Stephen Heller (1813 – 1888), is one of those composers whose works are always pleasing to my ear. The first work by this Hungarian composer which I have ever heard was Prelude in B major, Op. 81 No. 13 (from ’24 Preludes’), not a very complicated piece, but very harmonic and somehow moving. Later I played some of his works myself; I remember my first crooked notes of Heller’s Etude Op.47 No.1 – Allegretto or Etude Op.46 No. 2 – Allegretto scherzando like it was today.
Heller, similar to Mozart was giving concerts to a wide public as a child. However, he didn’t travel that much at an early age: at the age of nine, he used to perform with his teacher at the Budapest theatre.
He settled in Paris in 1838 and it is said that later he even became friendly with Franz Liszt, Frederick Chopin, Hector Berlioz and many other famous composers of that period. He wasn’t only a composer, but also a teacher and a brilliant performer. According to www.classicalmidi.co.uk , some critics judged him as superior to Chopin. Also, according to www.classicalarchives.com, he is thought to have had an influence on both Fauré and Chabrier.
Heller wrote hundreds of compositions for piano and these included: scherzos, sonatas, nocturnes, dance movements, caprices, variations, waltzes, fantasies and many other works. He died almost forgotten in Paris at the age of 75. Some people would say that his works were very good, somehow elegant, but not very original. However, this can be only judged by a mastermind of classical music.