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A 'conservative radical' is William Alexander Eddie's description of the French virtuoso composer-pianist Charles Valentin Alkan (1813-1888). Judaic culture, the French baroque and German classicism were the main influences on Alkan's musical style, with more radical musical tendencies found in many of the Esquisses op 63. This comprehensive survey takes as its focus a stylistic analysis of Alkan's compositions from the apprentice works to the later 'massed style' etudes; the latter are of considerable length and pianistic difficulty. There is also consideration of Alkan's achievements as pianist and teacher, and the sections on performance practice in Alkan will be of interest to pianists today. A full investigation of Alkan's reception history is also included and useful appendices provide a guide to further archival research. A list of works and basic discography complete this new study of an important French composer.