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Carl Faelten (Arranger)

Born: December 21, 1846 - Ilmenau, Thuringia, Germany
Died: July 20, 1925 - Readfield, Maine, USA

The German-born American pianist, music pedagogue and arranger, Carl Faelten, received good instruction in music quite young, and being gifted he felt the ambition within himself to become a great pianist. It was easy enough to aspire but not so easy to reach the goal of ambition. It is that usually tries young menís powers and tests the mettle they are made of. Young Faeltenís parent being poor, he entered one of those orchestral schools known as Stadtpfeifereien. These are institutions where provision is made for poor but talented boys who wish to study music. It was in the Stadtpfeiferei of Arnstadt that he remained for 4 years until he was 19 years old. His connection with this sort of institution entailed upon him all manner of work in itself distasteful. He was compelled to play at dances, parades, and so on. While this was hard work, it was beneficial to him, for he thereby acquired skill on many band instruments. His favourites among them were the violin and clarinet. Having this acquired skill, he was soon employed in orchestras, and at last he came to Frankfurt am Main, the city that loves art and cultivates it. Here he became a member of an orchestra, and while thus employed, he resumed his piano studies, which he had neglected for 7 years.

Several prominent musician became interested in Carl Faelten, among others Julius Schoch, who was a pupil of Aloys Schmitt. Faelten practised with great energy and was making rapid progress when his efforts were again seriously interrupted. He was compelled to serve a year as a common soldier in the Franco-Prussian war. On his return, his fingers had become so stiff from handling of the gun that he found himself again at the beginning of his pianistic career at the age of 25. But he never lost courage. He worked hard, with a strong determination to succeed. After a few years he was ranked as a good soloist and music teacher and a little later acknowledge in Frankfurt as one of the most prominent musicians of that very musical community.

From 1874 to 1877, Carl Faelten appeared occasionally and always most successfully in symphony concerts, also in concerts with other first-class artists or in his own recitals at Berlin, Bremen, Haag, Schwerin, Wiesbaden, Vienna, London, and other European cities. During his vacations he spent much time in teaching, in which he me with unqualified success.

At Wiesbaden Carl Faelten made the acquaintance of Joachim Raff. This acquaintance soon ripened into an intimate friendship, which continued during Raff Ďs lifetime. In 1877, when Raff was engaged to organise and lead a conservatory of music in Frankfurt, one of his first appointments was that of Faelten, who proved an excellent acquisition to the new institute. His piano classes were always crowded, and he graduated a number of finely trained students. He was also charged with the special training of teachers and delivered annually a great number of lectures on the methods of piano playing, embracing all the theoretical and practical requirements of teachers.

After Raffís sudden death in the summer of 1882, Carl Faelten decided upon a plan which he had been considering for many years, which was to make the USA his home, where he arrived in 1882. He came to the USA, like so many artists, in search of freedom. He settled in Baltimore in 1882 and taught at the Peabody Conservatory for 3 years before accepting a position at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 1885. In Boston he was a success as a teacher and pianist. His numerous recitals always draw good houses and his repertoire seemed inexhaustible. He played quite frequently in the symphony concerts in Boston and New York, always earning for himself applause and the golden opinion of the press.

Carl Faelten taught at the New England Conservatory of Music from 1885 to 1897, serving as Director of the Conservatory from 1890 to 1897. He was forced to resign when his policies caused dissension among the faculty. He was succeeded by George Whitefield Chadwick, under whose leadership the school flourished. Faelten subsequently started his own school of piano in Boston and authored several books on piano technique and general musicianship. He died in Readfield, Maine on July 20, 1925.


Source: Brainard's Biographies of American Musicians, edited by E. Douglas Bomberge (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999); Bits & pieces from various sources
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2013)

Carl Faelten: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

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