Charles-Valentin Alkan (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. He was the first composer to incorporate Jewish melodies in art music.
About Charles-Valentin Alkan in brief
Charles-Valentin Alkan (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. 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. After his death his 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. 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. His presumed son Élie-Miriam Delaborde was, like Alkan, a virtuosic performer on both the piano and the pedal piano, and edited a number of the elder composer’s works. He never married, but his presumed son was a pianist as well as a composer. He died in 1888 in Paris and is buried in the Chateau de Versailles, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, with his wife and three children.
He is survived by his wife, Élie, and two children, all of whom are now in their 80s and 90s, and a daughter and a son-in-law, both of whom have died in the last decade of the 20th century. His works include his Symphony for Solo Piano and Concerto for Solo piano, which are of great musical and technical complexity. He also wrote a series of works for the violin, violin, cello, harpsichord and organ. His music is now considered one of the most important pieces of classical music in the world, and is considered to be one of his most important works of the 19th Century. He wrote his first public performance at the age of seven-and-a-half, playing an air variation on a theme by Daniel Steibus, based on a piece by Thomas Gounod. His last public performance was as a violinist and violinist, playing a set of air and variations by Pierre Rodez, at an air and variation by Atelier Bizet. He had a long and successful career as a musician and later as the proprietor of a private music school in le Marais, in the Jewish quarter of Paris. His brother Napoléon became professor of solfège at the conservatoire, his brother Maxim had a career writing light music for Parisian theatres, and his sister, Céleste was a singer.