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 Post subject: Franz Liszt
PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:01 pm 
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A discussion on Liszt sprung up in member, Daniel Hoehr’s, Brahms thread in the Audition Room, and I am moving it here in case anyone else is interested in Liszt and wishes to add more interesting tidbits.

The following posts are the conversations thus far.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:03 pm 
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Daniel Hoehr

pianolady wrote:
Ok, Daniel - your bio page is up along with your two recordings. Please check everything and let me know if something is amiss.
*****

I'll have a proper look when I'm back from my pilgrimage to The Man's grave in Bayreuth, it looks fibne, though. Thanks a lot!
pianolady wrote:
And I see that you are a Liszt nut. I'm currently reading a Liszt biography and have learned that much of what I thought I knew about him is incorrect. He certainly was quite a man!


Having just finished reading a biographic novel, I'm about to read The Death of Franz Liszt . Based on the Unpublished Diary of His Pupil Lina Schmalhausen. I'm looking forward to having a chat with you about Liszt's life very soon, if you fancy.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:06 pm 
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pianolady



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Oh, yes I would fancy that. I love reading and learning about the personal lives of artists. I’m almost done with book 2 of Alan Walker’s three-volume set on Liszt, but not sure if I’ll have much time next week to start book 3. I’ll get to it, though, and then I most definitely have to read the book you mentioned above. I saw a little excerpt of it online, and it is also edited by Walker, so I trust that it is accurate.

What is interesting is that supposedly there is quite a controversy about how Liszt died. Can’t wait to read that book, but in the meantime, I found what I think is also interesting in this book 2. I know you are away right now, but there are other members who have a lot of interest in Liszt, so maybe one of them can add some more interesting tidbits to this conversation until you return. In my case, I have to get this all down before I forget it.

Liszt bent over backwards to help other musicians and composers and rarely received any thanks in return. It’s really astonishing some of the awful ways he was treated by the likes of the Schumanns, Mendelssohn, and Brahms. I am especially appalled at Clara Schumann, whom I used think highly of and still do to a point. But this part of her character is very unflattering. The following excerpt from the book I’m reading shows what I mean: (too lazy to type it all so these are scanned pages)





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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:07 pm 
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juufa72


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Poor old Liszt ...maybe they were just jealous of his l337 skillz
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:07 pm 
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pianolady

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You're probably right about that, J. But also, the Schumanns were part of this sort of 'camp' or school (old school)that wanted music to stay like the old ways, whereas Liszt was part of the 'new school' that wished for music to change with the times. And we all know that Liszt's music was ahead of its time!

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:08 pm 
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Daniel Hoehr


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Thank you, pianolady, for scanning the two pages and uploading them. Very interesting, indeed. I don't understand Clara Schumann's behaviour either and, yes, it is appalling. I mean, they played in concerts together, doing the "Hexameron". I haven't actually read Alan Walker's three-volume biography of Liszt, but I ordered it today, together with a book called Franz Liszt in der Photographie seiner Zeit, which contains 260 photos of Lszt, including four post-mortem ones. I have myself a humble collection of contemporary pictures of Liszt, an original Kriehuber litography dated 1838, a photo and some engravings from contemporary newpapers and magazines.

As to the controversy about Liszt's death in Bayreuth, the story Lina Schmalhausen has to tell is very revealing, especially on the background provided by Alan Walker.

This book, which includes some photos as well (including two post-mortem pictutres of Liszt), served as a travel guide when I was in Bayreuth yesterday and the day before. Seeing the house where Schmalhausen's "beloved master" died and walking through the rooms in the knowledge of all the gory details was a highly moving experience. I knew that Lina Schmalhausen spent hour after hour sitting on the stairs leading to the garden of the house to look through the glass door and watch Liszt die. Cosima wouldn't let her in. I mean, I saw those steps, the garden, the glass door, I knew what was happening in those rooms on 31 July 1886 at about 11.15pm - I walked through the museum with completely different eyes. And I'm not supposed to say this, but there wasn't anybody else in the museum, so the lady selling the tickets let me play on the grand piano in the salon (it was Richard Wagner's Ibach). I played the 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody and that experience sent shivers down my spine. Then I went over to Wahnfried, where Liszt's coffin was brought and from there I walked down Maximilianstrasse all the way to the cemetery, following the way of Liszt's funeral on 3 August 1886. In Alan Walker's book there's a photo of the funeral passing through Maximilianstrasse, has barely changed - the houses in the photo provided by Alan Walker can still be seen. Then standing in front of the small chapel marking his grave was very, very moving. And yes, I did pick an ivy leaf from his grave. And left a bunch of flowers there.


But what is it that fascinates us so about Liszt? I have to admit, I am much more into Beethoven's music than into Liszt's. Is it his personality, which is marked by all the metaphorphoses he went through (child prodigy, travelling virtuoso, music director in Weimar, abbé, Wagner's father-in-law, etc, etc)? Is is the fact that, with all those different aspects to his character, nobody represents the 19th century better than Liszt? His gerenosity? His wit? The fact that he managed to be a bit of a womanizer and an abbé (minor orders only, of course). Is it the fact the we are maybe still discovering his music? I mean, look at the vast amount of church music he wrote, which, in my humble opinion, is his best music but is hardly ever played.

I don't know...

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:08 pm 
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pianolady

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Hi again, Daniel. I hope you are still here. I have just returned from a vacation, also (btw – I am Monica Alianello). Your last post is very interesting to me, because I just finished book 3 on the airplane. You will enjoy all three books, as they are filled with such great details - so many interesting tidbits that I had to start underlining paragraphs and marking pages so I could read them again later.

The chapter about Liszt’s death is unbelievably sad and moving. I cried when I read it. You’re exactly right about Lina Schmalhausen peering through the window to keep an eye on Liszt. She must have felt so hopeless. Cosima’s actions are shocking. And even more shocking is the way Liszt was buried! So unceremoniously and not one note of his music played at the mass! When I have some time, I’m going to look for more images of Liszt and some of the people in his life. I read that post-mortem photos were taken, but they were not included in the Walker biography.

Neat that you actually played Wagner’s piano. What another hugely interesting story about the relationship between Liszt and him!

I have to disagree with you a little about Liszt being a womanizer. It’s true that women constantly threw themselves at him and did all kinds of crazy things to get his attention. But it seems that he was true to the one woman whom he was involved with at the time. First Marie d’Agoult and then the Princess Wittgenstein. Of course, we cannot know for sure if he ever ‘strayed’ and neither can his biographers. But there is no evidence, at least. I suppose there wouldn’t be, either, except that there were always people ‘spying’ on him.

I could go on and on about some of the details I learned while reading these books, but it would take a long time, so for now here are just a few of the ones I especially enjoyed. One is that the very last pieces of music Liszt ever played were a few of his own and then one of his Chopin transcriptions. I’m a big Chopin fan, too, and I have up until now felt that if there was one pianist from the past that I wish I could see and hear, it would be Chopin. Now, however, I would have to answer Chopin and Liszt. All accounts claim that his playing was magical and his ability to sight-read was supreme and unparalleled. Another detail in the book is something I find kind of funny. It is regarding the way Liszt’s pupils felt about him and reads, “Liszt was an inspirational force. Simply to be in the same room with him, as more than one student testified, turned one temporarily into a better pianist.”

Ok, I’m here if you want to chat more about Liszt. And again, if any other member is reading this and has something to contribute, please feel free to do so.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:09 pm 
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Daniel Hoehr

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Welcome back! I hope you had a great holiday. I'm just sitting here listening to the live broadcast of Parsifal from Bayreuth.

Anyway, you are right that we don't have any evidence whether Liszt was a "womanizer" but he was certainly handsome, a touring pianist, a star in his day and we know about the Lola Montez episode, the final coffin nail for his relationship with Marie D'Agoult. We don't know for sure but I think it's not unlikely that he, well, slept around a bit.

I have ordered a book containing about 260 photos of Liszt, including the post mortem ones taken by the Bayreuth photographer Brand. Two of them are in Walker's The Death of Franz Liszt. I actually saw one of them in the Franz-Liszt-Museum in Bayreuth. Once I've got this book here, I'll scan them in and post them, if you're interested.

As I said, seeing the house where he died, the stairs on which Lina Schmalhausen spend hour after hour looking through the glass door and seeing her "beloved master" die, actually being in the room where he died, walking though the adjacent salon and the small room where Liszt's servant Miska stayed in the full knowledge of what had happened there 122 years ago was a deeply moving experience.

Cosima's behaviour was more than shoddy, but on the other hand she grew up basically without her father, who was touring the world when she was a kid. She hardly ever saw him until she was in her late teens. Then Liszt, a staunch Catholic, was opposed to her divorce from Hans von Bülow, her converting to Protestantism and her marrying Wagner. As far as I know, Liszt withdrew his blessing from her and they didn't talk to each other for years. In addition to that, Cosima was in charge of the Bayreuth festival (the first after Wagner's death in 1883), she directed Tristan for the first time and spent every day at the theatre. She needed Liszt as an additional attraction as the Bayreuth festival was not doing really well financially and that's exactly the reason why she asked Liszt to come to Bayreuth that summer. He wouldn't have gone there if Cosima hadn't asked him to.

In The Death of Franz Liszt there's a little episode that explains why Lina Schmalhausen was basically banned from the house. First off, she was a bit of a persona non grata among Liszt's students. (Stevenhagen's behaviour towards Lina Schmalhausen was even worse than Cosima's in Liszt's final days in Bayreuth. He and Miska made fun of her, telling her Cosima had locked them in and taken the keys with her to the theatre. Hours later one of the servants of the Frölig family - the owners of the house - told her that the doors were actually open and she shouldn't allow them to makle fun of her. So Lina went into the bedroon through the garden door and talked to Liszt for the last time. The sad thing was that Miska and Stevenhagen told her that Mrs Wagner could come back any minute, whereas Liszt said she was in the theatre and wouldn't be back for the next three hours or so. Lina only styade for a few moments). I can't go into too much detail and I don't want to spoil the reading experience for you. Then Liszt said something to Cosima thinking he was talking to Lina, something Cosima was not supposed to hear so that's why Lina was not allowed in anymore.

It was very, very sad... And the funeral as well. Does Alan Walker talk about the argument about where Liszt's body should get its final resting place? Weimar wanted it, Pest wanted it. Cosima however made sure that it remained in Bayreuth - in the shadow of Richard Wagner.

I'm attaching a photo of the door leading the Liszt's bedroom. You can see the stairs Lina Schmalhausen spent quite a lot of time on.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:11 pm 
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pianolady

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Welcome back to you, as well!

Quote:
We don't know for sure but I think it's not unlikely that he, well, slept around a bit.


I think I would have slept with him too!


Quote:
Once I've got this book here, I'll scan them in and post them, if you're interested.


I am interested.

Quote:
As I said, seeing the house where he died, the stairs on which Lina Schmalhausen spend hour after hour looking through the glass door and seeing her "beloved master" die, actually being in the room where he died, walking though the adjacent salon and the small room where Liszt's servant Miska stayed in the full knowledge of what had happened there 122 years ago was a deeply moving experience.


It’s nice that you were able to go on a sort of a Liszt pilgrimage. I would love to do that with Chopin. In fact, I’m already planning a trip to Paris but it’s not for another 3 ½ years.

Continuing...After Wagner died, Cosima cut herself off from the world for almost three years. She would not even speak to her own father, which hurt Liszt deeply. When she unexpectedly visited him, she said her reason for doing so was that she wanted to ask him to come to Bayreuth to attend his granddaughter’s wedding. However, she also told him that the Wagner Festival was in trouble and she was running things all by herself. So what is even more disturbing is that when Liszt went to Bayreuth, he did so in hopes that he could be useful to Cosima. But he gets there and finds that Cosima cannot even offer him a room in her home (although there are many other visitors staying there). Also, there were several instances when Cosima blatantly ignored her father, even when they sat in the same room with each other, or passing one another in a hallway. In the book I read, Liszt did not know why Cosima treated him this way. They had a good relationship up until Wagner’s death. This Walker book does try to make excuses for Cosima's neglectful behaviour during her father's dying days. How it was ‘unfortunate’ that Liszt died while in Bayreuth at that time, and Cosima had to supervise the festival activities, etc…But still. Couldn’t she have at least made sure that some of Liszt’s own music was played at his funeral? It is all so sad.

The Walker book mentions Stevenhagen many times and shows a photo of him (do you want me to scan it?), but does not go into anything of his behavior toward Lina. Poor Lina! And yes, I read that part about how Liszt went into delirium and whispered some intimate remarks into Cosima’s ears, thinking she was Lina.

Quote:
Does Alan Walker talk about the argument about where Liszt's body should get its final resting place? Weimar wanted it, Pest wanted it. Cosima however made sure that it remained in Bayreuth - in the shadow of Richard Wagner


Yes, the book goes into great detail about that.


Thanks for the picture of Liszt's doorway.

Another poignant moment which I think is special. From the Alan Walker book and deals with his students: (Liszt's Master classes were legendary, and all his many students more or less became almost like family)

“Liszt said farewell to his Weimar students at the end of June. Did he sense that this would be the last time he would see them gathered together in the Hofgartnerei? One student felt something of the sort and reported that for no apparent reason Liszt seated himself at the piano and played a solitary piece, very softly. It was Chopin’s A-flat Major Etude, the second of the the Trois Nouvelles Etudes. Although everybody in the room was well used to the ethereal sounds Liszt could draw from the keyboard, the student said that the performance seemed to come from mystical regions where time and space are merged. The tears flowed freely that day, and it was right that they should do so. Everyone sensed that a musical era was about to come to an end.”

Daniel, do you mind that we turned your Brahms thread into a 'Liszt chat’? I can move it to another thread if you’d prefer.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:16 pm 
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Daniel Hoehr


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I'm sorry, Monica, for the very late reply. The thing is that I live and work about 150 kilometres away from here during the week and I don't have a computer in my flat there. I have a piano, though When I come home for the weekends, so much stuff has accumulated on my desk, so that's why I sometimes don't get round to replying for a while.

I think renaming this one to Liszt Chat" would be a jolly good idea. This way, others might join in as well.

I've now got Alan Walker's biography of Liszt, which is now item no 2 on my reading list (no pun intended). Item no 1 is a book about the Wagner family. I've also got the book with the photos of Liszt. Bloody hell, that man must have been the most often photographed person in the 19th century! The oldest in a daguerreotype from the early 1840s. I'm actually in the posession of an original 1838 Kriehuber lithography of Liszt, a scan of which I shall atztach to this post. According to some experts in weimar, the signature in original (not printed). I shall make some scans of the post mortem photos next week and post them here. The book even contains two snapshots of Liszt having a walk in Colpach, Luxemburg on 19 July 1886, the last pictures taken of him when he was alive and the only ones showing him wearing a top hat. From Colpach he went to Bayreuth and on the way there he contracted pneumonia.

Coming back to the Wagner Festival in 1886. Liszt had stayed at the Fröhlich house before. Having read hiw comments abouts the Wagner family, which are recorded for posterity in Lina's diary, I doubt that he would have wanted to stay at Wahnfried. On Thursday, 22 July, he says to Lina about his granddaughter Eva: She is a lively, determinde young thing; she doesn't resemble the others over there. [...] Yes, over there only sorrow exists. [Walker, the Death of Franz Liszt, 38.]

By "over there", Liszt means Wahnfried. The Wagner villa is within spitting distance from the Fröhlich house and the truly bizarre picture of Cosima and Herr Schnappauf moving Liszt's coffin down Siegfriedstraße (now Lisztstraße) on a handcart in the morning of 2 August 1886 was not difficult to imagine. Anyway, Liszt makes that comment about Wahnfried as a place of sorrow shortly after Cosima's visit to him on 22 July. Lina Schmalhausen describes Cosima as follows:

As we were sitting and chatting, Cosima entered, dressed in deepest mourning, a thick, black veil shrouding her face. (p.36)

Wagner had been dead for three years and Cosima was still dressed in mourning! It seems to me, Liszt actually preferred not staying "over there", a place where he was more tolerated than welcome when Wagner was still alive.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to reading Walker's biography.

BTW, would it not be a good idea to have a forum dedicated to chats like this about various composers?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:17 pm 
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Pianolady


________________________________________
Hi Daniel,
Daniel Hoehr wrote:
I'm sorry, Monica, for the very late reply. The thing is that I live and work about 150 kilometres away from here during the week and I don't have a computer in my flat there. I have a piano, though


Well, who needs a computer - all that matters is that we have a piano, right? But... although my computer has been giving me some trouble lately, I would sorely miss it, since the Internet has allowed me to meet such wonderful and interesting people online.
Daniel Hoehr wrote:
I think renaming this one to Liszt Chat" would be a jolly good idea. This way, others might join in as well.


I was not thinking of renaming this thread, but making a new one in another place. You're right that we don't have a separate forum for composers, but we can put a Liszt chat in the Pianists forum. That's the closest forum - and after all, the composers we all talk about on this site were pianists too (at least I think so). I will work on it tomorrow. I'll just copy these posts (not the Brahms parts - just the Liszt parts) and start a new thread in the Pianists forum.
Daniel Hoehr wrote:
. I'm actually in the posession of an original 1838 Kriehuber lithography of Liszt, a scan of which I shall atztach to this post. According to some experts in weimar, the signature in original (not printed).


Wow - you have Liszt's autograph. Neat! How large is that lithograph? And now that I think about it, I have never seen Liszt wearing a top hat. Can't even picture it.

I'm glad you mentioned that book "The Death of Franz Liszt" again. I was going to order it before, but forgot to do it. Just did it now, and it will be on my number 2 list also, because I'm currently reading a book on Granados.

Until next time...

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:18 pm 
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Daniel Hoehr


pianolady wrote:
Well, who needs a computer - all that matters is that we have a piano, right?


Absolutely. I'm a freelance teacher of English and translator. The thing is, if I had a computer in my flat, people would throw even more work in my general direction, so I'm quite happy without a computer.
pianolady wrote:
Wow - you have Liszt's autograph. Neat! How large is that lithograph? And now that I think about it, I have never seen Liszt wearing a top hat. Can't even picture it.


The lithograph is actually quite small. A bit larger than a postcard. It is framed and on the wall above my piano (in my flat up in the north of Germany, Over here I've got my beloved Kawai R-1).

I've also got an 1881 wood engraving, the sort of picture you'd find in newspapers and magazines in the 19th century, showing Liszt outside the Hofgärtnerei in Weimar wearing a top hat. I saw the same one in the Liszt-Museum in Bayreuth. I'm just having it framed, but i'll try to scan it in once I've got it back. Or even better, I'll scan in the photos taken in Colpach.

Time to pack my stuff and drive up to the north.

Until next weekend!

Take care

Daniel

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:21 pm 
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Quote:
By "over there", Liszt means Wahnfried. The Wagner villa is within spitting distance from the Fröhlich house and the truly bizarre picture of Cosima and Herr Schnappauf moving Liszt's coffin down Siegfriedstraße (now Lisztstraße) on a handcart in the morning of 2 August 1886 was not difficult to imagine.


Siegfriedstrasse – was that a street named to honor Wagner, and was it a different name prior to that? And then it was renamed to Lisztstrasse? – that’s good. At least he got a street named after him!

I just did a brief search for an image of Liszt’s grave and did not find a single one! I used “Liszt grave” and got other graves like Chopin, Brahms, Schubert, Tausig, Cosima and Richard Wagner, but no Liszt. Isn’t that strange? Has no one taken a photograph his grave?

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:43 am 
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Hi there, I'm using my mobile, so I can't send you any pictures. Will do so at the weekend.

Try findagrave.com, there's a photo of Liszt's grave. It's a small chapel that was badly damaged in WW2, but rebuilt in the 1970's according to the original plans.

All the best
Daniel


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:13 am 
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Thanks, Daniel. I found the photo. He has a nice grave.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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