January 17, 2013 - 12:00 am
Franz Liszt spanned the Romantic era. As a child he met Beethoven; as an elderly man he was introduced to Debussy. Between times, this protean personality was intimately acquainted with many of the leading artistic figures of the age. His circle was not confined simply to musicians like Wagner, Chopin, Berlioz and Schumann, although he knew them well. Among his friends and colleagues were painters, poets, writers and sculptors, such as Delacroix, Heine, Lamartine, George Sand and Bartolini. He mixed just as easily with politicians and could count several of the crowned heads of Europe among his friends.
Liszt’s multi-faceted career unfolded in at least six different directions simultaneously. He was the world’s leading pianist who created the model for today’s solo recital; he was a composer who introduced new forms into music, such as the symphonic poem and the single-movement ‘cyclical’ sonata; he was an orchestral conductor who developed a new repertory of body-signals at the podium, which still leave a visible mark on conductors today; he was an inspiring teacher and the creator of the “masterclass”, from whose ranks more than 400 pupils emerged – many of them eminent; he was a writer of books and articles, mostly written in the service of his fellow musicians; finally, and not least, he was an organizer and director of ambitious international music festivals which promoted especially the works of his contemporaries Berlioz, Wagner, and Schumann. Such boundless activity invested Liszt with immense authority –an authority which extended well beyond the world of music.
In this lecture Dr. Alan Walker describes Liszt as the Cultural Ambassador of the Nineteenth Century. His comments will be illustrated with some music examples.
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