John Loder-Caprice

Posted on February 3rd, 2010 by

John Loder-Caprice from ‘General and Comprehensive Instruction Book for the Violin. Dedicated (as a trifling mark of respect for superior talents) to Signor Spagnoletti’.


Item in the Bath Herald regarding a present from Nicolò Paganini:

‘ A very valuable diamond ring has recently been transported from Paris by this stupendous artiste to Mr John Loder, jun., of this city, ‘as a testimonial of friendship and esteem, and a slight tribute of grateful feeling for the professional aid and the many courteous attentions which he had received from Mr L. during his late visit to this city and Bristol’.


Portrait of a member of the Loder family, possibly John David Loder, half-length, holding a violin. Oil on canvas, 1839. British School.

Another British violinist deeply influenced by Paganini was John Loder. The Bath Herald reported in 1834, that Paganini had sent him a ‘very valuable’ diamond ring.  This gift was in thanks for Loder’s assistance to Paganini in leading his concerts in Bath and Bristol at the end of 1831.

Everyone at the Royal Academy of Music goes past John Loder nearly every day; none of us noticed him for years. The simple reason was that his picture had been mislabeled, as being of Edward Loder; he was John Loder’s son; a composer and pianist, who in 1833 wrote the opera Norjahad for the English Opera Company.  He was also one of the most notable British students of Beethoven’s pupil Ferdinand Ries.

But man in the picture is clearly holding a violin; it is John Loder, professor of violin here at the Academy. His daughter, the tremendously successful composer-pianist, Kate Loder, much admired by Mendelssohn, hangs in the Royal Academy Board Room, in a picture by Edward Alma Tadema.

 It is difficult to find music by Loder, but he did write the first popularly successful English guide to learning the violin, published in 1824. This was titled ‘General and Comprehensive Instruction Book for the Violin. Dedicated (as a trifling mark of respect for superior talents) to Signor Spagnoletti’.

  I was having difficulty finding this work, until one evening, sitting worrying at the problem at home, I realized that General and Comprehensive Instruction Book… was sitting unopened on my bookshelves!

  In the preface, Loder wrote:

“The author of this issue has witnessed the advantages which professors of the Piano-Forte have deriv’d from the introductory works of Clementi, Cramer, Dussek…etc. And while even mediocrity on the violin is scarcely to be met with but in professionals, amateurs are daily heard on the Pianoforte whose execution would adorn the name of eminence. That admirable and almost solitary study for the violin by Fiorillo is at present inaccessible to the young performers for most that intermediate step between mere imitation and excellence which the present work is humbly design’d in some means to supply.”

 As an orchestral leader, it is clear that Loder had run up against the same problem of varying regional standards of performance which bedeviled Pagnanini in the UK. Clearly Paganini wished to acknowledge that Loder was able to achieve higher standards than the low level which had driven him to piano reductions in Leeds and Liverpool. 

So this is a tri-partite caprice in C minor from that work, enfolding Loder’s subtle response to Paganini’s playing, most particularly the impressive brilliance of his ricochet bowing, and the dramatic effect of his beloved diminished seventh writing.