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Principal compositions: apart from numerous short piano pieces, often of a virtuoso character (including some for left-hand alone), Dreyschock composed 4 concertante pieces for piano & orchestra (Grand Fantasy, Concert Piece in C minor, Rondo — ‘Salut a Vienne’, & a Piano Concerto in D minor), 3 piano sonatas (2 lost), a concert overture, a string quartet and an opera (which seems to have sunk without trace). His brother Raimund and nephew Felix were also distinguished composers in their day.
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Alexander Dreyschock was born in Zak, by Caslav, Bohemia, on 15 October 1818. Dreyschock was already playing in public concerts at the age of eight and confirming his extraordinary pianistic giftedness. While still a student of Václav Jan Tomášek in Prague, he gave virtuoso concerts throughout Europe and was fêted wherever he went. His tours led him first to northern Germany in 1838, then to Russia in 1840 followed by Brussels, Paris and London in 1842. The Paris Revue reported: "… everywhere he goes he causes a furore. We are assured that, as far as mechanism and prodigious finger facility are concerned, he is the most astonishing player, and that when he arrives in Paris he will prove a dangerous rival for Liszt, Thalberg and Dohler." In 1846 he visited Holland and Austria, where he received the highest accolades. In 1858 a further artistic tour took him to Weimar and Kassel to visit Liszt and Spohr. He spent the latter years of his professional life in St. Petersburg, where he had been appointed Professor of Piano at the Conservatory. His poor health, however, forced him to seek a milder climate. He died on 1 April 1869 in Venice.
Dreyschock’s fame as a 19th century pianist could perhaps best be compared with that of Horowitz almost 100 years later. His faultless piano technique was legendary and he vied with Liszt as one of the most important, most celebrated, and manually most gifted piano virtuosos of his day. Sadly, all of the 140 works with opus numbers are long since out of print and forgotten, even though many of the piano virtuoso’s compositions made him famous far beyond Europe. He was particularly renowned for his octave playing. Here it is also interesting to note that Dreyschock was the first pianist to compose and publicly perform piano music for the left hand.