Alkan, Charles-Valentin. (1813-1888) [Zimmermann, Joseph. (1785-1853)]


London: R. Cocks & Co.. [Ca. 1834]. Rondeau Chromatique pour le Piano Forte, composé et dédié a la Société des Enfans d'Apollon, et executé à leur Concert Annuel; par Ch. V. Alkan, professeur honoraire de l'Ecole Royale de Paris, et membre de la Société des Enfans d'Apollon. Original title page (single sheet, no music included) from the important French-Jewish pianist and composer's Rondeau Chromatique, signed and inscribed by Alkan to his teacher Joseph Zimmermann. The composer has penned at the upper right corner: "Hommage à Monsieur Zimmermann par son dévoué élève et ami C. V. Alkan." Overall foxing and toning, with a band of lighter toning at the foot from a previous framing; slight tape remnants on the verso; inscription rather faded but legible, with one small tear at the upper edge; overall in very good condition. WorldCat records only one copy of this edition, at the BnF. 10 x 13 inches (25.5 x 33.3 cm). Autographs of the composer are elusive.

At the height of his fame in the 1830s and 1840s, the French-Jewish composer and virtuoso pianist Charles-Valentin Alkan ranked among the leading pianists in Paris, alongside Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt. A child prodigy, he entered the Conservatoire de Paris at age six. Alkan became a favorite of his teacher at the Conservatoire, Joseph Zimmermann, who also taught Georges Bizet, César Franck, Charles Gounod, and Ambroise Thomas. In 1832, aged 19, Alkan was elected to the influential Société Académique des Enfants d'Apollon (Society of the Children of Apollo), whose members included Luigi Cherubini, Fromental Halévy, the conductor François Habeneck, and Liszt, who had been elected in 1824 at the age of twelve. Between 1833 and 1836 Alkan participated at many of the Society's concerts.  Alkan's Rondeau chromatique, op. 12 - dedicated to the Société - was composed in 1834, as Alkan was beginning to make his mark on the Parisian scene. 

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. 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. Although his compositions were neglected for many years, they have experienced a revival since the 1960's. (14983)

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