But while these, masters were setting the music-loving world wild with their extraordinary performances men like Mendelssohn, 1809-1847, and Frederic Chopin, 1810-1849, labored more for pure art, both a players and as composers. Both artists exercised a decided influence upon the development of piano-technique.
Especially is this true of Chopin. Mendelssohn developed the lyric element through his matchless songs without words. The same is true of Chopin’s remarkable works. These, however, exercised a far greater influence than did those by Felix Mendelssohn.
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Yes, Chopin, in a measure, affected the piano-technique of today more than Liszt even. He introduced many chord combinations! strangely formed passages, and peculiar rhythms, which required most careful study and special fingering. Of him, Schumann very correctly said, “that he is and remains the boldest and proudest poetic spirit of his time.”
Mendelssohn, Chopin, Clara and Robert Schumann
A peculiar spirit pervades his works, which to grasp is not given to every one. Teachers should, therefore, be careful how they use this master’s works with pupils, nor should they allow students to confine themselves too long to them. By the side of Mendelssohn and Chopin, stands Robert Schumann, 1810-1856.
Though not a concert player, he affected the art of piano-playing through his very original works. Indeed, it may be said that Schumann’s compositions require a technique of their own. In them occur chords and passages as well as divisions of melodies, which are not easily rendered.
Moreover it is difficult to catch the peculiar spirit that pervades his works. For these reasons, they were slow to make their way into public favor. He, however, who faithfully studies Schumann, cannot fail to be elevated, and having once taken in that peculiar spirit, he will always remain faithful to this master.
His widow, Clara Schumann, of whom we speak elsewhere, has done all she could to make the public acquainted with her husband’s beautiful works, and she has been highly successful in this respect.
American Pianists : Louis Moreau Gottschalk
While we have mentioned quite a number of American pianists in the following sketches, men and women of whom we as Americans may well be proud, we cannot close this article without saying a few words about the oldest native American pianist of note, Louis Moreau Gottschalk.
He was born in New Orleans, in 1827, went to Paris in 1841, where he studied, and returned to his native country in 1853. He traveled throughout the length and breadth of the States, also in South America giving concerts, enjoying a high degree of popularity. He played mainly his own compositions, and should he appear again in the concert halls of his country, he could hardly dare to play his old programs over again.
His compositions are pleasing, often original, though without special art value. As a pianist, it must be said of him, that he was capable of better things than he did. He had great delicacy of touch, played at times with great power, and always appeared at his ease at the instrument.
While he is entirely over-shadowed by American pianists of to-day, ha will always be held in fond remembrance as the first pianist, the first musician that gave national hope for musical growth and development. He died in Brazil, South America, on the 18th of December, 1869.
This brings our historical sketch up to the present, and it only remains for us to speak of the living pianists. This information, the student will find in the following biographical sketches.