Stéphane Grappelli ; 26 January 1908 – 1 December 1997, born Stefano Grappelli) was a French jazz violinist. He is best known as a founder of the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934. It was one of the first all-string jazz bands. He has been called “the grandfather of jazz violinists” and continued playing concerts around the world well into his eighties.
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 latter, Italian spelling is now used almost universally when referring to the violinist, including reissues of his early work.
Grappelli was born at Hôpital Lariboisière in Paris, France, and christened with the name Stefano. His father, Italian marchese Ernesto Grappelli, was born in Alatri, Lazio, while his French mother, Anna Emilie Hanoque, was from St-Omer. Ernesto was a scholar who taught Italian, sold translations, and wrote articles for local journals. Grappelli’s mother died when he was five, leaving his father to care for him.Although he was residing in France when World War I began, Ernesto was still an Italian citizen, and was consequently drafted into the Italian Army in 1914.