Sigismond Thalberg, a Swiss pianist, born in Geneva, Jan. 7, 1812, died in Naples, April 27, 1871. He was the natural son of Prince Die-trichstein, and was placed under the instruction of Hummel, whom he subsequently surpassed in firmness of touch and grace of expression. At 15 he began to be known in the concert rooms, and soon afterward published his first compositions. From 1830 to 1839 he made extended concert tours through Europe, appearing in England in 1837. He visited South America and the United States in 1856-'8. His playing was distinguished by precision, delicacy, find finish, rather than by the production of surprising effects; but his chief merit, both as a performer and a composer, consisted in his successful attempts to combine the elements of song and harmony and of brilliant execution, as exemplified respectively in the schools of Mozart and Beethoven and of Clementi. In pursuance of this design he discovered many ingenious combinations for the fingers, whereby the song or melody, which he kept the medium keys of the piano, could always be heard strongly accented in the midst of rapid passages, scales, arpeggios running from end to end of the instrument, and other complicated forms of accompaniment.
This species of composition has since become exceedingly common, through the works of a host of imitators. Among the productions by which Thalberg and his method acquired their celebrity are a series of fantasias of great beauty and brilliancy, including those on themes from Don Giovanni, Robert le Diable, l'Elisire d'a-more, Les Huguenots, La donna del logo, and Mose en Egitto, the performance of any one of which by the composer realized the perfection of pianoforte, playing. In 1851 he produced at London under Balfe's direction an opera entitled Florinda, founded on a libretto by Scribe, which- failed to attract much attention.
In 1845 he married a daughter of Lablache. His last public appearance was at Paris in 1865. After that he retired to his estate near Naples, where he devoted himself to the cultivation of the vine. - His daughter Zaire, born in New York in 1858, made a successful debut as Zer-lina in Don Giovanni, at Covent Garden, London, April 10, 1875.