Thanks to the boom in American railway construction that coincided exactly with his peak concertizing period, [Louis Moreau] Gottschalk covered more miles in less time than any other virtuoso of the day, playing not only big cities but small mill and mining towns from coast to coast and bringing European fine-art music to audiences of a kind that would never have heard it in Europe. Toward the end of his concert career he calculated that between 1853 and 1865 he had given 1,100 recitals and logged more than 95,000 miles by rail. (III, 379)
Think about those numbers again: 1,100 recitals. When you factor in that Gottschalk was only concertizing seven out of the twelve-year span given, that’s over 150 a year. 95,000 miles. That’s about 13,500 a year in the same seven-year span, or enough to travel from Los Angeles to New York and back seventeen and a half times on modern freeways.
Sometimes the nature of your success is dictated by when you are born. Malcolm Gladwell pointed this out in his book Outliers, when he noted that about 20% of the richest people in history (from the pharaohs to Bill Gates) were Americans from a single generation, all born in the 1830s. The main companies these guys worked for and founded? Standard Oil Company, Carnegie Steel Company, and Central Pacific Railroad. When was Gottschalk born? 1829.
Gottschalk returned from Paris for good in 1853, just in time to capitalize on the never-before-available transportation opportunities in a country as vast as America. If he had been born a generation earlier (say in 1810, the same year as Chopin), history would tell a different tale of him.