This thesis analyses Pierre Marie Franҫois de Sales Baillot’s L’Art du Violon (1834). My argument is that the ideas in his treatise, although written in the mid-nineteenth century, are again relevant in training tertiary violin students to become cultured, creative and adaptable musicians. Classical musicians today face considerable challenges in attracting and inspiring their audiences. While maintaining classical music traditions, musicians and arts organisations therefore are experimenting with new forms of delivery: broader themes and genres, multi-media performances, and new technologies. Performers today must draw upon considerable knowledge and skills in order to appeal to audiences, whether in concert halls or in listening to recorded music. How do we prepare musicians, violinists in particular, for such a challenge?
Baillot wrote L’Art du Violon during turbulent times in post-Revolutionary France and at a transitional time from Classical to Romantic eras of music. An eminent musician and Paris Conservatoire professor, he sought to provide a firm foundation for his students and to encourage them to tackle diverse musical material. Baillot admonished his students to hone their technical skills, but, notably for the time, he also urged them to develop their own musical identities and to build personal qualities, such as resilience and broad-mindedness. This thesis explores four key themes from Baillot’s treatise that resonate in today’s musical context: first, valuing and researching older traditions including the art of improvisation; second, embracing change and diversity in musical genres; third, experimenting in practice and performance; and fourth, developing the skills necessary for a successful life in music including as an entrepreneurial musician.