Eugen d'Albert [actually Eugene Francis Charles], was a Scottish-born German pianist and composer. He was to an English mother and a French/Italian father. His father, Charles Louis Napoleon d'Albert (1809-1886), was a dancer, pianist and music arranger, who had formerly been ballet-master at the King's Theatre and at Covent Garden and wrote popular music. Eugen d'Albert never spoke English fluently, and considered himself to be German. Albert received his early instruction in music from his father. At the age of 10, he entered the National Training School (Royal College of Music) in London, where he studied piano with Ernst Pauer and theory with John Stainer, Ebenezer Prout, and Arthur Sullivan. He arranged the piano reduction for the vocal score of Sullivan's sacred music drama The Martyr of Antioch, to accompany the chorus. While he later said that he considered his work during this period more or less worthless, he is credited with writing the overture to Sullivan's Patience.
Eugen d'Albert made extraordinary progress as both a pianist and a composer, and after several appearances at the Popular Concerts, was the soloist in Schumann's Concerto at the Crystal Palace in London (February 5, 1881). On October 24, 1881, when only 17, he played his own piano concerto at one of Hans Richter's concerts, arousing great enthusiasm. The press compared him to Mozart and F. Mendelssohn. He received a Mendelssohn fellowship and went to Vienna. Later he studied in Weimar with the elderly Franz Liszt, who was greatly impressed by his technique and often referred to him as "the young Tausig." D'Albert can be heard in an early recording of that composer's works.
In 1895 Eugen d'Albert was appointed conductor at Weimar. In 1907 he became director of the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. In the wake of his success, he repudiated his English birth, adopting German citizenship, and made repeated statements derogatory to English culture and even to his former English teachers. He further changed his first name from Eugene to its German form, Eugen. During World War I, he was vocal in his enmity toward England, which led in turn to an understandable repugnance among British musicians to accept his music.
Despite a brilliant beginning, Eugen d'Albert did not fulfill his early promise. His musical idiom oscillates between the Italian melodic style and German contrapuntal writings, and fails to achieve originality. His operas and other works were rarely revived. A considerable corpus of his autograph MSS, including 11 of his operas (although not Tiefland), was acquired in 1963 by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Eugen d'Albert's personal life was a stormy one. He was married 6 times; his first wife (1892-1895) was the Venezuelan pianist, singer and composer Teresa Carreño, herself much married. D'Albert and Carreño were the subject of a famous joke: "Come quick! Your children and my children are quarreling again with our children!" (the line, however, has also been attributed to others). His 2nd was the singer Hermine Finck. He died in Riga, where he had traveled for the divorce from his 6th wife. He was buried in the beautiful cemetery overlooking Lake Lugano in Morcote, Switzerland.