Hi Nathan. About time you showed up here!
Daniel Hoehr wrote:I'm really looking forward to reading the Walker biography. Have you started with the book on Liszt's death yet?
Yes – in fact, I just finished it two nights ago. You know… this puts an idea into my head that we here at PS should form a ‘book club’. Someone picks out a book (about a musician, of course), we all read it, and then we discuss it. It will probably never happen, but at least we can talk about Liszt now. I’m glad you quys know so much about him. I feel that although I have read the complete Walker biography, there is so much information contained in those books that it’s hard to keep it all in my head. Talking about it helps, and hearing another person’s point of view is what I find very interesting. I have another friend (a Granados expert) who steered me toward a certain Granados book that was also fascinating – so much so that I can’t stop thinking about it. I am fortunate to have two very interesting conversations going on at the same time.
So now back to Liszt – Again I am saddened from reading about the horrible neglect shown on him during his dying days. Stavenhagen and the other students simply acted as if it was nothing that this man Liszt – a genius composer, a phenomenal pianist, who helped so many fellow musicians and gave so much of himself to others – was on his death bed in the next room and mostly left to suffer alone.
And the relationship between Schmalhausen and Liszt is rather complex. He certainly was very protective of her and she worshiped the ground he walked on. Do you know if there were ever any ‘romantic’ activities going on between the two of them? According to these books, Liszt was like an indulgent father showering his attentions on his favorite daughter. But Schmallhausen was deeply in love with him and they were so intimate that I wonder if their relationship ever strayed into another sort of territory. What are your thoughts on that?
The photos in “The Death of Franz Liszt” are interesting. I see that the two in the book are different from the ones you (Daniel) showed me earlier. In the book you see him holding the small bouquet of flowers that Lina placed in his hand. And you can see in one of the photos how much hair she cut off from the side of his head. In the book, she chastised herself for hastily cutting a rather large lock in so prominent a place.
Another photo I find very interesting is the one of the actual funeral procession moving along Maximilianstrasse. All those people! I know most of them were there for the Wagner festival, but I never really realized how many people were actually around at these times in history that we read about. If only there were more photos of Chopin in his day!
This brings me to a point you made regarding that other biographical novel on Liszt that overstresses the relationship between Liszt and Chopin. How much does it overstress it? This alone is another confusing subject matter to me, as I’ve read many conflicting reports.
Back to Liszt, and now Cosima: Certainly a subject matter that can go on for a long time. Right now I’m finding it hard to put into words how I feel about her. There are always two sides to a story. It says in the book that she had diaries too. Do you know about them? Were they ever published? Are they on display at the Liszt Museum? And speaking of that, I see on the internet that there are three Liszt museums. Pretty impressive but it does not surprise me given the fact that his life was long a very full!
A little tidbit, though, is that the museum in Weimar shows us Liszt's salon which is supposedly unchanged. The color scheme is bright and colorful - cheery yellows and bold reds. Chopin preferred more subdued colors like dove gray, burgundy reds, creamy off-whites. Seems that these two men's tastes in style and decor reflected their personalities.
nathanscoleman wrote:Mon, the Walker bios (there're three of them, right?) are worth the investment then??
Yes! So much information. And also some interesting info about certain pieces he composed, and how other composers 'borrowed' little bits and fragments.
nathanscoleman wrote:Oh yeah! ... Embarassed .... faulty memory ... I DID turn 33 last friday! old man, me!
Then I am doomed, because I am older than you!
nathanscoleman wrote:I played the sopalizio
I would like to look at that piece someday. Is it hard?
nathanscoleman wrote:And can we rhapsodize a bit about his forward-thinking pianism??
Speaking of being pianistic (sort of): Somewhere in the books it describes how Liszt used creative, unusual, but also logical fingering to manage certain passages in difficult pieces. It's really neat!
About the Beethoven festival that Liszt practically managed by himself - specifically, the statue of Beethoven that was erected in the center of the square. (At least I think it was Beethoven - I could be wrong and it's someone completely different - been reading too books at the same time!) Anyway, (I think that) a statue of Beethoven was accidentally positioned backwards. Can you imagine a large crowd gathered by the statue, eagerly anticipating its unveiling - probably someone gives a speech, maybe a band starts to play, and someone shouts, "voilá" as he pulls off the draping, only to reveal that the statue is turned around and showing his backside to the crowd. I think that's so funny!
Oops, looks like this was a little long-winded.