Louis Moreau Gottschalk (born in 1829) was a composer-pianist best known as a virtuoso performer of his own works. He spent most of his working career outside of the United States. Although he became extremely famous in Europe and America when he died his reputation did not survive for very long afterwards.
He showed an early aptitude for music and, at the age of five, was given private lessons. When only 13 years old he was taken to Paris to continue his studies but was turned down by the head of the piano department at the Conservatoire, owing to prejudice against Americans. Such was his prodigious talent that early obstacles were overcome and, at 16, he gave his first recital at the Salle Pleyel, after which Chopin declared that he would become "the king of pianists".
His first composition to gain recognition was Bamboula (track 6 on disc 1 of this set) and this lead to a string of 'hits' wherever he performed. On returning to America he began to tour extensively and slowly to build as great a reputation there as he had in Europe. In 1865 he was forced to leave his native country because of a sex scandal involving a female student and never returned. The final years of his short life were spent touring the countries of the Caribbean and South America. He died in Rio de Janeiro in 1869 after collapsing at the piano.
The second disc here contains the remainder of Pennario's Capitol recordings of music by Gottschalk and continues with a selection of popular pieces by Scott Joplin (1867-1917), an African-American pianist-composer who became known as the "the king of rag". Like that of Gottschalk, the popularity of Joplin's music went into decline after his death but received a revival in the 1970s, largely due to the efforts of Joshua Rifkin and the film 'The Sting'. This second CD ends with some of George Gershwin's piano music played by Leonard Pennario.
Leonard Pennario (1924-2008) was an American virtuoso pianist who recorded over 60 LPs, most of them of composers dating from Chopin and later. He is perhaps best known for championing certain composers such as George Gershwin, Rachmaninov, Miklós Rózsa, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and Sergei Prokofiev. In 1958, he equalled Walter Gieseking in terms of sales of classical records by pianists.