Late Liszt, Forgotten Franz

Whatever happened to Franz Liszt in his seventies? It’s difficult to focus on the life of this remarkable pianist and composer and dream up various scenarios for the dramatic change in his creative output: none of them seems to provide a valid or reasonable answer and you still have new theories being bandied around that seem to get weirder and weirder with each passing decade.

For instance, listen to Waldesrauschen, the first of two Etudes de concert written in 1863, played on YouTube by a young Evgeny Kissin.

Now, glance at the two portraits in this post: the first is without doubt the one that remains embedded in ones psyche when performing the wealth of his early and middle-period compositions that made him the darling of Europe. Then, inexplicably, there is a gradual withdrawal not necessarily due to advancing age, but to an abandonment of showing off his prodigious gifts for a simpler mode comprising of fewer notes filling his scores, solo or orchestral.

One set of compositions can be found in the Liszt Society’s Publications Volume I – Late Piano Works: they include Nuages Gris (1881), Dritte Mephisto-Walzer (1881), Csárdás Macabre (1881-82), La Lugubre Gondola I & II (1882) and En Rêve – Nocturne (1885-86).  The Hungarian pianist Ervin Nyiregyházi plays the Nocturne on YouTube with quiet contemplation.

Afterword
In September 1996 Time Magazine published a music article entitled The Book of Liszts by Elliot Ravetz that praised the biography by Alan Walker that “does justice to all facets of Franz Liszt’s messy life and protean work.” Ravetz goes on to write that what distinguishes Mr. Walker from dozens of earlier biographers is that he is equally strong on the music and the life. I had the privilege of participating in Hamilton, Canada, at one of Walker’s intimate seminars-cum-recital series where among the well-known participants was the New York Times music critic and writer Harold Schonberg. On the second day of my visit Harold and I managed to have a tête-a-tête over coffee and cake at a nearby café. He was fulsome in his assessment of Alan’s textured portrait of Liszt and his times. Indeed, he deemed it to be without rival.

Dear Readers,
You number over 75,000 in nearly two-and-a-half years ago back in early 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
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Dear Readers,
You number over 75,000 in nearly two-and-a-half years ago back in early 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

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