Litolff, Henry (Charles)

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Litolff, Henry (Charles)

Litolff, Henry (Charles), prominent French pianist, conductor, music publisher, and composer; b. London, Feb. 6,1818; d. Bois- Colombes, near Paris, Aug. 5, 1891. He was a precocious child and received training in piano from his father until he was 12, at which time he continued his studies with Moscheles (1830–35). On July 24, 1832, he made his professional debut as a pianist in London. His early marriage at the age of 17 compelled him to seek his fortunes in Paris, where he first attracted attention as a pianist. Following a sojourn in Brussels (1839–41), he went to Warsaw and conducted the National Theater orch. He toured as a pianist in Germany and Holland (1844–45), and then throughout Europe. While in Vienna in 1848, he participated in the revolutionary uprising. When it failed, he made his way to Braunschweig in 1849. Following a divorce from his first wife, he married Julie Meyer in 1851, the widow of the music publisher Meyer, and acquired the firm. His Collections Litolff was one of the pioneering publications of inexpensive eds. of classical music. In 1855 Litolff was named conductor at the court of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. After divorcing his second wife in 1858, he went to Paris to pursue his conducting career. In 1860 was married for a third time to Comtese de Larochefoucauld, and turned his publishing business over to his adopted son, Theodor Litolff. Following the Comtesse’s death in 1870, Litolff took as his fourth wife a 15-year-old girl. Litolff’s most significant works are his four extant concertos symphoniques (1844,1846,1852,1867), which are actually syms. with piano obbligato. They made a deep impression on Liszt.


dramatic: Opera: Catherine Howard (Brussels, April 1847); Die Braut von Kynast (Braunschweig, Oct. 3, 1847); Rodrigo von Toledo (c. 1848); Le chevalier, Nahal, ou La gageure du diable, opéra-comique (Baden-Baden, Aug. 10, 1866); La boîte de Pandore (Paris, Oct. 1871); Héloïse et Abélard (Paris, Oct. 17, 1872); La belle au bois dormant (Paris, April 4, 1874); La fiancée du roi de Garbe (Paris, Oct. 19, 1874); La mandragore, opéra-comique (Brussels, Jan. 29, 1876); Les templiers (Brussels, Jan. 25, 1886); L’escadron volant de la reine (Paris, Dec. 14, 1888); Le roi Lear (n.d.). orch.: 4 extant concertos symphoniques (1844, 1846, 1852, 1867); 4 overtures: Maximilian Robespierre (1856; Paris, Feb. 2, 1870), Das Weiflied von Gustav von Meyern (1856), Chant des Beiges (1858?), and Die Girdondisten (1870?). other: Chamber music; numerous piano pieces; Ruth et Boaz, oratorio (1869); Szenen aus Goethes Faust for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1875?); songs.


T. Blair, H.C. L. (1818–1891): His Life and Piano Music (diss., Univ. of Iowa, 1968); R. Hagemann, H. L. (Herne, 1977).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire