LOUIS MOREAU GOTTSCHALK
Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869) is one of the most fascinating American musicians of the 19th century.
Born on May 8, 1829, Gottschalk grew up in the multicultural environment of New Orleans and absorbed the Creole cultural heritage he received through his Afro-Haitian grandmother and nanny, both from Santo Domingo.
A child prodigy, he left at the age of 13 to study in Paris to learn with the best teachers, then quickly won over the whole of Paris with his virtuosity and his compositions with traditional Afro-Creole tunes. “You will be the king of pianists,” said Chopin to young Gottschalk. With this Parisian aura, he toured triumphantly in France, Switzerland and Spain and never ceased to immerse himself in traditional local culture and music.
After his return to the USA where he made his debut in New York, Gottschalk spent more than 6 years in the Caribbean (Cuba, Martinique, Guadeloupe …) and composed many works imbued with local rhythms and melodies. Many of these works announce the beginnings of ragtime.
Gottschalk then left for a long tour of three years in the United States and Canada, then the last four years of Gottschalk’s life were devoted to a long tour in South America (Panama, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil ). On this latest tour, Gottschalk strongly encourages local talent, and in several countries he plays an important role in the development of classical music. As he was about to organize “monster concerts” involving several hundred musicians in Rio de Janeiro, he collapsed during a concert minutes after his performance of his composition called “Morte !! (She is dead)” and died in December of the same year at age 40. After falling into oblivion in the 20th century, he is now recognized as one of the most important American musicians of the 19th century, and a composer hailed as the first eloquent and authentic musical spokesperson for the New World.