Talk:Charles-Valentin Alkan

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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)

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

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

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)

Links trimmed[edit]

I trimmed the external links. could not be found. gave a 404 error, and I can't find anything about Alkan on the site. Grove music, while estimable, is a subscription-only service (disclosure: I don't subscribe) and in any case the link wasn't to the Alkan entry. is in French, hence inappropriate for English Wikipedia. We only need one link to the Alkan society. I think was spam with nothing to do with Alkan. --RobertGtalk 10:13, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

Alkan's death[edit]

It seems pretty clear now that the story of the bookcase and the Talmud is fictitious. The question is, how did Alkan die? The real story needs to have the primary focus in the "Death" section, with mention of the apocryphal tale being secondary. JackofOz 01:37, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

The article in the online New Grove only mentions that the story "seems to have no basis in truth." They mention that there is an account of his death in de Bertha: (A. de Bertha: ‘Ch. Valentin Alkan aîné: étude psycho-musicale’, BSIM, v (1909), 135–47) but give no further details. Interesting that this would have been around for a hundred years, but the bookshelf story has been the only one with legs. Heck, I believed it until I started writing for Wikipedia. Antandrus (talk) 02:04, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
Me too, mate, me too. It's a lovely romantic story, and if it wasn't true, it should have been true. JackofOz 02:09, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
I believe Raymond Lewenthal wrote an article on this for the the Musical Times, but I wouldn't be able to relocate that given a year in which to find it. The link [1] does contain what I think did happen to Alkan, but is not itself sourced. (Only added to external links because of that old standby, "it's a start.") Schissel-nonLop! 03:04, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
Here's three in the Musical Times:
H. Macdonald: ‘The Death of Alkan’, MT, cxiv (1973), 25 only
H. Macdonald: ‘The Enigma of Alkan’, MT, cxvii (1976), 401–2
H.J. Macdonald: ‘More on Alkan's death’, MT, cxxix (1988), 118–20
None of which I have immediate access to, alas. I can go to the UCSB library when it re-opens after the New Year. Antandrus (talk) 03:09, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
Cheers, buddy. Whenever. The truth is out there. JackofOz 03:17, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

for those who are interested:
MacDonald's articles reveal the following.
1) There is a letter from one of Alkan's pupils which revels that he was trapped beneath 'une porte-parapluie' (an umbrella-stand - seems even more bizarre than a bookcase).
2) Despite this letter it seems that Alkan died in bed of illness, possibly in hospital.
I belieive that this legend was in fact 'transferred' to Alkan. The following was communicated to me by Rabbi Meir Salasnik.
Aryeh Leib ben Asher Gunzberg (1695-1785) known as the Shaagat Aryeh (The Lion's Roar) after his book, was rabbi in various communities, lastly in Metz, and lived a very long life for those times.
There is a cute story that a few months before his death, he reached for a book and the bookcase fell on him. After about half an hour he was rescued. He informed them that he would die within the year. They asked him how he knew. He replied that while he was under the books, all the authors of previous rabbinical works he had disagreed with made their peace with him. One rabbi, who had lived a couple of centuries previously, would not make his peace with him. So, he knew he did not have much longer in this world.
I can't remember where I read this story.
We know that Alkan's family came from Metz. As Alkan was, in his way, as disputatious as Shaagat Aryeh, switching the story to him might be undesrtandable.
I am chasing this up and expect to write about it in the next issue of the Alkan Society Bulletin.
Best regards,
Smerus 25.Dec.2005
Hello. I used to be the Webmaster of a now defunct Website called The Alkan Site. One of the more worthwile pages on my site addressed the controversy behind Alkan's death. I emailed a conductor by the name of Mark Starr who kindly provided a detailed answer to the question. The following is the excerpt from my page.
The mystery of Alkan's death was resolved definitively about a decade ago by the French Societé Alkan. A French musicologist (possibly Brigitte Sappey) discovered a long detailed letter by one of Alkan's female piano students, who arrived at Alkan's teaching studio for her lesson just hours after Alkan had expired. In the letter she elaborates that Alkan did indeed fall and injure himself while he was trying to retrieve something on a shelf. He had climbed up on a hall coat-and-hat stand - a typical, large fixture in many 19th Century French homes. Alkan lost his balance and fell - and books did fall on top of him (the student's letter makes no mention of the Talmud). However, it was the fall and not the books that severely injured him.
Alkan did not die right away. A doctor was sent for, arrived, and began treating Alkan's injuries. But as the final portrait of Alkan makes clear, by 1888 he was a very frail, old man. He eventually succumbed to his injuries and died several hours later.
The gothic detail of Alkan having been crushed by his copy of the Talmud appears to be a colorful invention of one of the pianists in Alkan's small circle of friends, probably Isidor Philip. In poor health in his final years, Alkan already knew his days were numbered. In the few months preceding his death, he got all his affairs in order -- including the making of an incredibly detailed will. He also had his manuscripts bound in leather (these invaluable documents have disappeared, never yet to surface.)
The amusing detail about the Talmud is apocryphal. Instead of complaining about the fabrication of this detail, it is better to be grateful to whoever made it up. Limited as Alkan's fame has been in the past, this is the one factoid that has spread his renown among the general public and even among musicians. The more interest in Alkan, and the more people that remember his name (and listen to his music), the better. - Mark Starr
Thanks for reading. --AlkanSite 06:36, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
So it was half-true after all. It seems a shame to burst all those bubbles now, just for the sake of silly old truth. (Moral dilemma ... what to do?) Thanks for this very enlightening information. JackofOz 08:43, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

How did he die? It still remains a semi-interesting question. The bookcase story is probably not true as there is evidence for it not being true. But it is evidence (and good evidence!) and not proof. So often one sees the confusion between what is evidence and what is proof, just as there is general confusion between what is not true and what is likely not true. (talk) 05:25, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Composer project review[edit]

I've reviewed this article as part of the Composers project review of its B-class articles. It's a pretty good B-class article, but a few things bothered me. They're detailed in my review on the comments page; questions and comments should be left here or on my talk page. Magic♪piano 02:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Chopin's death causing Alkan's seclusion?[edit]

I removed - perhaps temporarily - the claim that the death of Chopin might have contributed to Alkan's return to seclusion, because it doesn't seem to fit the narrative, which points out that after Chopin's death his students went to study with Alkan. The dating is not clear, either. How long after Chopin's death did Alkan retire into seclusion? Did he teach those students for only a few months, then retire? At the least, I think the narrative needs to be recast to eliminate the apparent discrepancy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Deschreiber (talkcontribs) 13:23, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Alkan's letter of 1850 to his friend Masarnau clearly states his depression after Chopin's death and that it has led to his dissatisfaction with life in general. I will think about the right way to include this in the text.--Smerus (talk) 15:42, 6 April 2009 (UTC)


I'm surprised by the vehemence of Smerus's reversion. This is assertion derives from the new Grove. Personally, I think Fanelli is crap, but that's beside the point. I've just taken the trouble to write an article on him and have done my best to source it according to WP:V. Per WP:ORPHAN I introduced links in other articles, including this one. The reality is that stories about Fanelli are full of fantasy and unsubstantiatec romour, but what sources say is what they say. Paul B (talk) 00:05, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

But even sources can be demonstrably wrong, as indicated :-} --Smerus (talk) 13:57, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

The name Alkan[edit]

This was originally his father's given name. But where does it come from? Is it related to Alcuin? Or perhaps Harlequin (in French, Arlequin)? -- JackofOz (talk) 21:41, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

No it's an ancient Jewish name (= Elkanan)--Smerus (talk) 05:32, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. How do we know this? -- JackofOz (talk) 08:56, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
read my book on Alkan when it's published next year :-}--Smerus (talk) 14:25, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
LOL! --Jubileeclipman 19:37, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Marcia funèbre[edit]

Is that title correct? The first word is Italian; the second, French. Varlaam (talk) 17:53, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Well spotted - second word should be 'funebre' without the accent, Italian feminine of the adjective is with an 'e'. (Checked in Grove).--Smerus (talk) 20:12, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Cf. Capriccio Espagnol and Capriccio Italien - first word Italian, second word French. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:24, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

'Selected Recordings'[edit]

User:Varlaam has suggested adding a section of recordings. Actually his proposed heading was 'selected recordings' but we don't seem to have any agreed method of 'selection'. Moreover his proposal was a recording of Alkan's chamber works which is is no longer avaialble and is not notable for any positive critical reception. This is not especially representative of the composer and would not be especially helpful for WP readers. I am seeking therefore to start with this comment some disucssion and proposals as to what recordings it might be appropriate and useful to mention in the article, and on what basis they would be 'selected'. Thanks, --Smerus (talk) 19:09, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

  • It would have to be a list of recording that are clearly notable in and of themselves and that are somehow important to our understanding of Alkan as a person, performer, or composer. The page is about his life and works, after all, rather than recordings of his works --Jubileeclipman 19:35, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
  • so then, maybe, the pioneering recordings of Lewenthal and Ronald Smith, and then a smattering of Hamelin?--Smerus (talk) 20:17, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Yes pioneering works do make sense: they help contextualise the way Alkan as composer has been received by musicians and presented to the general public for consumption. Important later recording do the same. Workaday recordings that simply add to the repertoire are not of so much help in this respect. Does that make sense? --Jubileeclipman 21:01, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
I created this section specifically for the chamber CD, since neither I, who have been listening to this guy for decades, nor the regular staff member in the classical section knew there was Alkan chamber music.
And, now, neither does anybody else since you deleted that recording. Bis.
It is notable due to the fact that it's chamber, just as Beethoven's Kazoo Symphony will be notable when it is discovered in my attic next week.
Varlaam (talk) 17:33, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes but it was pretty useless adding a recording which was unavailable. I will remedy this.--Smerus (talk) 17:42, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
PS can't wait for the kazoo symphony.--Smerus (talk) 17:50, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Top line or first space??[edit]

We normally place the F in the treble clef on the top line, but he placed it on the first space. Why?? Georgia guy (talk) 00:09, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

Blame this on French music engraving practices of the period, not on the composer! --Smerus 08:10, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
You mean, it was standard at that time for F in the treble clef to go on the first space?? Georgia guy (talk) 12:24, 2 October 2011 (UTC}
I mean that Alkan did not engrave his own music. The placing of the F sharp cannot be attributed to him.--Smerus 21:50, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
Actually, he wrote it that way himself. Beginning of Alkan's manuscript (first 2 pages) of one of the Chants, in E major. Double sharp (talk) 12:52, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Well spotted!!!!--Smerus (talk) 15:52, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
It appears to be Op. 38b No. 1, BTW. Double sharp (talk) 14:42, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

Progressing this article[edit]

I am starting to clean up the article in preparation for a rewrite, with the aim of making it at least a WP 'good' article by the time of Alkan's bicentenary (2013). Any contributions/opinions would be greatly welcomed. All areas of the article are somewhat scrappy or lack focus at the moment.--Smerus (talk) 05:56, 28 January 2012 (UTC)


The article is big now, I assume its time to add the infobox. What do the consensus think about it?--Mishae (talk) 06:09, 20 May 2012 (UTC)

I don't understand why the length of an article increases the need for an infobox; the amount and kind of information in such a box is prescribed by its parameters. In this case, the extraordinary position of Alkan among his contemporary composers can not possibly be conveyed in an infobox. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 06:41, 20 May 2012 (UTC)

Scherzo-focoso has stumped the "experts"[edit]

Greetings. I'm copying a question from the Wikipedia Entertainment Reference Desk that our combined "expertise" has failed to resolve, and I hope someone here can weigh in. Cheers. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 10:13, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Copied from Wikipedia:Reference desk/Entertainment#Scherzo-focoso

The edition at IMSLP of Charles-Valentin Alkan's Scherzo-focoso (Op. 34) is fearsomely difficult to read at times. What's the marking at the top of page 19 (the "Pedale" section)? (I can make out that the first word is "Senz'" and the second ends in "mento", but since half of it is cut off it is very hard to tell.) Double sharp (talk) 13:07, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Your x-ray vision is better than mine. I can't make out anything, other than that there are 2 words. There's a clearer version of the music here (played by a computer), but it's been cleaned up so much that the marking in question is no longer there at all (at 6:09).
'Senza' (Italian for "without") is sometimes found in music instructions such as senza ritardando, but 'senz' by itself is not a term I've ever come across, and appears not to make any sense. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 22:57, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
"Senz" is used in speech before a vowel, for example the song "Senza una donna" which is sung "Senz'una donna". So that might give a hint as to the letter after that word. --TammyMoet (talk) 09:39, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
Try as I might, I just cannot see "senz" or anything like it there. Or "mento" in the second word. My parents often despaired of making me see sense, and the tradition continues. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 10:34, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
That letter after the "senz'" looks like an "a". It might plausibly be "senz'acceleramento"? Double sharp (talk) 12:00, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
That would fit with what is visible of the letters, BTW, but might not be grammatically correct..."senz'acceleramente", perhaps? Double sharp (talk) 12:56, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
That rather poor PDF-of-a-photocopy appears to be the only online copy of the piece. You might be able to read it better on the page the scan was taken from. You could try contacting either the Alkan Society (whose collection includes the original photocopy), or the Library of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (wherein is kept the aforementioned collection). Alternatively, if you're within reach of London you might pop into the library where it's on the shelf. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 10:22, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

C. V. Alkan l'aîné[edit]

The PDF in the above question gives Alkan's name as "C. V. Alkan l'aîné". Presumably this means "the elder". But there was no "younger" C. V. Alkan, to my knowledge. His son was never even formally acknowledged, but in any case he had a different surname, Delaborde. So, what's this "l'aîné" about? -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 10:17, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

  • When his brothers, all four of whom were younger than him, were active in musical careers, and all using the name 'Alkan' as surname, CVA often signed his letters as "C. V. Alkan l'aîné". For example there is or was in existence a letter from him, with this signature, to an unknown correspondent, saying that the latter had sent to him by mistake a letter intended for Maxim Alkan. In the printed music I guess it is to differentiate CVA's output from the (pretty trivial) galops, quadrilles, etc. written by Maxim. --Smerus (talk) 16:22, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Smerus. Maybe we should say something about this in the article. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 21:22, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I am trying over the near future (when I have time) to bring up the article to GA/FA-status in time for CVA's 200th birthday (November) and will certainly include this. --Smerus (talk) 09:57, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

OK I've now dealt with all the name issues (I hope) by expanding note a.--Smerus (talk) 10:25, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

Hermann et Ketty[edit]

The article says: "Alkan twice competed unsuccessfully for the Prix de Rome in 1832 and 1834; the cantatas which he wrote for the competition, Hermann et Ketty and L'Entrée en loge, have remained unpublished and unperformed."

However, in the Ambrois Thomas article it says that he also wrote a Cantata called "Hermann et Ketty": "In 1832, his cantata Hermann et Ketty won the Conservatory's prestigious composition prize, the Grand Prix de Rome, which allowed him to travel to and study in that city for three years."

Is there a mistake in the Alkan article? — Preceding unsigned comment added by AlkanSite (talkcontribs) 01:10, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Both articles are correct. The competition required contestants to set a given text. Thomas's setting won, Alkan's didn't.--Smerus (talk) 04:36, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Thank you, Smerus. --AlkanSite (talk) 00:21, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Charles-Valentin Alkan/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Tim riley (talk · contribs) 13:33, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Beginning first read-through. More soonest. At first glance the article looks more like an FAC than a GAN, but I'll continue with the job in hand. Tim riley (talk) 13:33, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

This article is so plainly destined for FAC that I hope you will excuse a more pernickety list of comments than would ordinarily be justified at GAN. It will save time at FAC, where I can join Tennyson's "chorus of indolent reviewers", having had my say here. It's a short list of quibbles, in any case, and nothing in it is of enough consequence to prevent my immediately promoting this impressive article, which I shall do at the end of this.

  • General
    • Quotation marks: you sometimes favour doubles and sometimes singles, and it isn't obvious why. I'd follow the MoS and stick to doubles except for quotations within quotations. Words in singles at present include 'hero', 'military', 'blow-by-blow' and 'classical', all in the music sections. There are others.
  • Lead
    • "amongst" (here et passim) – I never know what this word has that "among" hasn't; it seems to me to lend a slightly fusty air to one's prose.
    • [Deeply disappointed that the bookcase was a fiction! Another illusion shattered].
  • Prodigy
    • "later to become his professional enemy" – I don't find anything later in the article to justify the "enemy". You tell us that Alkan was much put out at being bumped for the professorship, but not that he exhibited enmity to Marmontel. Nor vice versa: Marmontel seems from your text to have gone out of his way to show respect to Alkan.
  • Early fame (1831–1837)
    • "he first met with Frédéric Chopin" – I recognise a losing battle when I see one, but I will maintain in articulo mortis that this is an Americanism: in UK English one meets with abstract things like disaster, approval etc, but just meets people
  • At the Square d'Orléans
    • "at just 25 years old" – I'd lose the "just" and let the figure speak for itself
    • "whilst his more mature works" – as with "amongst", I always press the superiority of plain "while"
    • "the highly original sonata" – I don't doubt it, but does the cited source justify the "highly original"?
  • Style
    • "Ronald Smith points out" – slightly loaded term, implying that Smith is stating an incontrovertible fact. Something like "remarks", "maintains" or "comments" would be more neutral
  • Reception and legacy
    • Isidore Phillipp was Isidor (without an e) earlier.

That's my lot. Nothing to cause alarm and despondency, and certainly nothing to prevent the immediate promotion of this very fine piece of work to GA.

GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose quality:
    B. MoS compliance:
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. References to sources:
    B. Citation of reliable sources where necessary:
    C. No original research:
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Major aspects:
    B. Focused:
  4. Is it neutral?
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, etc:
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are copyright tagged, and non-free images have fair use rationales:
    B. Images are provided where possible and appropriate, with suitable captions:
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:

I look forward to meeting M. Alkan again at FAC. Please let me know when you take him there. – Tim riley (talk) 16:26, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Very many thanks for this! Sorry about the bookcase - a story which, as they say in Italy, se non è vero, è ben trovato. I will take up the points you list over the next day or two. Best, --Smerus (talk) 17:16, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Lede image[edit]

Hi Andy. I see that Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Images#Forced image size says that 'As a general rule, images should not be set to a larger fixed size than the 220px default (users can adjust this in their preferences).' But it also states that 'Lead images should usually be no wider than "upright=1.35" (defaults to "300px").', which would leave other options for the lead open as long as they do not exceed 300 px. Best, --Smerus (talk) 14:30, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

and like all our image guidelines, this has not changed to cope with the explosion in variety of screen sizes in recent years, and is widely ignored, for example at FAC. Johnbod (talk) 14:36, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

The above pair of comments were made on my talk page after I removed a forced 250px width from the lede image; I've moved them here (and fixed the indenting), as they're about the article, not me.

Like many people, I have set the default size for image thumbnails to the maximum avaialable, 300px width. Quite why some editors think it's OK to force the image to be smaller, especially for people with very large screens, is beyond me. Editors should use defaults wherever there is no good reason not to (such as in a table; no such reason is given here) and not design for their own screen/ software combinations. The "defaults to 300px" comment is not an excuse to force images to be smaller than that; and neither is the "no wider than upright=1.35" clause, which proportion is not the same as hard-coding "250px". Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 15:31, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

I too have 300px set as default, as should most people. But I have to admit that the last time someone clever (Tony1?) worked out how many people had also done so (a few years back) the number was surprisingly small - low 3 figures. Depressing. And only registered readers can set prefs. Personally I usually fix lede images at 300px, for which there is plenty of room in this case, so I've changed to that. Johnbod (talk) 15:53, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks to both for explaining and sorting.--Smerus (talk) 15:58, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
It's also not clear why you think forcing people with small screens, who have therefore chosen to use small thumbnails, to display larger images is acceptable; nor why you think that makes the matter "sorted". Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:01, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
You base your arguments on a recollection of data from "a few years back", having earlier observed "the explosion in variety of screen sizes in recent years". Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:02, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Question for all: Why not simply respect users' own preferences? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:06, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

I would certainly be interested in seeing up to date figures but I suspect it is likely there has been relatively little change - and remember that the vast majority of readers are unregistered & have no preference option. The data was not so long ago that it predated the "explosion" (unlike the MOS passage). Johnbod (talk) 04:38, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree that any forced deviation from the default image size needs to have a good reason. Some graphics, some scores, some manuscripts, etc. call for larger sizes; some very simple graphics, some tightly cropped portraits of minor figures in a subject's biography, etc. call for smaller sizes. In this case, I see no reason to specify a size or to omit the parameter |upright . -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 03:17, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

I would obviously like to get this right, not least because the article is presently under review for FA. Like (I suspect) many users less familiar with the technical side of Wikipedia, my viewing was set at 220px. At this level, some of the images (ntoably the manuscripts and music examples) look small. At 300px, the images of Berlioz and Alkan's father seem disproportionately large. I take Andy's point that users'own preferences should be respected - although, like me, many of them may not be aware that they have a choice. Nonetheless the disporportionality of some of the images in the article would seem in those cases to justify the exceptions suggested by Michael Bednarek. I have not made any changes (yet) but would like to get opinions first.--Smerus (talk) 06:11, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Images proposal[edit]

I've now been looking at all the images with both a 220px background setting and a 300 px background setting.

As regards the lede image, I think at 220 px it looks rather small. However 300 px seems a bit large. If noone has strong objections I would like to set it to, say, 250 px. I accept this is just a matter of taste.

At 220px background settings, the music examples and the manuscript pix are inappropriately small. For these I think there is a strong case for seting the individual pix at 300 px, as per Michael Bednarek's comments.

At 300px background settings, the pix of Alkan's father and of Berlioz both come out, for some reason, disproportionately large. I would therefore propose to set these two pix at 220 px; which again accords with potentially allowable exceptions per Michael Bednarek.

Comments appreciated.--Smerus (talk) 09:01, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Ok by me, though I find anything below 270 in the lead looks a bit small, but then I'm used to the 300px view. Johnbod (talk) 12:02, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't see any need to hard-code sizes for such images. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to have further eye surgery tomorrow and won't be able to edit for a week or two. I've therefore asked at WP:VPT and WP:MOSIMAGES for some input. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 13:37, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
Noted. Wish you all the best with your surgery.--Smerus (talk) 16:02, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
I concur. This is supported by WP:IMGSIZE ("In general, do not define the size of an image unless there is a good reason to do so"). I would prefer the use of |upright=1.2 or |upright=1.35 (but no more than that: see MOS:IMAGES#Forced image size) to specify a relative size that respects the user's preferences, rather than specifying an exact size in pixels. sroc (talk) 15:10, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
The real problem, it seems to me, is that the required specification of image size is not currently possible. What it should be possible to do is to specify a minimum size in pixels, which is over-ridden upwards if the user has the default image size set larger. This is technically feasible (in Javascript anyway). I've been forced, very reluctantly, to specify absolute sizes for a few images which are actually diagrams and are simply useless below a certain size. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:53, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

OK. I have now edited certain of the pictures using the 'upright=' parameter. The lede image, manuscript, and musical example texts have factors >1, to enable clarity. Alkan's father and Berlioz have factors <1 to prevent them overpowering the context. I would submit that these are 'good reasons' under WP:IMGSIZE. I have looked at these settings against both a 220px appearance preference and a 300px appearance preference and they seem to work acceptably in both cases.--Smerus (talk) 16:48, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

  • MOS central prevails, and for a few years now, after the consensual revamp, it has not proscribed the enlarging of images beyond the thumbnail size: "The thumbnail option may be used ("thumb"), or another size may be fixed. The default thumbnail width is 220 pixels; users can adjust this in their preferences. Lead images should be no wider than "upright=1.35" (by default this is 300 pixels). See Manual of Style/Images for information on when and how to use other sizes."

    If someone locally has been tampering with the sub-page of the MOS, it needs to be redressed. Many images need to be larger than the default for readers to make sense of them. Tony (talk) 03:43, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Thnaks for this clarification, which confirms that the present settings of images in this article are in order. I leave it to others more experieced to edit the MOS sub-page(s) if necessary.--Smerus (talk) 12:14, 4 July 2013 (UTC)



What's the source for his fluency in Greek and Hebrew? I don't think normally one describes a reading ability in the ancient languages as just "fluency", and obviously he wasn't conversing in these languages. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 19:48, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

Stephanie McCallum "Speculations" about Alkan[edit]

Hi everyone,

First off, I want to say that this article about one of my musical heroes is very good, and is clearly a labour of love by a lot of people. One issue troubles me, however:

"Stephanie McCallum has suggested that Alkan suffered from Asperger syndrome, schizophrenia or obsessive–compulsive disorder."

The reference is presumably to Stephanie McCallum's article in Bulletin no. 75 released by the The Alkan Society in April 2007. In my opinion, none of what McCallum writes in that article qualifies as compelling evidence that Alkan suffered from any of the three mental illnesses alluded to above. In fact, she herself prefaces the remarks by saying that it is basically just "speculation" and that "it is rather pointless to offer diagnoses of the dead". The question that immediately entered my mind at this point was: "then why should we care?" The author basically correlates some symptoms of those mental illnesses with her own characterization of Alkan's behavior.

In the absence of strong evidence, it seems that the most scientific/historical/reasonable thing to do is to hold a position that is skeptical of such things.

I wonder what others think about this.

Thanks for reading. --McChoughin-Dinsmore (talk) 02:43, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

The article doesn't make these claims to be anything other than speculations. Given that they are notable comments about Alkan, they are almost certainly fit for the article. Toccata quarta (talk) 07:13, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Nevertheless, I have prefixed these statements with a "may have", to make it doubly clear that these are indeed just speculations. Double sharp (talk) 15:10, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
OK by me.--Smerus (talk) 15:38, 8 December 2013 (UTC)