Louis Moreau Gottschalk  
Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Louis Moreau Gottschalk (May 8, 1829 – December 18, 1869) was an American composer and pianist, best known as a virtuoso performer of his own romantic piano works. He spent most of his working career outside of the United States.

Life and career

Gottschalk was born in New Orleans to a Jewish businessman from London and a Creole mother. He had six brothers and sisters, five of whom were half-siblings by his father's mixed-race mistress (she would have been called mulatto at the time). His family lived for a time in a tiny cottage at Royal and Esplanade in the Vieux Carré. Louis later moved in with relatives at 518 Conti Street; his maternal grandmother Bruslé and his nurse Sally had both been born in Saint-Domingue (known later as Haiti). He was therefore exposed to a variety of musical traditions, and played the piano from an early age. He was soon recognized as a prodigy by the New Orleans bourgeois establishment, making his informal public debut in 1840 at the new St. Charles Hotel.

Only two years later, at the age of 13, Gottschalk left the United States and sailed to Europe, as he and his father realized a classical training was required to fulfil his musical ambitions. The Paris Conservatoire, however, rejected his application without hearing him, on the grounds of his nationality; Pierre Zimmermann, head of the piano faculty, commented that "America is a country of steam engines". Gottschalk gradually gained access to the musical establishment through family friends.

After Gottschalk returned to the United States in 1853, he traveled extensively; a sojourn in Cuba during 1854 was the beginning of a series of trips to Central and South America. Gottschalk also traveled to Puerto Rico after his Havana debut and at the start of his West Indian period. He was quite taken with the music he heard on the island, so much so that he composed a work, probably in 1857, entitled Souvenir de Porto Rico; Marche des gibaros, Op. 31 (RO250). "Gibaros" refers to the jíbaros, or Puerto Rican peasantry, and is an antiquated way of writing this name. The theme of the composition is a march tune which may be based on a Puerto Rican folk song form. By the 1860s, Gottschalk had established himself as the best known pianist in the New World. Although born and reared in New Orleans, he was a supporter of the Union cause during the American Civil War. He returned to his native city only occasionally for concerts, but he always introduced himself as a New Orleans native.

In May 1865, he was mentioned in a San Francisco newspaper as having "travelled 95,000 miles by rail and given 1,000 concerts". However, he was forced to leave the United States later that year because of a scandalous affair with a student at the Oakland Female Seminary in Oakland, California. He never returned to the United States.

Gottschalk chose to travel to South America, where he continued to give frequent concerts. During one of these concerts, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 24, 1869, he collapsed from having contracted malaria. Just before his collapse, he had finished playing his romantic piece Morte! (interpreted as "she is dead"), although the actual collapse occurred just as he started to play his celebrated piece Tremolo. Gottschalk never recovered from the collapse.

Three weeks later, on December 18, 1869, at the age of 40, he died at his hotel in Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, probably from an overdose of quinine. (According to an essay by Jeremy Nicholas for the booklet accompanying the recording "Gottschalk Piano Music" performed by Philip Martin on the Hyperion label, "He died ... of empyema, the result of a ruptured abscess in the abdomen.")

In 1870, his remains were returned to the United States and were interred at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. His burial spot was originally marked by a magnificent marble monument, topped by an "Angel of Music" statue, which was irreparably damaged by vandals in 1959. In October 2012, after nearly fifteen years of fund raising by the Green-Wood Cemetery, a new "Angel of Music" statue, created by sculptors Giancarlo Biagi and Jill Burkee to replace the damaged one, was unveiled. His grand-nephew Louis Ferdinand Gottschalk was a notable composer of silent film and musical theatre scores.

Gottschalk's music was very popular during his lifetime and his earliest compositions created a sensation in Europe. Early pieces like Bamboula, La Savane, Le Bananier and Le Mancenillier were based on Gottschalk's memories of the music he heard during his youth in Louisiana. In this context, some of Gottschalk's work, such as the 13-minute opera Escenas campestres, retains a wonderfully innocent sweetness and charm. Gottschalk also utilized the Bamboula theme as a melody in his Symphony No. 1: A Night in the Tropics.

Many of his compositions were destroyed after his death, or are lost.

Various pianists later recorded his piano music. The first important recordings of his orchestral music, including the symphony A Night in the Tropics, were made for Vanguard Records by Maurice Abravanel and the Utah Symphony Orchestra. Vox Records issued a multi-disc collection of his music, which was later reissued on CD. This included world premiere recordings of the original orchestrations of both symphonies and other works, which were conducted by Igor Buketoff and Samuel Adler. More recently, Philip Martin has recorded most of the extant piano music for Hyperion Records.

In popular culture
Author Howard Breslin wrote a historical novel about Gottschalk titled Concert Grand in 1963.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Louis Moreau Gottschalk pictured on an 1864 Publication of The Dying Poet for piano
Bamboula - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
During the summer of 1848 Gottschalk found himself at the country home of Dr. Eugene Woillez outside of Paris. It was there that he wrote the first two of four pieces based on Louisiana Créole tunes, La Savane and Bamboula. He introduced these pieces into the salons of Paris in 1849 when he returned and Bamboula quickly became an underground sensation. In April of that year he performed it at a public concert where it was received with wild enthusiasm. Dedicated to Isabella II of Spain, Bamboula ultimately became one of his signature pieces.
Souvenir de Porto Rico - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Souvenir de Porto Rico was written during Gottschalk's stay in the Puerto Rican countryside in 1857 and is based on Si me dan pasteles, a tune sung during the Christmas season. The piece begins softly and gradually grows in volume and complexity reaching a climax at the mid point then fades away, imitating a group walking singers, hence the subtitle 'Marche des Gibaros'. A Gibaro or Jíbaro being those peasants who live in the interior of Puerto Rico.
Grande Tarantelle - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
In 1859 Gottschalk performed an improvised tarantella with pianist Nicolás Ruiz Espadero and violinist José White at the Liceo Artístico y Literario in Havana. That extemporization would evolve over the years until it reached it's final form for piano and orchestra as the Grande Tarantelle, (Op 67) and during the last year of his life, it became Gottschalk's workhorse. When the composer died without leaving a score for this piece, more than twenty different versions have surfaced, most of which are apocryphal. Recently though, Gottschalk's manuscript has been discovered and can be heard in a recording by Richard Rosenberg on the Naxos label.
Gottschalk "Grande Tarantelle" for Piano and Orchestra
This bravura toe-tapping showpiece was discovered after Louis Gottschalk's death in 1869 in versions for piano solo and for piano duo. It is heard here in Hershy Kay's exhilarating orchestration in which Reid Nibley is accompanied by the Utah Symphony under Maurice Abravanel.
Souvenir de la Havane - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Written during his stay at Matouba on Guadeloupe, Souvenir de la Havane is one of Gottschalk's more masterful pieces and recalls his days in Cuba.
Ojos Criollos - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Written in 1859 during his travels in the Caribbean, Ojos Criollos became one of Gottschalk's most popular pieces as he performed it throughout his US tours during the Civil War.
Danse Ossianique - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Danse Ossianique is a re-write of one of Gottschalk's earliest compositions, Polka de salon (Opus 1). The title refers to Ossian, the Gallic poet but the piece in reality has nothing to do with the Ossian poems. James Macpherson published the poems in 1760 stating that he had translated them from ancient Gallic, however, the Ossian poems are now generally regarded as a hoax and were likely written by Macpherson. For Gottschalk, recycling an older piece with the name Ossian attached to it was a clever marketing move since Ossian was all the rage in Paris at that time.
La Moissonneuse - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
La Moissonneuse, The Reaper, is a tone painting in the form of a mazurka that depicts a bucolic scene of peasants at harvest. A companion piece, La Glaneuse, The Gleaner, is lost. Such scenes were admired by the upper class French leaving one to wonder if their admiration ever led them to go to the fields and lend a hand.
Réponds moi - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
This 'Danse Cubaine' could easily be mistaken for Scott Joplin and illustrates how, in the opinion of some, Gottschalk paved the way for ragtime and even jazz.
Suis moi! - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Published in 1862 by Wm. Hall & Son, Suis Moi combines Chopinesque passages with Latin American dance tunes.
Tournament Galop - Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Gottschalk began performing this piece as early 1851 while touring Spain, then calling it Gran galop de bravura. In 1854 it was published by Oliver Ditson under the title Tournament Galop and this virtuoso show piece is meant to be played fast and furious.
Gottschalk, Louis Moreau - Berceuse,Op.47 - :Behrend, Jeanne
Louis Moreau Gottschalk - La Nuit des Tropiques / A Night in the Tropics
Louis Moreau Gotschalk (1829-1869), Nouvelle Orléans, ÉUA / USA

- La Nuit des Tropiques (symphonie,1859)
- A Night in the Tropics (symphony,1859)

I. Andante (6/8)
II. Allegro moderato (2/4)

(arr. Gaylord Hatton)

Utah Symphony Orchestra
Maurice Abravanel

Gottschalk - Escenas Campestres - opera
Escenas Campestres Cubanas, opéra en 1 acte, RO77
As with many of the works that Gottschalk created for his Havana concerts, Escenas Campestres Cubanas (Cuban Country Scenes) brilliantly combines high art, populist sensibilities and mass appeal. For example, the manuscript indicates that Gottschalk intended the use of timpani, but there is evidence that a Caribbean güiro and the three-string tiple added local spice at the first performance. For this performance by the Hot Springs Music Festival, the nearly illegible libretto was painstakingly deciphered by renowned musicologist Marcello Piras, so that the original Ramírez text could be paired with Gottschalk's music for the first time since its première. The score's final five bars, which appear only skeletally in the manuscript, were also orchestrated to match the full instrumentation
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