Émile Waldteufel

Charles Émile Waldteufel (1837–1915) was a French pianist, conductor and composer known for his numerous popular salon pieces. He was born in Strasbourg. Waldteufel received his first lessons from his father and the local musician Joseph Heyberger. After his arrival in Paris, he was able to take classes from Laurent at the Conservatoire de Paris, followed by advanced studies under Marmontel. Among his fellow pupils was Jules Massenet. At the age of 27, Waldteufel became the court pianist of Empress Eugénie. He also led the orchestra at state balls. His appointment by Napoléon III to the musical direction of the balls led him to participation in the events in Biarritz and Compiègne; at the latter he met many other musicians and artists and also accompanied the emperor playing the violin.
After the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, the Second French Empire was dissolved and his home town became part of Germany for the rest of his life. In October 1874, Waldteufel played at an event that was attended by the then Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The Prince was enthralled by Waldteufel’s Manolo waltz, and was prepared to make Waldteufel’s music known in Britain. A long-term contract with the London-based publisher Hopwood & Crew followed. Part of the company belonged to Charles Coote, director of the Coote & Tinney’s Band, the first dance orchestra in London. Through these means, Waldteufel’s music was played at Buckingham Palace in front of Queen Victoria. Waldteufel was a major force in the music scene of London and became world-famous. During this period he composed his best known works, many of which are still heard today around the world. He became best known for the waltz “Les Patineurs” (The Ice Skaters), composed in 1882.
Waldteufel gave concerts in several European cities including London in 1885, Berlin in 1889 (where he enjoyed a friendly rivalry with Johann Strauss), and the Paris Opéra Balls in 1890 and 1891. He continued his career as conductor and composer of dance music for the presidential balls until 1899 when he retired. He died at his home in Paris, at the age of 77.

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