1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Henselt, Adolf von

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HENSELT, ADOLF VON (1814-1889), German composer, was born at Schwabach, in Bavaria, on the 12th of May 1814. At three years old he began to learn the violin, and at five the pianoforte under Frau v. Fladt. On obtaining financial help from King Louis I. he went to study under Hummel in Weimar, and thence in 1832 to Vienna, where, besides studying composition under Simon Sechter, he made a great success as a concert pianist. In order to recruit his health he made a prolonged tour in 1836 through the chief German towns. In 1837 he settled at Breslau, where he had married, but in the following year he migrated to St Petersburg, where previous visits had made him persona grata at Court. He then became court pianist and inspector of musical studies in the Imperial Institute of Female Education, and was ennobled. In 1852 and again in 1867 he visited England, though in the latter year he made no public appearance. St Petersburg was his home practically until his death, which took place at Warmbrunn on the 10th of October 1889. The characteristic of Henselt's playing was a combination of Liszt's sonority with Hummel's smoothness. It was full of poetry, remarkable for the great use he made of extended chords, and for his perfect technique. He excelled in his own works and in those of Weber and Chopin. His concerto in F minor is frequently played on the continent; and of his many valuable studies, Si oiseau j'étais is very familiar. His A minor trio deserves to be better known. At one time Henselt was second to Rubinstein in the direction of the St Petersburg Conservatorium.