Life and career
Born in Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France, Pierre Rode traveled to Paris at the age of 13 and soon became a favourite pupil of the great Giovanni Battista Viotti, who found the boy so talented that he charged him no fee for the lessons. Rode inherited his teacher's style, to which he added more mildness and a more refined tone. It is also recorded that he made extensive use of portamento. He collaborated with Baillot and Kreutzer on the official Violin Method of the Conservatoire de Paris, published in 1802.
Rode served as violin soloist to Napoleon and toured extensively in the Netherlands, Germany, England and Spain, staying with François-Adrien Boieldieu in Saint Petersburg for 1804-1809, and later spending much time in Moscow. Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his last violin sonata (Op. 96) for Rode when the violinist was visiting Vienna. He also performed chamber music, but the backbone of his repertoire was formed by Viotti's concertos, which served as models for his own concertos. These, as well as the 24 Caprices in all the major and minor keys (which have been recorded by Oscar Shumsky), were written during 1814-1819 when he lived in Berlin.
In all, Pierre Rode composed 13 violin concertos and many other works for violin, including at least four Quatuor brillant for violin and string trio. Although Rode's violin concertos have some significance in the development of the Romantic concerto, they are nowadays rarely performed, and his major contribution to music must be seen in his influence to younger violinists, such as Louis Spohr, who adopted his style and developed it further. He turned out to be unsuccessful for some time and Spohr found that his skill had deteriorated. He refused to touch the violin for quite a while.[clarification needed]
- Joann Élart, " Circulation des quatre symphonies oeuvre VII de Johann Franz Xaver Sterkel de l'Allemagne à Rouen : un itinéraire singulier du goût musical entre 1770 et 1825 ", Studien zu den deutsch-französischen Musikbeziehungen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, bericht über die erste gemeinsame Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung und der Société française de musicologie Saarbrücken 1999 (Hildesheim : Georg Olms Verlag, 2002), p. 266-281.
- Joann Élart et Patrick Taïeb, " La Complainte du Troubadour de Pierre-Jean Garat (1762-1823) ", Les Orages, n° 2, L'imaginaire du héros (Besançon : Apocope, mai 2003), p. 137-168.
- Joann Élart, " La mobilité des musiciens et des répertoires : Punto, Garat et Rode aux concerts du Musée ", Le Musée de Bordeaux et la musique 1783-1793, éd. Patrick Taïeb, Natalie Morel-Borotra et Jean Gribenski (Rouen : PURH, 2005), p. 157-173.
- Joann Élart, " Les origines du concert public à Rouen à la fin de l'Ancien Régime ", Revue de musicologie, n° 93/1 (2007), p. 53-73.