"When words leave off, music begins" (Heinrich Heine)

Charles-Valentin Alkan
Paris, November 30, 1813- March 29, 1888

French composer, piano virtuoso, organist, teacher, explorer of the potentiality of the modern piano and the resources for an advanced piano technique.

His prolific producing mostly included piano works, which are incredibly emphatic from the point of view of composing, of piano technique, of the musical style as well as of idiosyncracy in the brilliance of his symphonic-pianistic way of thinking.

His Jewish descent influenced his further interests, particularly his devotion to the study of the Bible and the Talmud.

 

 

Comparing C. V. Alkan with his friends and contemporary composers Frédéric Chopin  and Franz Liszt we can certainly speak of a special triumvirate in the romantic piano tradition.

The demanding technical skills for a pianist who is dedicated to Alkan's piano work are immense, but at the same time very inviting. We may not even exclude that particular reason which restrained many pianists at his time not to perform his compositions at concert.

Nevertheless the great piano tradition showed affinity to Alkan's music:
Ferruccio Busoni, Anton Rubinstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, just to mention a couple of names,
regularly performed his piano works at their recitals.

Who really was Charles-Valentin Alkan? Which kind of musical message did he encrypt in his compositions?
And how significant can his piano virtuosity be, especially related to the polyphonic piano playing?

Now let us make a journey to discover this unique genius.

 

 

 

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