Around the turn of the century, Jacques- Féréol Mazas was a virtuoso violinist, composer, and tutor in France. He is best known for his violin technique and experiments, all of which are still in use today. He was also instrumental in establishing the viola as a viable solo instrument. Mazas is thought to have been born on September 23, 1782, in Lavour, France. Beginning in 1802, he obtained formal musical instruction at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied the violin with Pierre Baillot. Mazas came to fame after playing a Viotti concerto in 1804 and receiving the first prize in violin in 1805. Mazas played in the Théâtre de l'Impératrice's ensemble for a brief time before embarking on three European tours between 1822 and 1829, visiting Spain, England, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Germany, and Russia. During his travels, he faced sickness and hardship, but he also had success, especially in Berlin in 1827. Mazas also conducted duets with Rudolph Kreutzer in addition to performing Auber's concerto.
Mazas was no longer regarded as the star he had become when he returned to Paris in 1829. He took a job as concertmaster with the Théâtre du Palais-Royal and taught at Orléans before returning to Cambrai, where he became the director of the music school from 1837 to 1841, aware that his profession as a concert soloist had come to an end. Mazas was mostly recognized as a violinist, but he was also a gifted violist who, like his contemporary Vieuxtemps, gave considerable attention to the little-known solo instrument. Mazas appeared as a soloist at least six times in Paris, almost every concert featuring a solo piece for viola. This modern distinctive look can be seen in works like Le Songe, élégie sur La Favorite (published in 1850). Only a viola and piano version exists for this piece, which was possibly written between 1840 and 1845 and was originally conceived for viola and orchestra. Centered on Fernand's "Cavatine" from the fourth act of Gaetano Donizetti's La Favorite (1840), Le Songe is written as an elegiac and dramatic miniature opera scene. Mazas' prose is very expressive and heartfelt, and it involves the usage of harmonics, which he discussed in a treatise written in 1832. Mazas' opera Le Kiosque had its world premiere at the Opéra-Comique in 1942, and it was presented eight times. He composed another opera, as well as quartets, trios, a collection of violin duets, violin solos, and violin and viola approaches, in addition to Le Kiosque. His most well-known works include the Études brillantes op. 36 and Méthode de Violon, all of which remain prominent today.
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