Henry Litolff

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Henry Litolff
Henri litolff 2.jpg
Born 7 August 1818
London
Died 5 August 1891(1891-08-05) (aged 72)
Bois-Colombes
Occupation Pianist
Composer
Music Publisher
Spouse(s) Elisabeth Etherington
Julie Meyer
Louise de Larochefoucauld

Henry Charles Litolff (7 August 1818[1] – 5 August 1891) was a piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music, and music publisher. A prolific composer, he is today known mainly for a single brief work – the scherzo from his Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor – and remembered as the founder of the Collection Litolff, a highly regarded publishing imprint of classical music scores.

Biography[edit]

Litolff was born in London in 1818 to a Scottish mother, Sophie (née Hayes), and a father, Martin Louis Litolff, from the French province of Alsace. The father, a violinist, had been previously been taken prisoner of war while serving as a band musician in the Napoleonic army during the Peninsular War.

His father taught the boy Henry the rudiments of music, and in 1830, when he was twelve, he played for the renowned virtuoso pianist Ignaz Moscheles, who was so impressed that he gave him free lessons starting that same year. Litolff began to concertize when he was fourteen. His lessons with Moscheles continued until in 1835, at the age of 17, Litolff abruptly married 16-year-old Elisabeth Etherington. The couple moved to Melun, and then to Paris.

He separated from Elisabeth in 1839 and moved to Brussels,.[2] Around 1841, Litolff moved to Warsaw, where he is believed to have conducted the Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre) orchestra. In 1844 he travelled to Germany, gave concerts, and taught the future pianist-conductor Hans von Bülow.[3]

The following year, Litolff returned to England with the idea of finally divorcing Elisabeth; but the plan backfired and he ended up not only heavily fined but imprisoned. He managed to escape and flee to the Netherlands — the escape said to be accomplished with the assistance of the jailer's daughter.[4]

Litolff became friends with the music publisher Gottfried Meyer of Braunschweig (English: Brunswick), Germany; and, after Meyer's death, he married the widow Julie in 1851 (having finally been granted a divorce from Elisabeth as a new citizen of Brunswick). This second marriage lasted until 1858, when he divorced her and once again moved to Paris. There he found a third wife, Louise de La Rochefoucauld; and, upon her death, a fourth. Litolff died at Bois-Colombes, near Paris, in 1891, just shy of his seventy-third birthday.

Works[edit]

His most notable works were the five concertos symphoniques, essentially symphonies with piano obbligato. The first one, in D minor, is lost; the others (not in the concert repertoire, but available in modern recordings) are:

  • Concerto Symphonique No. 2 in B minor, Op. 22 (1844)
  • Concerto Symphonique No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 45 (c. 1846)
  • Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor, Op. 102 (c. 1852)
  • Concerto Symphonique No. 5 in C minor, Op. 123 (c. 1867)

The only one of Litolff's compositions still performed at all regularly is the somewhat Mendelssohnian scherzo from the Fourth Concerto Symphonique, although his music was admired by Franz Liszt and he was the dedicatee of Liszt's own First Piano Concerto.

Litolff's Drame symphonique No. 1 Maximilien Robespierre, Op. 55, was one of the works conducted on Christmas Eve 1925 by Yuri Fayer at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow to accompany the world's first showing of Sergei Eisenstein's film Battleship Potemkin.[5]

Henry Charles Litolff's tomb in Bois-Colombes

.

Sources[edit]

  • Blair, Ted M., Cooper, Thomas: 'Litolff, Henry (Charles)' in Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hyperion Records (1997). [1] Litolff, Henry Charles (1818–1891) — Composer. "From notes by Ted Blair." Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  2. ^ British periodicals in the creative arts (1855). The Musical world, Vol. 33. London: J. Alfredo Novello. p. 6. 
  3. ^ Dana Andrew Gooley, Christopher Howard Gibbs (2006). Franz Liszt and his world. Princeton University Press. p. 414. ISBN 0-691-12902-9. 
  4. ^ Jeffrey Engel. The Voice News; Winsted, Connecticut; February 7, 2003 (archived). "Happy Birthday, Litolff (Who?)". Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Freed, Richard (2008). "About the Work: Suite from The Gadfly". John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. . Retrieved January 4, 2016.

External links[edit]