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Louis Moreau Gottschalk

May 8, 1829 - December 18, 1869
born in New Orleans, LA, composed during the Romantic period
Gottschalk was the eldest son of a Jewish-English New Orleans real estate speculator and his French-descended bride. Gottschalk may have heard the drums at Place Congo in New Orleans, but his exposure to Creole melody likely came through his own household; his mother had grown up in Haiti and fled to Louisiana after that island's slave uprising. Piano study was undertaken with Narcisse Lettellier, and at age 11, Gottschalk was sent to Paris. Denied entrance to the Conservatoire, he continued with Charles Hallé and Camille Stamaty, adding composition with Pierre Maleden. His Paris debut at the Salle Pleyel in 1845 earned praise from Chopin. By the end of the 1840s, Gottschalk's first works, such as Bamboula, appeared. These syncopated pieces based on popular Creole melodies rapidly gained popularity worldwide. Gottschalk left Paris in 1852 to join his father in New York, only to encounter stiff competition from touring foreign artists. With his father's death in late 1853, Gottschalk inherited support of his mother and six siblings. In 1855, he signed a contract with publisher William Hall to issue several pieces, including The Banjo and The Last Hope. The Last Hope is a sad and sweetly melancholy piece, and it proved hugely popular. Gottschalk found himself obliged to repeat it at every concert, and wrote "even my paternal love for The Last Hope has succumbed under the terrible necessity of meeting it at every step." With an appearance at Dodsworth Hall in December 1855, Gottschalk finally found his audience. For the first time he was solvent, and at his mother's death in 1857 Gottschalk was released from his familial obligations. He embarked on a tour of the Caribbean and didn't return for five years. When this ended, America was in the midst of Civil War. Gottschalk supported the north, touring Union states until 1864. Gottschalk wearied of the horrors surrounding him, becoming an avid proponent of education, playing benefit concerts for public schools and libraries. During a tour to California in 1865, Gottschalk entered into an involvement with a young woman attending a seminary school in Oakland, and the press excoriated him. He escaped on a steamer bound for Panama City. Instead of returning to New York, he pressed on to Peru, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina, staying one step ahead of revolutions, rioting, and cholera epidemics, but he began to break down under the strain. Gottschalk contracted malaria in Brazil in August 1869; still recovering, he was hit in the abdomen by a sandbag thrown by a student in São Paolo. In a concert at Rio de Janeiro on November 25, Gottschalk collapsed at the keyboard. He had appendicitis, which led to peritonitis. On December 18, 1869, Gottschalk died at the age of 40.

The impact of Gottschalk's music on the later development of ragtime might seem obvious, yet there is no proven link from him to the syncopated popular music he anticipated in works like Bamboula. The music of Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton show traces of Gottschalk's melodic shape and rhythmic pulse, and the New Orleans-born Morton likewise studied under Lettellier. Nickelodeon pianists disserviced Gottschalk by loving him too well; pieces like The Dying Poet and Morte!! turned many a dramatic corner in silent movie houses, and the public began to identify these themes as cliché. By the 1940s, Gottschalk was condemned as hopelessly old-fashioned, and it would take decades of work by scholars to improve his critical fortunes. In his best music, Gottschalk was an American original; masterpieces like Souvenir de Porto Rico, Union, and O ma charmant, épargnez-moi! transcend time through their emotional power, technical mastery, audacity, wit, and charm. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis , Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Gottschalk, Louis Moreau (1829-1869): American Piano Music

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Track List: Gottschalk: A Night In The Tropics

Title: Grande Tarantelle, For Piano & String Quintet (or Chamber Ensemble), Op. 67 (RO 259)
Title: Souvenir De Porto Rico, Marche Des Gibaros For Piano, Op. 31, D. 147 (RO 250)
Title: The Dying Poet, Meditation For Piano, D. 45 (RO 75)
Title: Tournament Galop, For Piano, D. 153 (Ro 264)
Title: O Ma Charmante, éPargnez-moi!, Caprice For Piano, Op. 44, D. 107 (Ro 182)
Title: Le Bananier, Chanson Nègre For Piano, Op. 5, D. 14 (RO 21)
Title: Manchega, Étude De Concert For Piano, Op. 38, D. 86 (RO 143)
Title: Grande Tarantelle, For 2 Pianos, Op. 67 (RO 260)
Title: Berceuse, Song For Voice & Piano ("Slumber On, Baby Dear"), D. 21 (RO 28)
Title: Symphony No. 1: "La Nuit Des Tropiques" (Night In The Tropics), For Orchestra, D. 104 (RO 255)
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Track List: Gottschalk: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2; Escenas Campestres Cubanas; Célèbre Tarantelle

Title: Symphony No. 2: "Á Montevideo", For Orchestra, D. 99 (RO 257)
Title: Grande Tarantelle, For Piano & Orchestra, Op. 67, D. 66 (RO 259)
Title: Esceñas Campestres, Opera In 1 Act ("Cuban Country Scenes"), D. 47 (RO 77)
Title: Variations De Concert Sur L'hymne Portugais, For Piano & Orchestra, D. 157a (Ro 289)
Title: Ave Maria, Song For Voice & Piano, D. 6 (RO 10)
Title: La Caza Del Joven Enrique Por Méhul, Gran Overture For 5 Pianos & Orchestra, RO 54b
Title: Symphony No. 1: "La Nuit Des Tropiques" (Night In The Tropics), For Orchestra, D. 104 (RO 255)
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Track List: Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Piano Music

Comments

Wow! This guy is good! I love Chopin and Liszt and this is what is Louis is displaying here. Louis Gottschalk is brilliant.
WHO IS PERFORMING ?!?!??!?!
Bless his heart....... . 1 of my favorites now!!!
So delightfully fantastical. A Midsummer's Eve feel to it.
lburris597
So beautiful and magical. I can get so lost in the wonderful garden of Gottschalk music.
Some of the problem with LMG is that many of his published works read more like charts than fully realized compositions . He was a brilliant improviser. Most modern players who attempt his music stick to a literal reading --- something he himself apparently never did.
Never knew he was American *or* that Chopin praised his piano music (does praise get any better?). Robert: Not sure that Gottschalk was the kind of composer who held Gould's interest (romantics who weren't deeply literary (Schumann) or harmonically predictive (Liszt, Wagner; in a different way, Franck) seemed not to appeal to cerebral pianists like Gould in the 50s-70s). What about John Browning or Charles Rosen (who could have written the sleeve notes as well as played the music fastidiously ) ?
Or Horowitz?
I wonder what it would have sounded like if Glenn Gould had given an all-Gottscha l k concert?
Two years later and Gottschalk is STILL an underrated genius!
retropat
On the piano? You're too cool! good luck...
brimari93
i love this song!!! hopefully I can learn it this year...that would be amazing!!!
totally agree - the bomb
Gottschalk is an underrated genius.

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