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Verso autographed 2” x 4” Erwin of Paris carte de visite photograph of the pianist, composer, pedagogue and piano manufacturer, Paris, October, 1871.  He inscribes the photograph to To my dear friend L. Latourneau from H. Herz, Paris Oct 71.  This photograph with Herz in his finest clothing, Napoleonic hand in the waistcoat and top hat is quite uncommon and the first of this image autographed we have seen.

Heinrich “Henri” Herz (1803-1888) was one of the leading piano virtuosos who toured the world during the 19th Century.  Austrian, he studied initially with his Father from the age of four and when he went beyond his Father’s capability he went to study in Coblenz with Daniel Hünten.  He was admitted as a child prodigy to the Paris Conservatoire in 1816.  He studied piano with Louis Pradere (Pradher) and composition with Anton Reicha and won a first in piano performance in 1818.  His career as a performer started immediately and after hearing Ignaz Moscheles perform in Paris in 1821, he decided to model his technique on Moscheles’ method.  Not a bad thing as Moscheles had been one of Beethoven’s few protégés.  With large sums coming in from his concerts and publishing, Herz and his brother Jacques began manufacturing pianos and ran a piano school.  They capped it off with the opening of the performance venue, Salle Herz in 1838 where he then ran his piano school.  Until the mid 1840’s, Herz was the most important pianist in Europe, save the older Moscheles and Friedrich Kalkbrenner.  His position in Europe suffered in the mid 1840’s with the rise of Franz Liszt and Sigismund Thalberg. In 1842, Herz was appointed Professor of Women’s pianoforte at the Paris Conservatoire.  Between his private instruction and the Conservatoire, Herz was one of the most sought after piano pedagogues in Paris, some of his important pupils included, Adolphe Fétis, Berthe Goldschmidt, Henri Rosellen, Marie Jaëll, Charles Salaman and Marie-Aimée Roger-Miclos.  Only Roger-Miclos made recordings.

 His marriage to a well known “courtesan” also frequented by Richard Wagner named Pauline Lachmann ended in disaster; she gave him a daughter and then spent his fortune at an alarming rate.  Near broke, he left for America in 1846 to bring in new capital in a venue where he did not have to compete.  The one touring virtuoso was Leopold de Meyer who over a few years had turned the elegant recital into a side show act.  Herz was elegance personified in performance and de Meyer’s concert dates dried up quickly with Herz’s arrival.  His tour lasted from 1846 to 1850 spending a portion of his time in 1848 in Mexico, the Caribbean and South America.  His tours literally spread the expanse of the country from Boston to San Francisco and also included dates in Montreal.  After he left for the tour, his brother Jacques ushered Pauline out the door.

He returned to Paris flush from the tour, but the new younger pianists had taken over the concert halls of Paris.  Herz’s piano manufacturing continued unabated including a prize in 1855 at the Exposition Universelle. He continued to teach retiring from the Conservatoire in 1873. 

Herz, like his rivals was a composer who would play his over-the-top salon pieces in concert.  Many were popular operatic paraphrases with variations, ballades, etudes, fantasies,  rondos, waltzes and the like.  He also composed 8 piano concertos.  During the 1820’s and 1830’s he was the hottest composer of piano pieces in Paris and according to Arthur Loesser in his famous book, Men Women and Pianos, Fétis claimed publishers were willing to pay Herz four times the amount of money per work that they would pay any other composer.