Carl Tausig, classical music composer

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Carl Tausig


Though a minor composer during the mid-19th century and little known compositionally beyond his pedagogical contributions to piano literature, Carl Tausig might have established him as a composer of some rank had his life not been tragically cut short by typhoid fever. He was born in Warsaw on November 4, 1841. His father, the pianist and composer Aloys Tausig, was a former student of Sigismond Thalberg, and gave Carl his first lessons on the piano. At the age of fourteen, Aloys introduced his son to Franz Liszt who immediately took it upon himself to further train the young boy. Liszt took Carl with him on concert tours and taught him counterpoint and composition in addition to the piano.

Tausig made his debut as a concert pianist in Berlin in 1858. Though his technique was everything to be expected of a pupil of Liszt's, he was criticized for his excessive flamboyance (also a trait in all probability inherited from his teacher) and lack of artistic depth. Some critics, however, felt that Tausig would perhaps mature into a good pianist. Despite these criticism, Tausig successfully toured Europe during 1859-60. In 1862, he moved to Vienna where he attempted to introduce the public to the new wave of orchestral music. Tausig, however, had misread his cultivated audience. The concerts were only partially successful artistically, and complete failures financially.

Following his failed concert ventures in Vienna, Tausig retreated from the public spotlight. During this reclusive time he married pianist Seraphine von Vrabely, but more importantly entered a period of self-reflection upon his own manner at the piano. He emerged from these few years having stripped away the extravagance of playing and replaced with the artistic maturity of a refined pianist. He toured again, successfully, and was hailed as a pianist of great breadth. His repertoire spanned from Scarlatti to Liszt and he was greatly admired for his interpretations of Chopin, Weber and Beethoven.

The strain of touring Europe eventually weakened Tausig's health, and he died in Leipzig on July 17, 1871 at the age of twenty-nine. As a composer, Tausig's compositions were what are mostly expected of a man whose focus lied mainly in his instrument and performance. However, in his final years, his efforts as composer seemingly began to undergo a period of maturation much in the same manner as his piano playing had some years prior. In 1870, he composed a set of two concert etudes which displayed a greater depth and artistic sensitivity than his previous compositions. Tausig apparently also saw them as superior and designated them as his Op. 1. Tragically, it was to be his only such designated work—no Op. 2 appeared before his untimely death.

Composer Title Date Action
Carl Tausig Nachtfalter (Valse-Caprice no.1 d'après J. Strauss) 10/29/2010 Play Add to playlist