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Charles-Valentin Alkan

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Charles-Valentin Alkan (November 30 1813–March 29 1888) was a Jewish French composer and one of the greatest virtuoso pianists of his day. His compositions for solo piano include some of the most fiendishly difficult and physically demanding ever written, and performers who can master them are few and far between.

Rising as a virtuoso in the Paris scene in his early years, his technique was well regarded by Liszt and his next door neighbor, Chopin. However, he left the limelight for a life of solitude and isolation. Only in his later years did he begin performing small series of concerts.

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