French composer and pianist Charles-Valentin Alkan was born in Paris on 30 November 1813 into a musical Jewish family, and began studying at the Conservatoire de Paris unusually early - before he was six years old.
He spent almost his whole life in Paris, and was often reclusive, especially while composing. He was the first composer to use Jewish melodies in art music.
Alkan died in Paris on 29 March 1888, aged seventy-four, and his music then fell into neglect until the late 1960s, when many pianists, and notably Ronald Smith, began to play and record his music.
Ensemble. A Wealthy Maverick - Music by the French composer George Onslow, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi
Bizarre Perception - Alistair Hinton discusses a recent article on English music by David Hamilton
The Composer's Conundrum? - Alistair Hinton comments on Gordon Rumson's recent article
The Composer's Conundrum - Gordon Rumson has some bad news about creativity and self-promotion
Record Box. A Theoretician's Knowledge - Andrew Violette's Sonata for unaccompanied violin, reviewed by Howard Smith
Record Box. Playful Scope - Marc-André Hamelin's Chopin delights Robert Anderson
CD Spotlight. A Thrilling Experience - Kevin Bowyer plays Alkan, reviewed by Alistair Hinton. '... flawless technique and missionary commitment ...'
Old-time virtuosity stages a comeback - Daniel Grimwood at St Martin-in-the-Fields, reviewed by Malcolm Troup
Second Sight - Music with Wilfrid Mellers - A wizard at the keyboard. 'Hamelin ... may perhaps come closest to the necromatic dazzle that the composer's own playing was said to display.' Marc-André Hamelin plays Alkan