performance greatly impressed both the audience and reviewers. Joachim played for the English public very regularly throughout his life: after 1866 he visited the country annually and his name appears many times in programmes of popular concerts of chamber music in St James’s Hall in London.

Following Mendelssohn’s death in 1847, Joachim stayed briefly in Leipzig, teaching at the Conservatory and playing first desk at the Gewandhaus Orchestra with Ferdinand David. He soon moved to Weimar where he met Franz Liszt, a Hungarian piano virtuoso and composer who was then one of the principal animators of the 'New German School' along with Richard Wagner. Joachim became one of his avant-garde disciples and served him as concertmaster. However, four years later he dissociated himself from this movement and went on to become the leader and Kapellmeister of the orchestra court in Hanover. He stayed in the service of King George V until 1865; during this time Joachim enjoyed a good salary and considerable freedom, and he took advantage of his five summer months off to make concert tours around Europe.

It’s during this period that Joachim met Robert and Clara Schumann: invited to perform at the Lower Rhine Music Festival in 1853, he deeply impressed the couple when he played the solo part again in Beethoven’s violin concerto. Joachim also met Johannes Brahms shortly after, and introduced him to the Schumanns after being in turn greatly impressed by the talent of the young pianist. Robert Schumann died soon after in 1856, but Joachim, Clara Schumann and Brahms remained lifelong friends: Joachim would often perform with Clara, with him on the violin and her on the piano, and train and exchange musical views with Brahms.

In 1863, Joseph Joachim married the contralto Amalie Schneiweiss, whom he had met during a concert in Hanover in 1862 where she sang Leonore’s aria from Beethoven’s opera Fidelio and he played the Beethoven violin concerto. Amalie had to give up her career as an opera singer to raise their six children, however she was able to keep performing in recital and oratorio settings. The couple divorced in 1884.

In 1865, Joachim quit the service of the King of Hanover and moved to Berlin. There he founded the new Department of Royal Academy of Music (Hochschule für Ausübende Tonkunst) and soon became director. However he did not stop playing for the public, and in 1869 the Joachim String Quartet was formed. It was composed of Karel Halíř (2nd violin) from 1897 on, Emanuel Wirth (viola) from 1877 on, and Robert Hausmann (cello) from 1879 on. The quartet soon came to be known as one of the finest in Europe, and performed in various settings. They toured the continent to give concerts, and gave rehearsals in the Hochschule hall, which students could attend for free. It was also common for the Joachim String Quartet to participate in ‘musical gatherings’ in private homes in Berlin, including the house of Joachim’s own brother Henry.

Joachim maintained close ties with his family, and one of his closest friends and confidents was his nephew Harold Henry Joachim. Harold was a prominent philosopher who taught at St Andrews and Oxford, and also a talented violinist. Joseph and Harold exchanged numerous letters in which they discussed family matters as well as professional and artistic subjects. Joseph kept contact with his nephew during his tours around Europe, and made sure to visit him whenever he was in London or Oxford. Joachim was very pleased when Harold married his daughter Elizabeth in 1907. In a letter recounting the last days of Joseph Joachim, Winifred Holidays recalled that ‘the close of his life was greatly brightened by his delight at the engagement of his daughter Lisel to his nephew Harold, to whom, as you no doubt have seen, he has bequeathed his English “Strad”. Harold is such a delightful violinist himself as to be fully worthy of this priceless possession’ (Coll-1711/2/2). The ‘Strad’ in question was a Stradivarius gifted to Joseph Joachim in 1899 on the occasion of the Jubilee celebration for the 50th anniversary of his debut recital in London. This exceptional violin had been made in 1715 by Antonio Stradivari and was called ‘Il Cremonese’.

This type of celebration and gifts is not uncommon in Joachim’s career, which reflects his immense popularity and the admiration he drew. On the 4th of May 1904, a ‘Diamond Jubilee’ was organised in his honour to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his first appearance in London, once again showing his close ties with England. Joachim was presented with an address and a portrait of himself executed by John Singer Sargent, and the Prime Minister himself attended the event. In 1931, that is to say twenty-five years after Joachim’s death, a commemorative centenary concert was given in Berlin in his honour, with compositions from Joachim himself but also Brahms, Schuman and Mendelssohn. The celebration was opened by a commemorative speech by Joseph’s grandson, Dr Hans Joachim Moser. Another centenary concert was given on the same year in the Queen’s Hall, London. Three members of his family performed for the occasion: his great-nieces Adila Fachiri and Jelly d’Aranyi, and his granddaughter Gabriele Joachim. Donald Francis Tovey, Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music and Joachim’s friend, conducted the orchestra along with Henry J. Wood.

The strong reaction prompted by Joachim’s death on 15 August 1907 can be noted in very numerous obituaries, eulogies, newspapers articles, and letters from friends mourning the loss of a great man. Joachim was recognised not only for his musical talent, but also for his great human qualities: in a letter recounting a visit by Joseph to his family at Heslemere in August 1889, it is said that ‘the secret of [Joachim’s] greatness … is “the listening soul” which has given him such power over the hearts of his fellow men” (Coll-1711/3/6).


0.6 linear metre (Four archival boxes)


Chronological within series.

Physical Location

CLX-A-337, CLX-A-338, CLX-A-339, and CLX-A-340.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collections was donated to the University of Edinburgh in 2017. Accession no SC-Acc-2017-0017.

Related Materials

Some letters between Sir Donald Francis Tovey and Joseph Joachim, and between Harold Henry Joachim and Sir Donald Francis Tovey can be found in the Tovey Collection (Coll-411/1/1/L85-89 and Coll-411/1/1/1297-1310).

University of Edinburg Special Caollections Library item: Per..78Str. Bound volume containing first issues of "The Strad", monthly Calssical music magazine. This volume contains two articles referring to Joseph Joachim at length. Issue no. 1, May 1890, and Volume 3, no. 33, January 1893.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Aline Brodin, Archivist (cataloguing), March-July 2017, drawing upon box lists created by Sarah Hendriks and Devon Barnett.

Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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