Albert, Eugen d'


One of the most famous of living pianists. His father, in spite of his French name, was of German nationality and was a composer of dance music. Eugen was born at Glasgow, where his parents were temporarily residing, and until the age of twelve was practically self-taught in music. In 1876, the National Training School for Music was inaugurated and the boy was elected Queen Victoria scholar for that institution, which shows that he possessed remarkable musical gifts. While here his teachers were Professor Prout, Ernst Pauer, Sir John Stainer and Sir Arthur Sullivan. After playing at several students' concerts, D'Albert, at the age of sixteen, appeared at the Monday Popular concert and the following spring at the Crystal Palace and Philharmonic concerts. In the fall of the same year, 1881, he was invited by the great conductor, Richter, to play at the Richter concerts. In this year he also won the Mendelssohn prize entitling him to a year abroad and went to Vienna, where he studied with Richter, who called him the "Young Tausig" on account of his wonderful technical ability. In the spring of 1882 he played his own Piano Concerto at the Vienna Philharmonic Society, being the youngest pianist that had ever appeared for that important organization. In the spring of 1882 he visited England, appearing several times with ever increasing success. After this, with one exception in 1885, D'Albert was not heard again in England until 1896, a period of fourteen years. D'Albert decided to make his home in Germany, largely on account of Liszt, with whom he studied and whose favorite pupil he was. In 1883, he gave his first concert in Berlin and for the next ten years lived the life of a virtuoso, making tours through Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Russia, and twice to America. In 1893, he appeared at the Gewandhaus, Leipsic, performing one of von Bülow's famous feats, by playing at one sitting five of Beethoven's piano sonatas. Besides many important pieces for the piano and orchestral works, D'Albert has composed nine operas. Among the best known of these are The Ruby, Ghismonda, Gernot, Kain, and the Improvisor. His later operas, Tiefland, produced in Prague in 1903, and Flauto Solo, performed in the same city in 1905, have been very successful, having been performed in all the principal cities of Germany. He has one opera in manuscript which has not yet been performed. His piano compositions consist of concertos, overtures, a symphony in F, a suite for the piano in five movements, and a large number of short piano pieces. He has also written two string quartets, a violoncello concerto and songs. D'Albert in his playing is said to have "stupependous mechanism, beautiful and expressive touch and original taste and to show all the fulness of masterly technique and intellectual insight." In 1892 D'Albert married Teresa Carreno, also a famous pianist, but was divorced from her in 1895. His present wife is the singer, Hermine Fink. He lives in Berlin in the winter and spends his summers in his charming country home on Lake Maggiore, his recreations being cycling and lawn tennis. He also takes great interest in medical science.