Stephen Heller (1813 - 1888) was a Hungarian pianist,
teacher and composer whose career spanned the period
from Schumann to Bizet, and was an influence for later
Stephen Heller was born in Pest (now Budapest), Hungary
in 1813. He had been destined for a legal career, but
instead decided to devote his life to music. At the age
of nine he performed Jan Ladislav Dussek's Concerto for
Two Pianos with his teacher, F. Brauer, at the Budapest
Theater. He played so well that he was sent to study in
Vienna, Austria, under Carl Czerny. Unable to afford
Czerny's expensive fees, he became a student of Anton
Halm. After a success in the first public concert in
Vienna at the age of 15, his father undertook a concert
tour through Hungary, Poland and Germany.
Heller returned to Budapest by way of Kassel,
Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Hamburg, and Augsburg. After
passing the winter of 1829 at Hamburg, he was taken ill
at Augsburg in the summer of 1830. He abandoned the
tour there and was soon afterwards adopted by a wealthy
patron of music.
At the age of 25, he travelled to Paris, where he
became closely acquainted with Hector Berlioz, Frédéric
Chopin, Franz Liszt and other renowned composers of his
era. Here Heller eventually achieved distinction both
as a concert performer and as a teacher. He taught
piano to Isidor Philipp who later became the head of
the piano department of the Conservatoire de Paris.
In 1849 he performed in England, where in 1850 he was
the subject of a long serial (that is, divided between
many issues) article devoted to his music in the
British Musical World, and in 1862 he played Mozart's
E-flat concerto for two pianos with Charles Hallé at
The Crystal Palace. With these brief interruptions, the
last twenty-five years of his life were spent at Paris.
He outlived his reputation, and was almost forgotten
when he died in 1888.
The Tarantella is a group of various folk dances
characterized by a fast upbeat tempo, usually in 6/8
time (sometimes 18/8 or 4/4), accompanied by
tambourines. It is among the most recognized forms of
traditional southern Italian music. The specific
dance-name varies with every region, for instance
tammurriata in Campania, pizzica in the Salento region,
Sonu a ballu in Calabria. Tarantella is popular in
Southern Italy and Argentina.
Although originally created for Piano, I created this
Interpretation of the Tarantelle II (Opus 85 No. 2) for
String Quartet (2 Violins, Viola & Cello).