A famous pianist performed here 143 years ago
Special to The Union
Nevada City had several rudimentary performance venues during the gold rush, including the Jenny Lind Theater, Dramatic Hall, Frisbee’s Concert Hall and Temperance Hall, but it was construction of the Nevada Theatre that finally provided prominent entertainers – and local patrons – with a first-class concert setting.
Work began on the theater in January 1865, but unfortunately it was still under construction when Louis Moreau Gottschalk and his ensemble arrived in town on June 16.
Gottschalk performed at Temperance Hall ÐÐ a three-story, wood-frame structure near where the current Stonehouse Restaurant is located. It was not the kind of concert hall he was used to.
Born in New Orleans in 1829 and trained in Paris, Louis Gottschalk was considered one of the greatest pianists in the world when he performed here 143 years ago. He also was a noted composer and conductor, although Emanuele Muzio, trained by the great Giuseppe Verdi, was conducting Gottschalk’s touring troupe in 1865.
Three months after his appearance here, Gottschalk became the subject of international scandal when he was accused of romantic trysts with a young student in Oakland.
Faced with an onslaught of negative publicity arising from such an allegation, Gottschalk traveled to South America where he performed, composed and conducted until his death on December 18, 1869. Ironically, he died three weeks after collapsing at the piano during a concert in Rio de Janeiro shortly after having performed his sad, mournful composition, Morte! (Death!).
In 1997, when the United States Postal Service issued its Classical Composers & Conductors series, Louis Gottschalk was one of only eight selected to appear on the 32¢ stamps, joining Eugene Ormandy, Arthur Fiedler, Leopold Stokowski and four others.
Maestro Muzio, who conducted Gottschalk’s Nevada City performance in 1865, soon returned to Europe, but in 1873 was chosen by Verdi to conduct the American debut of the prodigious opera Aida. Muzio died in Paris in 1890.
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