Drawing by Simon Harmon Vedder, 1924

Achille Rivarde (31 October 1865 – 31 March 1940) was an American-born British violinist and teacher, who worked mainly in Europe and London.


Serge Achille Rivarde was born in New York City to a Spanish father and an American mother. He studied under Felix Simon, Henryk Wieniawski and José White Lafitte.[1] At the age of eleven, he became a pupil of Charles Dancla at the Paris Conservatoire,[2] sharing the first prize with František Ondříček in 1879.[1]

He returned to America for three years 1881-84. In 1885, aged only 19, he returned to Paris to become principal violinist with the Orchestre Lamoureux. He remained in that post till 1891.[1] In 1893, in Paris, he and Harold Bauer premiered Frederick Delius's Violin Sonata in B major.[3][4]

He made his debut in London in 1894. In 1895 he gave Édouard Lalo's Symphonie espagnole its UK premiere.[5]

His American debut came at Carnegie Hall in November 1895 (where he was described as "a Spanish violinist". He was also said to have "just entered his 28th year", but he was in fact 30).[6] The New York Times critic said he "combines artistic sensibility with a lovely, fluent, polished execution", and also noted a resemblance to Pablo de Sarasate, both in his playing and his physical appearance.[6] (A photograph of Rivarde can be seen here.) Some sources say he was also a pupil of Sarasate.[7]

In 1899 he became a professor at the Royal College of Music. Apart from occasional appearances as a soloist in London and abroad (he shared the stage with Pablo Casals at a 1913 concert[8]), he remained a teacher at the RCM till 1936 and was held in great esteem.[1] Carl Flesch referred to him as "an important violinist and pedagogue".[9] His pupils there included Anthony Collins,[10][11] Eugene Goossens,[12] the violinist and instrument valuer Robert Lewin,[13] and Margaret Harrison (sister of Beatrice Harrison; she was aged only 4 when she entered the RCM to study with Rivarde).[4][7]

Eugene Goossens wrote a piece for violin and piano called Old Chinese Folk Song 'To Achille Rivarde, Esq.' Op. 4/1.[14] Fritz Kreisler dedicated to Rivarde his transcription of Dvořák's 1st Slavonic Dance.[15]

In 1922 Rivarde published The Violin and Its Technique As a Means to the Interpretation of Music, a small manual of his own method[1][16] in which he advocated elasticity of movement in every bar.[17] In 1924 he started a separate school of violin playing in London.

He died in 1940 in London, aged 74.


  1. ^ a b c d e Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed, 1954, Vo. VII, pp. 185-6
  2. ^ Violinists’ History Map
  3. ^ Tamino Classic Forum
  4. ^ a b The Delius Society Journal, Number 87, Autumn 1985[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Michael Musgrave, The Musical Life of the Crystal Palace
  6. ^ a b New York Times, 18 November 1895
  7. ^ a b Hammerwood Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "ddd.uab.cat" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  9. ^ Carl Flesch, The Art of Violin Playing
  10. ^ Music Web International
  11. ^ Naxos
  12. ^ Sir (Aynsley) Eugene Goossens (1893–1962) Biography - Chinese Variations, Rite of Spring Archived 7 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ The Independent, 3 April 1998
  14. ^ Guild Music
  15. ^ eClassical
  16. ^ Paper Back Swap
  17. ^ "Mark Katz, Beethoven in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: The Violin Concerto on Record" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.