Henry Charles Litolff

Henry Charles Litolff

French virtuoso pianist, composer and music publisher.
Date of Birth: 05.02.1818
Country: France

Biography of Henri Charles Litolff

Henri Charles Litolff was a French virtuoso pianist, composer, and music publisher. Born in London, he considered himself a French composer and traveled extensively throughout Europe. His father was a talented violinist from Alsace, and his mother was Scottish. Litolff's father joined Napoleon's army during the Franco-Spanish War and was captured, bringing the family to England. It was his father who first taught Litolff music, but at the age of 12, Litolff found a new mentor in pianist Ignaz Moscheles, who agreed to teach him for free after being impressed by his playing.

Henry Charles Litolff

By the age of 14, Litolff was already performing concerts. In 1835, he moved to Gretna Green, where he married Elisabeth Etherington, who was only 16 years old. They later moved to Melun and then to Paris. However, in 1839, Litolff left Etherington and relocated to Brussels. Around 1841, he moved again, this time to Warsaw, where he seemingly conducted the National Theatre orchestra for a period of time.

In 1844, Litolff moved to Germany, where he gave concerts and taught music to Hans von Bülow. A year later, he returned to England with the intention of formally divorcing his wife but was unsuccessful and ended up being fined and imprisoned. Rumor has it that he escaped with the help of the daughter of one of the prison guards. However, he had to leave England and found a new home in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, Litolff met music publisher Gottfried Meyer. After Meyer's death, Litolff married his widow, Julie. By this time, Litolff had become a citizen of Brunswick and was finally able to divorce Elisabeth. Litolff and Meyer married in 1851, but in 1858, Litolff divorced again and moved to Paris. It was in Paris that Litolff passed away in August 1891 at the age of 73.