Antoine François Marmontel
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Life and career
Marmontel was born in Clermont-Ferrand. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1827. His teachers were Pierre Zimmerman in pianoforte, Victor Dourlen in harmony, Jacques Fromental Halévy in fugue and Jean-François Le Sueur in composition. He achieved first prizes in theory of music and piano. In 1837, he became an assistant in theory of music at the Conservatory. In 1848 he succeeded Zimmerman as Professor of Keyboard at the Conservatory, beating his former teacher Charles-Valentin Alkan, and as a consequence derailing the latter's career. His memoir of his sometime colleague in his book 'Les pianistes célèbres' is nonetheless one of the most valuable sources for Alkan's biography.
Marmontel achieved renown as an effective and imaginative teacher. He had many pupils including Georges Bizet, Vincent d'Indy, Théodore Dubois, Dominique Ducharme, Gustave Gagnon, Ernest Guiraud, Émile Paladilhe, Edward MacDowell, Gabriel Pierné, Paul Rougnon, Louis Diémer, Francis Planté, André Wormser, Marguerite Long, and Claude Debussy.
Marmontel's career is marked by a great number of pedagogical works (more than 200 opus numbers) as well as nocturnes, romances and many other pieces. Notably, he published L'Art de déchiffrer (cent études faciles) ("The Art of Sight-Reading" (100 Easy Studies); École élémentaire de mécanisme et de style ("Basic School of Fingering and Style") (24 studies) in 1847 ; Étude de mécanisme ("Fingering Study"); Cinq études de salon ("Five Salon Music Studies"); L'Art de déchiffrer à quatre mains ("The Art of Sight-Reading for Four Hands") in 1847 ; and Enseignement progressif et rationnel du piano ("Progressive and Rational Piano Teaching") in 1887.
Marmontel's musicographical works number among the best sources for the history of piano and pianists, particularly for the 19th century. They include his Symphonistes et virtuoses ("Symphonists and Virtuosi") in 1880; Les Pianistes célèbres ("Famous Pianists") in 1878; Virtuoses contemporains ("Contemporary Virtuosi") in 1882; Éléments d'esthétique musicale et considérations sur le beau dans les arts ("Fundamentals of Musical Aesthetics and Thoughts on the Fine Arts") in 1884; and Histoire du piano et de ses origines ("History of the Piano and Its Origins") in 1885. He died in Paris.
Marmontel's son Antonin Emil Louis Corbaz Marmontel (24 April 1850, Paris – 23 July 1907) was also a piano teacher at the Conservatoire. He wrote many salon pieces.