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Past Exhibition of the Month - October 2013

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Programme of Julius Schulhoff's concert, Salle Erard, Paris, 6 March 1846.

Programme of Julius Schulhoff's concert, Salle Erard, Paris, 6 March 1846.

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AN ALKAN PROGRAMME (Paris, 6 March 1846)

Alkan is a legendary though still somewhat obscure figure in piano history and programmes of his public appearances are of the greatest rarity. Although he is no more than a supporting artist in the present concert bill, we are happy to be able to acknowledge his bicentenary is this small way.  Born in Paris on 13 November 1813 (as Charles Valentin Morhange; Alkan was his father's christian name), he was the eldest son of a family of Jewish musicians and from the age of seven achieved precocious success at the Conservatoire.  His first composition was published when he was fourteen. Early recognition as an outstanding virtuoso was to earn him a London appearance in 1833 and the friendship of peers such as Chopin and Liszt.  However he quickly drew into a reclusive lifestyle, teaching, performing and publishing only intermittently until the end of his life.

His music is almost entirely for solo piano and most famous for its exacting technical demands. However it also displays an extraordinary originality and harmonic daring which in the context of its time and place can only remind one of Berlioz. (Schumann made this comparison as early as 1839).

Alkan's contribution to the present concert - heading a distinguished ensemble in an arrangement of Weber's Jubel Overture for 2 pianos, 8 hands - reflects his friendship not only with the young Bohemian pianist Julius Schulhoff (1825-1898) but with the latter's supporter and promoter Chopin.  The Prague-born Schulhoff had come to Paris in 1845 and made a successful debut at the Salle Erard in November of that year. The present programme is probably that of his second Paris concert.

(Please click the thumbnails below to view larger image)

Schulhoff: Grande Valse Brillante, Op.6. First English edition (London, 1846) of what was to become one of Schulhoff's most popular works.  The work was dedicated at the time of his Paris debut to Miss Tudor, whose parents preserved the copy of the present programme in their engagement album. Julius Schulhoff (1825-1898), pianist and composer of numerous works favoured by nineteenth-century amateurs. Schulhoff: Le Tournoi, grande ├ętude, Op.12.  Late edition (London, 1878) of a concert study dedicated to Alkan which probably received its first performance in the present concert.