Henry Charles Litolff (6 February 1818?August 5, 1891) was a keyboard virtuoso and composer of Romantic music.
Litolff was born in London, the son of a Scottish mother and an Alsatian father. His father was a violinist who had been taken to London as a prisoner after being captured while fighting for Napoleon in the Peninsular War.
Litolff began his musical education under his father, but when he was twelve he played for the pianist Ignaz Moscheles, who was so impressed that he gave him free lessons for several years. Litolff's promise was indeed realised, and he began to give concerts when he was only fourteen.
He became a prolific composer, though is now known mainly as the founder of the Litolff Edition of classical and modern music. His most notable works were the four Concertos Symphoniques, essentially symphonies with piano obbligato. Number one, in D minor, is lost; the others (which, though not regularly heard in the concert repertoire, are all available in modern recordings) are:
Concerto Symphonique No 2 in B minor, Op. 22 (1844)
Concerto Symphonique No 3 in E flat, Op. 45 (c.1846)
Concerto Symphonique No 4 in D minor, Op. 102 (c.1852)
Concerto Symphonique No 5 in C minor, Op. 123 (c.1867)
The only one of Litolff's own compositions still performed at all regularly is the somewhat Mendelssohnian scherzo from the fourth Concerto Symphonique, though his music was admired by Franz Liszt, and he was the dedicatee of Liszt's own first piano concerto.
He died at Bois-Colombes near Paris.
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