Felix Yaniewicz: A Musical Migrant in Georgian Britain

March 18, 2024


On Monday 18th March 2024, Josie Dixon joined us at The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution to tell the story of Felix Yaniewicz, her great-great-great-great grandfather. Josie curated the exhibition Music & Migration in Georgian Edinburgh: The Story of Felix Yaniewicz at the Georgian House, Edinburgh in 2022, which received over 10,000 visitors. Josie’s articles on Yaniewicz have been published by National Trust for Scotland, History Scotland, the Edinburgh Music Review, the British Music Society, the Romantic Song Network, the Polish Cultural Institute and the Chopin Institute in Warsaw, for whom she has written the CD booklet for a forthcoming recording of Yaniewicz’s violin concertos.

Felix Yaniewicz (1762-1848) was a Polish-Lithuanian violin virtuoso and composer who settled in Britain and co-founded the first Edinburgh music festival. His intriguing story features a myth of royal illegitimacy, encounters with Mozart and Haydn in Vienna, escape from the French Revolution and a lost Stradivarius. His career as a charismatic performer and impresario took him to fashionable cities including Bath, and involved a colourful collaboration with the eccentric diva Angelica Catalani. His activities as a musical entrepreneur are witnessed in elegant instruments bearing his name; his violin concertos evoke his musical heritage, combining Mozartian elegance with Polish folk dances.

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