Franz Liszt: Hungarian pianist and painter in sound Feb. 24, 2022

from The Forum· ·

A proud Hungarian by birth, Franz Liszt was a pioneer both in his piano playing and in his compositions. He was also the nearest thing to a rock star that classical music had in the 19th century. Fans would reportedly swarm over him, try and grab his gloves, even smoke his discarded cigars! Liszt lived up to his public image in his private life, with hectic touring schedules and colourful relationships with numerous women. But he was also generous to a fault – for example, frequently teaching for free - and he was a great champion of other composers. Rajan …



A proud Hungarian by birth, Franz Liszt was a pioneer both in his piano playing and in his compositions. He was also the nearest thing to a rock star that classical music had in the 19th century. Fans would reportedly swarm over him, try and grab his gloves, even smoke his discarded cigars! Liszt lived up to his public image in his private life, with hectic touring schedules and colourful relationships with numerous women. But he was also generous to a fault – for example, frequently teaching for free - and he was a great champion of other composers. Rajan Datar is joined by three people for whom Liszt and his music occupy a central position in their professional lives: Dr. Rena Mueller, a musicologist emerita at New York University who is working on a complete thematic catalogue of Liszt's music; Dr. Éva Polgár who teaches at Azusa Pacific University in California and is a pianist noted for her championing of not just Liszt's works but all the music from her native Hungary; and professor Kenneth Hamilton, Head of School of Music at Cardiff University, who is not just a distinguished pianist but also an author and broadcaster. Examples from Liszt’s works used in the programme: Mazeppa (S.138) played by Leslie Howard Totentanz performed by Krystian Zimerman , Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa La Campanella (Études d'exécution transcendente d'après Paganini, S.140) played by Leslie Howard Apparition No. 2 played by Ashley Wass Sonetto 123 del Petrarca (Années de pèlerinage II) played by Wilhelm Kempff Chase Neige (12 Études d'exécution transcendante, S.139) played by Boris Berezovsky Wilde Jagd (Études d'exécution transcendante, S.139 ) played by Daniil Trifonov Mazeppa (orchestral version, S. 100) performed by Wiener Philharmoniker, Giuseppe Sinopoli Ballade No. 2 played by Kenneth Hamilton Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 played by Arcadi Volodos Csardas Obstinée played by Éva Polgár Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este (Années de pèlerinage III) played by Egon Petri (Image: Detail from a 19th- century caricature of Franz Liszt, Bibliothèque-Musée De L'Opéra National De Paris-Garnier. Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images)