Henri Marteau was born 31 March 1874 in Reims. His father Charles, a wealthy textile industrialist, and his mother Clara, born Schwendy, also from a wealthy family, regularly welcomed the European elite of art and science in their home in Reims. A concert in the parental home with the sole pupil of Nicolo Paganini, Ernesto Camillo Sivori, was fateful for the 5 year old Henri: Sivori gave the enthusiastic child a small violin and his first lessons on the instrument. Further studies with the most famous violin teacher of that time, Hubert Leonard, professor at the conservatory in Paris, led to Marteauâ€™s debut as a child prodigy in Reims in 1884, in front of an audience of 2000 people. At the age of 13, Marteauâ€™s world career had already begun: he was invited by the premiere conductor of Richard Wagnerâ€™s Ring des Nibelungen, Dr. Hans Richter, to play the violin concert of Max Bruch at a concert of the â€žGesellschaft der Musikfreandeâ€œ (society of music lovers) in Vienna on 14 December 1887 and fascinated Brahms, who sat among the audience, the press and the audience itself. At the age of 26, he was already professor at the conservatory in Geneva; in 1907 he became the successor of the violinist and friend of Brahms, Joseph Joachim, at the college for music in Berlin. Henri Marteau was the first interpreter of world status, who tirelessly supported the work of young Max Reger. They had been friends since 1904 and played together in more than 50 concerts all over Europe. Reger dedicated many of his compositions to Henri Marteau, among them the violin concerto op. 101.
After the 1st Max-Reger-Festival in Dortmand in 1910, Henri Marteau got to know the small town of Lichtenberg in Upper Franconia through the musical director Georg Hüttner, who comes from Schwarzenbach a. Wald, and Marteau spent a few days holiday there. In remembrance of happy childhood days in the Vosges, where his grandparents had a country house, Marteau purchased a large site near Lichtenberg and built a villa, which with its original furniture probably belongs to the most beautiful buildings of such a style in Germany.
At the beginning of WW I, a shadow was cast on the life of Henri Marteau and his family. The reason for this was the ill-fated chauvinism of those times in France and Germany. The Frenchman Marteau â€“ a friend of Emperor Wilhelm II, even through his time in exile in Doorn â€“ stood ander house arrest in Lichtenberg from1916 and dedicated more and more of his time to composing and publishing activities at well-known music publishing houses. In 1920 he became a Swedish citizen.Until his death in 1934, Marteau, in addition to teaching at the colleges of music at Prague, Leipzig, and Dresden, gave music lessons at his home to students from all over the world, laying the cornerstone for the â€žmaster coursesâ€œ of today. Marteau also organized concerts with students in Upper Franconian towns, and this is just one of the activities again offered in the Haus Marteau since its opening in 1982.
The universally erudite spirit of the former landlord, who used to converse in Latin with the parish priest of Lichtenberg, is still present at the international music retreat of the region of Upper Franconia and gives it its unique atmosphere and distinctive charm.