Sigismund Thalberg

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Sigismund Thalberg, lithograph by Joseph Kriehuber , 1841.

Sigismund Thalberg (born January 8, 1812 in Pâquis near Geneva ; † April 27, 1871 in Posillipo near Naples ) was an Austrian composer and one of the most prominent piano virtuosos of the 19th century.


Family origin

Sigismund Thalberg in his early youth.

Sigismund Thalberg's birth certificate shows his parents the names Joseph Thalberg and Fortunée Stein, but today it can be considered certain that these are fictional names. Because of his illegitimate birth, which was considered offensive, it was customary during Thalberg's lifetime to only hint at his parents. François-Joseph Fétis , who knew Thalberg and his mother personally, wrote in his lexicon Biographie universelle des musiciens (1863) that Thalberg was the natural son of a prince "M .. D .." and a baroness "W ...".

The mother's name as a Baroness Wetzlar (von Plankenstern) was made known to the public in 1871 by LR von Kohlenegg ( Henrion Poly ) in an article for the magazine Ueber Land und Meer and in 1882 by Constantin von Wurzbach . As an excuse for their indiscretion, both authors wrote that the baroness had never made a secret of the fact that Sigismund Thalberg was her son. The name given by the authors refers to a Julia Bydeskuty von Ipp who came from a family of the Hungarian landed gentry and had been married to a Baron Wetzlar since 1820. She later settled in Venice, where Franz Liszt met her at the end of March 1838 .

With regard to the identity of Thalberg's father, the contemporaries considered Prince Franz Joseph von Dietrichstein and his brother Count Moritz von Dietrichstein. Liszt, who met both of them in Vienna in April 1838, described the prince as Thalberg's father in a letter to Marie d'Agoult dated April 14, 1838. In fact, the Gotha genealogical nobility calendar shows that the prince, among other titles, had the title of Freiherr von Thalberg, so that in this sense he was Franz Joseph von Thalberg. Sigismund Thalberg lived in Vienna in the Prince's palace. According to this, it is ruled out that, for example to promote his musical career, he could have determined that he came from a prominent family himself. The name given for the mother "Fortunée" means "the lucky one". A marriage with the prince was out of the question because he had been married to a Countess Alexandrine Shuvalov since July 16, 1797.

Musical beginnings up to the beginning of the concert career

Sigismund Thalberg, 1826

Carl Czerny and Johann Nepomuk Hummel and August Mittag, the first bassoonist at the Vienna Court Opera, are often named as Thalberg's piano teachers . However, Czerny left Thalberg completely unmentioned in his memoirs . Thalberg himself denied in an interview with Fétis that he was a student of Hummel or Czerny. In this context, he referred to the first bassoonist at the court opera, but that was probably meant as a joke. The Baroness Wetzlar, Thalberg's mother, was known as a brilliant amateur pianist, so that he probably received piano lessons from her herself. To this extent, this agrees with Wurzbach's description. Later composition lessons with Simon Sechter were added. Thalberg made his debut as a pianist in Vienna at an early stage, where he was heard with works from the classical repertoire, such as concerts by Ludwig van Beethoven and Hummel, but also with his own compositions. In 1828 he published as op. 1 a brilliant fantasy on melodies from Carl Maria von Weber's Euryanthe .

In the spring of 1830 Thalberg gave concerts for the first time in Berlin and on May 14, 1830 in Leipzig, where he made the acquaintance of Friedrich Wieck , the piano teacher of Robert Schumann . In Clara Wieck's youth diary , with whom Thalberg played, his piano playing is described as very finished, but not effective enough. A good ten years later, Clara Wieck, who had meanwhile become Clara Schumann, was completely enthusiastic about Thalberg's piano playing. In a diary note from early February 1841 it says:

Thalberg visited us on Mondays, and played to my delight on my pianoforte. There is no more perfect mechanism, and its piano effects must often enthrall those in the know. He doesn't fail a single note, his runs can be compared to rows of pearls, his octaves are the most beautiful I've ever heard.

In the early 1830s Thalberg made use of contrapuntal compositional techniques in some of his works . An example of this kind is his Fantasy, Op. 12, on melodies from Bellini's Norma . In a first main part after the introduction, a march theme is varied. The second variation is a canon. A second main part is based on a lyrical theme that Thalberg developed into a fugue with great skill. In the finale of the fantasy, the themes of the two main parts are combined.

Thalberg's Norma-Fantasie was soon very popular as a concert piece, but the use of serious compositional techniques in an operatic fantasy first caused irritation among contemporaries. In a review of Schumann in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik , the imagination was given mocking comments. In Paris, too, where the Fantasia was published by Farrenc in the summer of 1834 , it was reviewed with wait-and-see skepticism in the magazine Le Pianiste . Thalberg then composed new works in a different style. When he appeared in Paris in November 1835, he was recognized in a meteoric rise by connoisseurs as an outstanding composer and leading pianist of his time.

Sigismund Thalberg lithograph by Andreas Staub , around 1830

During Thalberg's second stay in Paris from the beginning of February 1837, there was a confrontation with Franz Liszt , who in a review in the Revue et Gazette musicale of January 8, 1837, considered Thalberg's works, praised by the majority of his contemporaries, to be blank and completely insignificant had panned out. The confrontation between the two pianists inexorably resulted in a direct encounter. In March 1837 both were invited to a soirée in the salon of Princess Cristina Belgiojoso . A clear winner did not emerge from this duel, as the contemporary music journalists report. When asked who the winner under Thalberg and Liszt was, Princess Belgiojoso said: "Thalberg is the foremost pianist in the world. Liszt is unique." In short: Liszt cannot be compared. Contemporary composers like Berlioz and Chopin, however, agreed that Liszt was inviolable and inevitably the best pianist in the world.

Appointment as kk chamber virtuoso

One of the numerous honors that Thalberg received at a young age was his appointment as a chamber virtuoso. The title was to him on 12 May 1833 by Emperor Franz I granted.

Concert tours

In the following years Thalberg toured large parts of Europe as a virtuoso. There were further encounters with Liszt on various occasions. The two artists met in Vienna in spring 1838, in Paris in spring 1840, on the Rhine in summer 1840, and again in Paris in spring 1844. Thalberg, who managed to steadily increase his artistic reputation well into the mid-1840s, consistently avoided the possibility of a new comparison when he met Liszt again by refraining from playing Liszt's own piano in the present and relying on the Limited role of a benevolent viewer. In Liszt's absence, he easily regained the territory that Liszt had previously occupied. In Italy, England and Paris he was much more successful than Liszt. In Vienna, where Liszt celebrated legendary triumphs in a series of concerts in the winter of 1839/1840, two Thalberg concerts in the spring of 1841 were enough to bring him back to the top in the opinion of the public and the critics.

Thalberg and Liszt were classified as equivalent in terms of piano technology. But while Liszt was hardly recognized as a composer, Thalberg received superlative reviews for his works. The jubilation with which the Leipziger Allgemeine Musical Zeitung , the publication of Thalberg's Thême et Etude op. 45 was greeted, is unprecedented in the usual terms of the time.

There we finally have it, the long-awaited charming piece, which Thalberg already enchanted us a year ago and which has since found its way into everyone's hearts. If this announcement came earlier, before this etude became so world-famous, we would be able to exhaust ourselves in conjectures as to what the wonderful virtuoso was thinking when he succeeded in this lucky throw; Such diverse ideas grow in us when we play through this small, extremely graceful clay painting. However, since the Etude can already be found on all pianoforte, our assumptions would come post firm, and we can content ourselves with the advertisement, but shake hands with the dear artist, who has become very dear to us through his fantasy about Don Juan .

Since 1835 at the latest, Thalberg has almost exclusively played his own compositions in his concerts, mainly his opera fantasies, variations and studies, but he was not blamed for this program even in Leipzig. It was known from his appearances in private circles that he was also a master of the classical repertoire. On the other hand, Liszt, who played a far larger proportion of classical works in a fundamentally similar repertoire in his concerts, was seen as a representative of modern virtuosity, from which a flattening of musical taste was to be feared. In Liszt's style of presentation in his concerts, a deficit in musical expression was often criticized. In this respect, too, Thalberg was impeccable in his public reputation. The following review in the Leipziger Allgemeine Musical Zeitung is a typical example.

Herr S. Thalberg has mastered the pianoforte in the most perfect degree, indeed he elevates it to one of the first through his individual manner of treatment, in that he gives it advantages which one would otherwise not believe in its nature. This is not an exaggeration. Due to the elasticity of his attack, combined with an extremely skilful use of the pull that removes the damping, he knows how to produce a tone that has something quite extraordinary and peculiar about it. With this he combines the art of playing the theme of his sentence with one or two fingers of the right hand, while the other fingers of the right and left hand perform the most difficult accompanying figures. There is a charm in the vocal way of emphasizing the subject that must be irresistible to any soulful audience. It is the most perfect imitation of song that one can imagine. Since no passage of Herr Thalberg's right or left hand is too difficult and since he carries out everything with the most stubborn precision, these figures often have a richness, an abundance that is admirable. With this he combines a bravura that surpasses everything that we have heard on this instrument so far, and a captivating soulful performance, which motivates and connects the transitions from the thunder-like forte to the quietly dying piano in the most charming way. After all that we can only say that the character of Thalberg's game is perfection. What it does is always perfectly beautiful, completely finished and leaves nothing to be desired .

In comparison with Liszt, Thalberg gave a much smaller number of concerts. While Liszt could be heard in whole series of concerts in cities like Vienna and Paris, Thalberg gave no more than two concerts in one season in these places. He also sometimes took long breaks in which he did not give any concerts. As a virtuoso he was a top earner. After he had already made a profit of 10,000 francs from his first own concert in Paris on April 16, 1836, his income increased in later years. Liszt, who gave a concert in Lyon in April and May 1836, had to be content with an income of 500 francs per concert during this time. In the spring of 1838 Liszt earned around 3,500 francs with a single concert in Vienna. After eight years of successful international concert activities, in the spring of 1846 he received an offer to give two concerts in the Italian Theater in Paris for a fee of 15,000 francs . Liszt, whose income from one of his concerts was objectively lower, had to deal with allegations of excessive greed for money. Thalberg was spared such reproaches. The following characterization of Hector Berlioz applies in this respect.

Thalberg is one of the small number of artists for whom everything turns out to be good, even their success. He is not envied that he has talent, that he is a favorite of fame and fortune; and if he had Napoleon's name alongside Beethoven's genius and the millions of the Bank of France, he would not be envied either. Is he striving for wealth and fame? Not in the least .

On May 3, 1848, after he had already resigned from his own concert career, Liszt had the opportunity to hear his former rival playing the piano for the first time since the confrontation in 1837 at a charity concert in Vienna. After the description of Liszt's temporary student Nepomuk Dunkl, Liszt sat on the podium, listening attentively and giving loud applause. In the spring of 1853 Liszt advised his pupil and later son-in-law Hans von Bülow to visit Thalberg in Vienna; and Bülow also knows enthusiastic descriptions of Thalberg's piano playing from his letters.

Later years

Picture from later years

After the failures of his operas Florinda and Cristina di Svezia in 1851 and 1855-1856, Sigismund Thalberg toured South and North America (Brazil 1855, USA 1856). After his return he bought an estate in Posillipo near Naples in 1858 , where he settled and lived in seclusion for the next four years. In the spring of 1862 he was heard again in concerts in Paris and London, where he achieved the same success as in earlier times. After a last concert tour to Brazil in 1863, he retired from active musical life. His career as a composer also ended during this time. He dedicated himself to the cultivation of wine, for which he received a prize in an exhibition in Paris in 1867. When he died in Posillipo in 1871, he left behind a valuable collection with several hundred musical and other autographs by famous composers. The collection was sold after his death. Some parts, including Mendelssohn's letters, have been lost to this day.

According to Thalberg's own statement in the preface to his School of Singing for the Piano, Op. 70, he had taken singing lessons from a famous singer in his youth. Apparently he is referring to Luigi Lablache , the first bass player at the Italian Theater in Paris, whose eldest daughter Zecchina Thalberg married in the spring of 1843. The marriage resulted in their daughter Zaré on April 16, 1858, who became an opera singer after the death of her father. She made her debut with great success on April 10, 1875 at the Royal Italian Opera in London as Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni .



Thalberg was a very productive composer, especially with his piano works extremely successful. His most famous concert piece is his Fantasia op. 33 on melodies from the opera Moses by Rossini , which he played for the first time on March 12, 1837 at the time of his confrontation with Liszt in a concert at the Paris Conservatory. Soon after its publication in the spring of 1839, the Fantasy was adopted by many other pianists, including Clara Schumann , in their own repertoire. Thalberg's Fantasy op. 12 on melodies from the opera Norma by Bellini was played in public several times by Liszt. Schumann wrote about Thalberg's Deux airs russes variés op.17 :

And since we are once in a full stream of praise, let me also think of the delicious new variations by Thalberg, the most excellent, most successful composition that I have come across from him so far. [...] That Mr. Thalberg treated the first topic with preference, it seems natural to me: in general, however, he wrote with love, in a rich hour, and thus an imaginative and effective introduction emerged, behind which the song of a child emerges, charming and transfigured like an angel's head. Just as delicately and significantly, two changes nestle against it, which one can also call almost complete in the musical movement, in the flow of the voices, in the whole rounding off. The contrast to this intimate idyll is formed by the brilliant folk song, into which the first theme is later influenced. The conclusion is of the brief kind that the public will only listen for a few seconds to see if more is coming before they have to break out into a stormy hello - extremely grateful, brilliant, yes elegant .

Thalberg's particularly successful compositions also include the Fantasy op.20 on melodies from the opera Die Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer , the Fantasy op.40 on melodies from the opera La Donna del Lago by Rossini, the 2nd Don Juan Fantasy op. 42 and the work Thême et Étude op. 45. Thalberg's Fantasy op. 51 on melodies from the opera Semiramis by Rossini was greeted with words of enthusiasm by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy after its publication in early March 1844 . The Fantasy was rehearsed by Clara Schumann in the spring of 1844 and played in her concerts in Russia. Thalberg's Souvenir de Pest op. 65 calls for a comparison with Liszt's 1st Hungarian Rhapsody . For his piano sonata op. 56, which appeared in December 1844, Thalberg received harshly negative reviews. As a composer of demanding music, he was obviously undesirable.

Thalberg's very handy and beautifully sounding piano setting was exemplary for many other composers well into the early 20th century. Liszt in particular benefited from the works of his rival in his own piano works. Thalberg's specialty, in a sense his trademark, was a melody in the middle voice surrounded by passages, but a misunderstanding has arisen in this regard. An example of the way in which Thalberg's way of playing is typically presented can be found in Carl Friedrich Weitzmann's Geschichte des Klavierspiels , 1879, p. 138.

His bravura pieces, fantasies about melodies from Moses and Donna del Lago by Rossin, about motifs from Bellini's Norma and about Russian folk songs were extremely popular due to their own brilliant performance, but they always deal with their subjects in one and the same way, and you always The main recurring effect is to have the notes of a melody in the middle octave of the piano played, sometimes by the thumb of the right hand, sometimes by the left hand, while the other fingers perform arpeggios for this, which take up the entire range of the piano .

A review of the sheet music leads to the result that the way of playing described by Weitzmann and, in a corresponding manner, by many other authors, cannot be found in either those mentioned by Weitzmann or in any of Thalberg's other works. In this sense Thalberg is famous for a style of play that he did not use. In fact, he used the distribution of individual voices between both hands typical of the contrapuntal style for virtuoso music. He did not do this in the very primitive way described by Weitzmann, but in a far more differentiated way. In addition to a bass line and harmonic figuration, there are passages, occasionally in double stops or chords, as well as one or more melody voices, creating the illusion of four-handed piano playing. In addition, Thalberg has also cultivated an abundance of completely different effects. An example is the work Thême et Étude op. 45, in the second part of which, the “Étude”, the impression of a vibrato of a human singing voice is evoked by repeated repetition. In his Caprice Op. 46 on melodies from Bellini's Sonnambula , Thalberg achieved a similar effect with chain trills. In their entirety, his piano works contain the sum of everything that was available for the piano in his time.

Almost nothing of Thalberg's works is played today. The reason can be assumed that Thalberg's strong predilection for the Italian style of operas by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti, which was widespread around the world around 1840, subsequently became his undoing. Even his Souvenir de Beethoven , a fantasy about melodies from Beethoven's symphonies, is Italian in color. In the further course of the 19th century, Thalberg's preferred Italian style was viewed increasingly critically and rejected. Clara Schumann may be a characteristic example of this change. In February 1839 she had watched a performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in Paris with great emotion and shortly afterwards attended a performance of Bellini's Sonnambula . In a letter to Schumann on February 28, 1839, she wrote:

What would you say now when I finally convinced you that Bellini is a talented composer, and that you sometimes even longed to hear an Italian opera? Yes, yes, I can still make it that far, and much further .

In a diary note by Clara Schumann on March 26, 1842, it says:

In the evening with Madam Tutein. [...] She raves about an Italian opera that was currently giving performances in Copenhagen and is one of the worst that I have known; Furthermore, she is enthusiastic about Bellini, Donizetti - one can put up with that from a layman, but not from a musician who wants to be regarded as such .

Thalberg's style also increasingly lost its acceptance. His blanket disqualification, as it was common practice in earlier Liszt literature, on the other hand, no longer stands up to a review in contemporary sources. The fact that Thalberg was unsuccessful with both of his operas cannot be blamed for the fact that this was the norm given the vast amount of material composed in the 19th century. Even the most prominent composers such as Donizetti and Verdi were affected with some of their works.

Works with opus numbers

  • Fantaisie et Variations sur des differents motifs de l'opéra Euryanthe de CM v. Weber , op. 1.
  • Fantaisie et Variations sur un thème ecossais , op.2 .
  • Impromptu sur des thèmes favoris de l'opéra Le Siège de Corinth de Rossini , op.3.
  • Souvenirs de Vienne, Douze Caprices en form de Valses , op.4.
  • Hommage à Rossini, Motifs de l'opéra Guillaume Tell variés , op.5 .
  • Grand Concerto pour le piano with Accompagnement de l'Orchestre , F minor, op.5.
  • Fantaisie pour le Piano-Forte sur des motifs favoris de l'opéra Robert le Diable de Meyerbeer , op.6 .
  • Grand divertissement pour pianoforte et cor (ou violoncelle), avec accompagnement d'orchestre , op.7.
  • Six German songs , first booklet, op.8.
    • No. 1 “your eyes”.
    • No. 2 "The Wanderer".
    • No. 3 "Departure".
    • No. 4 "Happy Divorce".
    • No. 5 "The Nun".
    • No. 6 "Der Reitersmann".
  • Fantaisie sur des motifs de l'opéra La Straniera de Bellini , op.9.
  • Grande Fantaisie et Variations sur un motif de l'opéra de V. Bellini I Montecchi et Capuleti , op.10.
  • Six German songs , second volume, op.11.
    • No. 7 "Farewell".
    • No. 8 “The Stream”.
    • No. 9 “Compassion”.
    • No. 10 "Hate and Love".
    • No. 11 "The tear".
    • No. 12 “Dreaming and Waking”.
  • Grande Fantaisie et Variations sur des motifs de l'opéra Norma de Bellini , op.12.
  • Six German songs , third booklet, op.13.
    • No. 13 “The hunter's house”.
    • No. 14 “The dead miller”.
    • No. 15 "Language of Love".
    • No. 16 “A Comrade”.
    • No. 17 “Death Grave Song”.
    • No. 18 "In the dark".
  • Grande Fantaisie et Variations sur deux motifs de l'opéra Don Juan de Mozart , op.14.
  • Caprice , op.15.
  • Deux Nocturnes , op.16.
  • Deux airs russes variés , op.17 .
  • Les Soirées musicales, Divertissement, Composée sur des motifs favoris de Rossini , op.18.
  • Deuxième caprice , op.19 .
  • Fantaisie sur un motif de l'opéra Les Huguenots de Meyerbeer , op.20.
  • Trois nocturnes , op.21.
  • Grande fantaisie , op.22.
  • Six German songs , fourth booklet, "Songs of the Hermit", op. 23.
    • No. 19 “His flowers”.
    • No. 20 “His Harp”.
    • No. 21 “His Cross”.
    • No. 22 “His bells”.
    • No. 23 “His grave”.
    • No. 24 "His Burial".
  • Six German songs , with an underlaid Italian text, fifth booklet, op.24.
    • No. 25 "Evening".
    • No. 26 "The Ruins".
    • No. 27 "Tears".
    • No. 28 “Not the Thau”.
    • No. 29 “In autumn”.
    • No. 30 “Grandmother's Blessing”.
  • Six German songs , with underlaid Italian text, Sixth Book, op.25.
    • No. 31 "To Spring".
    • No. 32 "Secret pain".
    • No. 33 “Awakening”.
    • No. 34 "Silence of the Night".
    • No. 35 "To the moon".
    • No. 36 "The Ring".
  • Douze Etudes , op.26.
  • God save the King and Rule Britannia, Grande fantaisie , op.27.
  • Nocturne , op.28.
  • Six German songs , with underlaid Italian text, Seventh Book, op.29.
    • No. 37 "The hunter girl's lament".
    • No. 38 "The Dream".
    • No. 39 “The betrothed”.
    • No. 40 “The unfortunate one”.
    • No. 41 "Summer Night".
    • No. 42 “Farewell”.
  • Six German songs , with underlaid Italian text, Eighth Book, op.30.
    • No. 43 "Night"
    • No. 44 “Before my cradle”.
    • No. 45 “The Foundling”.
    • No. 46 “Wanderer's Love Pain”.
    • No. 47 “Whether she thinks of me”.
    • No. 48 “Why?”.
  • Scherzo , op.31.
  • Andante , op.32.
  • Fantaisie sur des thèmes de l'opéra Moïse de G. Rossini , op.33.
  • Divertissement sur un thème de l'opéra de Jules Benedict “The Gipsy's Warning” , op. 34.
  • Grande Nocturne , op.35.
  • La Cadence, Impromptu en forme d'etude , op.36,1 .
  • Nouvelle Étude de Perfection , op.36,2.
  • Mi manca la voce de l'opéra Moïse de G. Rossini , op.36,3.
  • La Romanesca, Fameux air de danse du 16.e siècle, transcrit pour piano , op.36.4 .
  • Italian Canzonette , op.36,5.
  • Romances sans paroles , op.36,6.
  • Fantaisie sur des motifs de l'opéra Oberon de CM de Weber , op.37.
  • Romance et etude , op.38 .
  • Souvenir de Beethoven , op.39.
  • Fantaisie sur des motifs de La Donna del Lago , op.40.
  • Deux Romances sans Paroles , op.41.
  • Grande Fantaisie sur la Sérénade et le Menuet de Don Juan , op.42.
  • 2.e Grande Fantaisie sur l'opéra les Huguenots de Meyerbeer , piano and violin, op. 43 (together with Bériot).
  • Andante final de Lucie de Lammermoor varié , op.44 .
  • Thême et Étude , op.45
  • Grand Caprice sur des motifs de l'opéra la Sonnambula , op.46 .
  • Grandes Valses brilliant , op.47.
  • Grand Caprice sur des motifs de l'opéra Charles VI de Halévy , op.48.
  • Grand Duo sur des motifs de l'opéra de V. Beatrice di Tenda , piano and violin, op. 49 (together with Heinrich Panofka).
  • Fantaisie sur l'opéra Lucrezia Borgia de Donizetti , op.50.
  • Grande Fantaisie sur l'opéra Semiramide de Rossini , op.51.
  • Nocturne , op. 51 bis.
  • Fantaisie sur des motifs de l'opéra La Muette de Portici , op.52.
  • Grande fantaisie sur Zampa de F. Herold , op.53.
  • Grand Duo concertant sur La Sémiramide de Rossini , piano and violin, op.54 (together with Bériot).
  • Le Départ, Romance variée (also as: Le Départ, Fantaisie étude ), op.55.
  • Grande Sonate , op.56.
  • Décameron, Dix morceaux servant d'École préparatoire à l'Étude de ses grandes Morceaux , op.57 .
    • No. 1 Fantaisie on "I Puritani" by Bellini .
    • No. 2 Fantaisie on "Der Freischütz" de Weber .
    • No. 3 Fantaisie on "Le Pré aux Cleres" d'Herold .
    • No. 4 Fantaisie sur "Norma" de Bellini .
    • No. 5 Fantaisie sur des Mélodies de Schubert (“Greetings to me”, “Gretchen on the spinning wheel” and “The Post”).
    • No. 6 Fantaisie sur “La gazza ladra” de Rossini .
    • No. 7 Fantaisie sur "La Cenerentola" de Rossini .
    • No. 8 Fantaisie on "Anna Bolena" by Donizetti .
    • No. 9 Caprice sur "Le Prophète" de Meyerbeer .
    • No. 10 Airs irlandais variés .
  • Grande caprice sur la marche de l'apothéose de Berlioz , op.58 .
  • Marche funèbre variée , op.59 .
  • Barcarolle , op. 60.
  • Mélodies styriennes, Grande fantaisie , op.61 .
  • Valse mélodique , op.62 .
  • Grande fantaisie sur le barber de Séville, Opéra de Rossini , op.63.
  • Les Capricieuses, Valses , op.64 .
  • Tarantella , op.65.
  • Souvenir de Pest, airs hongroises variés , op.65 .
  • Introduction et variations sur la barcarolle de l'opéra L'Elisire d'amore de Donizetti , op.66 .
  • Grande fantaisie sur des motifs de l'opéra Don Pasquale de Donizetti , op.67.
  • La fille du régiment, opéra de Donizetti, Fantaisie , op.68.
  • Trio , piano, violin and violoncello, op .69.
  • L'art du chant appliqué au piano , op.70.
    • Series I.
      • No. 1 Bellini, Quatuor des “Puritani” .
      • No. 2 Pergolesi, “Tre giorni” .
      • No. 3 Beethoven, Adelaide .
      • No. 4 Stradella, Air d'Eglise .
      • No. 5 Mozart, Lacrymosa du Requiem et Duo des “Noces de Figaro” .
      • No. 6 Rossini, “Zelmira”, Duetto: “Perchè mi guardi” .
    • Series II
      • No. 1 Mercadante, "Bella adorata incognita", Romance de l'opéra "Il giuramento" .
      • No. 2 Schubert, Le Meunier et le Torrent ("The miller and the brook").
      • No. 3 Mozart, “Il mio tesoro”, Air de l'opéra “Don Juan” .
      • No. 4 Meyerbeer, Chœur des Conjurés de l'opéra “Il Crociato” .
    • Series III
      • No. 1 Rossini, Sérénade du “Barber du Seville” .
      • No. 2 Mozart, Duo de “La flûte enchantée” (“The Magic Flute”).
      • No. 3 Donizetti, Barcarolle de "Ganni de Calais" .
      • No. 4 Mozart, Trio des masques et Duetto: “Là ci darem la mano” .
      • No. 5 Grétry, Sérénade de “L'amant jaloux” .
      • No. 6 Rossini, Romance du saule d '"Othello" .
    • Series IV
      • No. 1 Bellini, "Casta diva". Cavatine de "Norma" .
      • No. 2 Mozart, “Mon cœur soupire” of the “Noces de Figaro” .
      • No. 3 Weber, Quatuor d '"Euryanthe" .
      • No. 4 "Dafydd y garrey wen" ("David sur le rocher blanc"), Ancien air de barde du pays des Galles .
      • No. 5 Haydn, Chanson et Chœur de “Saisons” .
      • No. 6 “Fenestra vascia”. Chanson napolitaine .
  • Ballade de “Preciosa”, Transcription , op. 70a.
  • Grand Duo de "Freischütz", Transcription , op. 70b.
  • Florinda, Opéra de S. Thalberg, VI Transcriptions , op.71.
  • Home! Sweet Home !, Air anglais varié , op.72 .
  • The last Rose of Summer, Air irlandais varié , op.73 .
  • Souvenir d'Amerique, Lilly Dale, varié , op.74 .
  • Pensées musicales, Soirées de Pausilippe, Hommage à Rossini , op.75 .
  • Célèbre Ballade , op.76 .
  • Grande fantaisie de concert sur l'opéra Il Trovatore de Verdi , op.77.
  • La Traviata, Fantaisie pour piano , op.78.
  • Romance dramatique , op.79.
  • Trois Mélodies de Fr. Schubert, transcrites pour piano , op.79.
    • L'Illusion ("Illusion").
    • La curieuse ("The Curious One").
    • La poste ("The Post").
  • La Napolitana , op.80.
  • Souvenir de Ballo in Maschera de Verdi, Fantaisie , op.81.
  • Rigoletto, Souvenir pour le piano , op.82.


  • Florinda , Opera seria in 4 acts, libretto by Eugène Scribe, first performed on July 3, 1851 in London.
  • Cristina di Svezia , Tragedia lirica, libretto by Felice Romani, first performance on June 3, 1855 in Vienna.

Further works without opus numbers (selection)

  • Berceuse .
  • Nocturno , D flat major.
  • Graziosa, Romance sans Paroles .
  • Il Vague, Romance sans paroles, Variée .
  • Pauline, Valse .
  • Souvenir d'Amerique, Valses Brillantes (new version of Valse mélodique op.62 ).
  • Air d'Amazily de Fernand Cortez de Spontini, Transcription .
  • Lucrezia Borgia, Scène et Chœur du 2.e Acte, Transcription .
  • On wings of song, song by F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, transcription .
  • Le fils du Corse, Mélodie par Morel transcrit .
  • Arietta “No so Fremdar il pianto” (“Can I take it”).
  • Two poems , Der Schiffer (“ The boaters go”) and Last Visit (“I stood before her”).
  • Larmes d'une jeunne fille, Mélodie .


Since Thalberg's works are hardly available in the usual music trade, reference should be made to the series "Piano Music of the Parisian Virtuosos 1810-1860" published by Jeffrey Kallberg in the Garland Series, which is available for interlibrary loan from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich stands. The first two volumes contain copies of many of Thalberg's piano works from the specimen copies deposited at the Paris Conservatory, so that exact dates are possible due to the entry notes on the title pages. On critical inspection, however, one notices that two of the operas contained in the first volume of Kallberg's edition were erroneously included. The "Sept romances transcrites pour le piano par Sigismond Thalberg op. 25" published in September 1838 by the Parisian publisher Richault is a reprint of the "Songs without words by Sigismund Thalberg" published by Mechetti in Vienna in June 1838. From his chants for the piano forte set by Carl Czerny. ”Of the seven song arrangements by Czerny , the Parisian publisher Maurice Schlesinger later reissued numbers 2-7 as“ Six Romances sans paroles pour le piano composées par S. Thalberg ”.


  • Grand Concerto pour le piano with Accompagnement de l'Orchestre , F minor, op.5 (Francesco Nicolosi, Razumowsky Symphony Orchestra, A. Mogrelia, NAXOS 8.553701)
  • 12 Etudes op.26, Fantasy op.33, Fantasy op.40 (Stefan Irmer, MDG 2009)
  • Fantasies on themes from Belllini's operas opp. 12, 10, 49, 9 (Francesco Nicolosi, NAXOS 8.555498)
  • Lacrimosa, Fantasy on Themes from Don Giovanni (Cyprien Katsaris, piano, SONY SK 52551)


  • Isabelle Belance-Zank: The "Three-Hand" Texture: Origins and Use. In: Journal of the American Liszt Society. 38, 1995, pp. 99-121.
  • Johann Nepomuk Dunkl: From the memories of a musician. Vienna 1876.
  • Eduard Hanslick : History of the concert industry in Vienna. Two volumes, Vienna 1869/70.
  • Hominick, Ian Glenn .: Sigismund Thalberg (1812–1871), Forgotten Piano Virtuoso, His Career and Musical Contributions , Ohio State Univ. 1991, diss.
  • Liszt, Franz: Complete Writings , edited by Detlef Altenburg, Volume 1: Early Writings , edited by Rainer Kleinertz, annotated with the assistance of Serge Gut , Wiesbaden 2000.
  • Lott, R. Allen: From Paris to Peoria, How European Piano Virtuosos brought Classical Music to the American Heartland , Oxford 2003.
  • Kohlegg, LR v. (Poly Henrion): Among famous people , a mother in battle and three geniuses in bed , in: Ueber Land und Meer , 25 (1871), p. 18f.
  • Mühsam, Gerd : Sigismund Thalberg as piano composer , Vienna 1937, diss.
  • Protzies, Günther: Studies on the biography of Franz Liszt and on selected of his piano works from the years 1828–1846 , Bochum 2004, Diss. DNB
  • Schumann, Clara and Robert: Correspondence, Critical Complete Edition , edited by Eva Weissweiler, Volume I, 1832–1838, Volume II, 1839, Basel Frankfurt a. M. 1984, 1987.
  • Schumann, Robert: Diaries , Volume I, edited by Georg Eismann, Volume II, edited by Gerd Nauhaus, Leipzig 1971, 1987.
  • Suttoni, Charles: Piano and opera, A Study of the Piano Fantasias Written on Opera Themes in the Romantic Era , New York 1973, Diss.
  • Vitale, Vincenzo: S. Thalberg in Posillipo , in: Nouve rivista musicale italiana 6, 1972, pp. 503-511.
  • Constantin von Wurzbach : Thalberg, Sigismund . In: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich . 44th part. Kaiserlich-Königliche Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Vienna 1882, pp. 118–132 ( digitized version ).

Web links

Commons : Sigismund Thalberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Clive Unger-Hamilton, Neil Fairbairn, Derek Walters; German arrangement: Christian Barth, Holger Fliessbach, Horst Leuchtmann, et al .: The music - 1000 years of illustrated music history . Unipart-Verlag, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-8122-0132-1 , p. 119 .
  2. Volume 44, p. 118 of his Biographical Lexicon of the Austrian Empire
  3. Cf. Marie d'Agoult (Daniel Stern): Mémoires, Souvenirs et Journaux I / II. Présentation et Notes de Charles F. Dupêchez. Mercure de France, 1990, Volume II, p. 306, note 158, and: Hominick: Thalberg (1812–1871). P. 3f.
  4. Clara Schumann: Diaries , Volume II, p. 146.
  5. No. 2 (1835), p. 178
  6. ^ Edition of January 5, 1835
  7. ^ Wiener Zeitung , No. 121 of May 28, 1833, p. 487 ( digitized version )
  8. No. 31 (1842), p. 608. digiPress: View from Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung from Wednesday, August 3, 1842. Retrieved on January 3, 2019 .
  9. Thalberg had last given a concert in Leipzig on February 8, 1841 and - among other pieces - played his Thême et Etude op.45 and his 2nd Don Juan Fantasia op.42.
  10. See the article Ferdinand (sic!) Thalberg in the Allgemeine Zeitung Augsburg 1840, pp. 2779f.
    Schumann, who met Thalberg in Vienna in October 1838, judged in the same way; see. Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 10 (1839), p. 77f.
    Additional information can be found in: Schumann: Briefwechsel , Volume I, p. 274, as well as in: Schumann: Tagebücher , Volume II, p. 78f. Thereafter Thalberg had played Hiller's, Kessler and Chopin's etudes on visits by Schumann, all of which he mastered by heart. He had also played Schumann's Kreisleriana op. 16 vom Blatt, works by Dussek and much by Schubert "with a great understanding" .
  11. See, for example, the report in the Leipziger Allgemeine musical newspaper 43 (1841), p. 759, about two concerts that Liszt gave on August 27 and 28, 1841 in Frankfurt am Main. Liszt was criticized in a similar way in Paris, Italy and Great Britain. See also the review of Liszt's transcriptions of Beethoven's spiritual songs in the Leipziger Allgemeine Musikischen Zeitung 44 (1842), p. 679. To identify Liszt's editing style, the review contains a notation system with the text: “He's ridiculing God's truth, and tears them down completely. "
  12. No. 41 (1839), p. 11.
  13. Liszt's income is documented in: Protzies: Studien zur Biographie Franz Liszt , p. 170, p. 187, p. 195 and p. 218; on Thalberg's income cf. there pp. 187, 229.
  14. ^ Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 16 (1842), p. 171.
  15. in: Memories of a Musician. P. 19f.
  16. See, for example, the letter to his father of May 21, 1853 in: Hans von Bülow: Briefe. Edited by Marie von Bülow, Volume II, second edition. Leipzig 1899, p. 52f. The letter also shows that Thalberg lived in Vienna in the palace of Prince Dietrichstein.
  17. Neue Zeitschrift für Musik from August 19, 1836. P. 69.
  18. Numerous examples can be found in Belance-Zank: The "Three-Hand" Texture, as well as in: Hominick: S. Thalberg , pp. 84ff.
  19. Schumann: Briefwechsel , Volume II, p. 418.
  20. Schumann: Diaries , Volume II, p. 181.