Christian Ferras

Born June 17, 1933 in Le Touquet (France). Died Sept. 14, 1982 in Paris (France).

Small of stature but sumptuous of tone, Christian Ferras represented the best of the Franco-Belgian violin school. Of his two main teachers, René Benedetti inculcated a respect for technique and George Enescu broadened his outlook – he was to command a much wider repertoire than most French violinists of his era. In the 1960s he was the favoured violin soloist of Herbert von Karajan and their recordings together sold by the thousand. Unfortunately the illness that was to lead to his death often kept Ferras away from the concert hall. But today his reputation continues to grow, as his records are discovered by a fresh audience.

  • 1941–46: Studies at the Nice and Paris Conservatoires.
  • 1946: Makes Paris début playing Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole.
  • 1947: Studies with George Enescu; makes first recording.
  • 1948: Wins first prize at the Scheveningen International Competition under the presidency of Yehudi Menuhin. Here he meets the pianist Pierre Barbizet, who becomes his long-standing duo partner.
  • 1949: Wins second prize at the Long-Thibaud Competition. (There was no first prize.)
  • 1951: Invited by Karl Böhm to perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
  • 1954: Records the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Wiener Philharmoniker under Carl Schuricht.
  • 1959: Records the Bach Double Concerto with Menuhin for EMI and meets Pablo Casals and Wilhelm Kempff at the Prades Festival.
  • 1963: Much-acclaimed recording of the Brahms Double Concerto with Pierre Fournier under Herbert von Karajan.
  • 1966: Acquires the “Milanollo” Stradivarius of 1728, an instrument once played by Paganini.
  • 1970s: Ferras’s exhausting schedule takes its toll when he starts to suffer from alcohol problems, leading to a reduction in his concert activities and deteriorating health.
  • 1974: Gives concert with Barbizet to mark the 25th anniversary of their partnership.
  • 1975: Briefly professor of the violin at the Paris Conservatoire.
  • 1982: After a lengthy break, he gives a handful of concerts, the last of them on 25 August, only weeks before his death.

Christian Ferras on