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Stephane Grappelli

Updated on February 24, 2015

Grappelli was the father of the jazz violin

Stephane Grapelli was originally a pianist, but found his voice with the violin and led the way during a career as THE jazz violinist.

Largely paired with guitarist Django Reinhardt until the latter's death in 1953, Grappelli continued to play into the 1990's and amazed all who heard his unparalleled virtuosity.

In 1931 Stephane Grappelli met guitarist Django Reinhart. He was looking for a violinist interested in jazz, and he asked Stephane to play with him at his caravan. Though the two played for several hours that afternoon,they each had previous obligations to their respective bands which prevented them from pursuing a project together. However, in 1934 they met again in London at Claridge's and began their musical partnership. The secretary of the Hot Club de France, Pierre Nourry, invited Reinhardt and Grappelli to form the Quintette du Hot Club du France with Joseph Reinhardt, Roger Chaput and Louis Vola.

American jazz singer Adelaide Hall and her husband, Bert Hicks, opened La Grosse Pomme, a nightclub, in Montmarte in 1937. Hall entertained nightly and she hired the Quintette as one of the house bands. Grappelli and Reinhardt also performed regularlyFat R-26, a nearby artistic salon.

In 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, The Quintette du Hot Club de France disbanded. At the time, Grappelli was in London and he remained there during the war.

Grappelli and Reinhardt reunited for a brief tour of Italy in 1949 and made a series of recordings with an Italian rhythm group. They recorded about 50 tracks together during this time. Roughly half of these tunes were later compiled for the album Djangology.

Stephane Grappelli played on hundreds of recordings. These included sessions with Duke Ellington, Claude Bolling, Oscar Peterson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Gary Burton, David Grisman, Joe Pass, Yo Yo Ma, Paul Simon, Toots Thielemans, Yehudi Menuhin, Michel Petrucciani, Stuff Smith, L. Subramaniam, Mark O'Connor, Bucky Pizzarelli, Jon Burr and Henri Crolla.

He collaborated with British guitarist and Diz Disley and recorded thirteen albums with him and his trio. He played extensively with British guitarist Martin Taylor. Guitarist Marc Fosset and bassist Patrice Carratini filled out his Parisian trio for a great number of years.

Stephane Grappelli received the Grammy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He was, of course, also inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.


If you are a fan of big band music and you haven't seen the "First Class" DVD, trust me; it is, bar none, the best music video I have ever seen (and my copy is a split second out of sync!)!!

Please share your thoughts on the amazing Stephane Grappelli - ....well, we ALL want to read it, so this is the place!

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    • ChristopherScot1 profile image

      ChristopherScot1 10 years ago

      Great music!