Gottschalk, Louis Moreau

Gottschalk, Louis Moreau

(môrō` gŏt`shôk), 1829–69, American pianist and composer, b. New Orleans, of English-French parentage, studied in Paris. Chopin and Berlioz praised his playing, and he appeared successfully in Europe, the United States, and South America. His orchestral compositions include two symphonic poems, La Nuit des Tropiques and Montevideo. He composed more than 100 piano pieces, essentially written in the romantic style with additional elements drawn from vernacular American traditions such as African-American and Creole rhythms and Spanish subjects. Immensely popular in his lifetime, these include The Banjo, The Last Hope, and The Dying Poet.

Bibliography

See his Notes of a Pianist (1881).

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Gottschalk, Louis Moreau

(1829–69) composer; born in New Orleans, La. A keyboard prodigy, he was sent at age 13 to study in Paris, where his playing and his compositions were admired by Chopin and Berlioz and became the rage of Europe. He was among the first Americans to feature nationalistic elements in his music, such as the piano piece Bamboula (1845), based on a New Orleans slave dance. After sensational success in Europe, Gottschalk returned to the U.S.A. in 1853, to be wildly applauded for his playing and his nationalistic pieces such as Le Banjo (1855). After tours in the Americas and many hastily-written piano pieces (usually brilliant and facile, often over-sentimental), in 1865 he fled an amatory indiscretion in the U.S.A. and spent the rest of his career in South America. Exhausted by his incessant exertions, he died of yellow fever in Rio de Janeiro.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.