Text Box: PIANIST autographs


Phone: 212-860-5541


Price: $450.00



Verso autographed Bingham of Paris carte de visite photograph of the then thirteen year old wunderkind pianist, Paris, April 21, 1861.

Ketten (1848-1883) is largely forgotten today as he only lived thirty five years, however in the middle of 19th Century Paris, he was one of the important wunderkinds, with enough star power as to warrant solo tours around Europe, the United Kingdom, as well as the Near East, the United States and Australia.

Born in Hungary, he received a half admittance to the Paris Conservatoire at the age of nine, a year before he could obtain full admission.  He began studying with the Chairman of the Piano Department Antoine Marmontel. His international career began in 1858 when he toured, Austria, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lichtenstein, Netherlands, Russia and Turkey to astounding reviews. The following year he toured Great Britain.  He was so advanced by the age of twelve in 1860 that he was admitted to Fromental Halevy’s composition class.  He remained a pupil at the Conservatoire until 1863, though he was already performing professional solo recitals in important halls. (Meyerbeer and Halevy both were highly complimentary of his recital performances.)  He left in 1863 to tour Europe, but returned in 1864 to join the composition class of Napoléon Henri Reber who had taken over Halevy’s class in 1862.  He tried for the Prix de Rome as a composer in 1865 and 1866 and did not win, so he returned to the piano where he was considered a top virtuoso and also took the occasional performance as a conductor.  His family apparently were disappointed he did not win the Prix de Rome, as they thought of him as the “second coming” in the music world. In 1867, at the age of nineteen, he was hired as the Music Director of the Italian Opera in Constantinople, Turkey.  He accepted the position and led the house for three years, though resigned due to his health and repaired to Italy, where he quickly recovered and began to perform as a pianist before the public again in Paris.  He then went on tour to Persia and the Near East. 

Back in Europe in 1875, he lived in Paris and performed both in France and England.  During this time he joined the Freemasons, where he was admitted and raised in 1876, but removed for non-payment of dues in 1881, as he was rarely in Paris. An invitation came to perform in California in 1879 and he stayed a year concertizing and then went on to Australia and New Zealand. The Australian papers declared him to be “the greatest piano virtuoso to over reach the shores of Australia”.  He returned to Paris in 1883, where he shortly left for Russia on tour, became ill in St. Petersburg; returned to Paris where he died of an unknown illness shortly after his return.  

As a composer, Ketten mainly wrote salon pieces for piano and songs.  However, he did write for orchestra, two symphonies, overtures, a Persian March and chamber music.  His solo works for piano, like his contemporaries of the period were mainly for his use in concert, however, many were printed for profit and they were quite popular in their day.  Several are available to hear on Youtube.