One of Hungary's most significant musical figures at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, Jenö Hubay was a celebrated violin virtuoso, thought to be the heir to Henri Vieuxtemps; he was also a prolific composer, especially for his own instrument, and an important pedagogue responsible for training such outstanding violinists as Zoltán Székely, Szigeti, and Telmányi.
As a child, he studied with his father, a violin professor at the Budapest Conservatory and concertmaster at the Hungarian National Theater. (The family name was actually Huber; the young violinist adopted the more Hungarian-sounding Hubay when he began to tour.) After this, he spent three years studying with violinist Joseph Joachim in Germany. It may have been through Joachim that Hubay developed an affinity for the music of Johannes Brahms; in 1886, Hubay and cellist David Popper founded the Hubay Quartet, which would give the first performances in Hungary (including some world premieres) of many Brahms works, some with the composer playing the piano.
Once Hubay completed his studies under Joachim at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, he returned to Budapest, and gave recitals with Franz Liszt. In 1878 he launched a tour of France, Belgium, and England, the first of many circuits he would make of Europe almost annually. It was in Paris that Hubay became friendly with Vieuxtemps, who considered the young Hungarian to be his artistic successor. In fact, Vieuxtemps made Hubay the executor of his will, had him orchestrate his Violin Concerto No. 7, and in 1882 got him a job as head of the violin department at the Brussels Conservatory. Hubay finally returned to Budapest in 1886 to take the equivalent position at the Budapest Academy of Music, also teaching at the rival Budapest Conservatory. Hubay supervised the education of most of the next generation of leading Hungarian violinists. After World War I Hubay was named director of the Budapest Academy, where he continued teaching until 1936.
Somehow Hubay found time to write some 200 violin pieces, as well as more than 100 songs, two symphonies, four full-scale violin concertos, and several operas (one an adaptation of Anna Karenina). As a composer, he was deeply influenced by Vieuxtemps and Liszt (but not the late, harmonically daring Liszt works). He often employed Hungarian folk and popular melodies, and these are the pieces that tended to be occasionally dusted off by violinists in the decades following Hubay's death.