Composers / Thomas Tellefsen / Places catalog
Tellefsen – pianist
In the 1850s, Thomas Tellefsen's pianistic career in Paris skyrocketed. His debut there, in 1851, was an artistic breakthrough for him, and reviews in renowned French music periodicals report on numerous successful concerts over subsequent years. He was playing in the Pleyel, Herz and Erard halls, and many critics and listeners considered his concerts to be important musical events of the year.
Tellefsen debuted as a pianist in Paris on 28 April 1851, at the Hôtel Lambert residence of the Czartoryski family. The concert also included the singer Julie Dorus-Gras (1805–1896), cellist Auguste Franchomme (1808–1884) and his son René (as a child prodigy), violinist Delphin Alard (1815–1888) and violist Casimir Ney. Tellefsen received rave reviews. A year later, he performed at the Salle Pleyel. One reviewer wrote: “Firstly, one needs to point to Mr Tellefsen's development as a performer – his playing has increased in precision and self-confidence. One can sense now that he is the master of himself and of his instrument”. During the performance, Tellefsen played two movements of his Piano Concerto No. 1 with the St Cecilia Orchestra conducted by François Seghers.
With time, Tellefsen's concert repertoire increasingly included his own compositions, as well as a good selection of Chopin’s music. The reviews praised his interpretation of Chopin’s works; the grace and melodiousness, as well as the performance of a specific rubato, were praised as being “of the highest class and totally in the spirit of Chopin”.
In 1855, Tellefsen was at the peak of his performing career. On 28 March, he gave a concert at the Salle Pleyel which was reviewed in the Revue des deux mondes, a publication which noted only the key events of the season: “A pianist possessing talent is one thing, but possessing the audience is much more. Tellefsen achieved both”. There is information from the years 1851–1860 about a total of fifty-five concerts. Around the year 1860, his concert work gradually dwindled, and he focused instead on teaching and composing. This lull in his stage career was probably due also to his poor health.
Érard Hall, reprod. in: J. Turgan, “Les grandes usines, Revue périodique des Arts industriels”, t. XVII, Paris 1885.
Herz Hall, reprod. in: Jean-Claude, “Jacques Offenbach”, Paris 200, p. 416.
Hôtel Lambert. (creative commons)
Model of the piano, which Tellefsen used to travel. Ringve Music Museum.