Joseph Joachim was one of the most influential violinists of the 19th century. A close friend and collaborator of Mendelssohn, Schumann, Dvořák and Brahms, he offered his opinion about works in progress and later premiered many of their violin masterpieces. The most unusual work written for Joachim was the F-A-E Sonata for piano and violin, composed in 1853 by Brahms, Schumann, and one of Schumann’s students, Albert Dietrich. The title is a reference to Joachim’s favorite saying: “Frei aber einsam” (Free but lonely).
Joachim deeply valued the virtues of civility, which is revealed in this letter to “Mrs. Campbell Clarke,” the wife of an English music critic. Joachim regrets that he will not be able to visit with Mrs. Clarke (and “Rubinstein, the Sympathetic”) while she is staying in Paris. Personal connections like this facilitated the musician’s growing fame in England at the turn of the century. In 1904 the English poet Robert Bridges published a sonnet “To Joseph Joachim” in the London Times (17 May) in celebration of the violinist’s Diamond Jubilee.