Henselt, (Georg Marin) Adolf von

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Henselt, (Georg Marin) Adolf von

Henselt, (Georg Marin) Adolf von, notable German pianist, pedagogue, and composer; b. Schwa-bach, May 9, 1814; d. Warmbrunn, Silesia, Oct. 10, 1889. He was taken to Munich by his family when he was 3, and began piano studies at 5. When he was 15, he made his public debut as a pianist. In 1831 he received a stipend from King Ludwig I of Bavaria, which enabled him to study piano with Hummel in Weimar and theory with Sechter in Vienna. After making a highly successful concert tour of Germany in 1836, he went to Russia and scored further success in St. Petersburg in 1838. He soon was named court pianist and teacher of the children of the imperial family. He later gained great influence as a pedagogue via his appointment as inspector of music in all of the imperially endowed girls’ schools. Henselt won extraordinary praise from his contemporaries as a piano virtuoso, although stage fright led him to curtail his public appearances. Nevertheless, he became well known for his artful execution, in legato, of widely extended chords and arpeggios, which he achieved via diligent practice of extremely difficult extension studies of his own composition. He publ. 2 vols, of lyrical studies for piano as Douze études caractéristiques de concert, op.2 (1837) and Douze études de salon, op.5 (1838). His virtuoso Piano Concerto in F minor (1844) was premiered by Clara Schuman, and subsequently taken up by many eminent pianists, including Liszt, Bülow, Friedheim, Sauer, Busoni, and Petri. In the late 20th century it was revived, at least via recordings, by Ponti and Hamelin. Among his other works were some chamber scores and various small salon pieces for piano.


W. von Lenz, Die grossen Pianoforte-Virtuosen unserer Zeit aus persönlicher Bekanntschaft: Liszt, Chopin, Tausig, H. (Berlin, 1872).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Henselt, (Georg Marin) Adolf von

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