|Herz, Musician and Business Man|
|Henri Herz was at the same time a piano virtuoso, a composer, a piano maker and a piano teacher at the Conservatoire. Thus he is a most interesting socio-historical case. He is a typical self-made man of the July Monarchy. Italie is well-known that, under King Louis-Philippe, business allowed the bourgeoisie to become as powerful as the old aristocracy, but Herz shows how it was also possible for an artist to become a businessman, thanks to the increasing music market, which allowed a musician to become economically independant.
Therefore, Herz understood perfectly that he had to diversify his activities. After having been the first Paris piano virtuoso, he was challenged by Chopin and Liszt, who attracted his piano pupils. That is why, during the 1830s, he decided to develop his piano factory. He bought an aristocratic house in the business neighbourhood (Chaussée d’Antin), with large grounds on which he built his factory, as well as a concert hall.
After his liaison with a woman who was to become a famous courtisane under Napoleon III and the 1846 economic crisis, he was ruined and decided to build his fortune again, by touring in America, where he stayed not less than 5 years.
During this American journey, Herz and his secretary Ullman established a new kind of partnership between artistry and profit-making, dividing their work into two different but complementary goals. Not only did the musician no longer run his own tour, which was a major change, but the business agent also defined his role in economic terms.
Herz was the first pianist to make such a big tour in America, playing, teaching and selling pianos, both on the East and West coasts, in Cuba and even Mexico, composing the national anthem of one of the presidents of the latter country. He even decided to reach San Francisco in 1850 during the Gold Rush and played for the miners who paid him directly with gold.
He wrote a humorous little book, My travels in America, a recollection of his memories.
Thanks to this journey, he was able to reinvest money in his piano factory and earn the highest distinction in the Paris International Exhibition|