Henri (Henryk) Wieniawski was born on July 10, 1835 in Lublin, the son of a famous family of musicians. His exceptional musical talent was apparent from an early age on and already at the age of 8, this "wunderkind" received acceptance into the Paris Conservatory, where he attended the master class of L. Massart beginning in 1846. Extended concert tours determined the fate of this romantic artist from his thirteenth year (1848) until his premature death at the age of only 44. Wieniawski became one of the most famous violin virtuosos of his time.
Among his contemporaries, Wieniawski was regarded as foolhardy and devilish and next to H. W. Ernst as "Paganini's successor". His playing was especially famous for its impassioned vibrato and for the incredibly fast staccato. Technical effects were combined both in his playing and in his own compositions with passionate romantic fantasy and slavic coloristic touches. In the 23 surviving opus numbers (all for the violin), high technical demands are mirrored, as well as the composer's Polish national sentiments, such as, for example, in his mazurkas and polonaises, the Legends op. 17, or the two collections of etudes op. 10 "L'école moderne pour violon seul" and op. 18 "Etudes Caprices". The sought-after virtuoso was, in addition to his extended concertizing activity, also in close contact with the greatest musical learning centers of his day. In 1862, Anton Rubinstein bestowed upon Wieniawski the direction of the violin class at the newly formed St. Petersburg Conservatory, where Wieniawski taught until 1868. From 1875 until 1877 he directed the violin class at the Brussels Conservatory at the requested of the ailing Henri Vieuxtemps, and directed as well a quartet class which was put together especially for Wieniawski.
To the end of his short life, Wieniawski gave concerts all over the world. In the years 1872-1874 he undertook an extended tour of the USA (in part together with his friend and accompanist Anton Rubinstein). In the 1870s he had to repeatedly contend with a lasting heart problem which, in late November 1878 in Berlin, forced him to stop a concert. After a short recovery period he continued his last concert tour in December 1878 in Moscow. In the winter of 1879, this last journey ended, as a result of his dramatically worsening health, in the St. Maria Hospital in Moscow, from whence the penniless artist was taken by the patron of the arts Nadeshda von Meck to her home in February 1880, where Wieniawski died several weeks later.