We love our readers here at JONJ. Soon after we profiled Gustav Mahler, mentioning that there are very few Jewish classical composers, our email and suggestion box was flooded with dozens of names that proved the opposite.
So we'll admit it now. We haven't profiled any Jewish classical composers prior to Mahler because there aren't any. It's because they are boring.
Honestly, the life of a classical musician does not exactly inspire us to write a profile. Boy is born in a Jewish family, boy is forced to play violin, boy becomes virtuoso composer, thousands get bored at concert. Yawn.
So in the case of French Jewish classical composer Charles-Valentin Alkan, it is his death that is inspiring this profile. For Alkan, who spent a large part of his life as a hermit, was supposedly killed when he reached for a Talmud located on a high shelf and a bookcase fell on top of him.
Killed by his own Judaism. Imagine that. And gefilte fish wasn't even involved.
Well... that story of his death turns out not to be exactly true, but at least it gives us a Jewish, not converted, pre-20th century, classical composer.
We hope our readers are happy.