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Kunkel, Charles

Kunkel, Charles, German-American pianist, teacher, music publisher, and composer, brother of Jacob Kunkel; b. Sipperfeld, Rheinpfalz, July 22, 1840; d. St. Louis, Dec. 3, 1923. He was taken to America in 1848 by his father, who gave him elementary musical training. In 1868 he and his brother went to St. Louis, where he established a music publishing business and started a music periodical, KunkeVs Musical Review, which included sheet music and articles. With his brother he also opened a music store selling pianos and other instruments. In 1872 he founded the St. Louis Cons, of Music, which continued in business for several years. Furthermore, he presented an annual series of concerts in St. Louis known as Kunkel’s Popular Concerts (1884–1900). He taught piano to the last years of his life, and also publ. a method of piano playing, which was commended favorably by Liszt. Anton Rubinstein praised him as a pianist during his visit to St. Louis in 1873. Kunkel was reputed to be quite formidable as a sight reader. Altogether, he was certainly a shining light in the German musical colony in middle America in the 2nd half of the 19th century. With his brother he gave, to tumultuous applause, a series of concerts playing piano duets. His publishing business put out a cornucopia of his own piano solos with such titles as Nonpareil, Galop Brilliant, Philomel Polka, Snowdrops Waltz, and Southern Jollification, most of these highly perishable. However, one piece, Alpine Storm, deserves retrieval, if for no other reason than its dedication: “To my son, Ludwig van Beethoven Kunkel.” (This piece also contains “tone clusters” played with the palm of the hand in the bass to imitate thunder.)

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Kunkel, Charles

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