Bohemian pianist and composer. He composed about 140 Opus numbers, including piano concertos, sonatas, chamber music, and studies for the piano. He was a gifted improviser and introduced some innovations in piano playing later developed by the Liszt school. His correspondence with Mendelssohn was published in 1888, and an English translation of a biography by his wife in 1873.
He was born in Prague, and studied under Dionys Weber at the Conservatory there. He played a concerto in public at the age of 14. He was sent to Vienna and there took lessons in counterpoint from Johann Albrechtsberger and composition from Salieri. He made Beethoven's acquaintance when he arranged the vocal score of Fidelio in 1814. He then began to travel widely, and in 1821 appeared in Holland, Paris, and London. In 1824 he taught Mendelssohn in Berlin and became his lifelong friend; in 1826 he married Charlotte Embden at Hamburg and settled permanently in London as a teacher and soloist, and became one of the directors of the Philharmonic Society. In 1832 he conducted the first performance there of Beethoven's Missa solemnis. In 1846 he went to Leipzig at Mendelssohn's invitation to become first piano professor at the new conservatory.
WorksOrchestral symphony in C (1829); eight piano concertos (1819–38), including G minor and Concerto pathétique.
Piano a great number of piano works including Sonate mélancolique, Characteristic Studies, Allegro di bravura and numerous sonatas, variations, fantasies, studies, and other pieces; Hommage à Händel for two pianos.