Born as Eli, he was a composer and harpist born in
Teignmouth, Devon, England.
His father was a music handler, voice teacher and organist and gave him
his first musical education.
He made his concert debut when he was ten and when he was twelve he
studied in London with the harpist Nicolas Bochsa. He was refused entrance to the
Royal Academy of Music possibly due to his fathers previous bankruptcy so,
with the assistance of a local landowner, he continued to take private
studies with Bochsa. By the
time he was 20 he had finished his education and went to live in Florence,
Italy, for a year where he further studied composition and singing and went
by the pseudonym Albert Alvars.
On his return to the UK he worked for a harp maker for a while and
then left to take a tour of North Germany followed by Scandinavia, Russia,
Constantinople and much of the rest of Europe. During these travels he met Sigismund Thalberg and Carl
Czerny who he would compose and perform with. Settling in Vienna for a few years he taught and
performed as a solo harpist at the Hofopertheater. Making a series of tours in 1842
and 1843 he travelled much of Germany and Europe and Hector Berlioz said,
"This man is a magician." He
continued to perform for most of the rest of his life and in 1846 he was
made Imperial Virtuoso in Vienna.
His compositions include "Favourite Sultan's March", "Il Mandolino",
"Concertino in D minor", a Grand Fantasia, serenatas, many concertos and
works for harp. After riots
had gone on in Vienna in the Spring of 1848 he found himself out of a job
and unable to travel or teach due to the lack of money and his pupils'
families having fled. He and
his family lived in a small apartment in Leopoldstat with money he had been
leant by a friend, but his health suffered badly and after contracting
pneumonia he died in 1849 aged just 40.
Harp Concerto in G Minor
Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Marielle
Nordman, harp - Sony 58919
Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo
Judy Loman, harp - Naxos 8.554347