Born: October 28, 1798 - London, England
Died: September 30, 1876 - Meylan, near Grenoble, France
The French pianist, Henri Jérôme Bertini, was born in London, but his family returned to Paris six months later. He received his early musical education from his father and his brother, a pupil of Muzio Clementi. He was considered a child prodigy and at the age of 12 his father took him on a tour of England, Holland, Flanders, and Germany where he was enthusiastically received. After studies in composition in England and Scotland he was appointed professor of music in Brussells but returned to Paris in 1821.
It is known that Henri Bertini gave a concert with Franz Liszt at the Salons Pape on April 20, 1828. The program included a transcription by Bertini of L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major for eight hands (the other pianists were Sowinsky and Schunke.) He was also admired as a chamber music performer, giving concerts with his friends Antoine Fontaine (violin) and Auguste Franchomme (cello). He remained active in and around Paris until around 1848 when he retired from the musical scene. In 1859 he moved to Meylan (near Grenoble) where he died.
Henri Bertini concertized widely but was not as celebrated a virtuoso as either Friedrich Kalkbrenner or Henri Herz. One of his contemporaries (Marmontel) described his playing as having Clementi's evenness and clarity in rapid passages as well as the quality of sound, the manner of phrasing, and the ability to make the instrument sing characteristic of the school of Hummel and Moschelès. Bertini was celebrated as a teacher.
Robert Schumann, in a review of one of Bertini's piano trios in the Gesammelte Schriften, comments that Bertini writes easily flowing harmony but that the movements are too long. He continues: "With the best will in the world, we find it difficult to be angry with Bertini, yet he drives us to distraction with his perfumed Parisian phrases; all his music is as smooth as silk and satin." German sentimentality has never appreciated French elegance.
Henri Bertini is best remembered today for his piano method Le Rudiment du pianiste, and his 20 books of approximately 500 studies.