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Stéphane Grappelli (26 January 1908 – 1 December 1997) was a French jazz violinist who founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934. It was one of the first (and arguably the most famous) of all-string jazz bands.

For the first three decades of his career, he was billed using a gallicised spelling of his last name, Grappelly, reverting to "Grappelli" in 1969. The "Grappelli" spelling is now used almost universally when referring to the violinist – even on reissues of his early work.


Early years

Grappelli was born in Parismarker, Francemarker, to Italian/French parents: his father, marquess Ernesto Grappelli was born in Alatrimarker, Lazio. His French mother died when he was four and his father left to fight in World War I. As a result at six he was accepted in the dance school of Isadora Duncan which began his familiarity and great love of French Impressionist music. Grappelli started his musical career busking on the streets of Paris and Montmartremarker with a violin. He began playing the violin at age 12, and attended the Conservatoire de Parismarker studying music theory, between 1924 and 1928. He made his living by busking on the side until he gained fame in Paris as a violin virtuoso. He also worked as a silent film pianist while at the conservatory and played the saxophone and accordion. Grappelli called his piano "My Other Love" and (many years later) released an album of solo piano of the same name.

For the first three decades of his musical career, Grappelli was billed as Stéphane Grappelly. Grappelli's own explanation for the changed spelling was that he was tired of people mispronouncing his last name as "Grappell-eye". It has also been suggested that Grappelli changed his name in order to avoid military service in Italy, although this claim has been greeted with skepticism by Grappelli's biographers.

His early fame came playing with the Quintette du Hot Club de France with Django Reinhardt, which disbanded in 1939 due to World War II. In 1940, a little known jazz pianist by the name of George Shearing made his debut as a sideman in Grappelli's band.


After the war he appeared on hundreds of recordings including sessions with Duke Ellington, jazz pianists Oscar Peterson, Michel Petrucciani and Claude Bolling, jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, jazz violinist Stuff Smith, Indian classical violinist L. Subramaniam, vibraphonist Gary Burton, pop singer Paul Simon, mandolin player David Grisman, classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin, orchestral conductor André Previn, guitar player Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar player Joe Pass, cello player Yo Yo Ma, harmonica and jazz guitar player Toots Thielmans, jazz guitarist Henri Crolla and fiddler Mark O'Connor. He also collaborated extensively with the British guitarist and graphic designer Diz Disley, recording 13 record albums with him and his trio (which included Denny Wright in its early years), and with now renowned British guitarist Martin Taylor.

During the 1960's he played for cocktail hour at the Paris Hilton.

Grappelli recorded a solo for the title track of Pink Floyd's album Wish You Were Here. This was made almost inaudible in the mix, and so the violinist was not credited, according to Roger Waters, as it would be "a bit of an insult".

Grappelli made a cameo appearance in the 1978 film King of the Gypsies, along with noted mandolinist David Grisman. Three years later they performed together in concert, which was recorded live and released to critical acclaim.

In the 1980s he gave several concerts with the young British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

In 1997, Grappelli received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.He is an inductee of the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Grappelli is interred in Paris' famous Père Lachaise Cemeterymarker.



Note: This is not complete, as many of his recordings were not transferred from vinyl, and some of his other discs are compilations.

  • Improvisations (Paris, 1956)
  • Djangology: Django Reinhardt the gypsy genius (1936 to 1940)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhart the Gold Edition (1934 to 1937, copyright 1998)
  • Stephane Grappelli 1992 Live (1992, Verve)
  • Stephane Grappelli in Tokyo (1991, A & M records)
  • Just One Of Those Things (1984, EMI Studios)
  • Stephane Grappelli Live at the Blue Note (1996, Telarc Jazz)
  • Bill Coleman with Django and Stephane Grappelli 1936 to 1938 (released 1985, DRG Records)
  • Fascinating Rhythm (1986, Jazz Life)
  • Parisian Thoroughfare (1997, Laserlight)
  • Martin Taylor Reunion (1993, Linn Records)
  • The Intimate Grappelli (1988, Jazz Life)
  • Jazz Masters (20+-year compilation, 1994, Verve)
  • Michelle Legrand (1992, Verve)
  • Oscar Peterson Skol (1979, released 1990 Pablo)
  • Homage To Django (1972, released 1976 Classic Jazz)
  • Bach to the Beatles (1991, Academy Sound)
  • Stephane Grappelli Plays Jerome Kern(1987, GRP)
  • How Can You Miss, with Louis Bellson and Phil Woods (1989, Rushmore)
  • Crazy Rhythm (1996/2000, Pulse)
  • Young Django (1979, MPS)
  • Live in San Francisco (1986, Blackhawk)
  • 85 and Still Swinging (1993, Angel)
  • Vintage 1981 (1981, Concord)
  • Jean-Luc Ponty - Violin Summit (1989, Jazz Life)
  • Martin Taylor: We've Got The World on a String (1984, EMI)
  • Stuff Smith: Violins No End (1984, Pablo)
  • Sonny Lester Collection (1980, LRC)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti: Venupelli Blues (1979, Affinity)
  • Shades of Django (1975, MPS)
  • Afternoon in Paris (1971, MPS)
  • Live at Carnegie Hall (1978, Signature)
  • Jazz 'Round Midnight (1989, Verve)
  • Unique Piano Session Paris 1955 (1955, Jazz Anthology)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Cordes (1977, Musidisc)
  • Satin Doll (1975, Vanguard)
  • Manoir de Mes Reves (1972, Musidisc)
  • Grappelli Plays George Gershwin (1984, Musidisc)
  • Stephane Grappelli (PYE)
  • Stephane Grappelli - i got rhythm! (1974 Black Lion Records) with Diz Disley, Denny Wright and Len Skeat recorded at the Queen Elizabeth Hallmarker, London, 5 November, 1973
  • Diz Disley Live at Carnegie Hallmarker (1983, Dr Jazz)
  • The Rock Peter and the Wolf (1976 RSO Records) (2007 CD Verdant Records) with Jack Lancaster, Phil Collins, Brian Eno, Gary Brooker, Gary Moore, Alvin Lee. Manfred Mann etc.


  • Stephane Grappelli and Claude Bolling: First Class (1992, Milan)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Gary Burton: Paris Encounter (1972, Atlantic)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Hubert Clavecin: Dansez Sur Vos Souvenirs (Musidisc)
  • Stephane Grappelli and David Grisman Live (1981, Warner Brothers)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Barney Kessel: Remember Django (1969, Black Lion)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Barney Kessel: Limehouse Blues (1972, Black Lion)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Yo Yo Ma: Anything Goes (1989)
  • Menuhin and Grappelli Play Berlin, Kern, Porter and Rodgers & Hart (1973 to 1985, EMI)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Yehudi Menuhin: Jalousie (1975, EMI)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Helen Merrill (1986, Music Makers)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Oscar Peterson (1973, Musicdisc)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Jean-Luc Ponty: Compact Jazz (1988, MPS)
  • Stephane Grappelli and The George Shearing Trio: The Reunion (1977, MPS)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Martial Solal (1980, MPO)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Martial Solal: Olympia 1988 (1988, Atlantic)
  • Stephane Grappelli with Marc Fosset Stephanova (Concord Jazz, 1983)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Dr. L. Subramaniam: Conversations (1992, Milestone)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Toots Thielemans: Bringing it Together (1984, Cymekob)
  • Stephane Grappelli and McCoy Tyner; One on One (1990, Milestone)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti: Best of Jazz Violins (1989, LRC)
  • Violin Summit: Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith, Svend Asmussen, Jean-Luc Ponty (1967, Polygram)
  • Stéphane Grappelli and Baden Powell: La Grande Reunion (1974, Accord)
  • Stephane Grapellli and Paul Simon "Paul Simon" (9) 1972 Hobo's Blues (Columbia 1972)
  • Stephane Grappelli and Earl Hines: Stephane Grappelli meets Earl Hines
  • Stephane Grappelli and Michel Petrucciani: "Flamingo" (Dreyfus 1996)

Please note that the ARChive hold a copy of DJANGOLOGY, a 10" 78rpm on Decca, by "Spephan Grappelly and His Hot Four"on the label.


  1. Stéphane Grappelli's obituary.
  2. The Piper (2002). A Rambling Conversation with Roger Waters concerning all this and that. Retrieved July 9, 2005.

Further reading

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