Heller, Stephen [István]
- Ronald Earl Booth
- , revised by Matthias Thiemel
(b Pest, May 15, 1813; d Paris, Jan 14, 1888). French pianist and composer of Hungarian birth. His parents were of Jewish descent and came from the vicinity of Eger (Cheb, Bohemia). He was first taught music by a regimental bandsman stationed near the Hungarian capital, and then by Ferenc Bräuer, a well-known piano teacher in Pest. He took composition lessons from an organist called Cibulka and then went to Vienna to study with Carl Czerny, but his father soon found that he could not afford the celebrated teacher’s high fees. Stephen became a pupil of Anton Halm, the teacher of Adolf Henselt and other 19th-century virtuosos. Through Halm, Heller met Schubert and Beethoven. In 1828 he made his début, and his success encouraged his father to arrange a concert tour through Hungary, Transylvania, Poland and Germany. It lasted almost two years and ended in Augsburg, where he collapsed from nervous exhaustion; intending to stay only a few weeks to recover, he remained for eight years. During this time he lived in the home of Frau Caroline Hoeslin von Eichthal, a highly intelligent and artistic woman whose son became one of his first pupils. He also came under the patronage and guidance of the cultivated Count Friedrich Fugger-Kircheim-Hoheneck, a gifted musician who encouraged him to study composition under Hippolyte Chelard, the Kapellmeister in Augsburg....