Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Tellefsen, Thomas (1823-1874)

Thomas Tellefsen

born: 26 November 1823
died: 6 October 1874
country: Norway

Thomas Dyke Acland Tellefsen was the youngest of six siblings born in Trondheim to Johan Christian Tellefsen, the organist of Trondheim Cathedral. Arguably, the most interesting aspect of his biography is the derivation of his notably un-Norwegian forenames. Johan was an acquaintance of the English baronet Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, a wealthy land-owner and philanthropist, who, at the time of Tellefsen’s birth in 1823, was the Tory Member of Parliament for Devonshire. It so happened that Sir Thomas had sent a portrait of himself as a gift to Johan, which coincidentally arrived shortly before the baptism of Johan’s son. Tellefsen was thus named after Sir Thomas, who also became his godfather. (Twenty-five years later, during a visit to London, Tellefsen was at a soirée in the home of Sir Robert Inglis, another baronet and Tory politician, and was introduced to ‘a gentleman who travelled around Norway’. This ‘lively, handsome old man’, as Tellefsen described him, turned out to be his godfather. ‘In one instant we became friends.’)

Tellefsen’s first lessons were with his father and Ole Andreas Lindeman. He made his public debut aged eighteen in Trondheim, and the following year made his way to Paris. After Chopin’s death, Tellefsen took on some of his pupils and remained friendly with many of those who had been integral to Chopin’s life, including his fellow pupil the Princess Marcelina Czartoryska. It was she who arranged for Tellefsen’s Paris debut in April 1851. A report in the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris of May 1851 provides a valuable portrait of Tellefsen as a pianist:

Another pianist, M. Tellefsen, hailing from the depths of Norway and guided by that star which leads all artists to Paris, gathered around him last Tuesday a select audience for an evening concert at the famous Hôtel Lambert. M. Tellefsen was a pupil, friend and faithful admirer of Chopin. He has inherited the master’s tradition and has become imbued with his spirit. His style is moulded on that of the master with whom he felt close affinities of sentiment and soul. Suffice it to say that this artist does not play the piano like everyone else. Many others will astonish or dazzle more than he; but very few will know how to make the keyboard speak a better-articulated, or more confidential, delicate and profound language. Few will be able to interpret better the hazy, slightly mystical poetry whose gentle breath the Polish composer has imparted to all his works. M. Tellefsen proved this the other evening, interpreting with quite extraordinary talent a nocturne and a waltz by Chopin, as well as a polonaise for piano and cello by the same composer. He also managed his part to perfection in a quartet by Beethoven, with [Delphin] Alard, [Auguste] Franchomme and Casimir Ney. He was then heard both as composer and executant in a set of variations on an original theme, and in three mazurkas, for which he gained well-deserved applause for both skills.

While he was no barn-storming virtuoso in the manner of Liszt or Anton Rubinstein, Tellefsen seems to have enjoyed some success as a concert pianist in the decade between 1850 and 1860, making several visits to England, Sweden and his homeland. Ill health curtailed this part of his career and thereafter he devoted his time to composing and teaching in the French capital. He moved to London in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War but had returned to Paris by the time of his death. He is buried in the city’s Cimetière d’Auteuil.

Tellefsen’s publications include nocturnes, mazurkas and waltzes for solo piano, dances inspired by Norwegian folk music, chamber works, and two piano concertos. Most of the forty-four compositions he left with opus numbers inevitably bear witness to his great admiration for Chopin.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2024


Waiting for content to load...

Complete works available for download

Alphabetical listing of all musical works

Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...