Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Liszt: Written about in so many ways, but yet so misunderstood.

This coming up Saturday, October 1st, The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes will be performing Franz Liszt's Fantasy on the Hungarian Folk Melodies, with Eva Virsik at the piano. As epic as that title sounds, the more resonating claim to this piece is not so much the title, but the composer Franz Liszt himself. Characterized by Felix Mendelssohn as a man whose life was filled with "a continual alternation between scandal and apotheosis", Liszt's adulated life was not as perfect as his hands may have been on a Bechstein, and yes Felix did refer to Liszt as amongst the God's.
Born in 1811 as the only son of Adam and Anna Liszt, Franz showed interest in music at about the age of 6. Being it his fathers dream to be a musician. Adam taught his son everything he knew and Liszt being the virtuoso he was, absorbed everything and anything. Within 22 months of mentor ship Liszt had worked through all the complete works of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Clementi, Hummel and more, but when asked what inspired his earlier compositions. Liszt was not hesitant to say it was the music of the Gypsies.
As the years followed Liszt and his family settled in Paris where Liszt performed just about non stop. After giving performances to the aristocratic circles of Europe. Liszt learned many cultures and grew just not musically, but socially. Liszt's virtuosity at the piano was hailed as never seen before, even by the likes of Beethoven. He was said to have been able to play the most difficult of music by sight. If that's not impressive, he also played these pieces upside down and while performing them, he would comment on the piece being played.
There was no doubt that at the time, Liszt was the man. Liszt was a show-off and for good reason. He was the first pianist to hold a concert with just written piano music and of course it was hit. Liszt was so naturally in love with music that he would give lessons for free and would travel throughout Europe on mail-coaches visiting everyone he could while playing any instrument handed to him.
Music was not the only love in his life, Liszt would swoon any damsel who would make themselves available. Whether it be a gypsy or a princess, Liszt was such a natural lover that he had three out of wed-lock children.
But it would be to early to say that Liszt had it all. In 1827 his father passed away due to typhus. After the death of his father, and the fall out of a lost love affair. Liszt didn't perform for three years. Depression set in and illness and apathy took control of his life. It took the strength of a Revolution (Revolution of 1830) to bring Liszt from his lethargic musical state.
In 1847 Liszt met his soul mate Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein and from there Liszt took up conducting and composing for the orchestra in Weimar. After the death of two of his children, Liszt shared the last years of his life with rewards, teaching and traveling. In 1886 Liszt passed away from a heart attack.
So lets see, was Liszt amongst the Gods of music? Find out for yourself this Saturday at the Corning Museum of Glass. Tickets can be bought online at osfl.org or by calling 607-734-8191. See you there!

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