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Louis Gottschalk Program Notes and Sheet Music

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (May 8, 1829 – December 18, 1869) was an American composer and pianist, best known as a virtuoso performer of his own romantic piano works. He spent most of his working career outside the United States.

Gottschalk was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Edward Gottschalk and Aimée Marie Bruslé. He had six brothers and sisters, five of whom were half-siblings by his father's biracial mistress. His family lived for a time in a tiny cottage at Royal and Esplanade in the Vieux Carré. Louis later moved in with relatives at 518 Conti Street; his maternal grandmother Bruslé and his nurse Sally were both Saint Dominican Creoles. He was therefore exposed to a variety of musical traditions, and played the piano from an early age.

Gottschalk began his formal musical education in New Orleans, studying piano with his mother and composition with Manuel Garcia. In 1841, at the age of 12, he was sent to Paris to continue his studies. He studied piano with Frédéric Kalkbrenner and composition with Ferdinand Hiller. In Paris, Gottschalk met and befriended many of the leading composers and musicians of the day, including Chopin, Liszt, and Berlioz.

In 1845, Gottschalk returned to the United States and began his career as a concert pianist. He toured extensively throughout the United States, Cuba, Mexico, and South America. He was a popular and successful performer, and his concerts were often attended by large and enthusiastic audiences.

Gottschalk's music is characterized by its use of Creole and Latin American rhythms and melodies, as well as its technical virtuosity. He was one of the first American composers to use these elements in his music, and his work helped to popularize American music in the world.

Gottschalk died in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the age of 40. He was a major figure in the development of American music, and his work continues to be performed today.

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