Notes and Narratives
Edited By Una Hunt and Mary Pierse
George Alexander Osborne, Paris and the Pluie de Perles
George Alexander Osborne (1806–1893) is not likely to be a familiar name. This Irish pianist-composer lived through most of the nineteenth century and had a long and productive career as a musician. Unusually, Osborne carved out an illustrious career as a pianist in Paris, one of the first performers from Ireland to do so, before later making a significant contribution to London’s musical life. The influences that came to bear on his pianistic style and compositions were dominated by trends in France rather than England, particularly in the earlier part of his professional career. This fact would in turn have a bearing on his musical achievements in later life and on his relative lack of success in Britain at a time when German music held sway.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that no Irish pianist had made his or her mark in France before Osborne, except possibly John Field (1782–1837), but then only by reputation. Field left Ireland around the age of 10 and spent his entire adult life in Russia. A few years before his death, he visited Europe and performed in Paris, but it seems that Frédéric Chopin (1810–1839) who was living in the French capital and who had admired Field’s music back in his native Poland, was deeply disappointed with his performance considering it to be crude and lacking in fluency.1 Field was, by then, probably quite ill and certainly past his best, but it is also likely...
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