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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » H » Henselt, Adolf von

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Adolf von Henselt (5/09/1814 - 10/10/1889)

Adolf von Henselt was born in the Bavarian town of Schwabach on 9 May 1814. Praised by Liszt for his unequalled cantabile playing, Henselt belonged to a galaxy of star pianists who were all of a similar age. These included Chopin, Schumann, Thalberg and, of course, Liszt.

Although Henselt began his musical studies on the violin, he soon changed to the piano and made spectacularly rapid progress. It was as a child that he developed a strong and permanent affinity with the musical Romanticism of Carl Maria von Weber. After studying with Johann Nepomuk Hummel in Weimar and Simon Sechter in Vienna, he withdrew from the limelight for two years in order to perfect his unique way of playing widely spaced chords without recourse to the sustaining pedal. In view of the permanent damage that Robert Schumann reportedly did to his own hands while experimenting with stretching exercises, Henselt must surely have been taking a huge risk in persevering with his idiosyncratic technique. But his determination seems to have paid off, for even Liszt is said to have blanched at certain aspects of Henselt’s piano playing that bordered on the reckless.




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