I’m reading Harold Schonberg’s The Great Pianists right now, and it’s full of anecdotes like this:
But soon, at the age of 25, Alkan left the concert life … and concentrated on teaching and composition. After 1845 he gave no concerts for twenty-five years. He taught a good deal and was nearly as fashionable a teacher as his friend Chopin. Seldom did he leave his apartment. … A hypochondriac, he purchased and cooked his own food. Only close friends could get to see him. Friedrich Niecks, … tried to see Alkan once in 1880. The concierge said that M. Alkan was not in. When, then, would he be at home? “Never!” … According to legend his death was as unusual as his life. The old man was attempting to reach for a Hebrew religious book on top of a large shelf when the entire bookcase turned over and crushed him to death.
Portrait of Charles-Valentin Alkan (n.d.)
Ketevan Magalashvili (Georgian, 1894-1973), Portrait of the Pianist Sviatoslav Richter, 1961