Showing posts from 2011

The Franz Liszt 200th Anniversary Celebration Year closes...but his imperishable music continues to inspire...

 Click on photographs to enlarge  Franz Liszt and the violinist Armah Senkrah in Weimar 1885 (Louis Held Im Alten Weimar Fotografien 1882-1919, Weimar 2008)  Franz Liszt and some of his famous students in Weimar, 22 October 1884, his birthday. From the left upper row: Moritz Rosenthal, Viktoria Drewing, Mele Paranioff, Franz Liszt, Annette Hempel-Friedman, Hugo Mansfield Lower row: Saul (Sally) Liebling, Alexander Siloti, Arthur Friedheim, Emil Sauer, Alfred Reisenauer, Alexander Wilhelm Gottschalg (Louis Held Im Alten Weimar Fotografien 1882-1919, Weimar 2008) I must say I agree with Vladimir Ashkenazy when he was asked to 'comment on Mozart'. What can one possibly say on the subject?  The infantile contemporary response so beloved of Facebook:  Like - Don't like?  When I am confronted with the music of any of the great composers, so much has been written that anything I could say is bound to be redundant, bordering on the dull, pretentious or con

Warsaw celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy

Perhaps some of you will have noticed my silence these past months. I am deep in researching the tumultuous 1930s period in Germany, London and the Riviera for the next chapter in my biography of the Australian pianist Edward Cahill. It takes something special to wean me away from writing in the morning and reading in the evening (mainly the marvellous Harold Nicolson, 'Chips' Channon, Duff Cooper and Diana Cooper Diaries of the period, Malcolm Muggeridge The Thirties and the 950 pages of the very recent brilliant and exhaustive study The Thirties: An Intimate History by Juliet Gardiner).    I have also been watching the superb documentary films of the period made by the GPO Film Unit directed by the brilliant Brazilian Alberto Cavalcanti and other now forgotten directors. These largely negected masterpieces of the short form (viz. Spare Time and Night Train )  have now been made available by the British Film Institute together with  informative booklets. Fascinat

Chopin i jego Europa 2011, Warszawa (VII Chopin and his Europe Music Festival 2011, Warsaw)

Franz Liszt in his travelling coat. Taken at the Liszt Museum, Bayreuth I always very much look forward to this quite outstanding series of concerts in Warsaw which follows directly from the Festival in Duszniki Zdroj. The main intention is to place Chopin in the cultural context of the Europe in which he lived and composed. This cultural context is absolutely vital to a full understanding of the composer and his contemporaries. The festival also promotes outstanding historical Polish composers that have been neglected or forgotten. The subtitle of the festival is ‘From Mahler to Liszt and Noskowski’  reflects this intention. One of the greatest attractions for me is the use of period pianos manufactured in the mid-ninetenth century by Pleyel and  Erard. I have a restored 1844 Pleyel pianino at home which has been a revelation in sound playing Chopin from the New National Edition of his works  overseen by Professor Jan Ekier.   The inaugural concert of the 7th Chopin i jego