Below, I reproduce some primary sources of information I’ve discovered since the completion of Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst: Virtuoso Violinist (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008) (hereafter HWE) in 2007. The extracts follow roughly the chronological order of Ernst’s life (rather than the order of their publication date); where longer extracts range over the violinist’s whole career, I have placed them nearest to the period on which they shed most new light. Information for this section – where appropriate with English translation and elucidatory material – should be sent to the editor at

The Date and Place of Amélie Ernst’s Death

These details about Ernst’s wife were recently discovered by the Parisian lawyer Pascale Ernst (who is a descendant of the late C19th musicologist Alfred Ernst rather than the early C19th violinist). By looking into burial records held in Nice, she confirmed that Amélie died aged 80 on 13th November 1914. She is buried in her husband’s tomb in Nice, having outlived him by… Read more »

Ernst’s Violin Case

Here’s a photograph of the case which features in Bulwer Lytton’s memoir (Sources:3) and a poem by Madame Ernst (HWE:272). It’s currently owned by the Californian violinist and collector Joe Gold (see People), and this picture was taken on a recent trip it took to the South of France: It’s said to be a copy of… Read more »

The Rue Ernst

According to Ernst’s descendant Henriette Schattuck, the rue Ernst in Nice, next to the Opera, was so renamed in 1885, but it was renamed again as the Rue Milton-Robbins (after an American lady philanthropist) in 1918 – the ‘Rue Ernst’ being thought to sound too German. (This corrects the information in HWE:3 and 271)

Ernst in Company

Another off-putting title. ‘A Freak on the Violin’ is a long and detailed discussion, by the music critic of the Athenaeum, Henry Chorley, of the style and compositions of five great violinists whose concerts he had personally attended – Paganini, Spohr, de Bériot, Ernst and Molique. His discussion of Ernst is particularly detailed and discerning… Read more »

More About Ernst’s Secretary

Gaëtan Niépovié’s Etudes Physiologiques sur les Grandes Métropoles de L’Europe Occidentale (Paris: Ch.Gosselin, 1840) is a very detailed account (more than 500 pages) of Parisian life and manners in the 1830s – behaviour in cafes, at the theatre, at the opera and is full of musical and theatrical gossip by someone who knew Chopin, Onslow,… Read more »

The World of Music: The Great Virtuosi

The World of Music: The Great Virtuosi (London: Gibbings, 1892), by Anna, Comptesse de Brémont (1864-1922), contains some information about Ernst not found in other sources, even if its fulsome style has a low information-to-word ratio. Although she was too young to have met Ernst, it seems probable she talked to people who had –… Read more »

Berlioz’s first critical notice of a performance by Ernst

Here is Berlioz’s first critical notice of a performance by Ernst. The composer’s comments about Ernst’s awkward stance, and the accuracy of his intonation (it would later become more unreliable) are striking. The concluding quotation is from Molière, which, as usual, Berlioz doesn’t identify. [Many thanks to Hugh Macdonald for the translation and drawing my… Read more »

A letter from a Toulouse correspondent of the Morning Post

Here is part of a letter from a Toulouse correspondent of the Morning Post deploring a proper lack of religious interest in the French town. The passage demonstrates the éclat caused by the rivalry between Paganini and Ernst in the south of France at this time: Sunday at Toulouse, Toulouse, June 5th 1837 I could… Read more »

The Jüdisches Athenäum

The Jüdisches Athenäum – a Jewish reference book from the early 1850s – reports some new stories, and some slightly different versions of well known stories, about Ernst: In 1828, Paganini, contrary to his normal reticence, took Ernst into his confidence, and gave him some clues as to how he accomplished his technical feats. In… Read more »

A letter from the thirteen-year-old William Michael Rossetti

The following letter is from the thirteen-year-old William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919) in London to his mother Frances Rossetti (1800-1886). It mentions his elder sister Maria (1827-76), the Bohemian pianist Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870), his wife Clara Moscheles, his son Felix (1833-1917), and his daughter, also called Clara.  The real interest of the letter, however, is firstly… Read more »