UCL Institute of Jewish Studies


Institute of Jewish Studies Summer Concert

6:30 pm to 9:45 pm, 28 May 2013

Jonathan Powell

Event Information

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Wilkins Haldane Room, Wilkins Building, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Piano virtuoso Jonathan Powell performs works to celebrate the bicentenary of Charles-Valentin Alkan.

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2013 sees the bicentenary of the birth of one of the most extraordinary pianists and composers of the 19th century - Charles-Valentin Alkan, perhaps the only one of the Jewish musicians of his era to incorporate his Jewish musical heritage in his compositions.

A friend and colleague of both Liszt and Chopin, Alkan retreated from the concert platform after the 1850s, only to emerge from his self-imposed obscurity twenty years later to astonish and inspire a new generation, including Camille Saint-Saens and Vincent d'Indy.

The virtusoso pianist Jonathan Powell plays some of the Preludes which Alkan wrote inspired by his Judiasm, and also Alkan's fiendish masterpiece, the colossal Concerto for Solo Piano. Between them he plays the 'Fantasia Contrappuntistica' of the Jewish-descended Feruccio Busoni, one of the few champions of Alkan's music in the decades after his death.

Admission free - there will be a voluntary retiring collection for the pianist

The concert is supported by The Alkan Society.



Drinks reception


Introductory talk

By David Conway, author of 'Jewry in Music' (Cambridge University Press, 2012), based on his doctoral research at UCL, and the most recent evaluation in English of Alkan and his music.



  • Alkan: Selection of Preludes from op. 31 (c. 20 mins, Busoni: Fantasia contrappuntistica (c. 25 mins.)
  • Brief break for questions and comments
  • Alkan: Concerto for solo piano op. 39 nos. 8-10 (c. 50 mins).