Henri Herz (1803-1888)
Henri Herz arrived from Koblenz as a child, and became one of Paris’s most celebrated pianist-composers between 1818, when he received a premier prix at the Conservatoire, and 1830. He went on to become an active entrepreneur: in 1838, he built a piano factory at 38 (now 48) rue de la Victoire, where he set up Paris’s first concert hall (it remained the city’s most active space for almost half a century). In the same location he founded a special piano school with his brother Jacques, four years before being appointed professor of piano (for women) at the Conservatoire, where he taught from 1842 to 1874.
Herz was the author of eight concertos—some of which served as competition pieces at the Conservatoire—and around two hundred pieces for piano. He published the Méthode complete de piano in 1839, and a lone literary work, Mes voyages en Amérique in 1866, after having published an initial version in serial form in La France musicale upon his return in 1851. Henri Herz’s letters to his brother Charles (BNF-musique, LA Herz Henri, no. 42-49), whom he had left in charge of the piano factory during his absence, complete this very limited corpus of writings and demonstrate the enterprising spirit of this tireless pianist.
Trans. Chris Murray