Adolf von Henselt (1814-89) was a German composer and virtuoso pianist. A native of Schwabach in Munich, he went to Vienna to study under Hummel. He soon became a noted piano soloist. He was famous for his cantabile and legato playing. Even Liszt admired his playing. He also composed. Most of his compositions were for solo piano. He seems to have had a very nervous disposition. He virtually ceased writing at the age of 30 and stopped performing in public at 33.
When he was 24 he moved to Saint Petersburg. He spent most of the rest of his life in Russia. He was court pianist, held several influential imperial positions, and was ennobled by the Czar in 1876. He was a great influence on the Russian pianists of the generation after his. Rachmaninov was especially fond of his art.
His piano works suggest the lyrical style of playing that was so widely admired by his contemporaries. Here are a couple of short works that convey his style. They are quite lovely and deserve more than an occasional outing. They do not have the profundity and extraordinary invention of Chopin, but still stand on their own. Exauce mes voeux (Hear My Wishes) is Henselt’s Op 2 No 3.
The photo above is the well known statue of Henselt erected by his hometown of Schwabach.The composer’s Op 45 Wiegenlied (Lullaby) was written just before his self imposed withdrawal from composing more than 40 years before his death. It should be really good for insomnia and I mean that as a compliment. Henselt is seated center in the composite photo above the title. Henselt famous in the 19th century, forgotten in the 20th, deserves a comeback in the 21st.