Gottschalk, Louis Moreau (1829 - 1869)
MAGATAGAN, MICHAEL (1960 - )
|Added by magataganm, 19 Jun 2020
Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829 – 1869) was an American composer and pianist, best known as a virtuoso performer of his own romantic piano works. He spent most of his working career outside of the United States. He was the eldest son of a Jewish-English New Orleans real estate speculator and his French-descended bride. Gottschalk may have heard the drums at Place Congo in New Orleans, but his exposure to Creole melody likely came through his own household; his mother had grown up in Haiti and fled to Louisiana after that island's slave uprising. Piano study was undertaken with Narcisse Lettellier, and at age 11, Gottschalk was sent to Paris. Denied entrance to the Conservatoire, he continued with Charles Hallé and Camille Stamaty, adding composition with Pierre Maleden. His Paris debut at the Salle Pleyel in 1845 earned praise from Chopin. By the end of the 1840s, Gottschalk's first works, such as Bamboula, appeared. These syncopated pieces based on popular Creole melodies rapidly gained popularity worldwide. Gottschalk left Paris in 1852 to join his father in New York, only to encounter stiff competition from touring foreign artists. With his father's death in late 1853, Gottschalk inherited support of his mother and six siblings. In 1855, he signed a contract with publisher William Hall to issue several pieces, including The Banjo and The Last Hope. The Last Hope is a sad and sweetly melancholy piece, and it proved hugely popular. Gottschalk found himself obliged to repeat it at every concert, and wrote "even my paternal love for The Last Hope has succumbed under the terrible necessity of meeting it at every step." With an appearance at Dodsworth Hall in December 1855, Gottschalk finally found his audience. For the first time he was solvent, and at his mother's death in 1857 Gottschalk was released from his familial obligations. He embarked on a tour of the Caribbean and didn't return for five years. When this ended, America was in the midst of Civil War. Gottschalk supported the north, touring Union states until 1864. Gottschalk wearied of the horrors surrounding him, becoming an avid proponent of education, playing benefit concerts for public schools and libraries. During a tour to California in 1865, Gottschalk entered into an involvement with a young woman attending a seminary school in Oakland, and the press excoriated him. He escaped on a steamer bound for Panama City. Instead of returning to New York, he pressed on to Peru, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina, staying one step ahead of revolutions, rioting, and cholera epidemics, but he began to break down under the strain. Gottschalk contracted malaria in Brazil in August 1869; still recovering, he was hit in the abdomen by a sandbag thrown by a student in São Paolo. In a concert at Rio de Janeiro on November 25, Gottschalk collapsed at the keyboard. He had appendicitis, which led to peritonitis. On December 18, 1869, Gottschalk died at the age of 40.
His Tournament Galop has its origins in Gottschalk's conquest of the Spanish Peninsula. Gottschalk toured there starting in September 1851, against the advice of Spanish authorities and of Gottschalk's own management. At the time, hostilities were at a peak between Spain and the United States, and as an American citizen, Gottschalk's possible fate might have included spending some time in a Spanish prison, along with other ill-fated Americans who were already held hostage. Gottschalk patiently bided his time, and won an audience with the Spanish royal family in November. The cessation of the cold war between Spain and the United States ended in early December, which allowed Gottschalk to go ahead with a series of public concerts.
The Tournament Galop was first heard at a Gottschalk concert held in Madrid on December 13, 1851. Gottschalk was aware that the Spanish audiences were notoriously difficult to please, and he needed a showpiece that would help break the ice. The Tournament Galop is a pleasant, but not great, musical work, and its composer did not see fit to assign it an opus number. Its galloping figures and fast tempo may indeed remind some of a trip to the horse races. Indeed, the Tournament Galop is one of many Romantic musical works that was inspired by the story of the Ukrainian separatist Jan Mazeppa, who as a youth was lashed to a horse that was sent on a mad gallop that lasted until the horse dropped dead. Some inkling of the character of the Tournament Galop may be gained from its final marking, "Tutta la forza possible, molto animato grandioso."
Source: AllMusic (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/louis-moreau-g ottschalk-mn0001767715/biography).
Although originally composed for Piano, I created this interpretation of "Tournament Galop" (No Opus) for Marimba Duet.