Talk:Charles-Valentin Alkan

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Featured article Charles-Valentin Alkan is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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I removed this sentence from the article:

These surpass even the Transcendental Etudes of Liszt in scale and difficulty.

"These" is referring to Alkan's etudes. I removed the sentence, because I have tried out Alkan's etudes and also know the Transcendental Etudes very well, and I don't think Alkans etudes come close to those by Liszt concerning difficulty, and in my opinion in musicality, too. Of course it depends on the abilities of the player, but I think one can generally say that Liszt's etudes are harder to play, which accounts especially for "Feux-Follets". - — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:36, 19 July 2007‎

Wrong Alkan[edit]

I removed this paragraph from the article:

An interesting anecdote about Alkan's death: Supposedly he was reaching for his Torah on his bookshelf when it collapsed on top of him, killing him instantly.

This anecdote is about Charles-Valentin Alkan. Furthermore it is by many considered a myth. If anyone wants to write a couple of paragraphs about it in the correct article, do a Google Groups search for alkan bookshelf OR bookcase and you'll have plenty of research material.

Pladask 11:16, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Marcus2 moved this to Charles Henri Valentin Alkan, but I've moved it back here, as Alkan is hardly ever known by his full name (a quick check on Google will confirm this). --Camembert — Preceding unsigned comment added by Camembert (talkcontribs) 18:06, 6 July 2004‎

Name Confusion[edit]

I have deleted the name "Henri" from the main article. Ronald Smith notes in his Alkan biography that there is no evidence of Alkan having the names "Henri" or "Victorin". He was registered as Charles-Valentin Morhange and soon adopted his father's name, "Alkan", as his last.

Regards, — AlkanSite — Preceding unsigned comment added by AlkanSite (talkcontribs) 05:28, 7 January 2005‎

Ah, thanks for clearing this out. :-) — Pladask 23:43, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Sorabji link[edit]

I am puzzled by the claim that Sorabji "continues in Alkan's direction". Maybe so in his works' uncompromising difficulty, but I think this warrants further discussion at least - as it stands it gives a misleading idea of what to expect of Sorabji! I would favour removing the link from Alkan to Sorabji completely (although a link from Sorabji to Alkan does make sense). --RobertG 16:25, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Probably. (And outside of the Esquisses there is not much in Alkan like the constant use in Sorabji of Baroque textures/forms if applied to his own purposes... I think it's more accurate to say that Sorabji mostly 'followed' Busoni, Debussy, Bach via Busoni... and Alkan to a lesser extent if one considers his Frammenti Aforistici (sp?)...)
(continued.) Someone did make more of a case for a connection in a paper which I'm told was given to the Alkan Society but I don't have access to that; and Sorabji wasn't alone in admiring Alkan's work or promoting it in his music criticism of course, just at the time somewhat unusual. Schissel : bowl listen 12:46, Apr 17, 2005 (UTC)


Perhaps one should not only look at the completely positive reviews, but also those which are slightly less so – for example, Charles Rosen's statement "[Alkan] became interesting essentially after 1850 by his extension of the Liszt tradition and the way he opened up piano music to the operatic effects of Meyerbeer" in The Romantic Generation (page x), just after calling him a "minor figure". After all, while there are many excellent works in his catalogue, such as the Symphony for solo piano or the cello sonata, there is also a great deal of work that is at best boring and at worst trash (most of it indeed from before 1850), and it does him no favours to revive that. Double sharp (talk) 14:30, 25 December 2016 (UTC)

  • Thanks for this, ♯♯. I've added this opinion to the article, although I actually wonder how much of Alkan's music Rosen is familiar with. Imo, although the earliest works are banal (if not quite trash), there is plenty before 1850 which is highly original and very little which is boring. I don't btw find any secondary sources which would support judgements of Alkan's works in these pejorative terms. Very few composers qualify for Rosen's elevated standards as "major"; but those who are not major are not thereby necessarily "minor" for WP purposes. But this sort of chit-chat is of course for the talk page, not for the article. Best,--Smerus (talk) 16:41, 25 December 2016 (UTC)
    • To be fair, Rosen also wrote in The Frontiers of Meaning (1994): "I do not mean that it is not worthwhile to attempt a revision of the canon or that no success is possible. A few valuable minor changes have been made to our sense of the basic material of the history of music, and other alterations are still waiting to take hold. ... Alkan has not had the breakthrough his admirers had hoped for." This reads like he thought the best of Alkan (or the perhaps more limited subset which he knew) had merit (hence the value of trying to add him to the canon), even if his sympathy evidently did not extend to the works before 1850. The Wikipedia article does say that "his most notable compositions" date from his absence from the public from 1853 onwards, so perhaps the view is not wrong or unsupported after all, if a little exaggerated. Double sharp (talk) 06:50, 26 December 2016 (UTC)