Pierre Baillot (1771–1842) was a central figure in the development of the early nineteenth-century French School of violin playing. This school was itself the source of the twentieth-century Russian and American schools, and all the great players of the modern era can trace their lineage back to Baillot and his colleagues. The French School was the first to systematize violin teaching within an institutional framework with normative aspirations. Its history is bound up with that of the Paris Conservatoire, established in 1795. Work by French scholars of the Conservatoire and its teaching has tended to assert a continuity of ideals and aesthetics across time, even an essential Frenchness, and work by English-language scholars has been more concerned with the influence of the School on developments in playing styles and composition than on the evolution of attitudes to music teaching. This analysis of the language of the two founding pedagogical texts reveals a contested cultural landscape, and explores how a revolutionary institution with lofty principles could be overtaken by cultural change in a few short decades. It finishes by questioning the traditional elision of the French and Franco-Belgian schools, and suggests that Brussels, rather than constituting a mere branch of the Paris school, rescued it from premature irrelevance.