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Stéphane Grappelli

Stéphane Grappelli

Stéphane Grappelli was born on January 26, 1908, in Paris. His mother died when he was 4 years old, and when his father had to join the army in 1914, he was put in an orphany and later in several children's homes.

The years of his childhood were full of hardships, and he was forced to work for a living. when he was 12, his father gave him a 3/4-violin, but as he couldn't afford to pay for lessons, Stéphane Grappelli taught himself to play the violin.

A little later he earned his first centimes as a musician playing in Paris courtyards, then in restaurants and silent cinemas, before he was engaged to play at a cabaret in Montparnasse, La Croix du Sud, which was visited by Jean Cocteau, Jacques Tati and other famous artists.

One evening, he was approached by a young man who introduced himself as a guitarist and banjo player who was looking for a violinist - it was Django Reinhardt. Two years later, their acquaintance turned into a musical partnership. They became the principal members of the legendary QUINTETTE DU HOT CLUB DE FRANCE, a group consisting of strings only: 1 violin, 3 guitars, 1 double bass.

The quintet stayed together until the Second World War and was extremely successful and well-known in Europe and the United States. Of the 200 recordings they did, many became legendary ("Lady Be Good", "Sweet Sue", "Tiger Rag", a. o.). In 1939, Stéphane Grappelli left the Quintette and stayed on in England.

In 1940, he started to work with a 19-year old, blind pianist by the name of George Shearing. The duo Grappelli-Shearing worked together in England throughout WW 2. In 1946, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli were reunited for concerts in Britain and France. The Quintette du Hot Club de France continued to exist until 1950.

Throughout his long career, Stéphane Grappelli has played concerts with jazz giants such as Duke Ellington, Glen Miller, Oscar Peterson, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson and many others, not to forget the innumerous concerts he did with the famous classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin. He also played with the Philharmonic Orchestras of London, Vienna, Lyon and Washington D.C.

His colossal technique, sculptered lines and elegant repertoire were one of jazz's most gracefully creative sounds.

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