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Charles-Valentin Alkan
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    (November 30, 1813-March 29, 1888)
    Born in Paris, France
    Birth name was Charles-Valentin Morhange
    Pianist and composer
    Wrote 'Grand Sonata: The Four Ages,' 'Symphony for Solo Piano' and 'Concerto for Solo Piano'
    His compositions are extremely difficult to play.
    He titled one composition 'Funeral March on the Death of a Parrot.'
    After he was passed over for the position as head of the piano department at the Paris Conservatory (1848), he became increasingly reclusive.
    He wrote to a friend, 'I'm becoming daily more and more misanthropic and misogynous.'
    He is remembered less for his music than his odd death: he was allegedly crushed by a bookcase while reaching for a volume of the Talmud on a high shelf.
    He entered the Paris Conservatory at age six, gave his first public performance at seven, and published his first composition at 14.
    Franz Liszt said he had the finest technique of any pianist he knew.
    He was the next-door neighbor (and good friend) of Frederic Chopin.
    Admirers of his compositions included Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Credit: C. Fishel

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