1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Thalberg, Sigismond

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THALBERG, SIGISMOND (1812-1871), German pianist and composer, was born at Geneva in 1812 (May the 5th or January the 7th). In 1822 he was taken to Vienna, where, under the watchful care of Count Dietrichstein, his education was completed. He made his first appearance as a pianist at Prince Metternich's in 1826, and published his first composition — a Fantasia on Airs from “Euryanthe” — in 1828, but it was not until 1830 that he was first fairly introduced to the public, with such brilliant success that from that time forward his only rival was Liszt (q.v.). In 1834 he was appointed “kammervirtuos” to the emperor of Austria. He first appeared in Paris in 1837; and in 1838 he went to England, astonishing his hearers with the novel effects produced in his Variations on God Save the Queen, while he charmed them with his delicate touch and the purity of his expression. Thenceforward his career was a succession of triumphs. In order to disprove the popular idea that he could execute no music but his own, he played Beethoven's Concerto in C minor (Op. 37) at the London Wednesday Concerts, held in 1846-47 at Exeter Hall, with a keen intelligence which proved his power of interpreting the works of the great masters to be at least on a level with his wonderful technique. Besides his pianoforte compositions, which are almost innumerable, Thalberg produced two operas — Cristina, which proved a complete failure, and Florinda, which fared but little better at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1851. He played in London for the last time in 1863, and afterwards retired to his estate near Naples. He died at Naples on the 27th of April 1871.