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10-01-2013, 00:02
Category: Piano Pedia
Charles-Valentin AlkanCharles-Valentin Alkan (pronounced: [ʃaʁl valɑ̃tɛ̃ alkɑ̃]) (30 November 1813 – 29 March 1888) was a French composer and one of the greatest pianists of his day. His attachment to his Jewish origins is displayed both in his life and his work. He entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of six, earning many awards, and as an adult became a famous virtuoso and teacher. Although early in his life he was socially active and good friends with prominent musicians and artists including Eugène Delacroix, Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin, he gradually withdrew from the concert platform after 1848, and he lived a reclusive life in Paris until his death.

Alkan was born Charles-Valentin Morhange on 30 November 1813 at rue des Blancs-Manteaux in Paris to Alkan Morhange (1780–1855) and Julie Morhange née Abraham. He was the second of six children, one elder sister and four younger brothers, and his father supported the family as the proprietor of a private music school in Le Marais, the Jewish quarter of Paris. At an early age, he and his siblings adopted their father's first name as their last (and were known by this during their studies at the Conservatoire de Paris and subsequent careers). His brother Napoléon became professor of solfège at the Conservatoire, his brother Maxim had a career writing light music for Parisan theatres, and his sister Céleste was also a pianist.
Charles-Valentin Alkan spent his life in and around Paris. His only known excursions were a concert tour in England in 1833/1834, and a brief visit to Metz on family matters in the 1840s.
Alkan was a child prodigy. He entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of six, where he studied both piano and organ. He was a favorite of his teacher, Joseph Zimmermann, who also taught Georges Bizet, César Franck, Charles Gounod, and Ambroise Thomas. At the age of seven, he won a first prize for solfège and prizes in piano, harmony, and organ. At the age of seven-and-a-half he gave his first public performance, appearing as a violinist; his first performance as a pianist took place at the age of twelve when he performed several of his own compositions in a concert in a private home. His opus 1 dates from 1828, when he was 14 years old...

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6-01-2012, 17:12
Category: Piano Pedia
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, Ray Charles was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records.

He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums.
While with ABC, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company.
Frank Sinatra called Charles “the only true genius in show business.”

The influences upon his music were mainly jazz, blues, rhythm and blues and country artists of the day such as Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, Charles Brown, Louis Armstrong. His playing reflected influences from country blues and barrelhouse, and stride piano styles.

Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on their list of "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" in 2004, and number two on their November 2008 list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time".
In honoring Charles, Billy Joel noted:
"This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley. I don't know if Ray was the architect of rock & roll, but he was certainly the first guy to do a lot of things . . . Who the hell ever put so many styles together and made it work?"


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