French violinist Rudolphe Kreutzer (November 16, 1766 – January 6, 1831) received his early training from his father, and later studied with Anton Stamitz. He was one of the most prominent violin soloists of his time, and was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire, where he co- authored a violin method with Pierre Rode and Pierre Baillot. These three violinists are said to represent the founding of the “French school” of violin playing.
In addition to his active role as a teacher and violin soloist, Kreutzer was a prolific composer of opera (and for a time, conductor of the Paris Opera), chamber music, and violin concertos. Kreutzer met Beethoven in Vienna in 1798, and Beethoven dedicated his Opus 47 Sonata to Kreutzer in 1803. Beethoven’s Op. 47 was originally dedicated to the violinist George Bridgetower, who premiered it with Beethoven in 1803. The two later had a disagreement which ended their friendship, and Beethoven changed the dedication of the Opus 47 Sonata to Kreutzer. Ironically, Kreutzer refused to play it, reportedly on the grounds that it had already been performed once, and was too difficult. Even so, the “Kreutzer Sonata” by Beethoven is today considered one of the great concert pieces for violin and piano. Despite his rejection of the great sonata by Beethoven, Kreutzer’s own work maintains a central role in violin study to the present day.
While the 24 Caprices by Paganini may be more often performed, the 42 Studies by Kreutzer have served as the foundation of study for generations of violinists around the world. The 42 Studies address the most basic techniques, gradually increasing in difficulty and complexity. Because of their role in the early and intermediate stages of violin training, the Studies are seldom performed as concert works. Here, violinist Zhang Le gives us a rare and valuable gift: a performance of the complete 42 studies by an accomplished concert violinist. The pedagogical function of each étude is clear, and the listener is further inspired by these imaginative and charismatic performances. This recording serves as a model for the student and teacher - a reminder that the ultimate goal of any étude is to facilitate artistry through music making.