Charles-Valentin Alkan, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Date of Death


Charles-Valentin Alkan

French composer and pianist

Date of Birth: 30-Nov-1813

Place of Birth: Paris, Île-de-France, France

Date of Death: 29-Mar-1888

Profession: composer, translator, pianist, musician, organist, linguist, music pedagogue, Bible translator

Nationality: France

Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius

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About Charles-Valentin Alkan

  • Charles-Valentin Alkan (French: [?a?l val?~t?~ alk?~]; 30 November 1813 – 29 March 1888) was a French-Jewish composer and virtuoso pianist.
  • At the height of his fame in the 1830s and 1840s he was, alongside his friends and colleagues Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt, among the leading pianists in Paris, a city in which he spent virtually his entire life. Alkan earned many awards at the Conservatoire de Paris, which he entered before he was six.
  • His career in the salons and concert halls of Paris was marked by his occasional long withdrawals from public performance, for personal reasons.
  • Although he had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances in the Parisian artistic world, including Eugène Delacroix and George Sand, from 1848 he began to adopt a reclusive life style, while continuing with his compositions – virtually all of which are for the keyboard.
  • During this period he published, among other works, his collections of large-scale studies in all the major keys (Op.
  • 35) and all the minor keys (Op.
  • 39).
  • The latter includes his Symphony for Solo Piano (Op.
  • 39, nos.
  • 4–7) and Concerto for Solo Piano (Op.
  • 39, nos.
  • 8–10), which are often considered among his masterpieces and are of great musical and technical complexity.
  • Alkan emerged from self-imposed retirement in the 1870s to give a series of recitals that were attended by a new generation of French musicians. Alkan's attachment to his Jewish origins is displayed both in his life and his work.
  • He was the first composer to incorporate Jewish melodies in art music.
  • Fluent in Hebrew and Greek, he devoted much time to a complete new translation of the Bible into French.
  • This work, like many of his musical compositions, is now lost.
  • Alkan never married, but his presumed son Élie-Miriam Delaborde was, like Alkan, a virtuoso performer on both the piano and the pedal piano, and edited a number of the elder composer's works. Following his death (which according to persistent but unfounded legend was caused by a falling bookcase) Alkan's music became neglected, supported by only a few musicians including Ferruccio Busoni, Egon Petri and Kaikhosru Sorabji.
  • From the late 1960s onwards, led by Raymond Lewenthal and Ronald Smith, many pianists have recorded his music and brought it back into the repertoire.

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