The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: On Saturday night, UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor continues his virtuosic Liszt-Beethoven symphony cycle along with music by Kapustin and Schubert | February 5, 2019

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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following press release, researched and written by Katherine Esposito, concert manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music, about a noteworthy upcoming concert:

Franz Liszt (below, 1811-1886) was a superstar pianist. He was a virtuoso who invented the orchestral tone poem, taught 400 students for free, conducted and composed.

Musicologist Alan Walker wrote a definitive three-volume biography of Liszt, shedding light on all of Liszt’s work but especially his genius for transcription.

Writes Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times : “The best of these works are much more than virtuosic stunts. Liszt’s piano transcriptions of the nine Beethoven symphonies are works of genius. Vladimir Horowitz, in a 1988 interview, told me that he deeply regretted never having played Liszt’s arrangements of the Beethoven symphonies in public.”

Few pianists have tackled all nine Beethoven transcriptions.

UW-Madison professor and Van Cliburn Competition medal winner Christopher Taylor (below in a photo by Michael R. Anderson) is one of them. On this coming Saturday night, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, Taylor will perform his sixth transcription — Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93.

Saturday’s concert will also include: six preludes (Nos. 19-24) from 1988 by Nikolai Kapustin (below), whose works span both classical and jazz; and the Fantasy in C Major, D. 760 (based on the song “The Wanderer”) of Franz Schubert, a piece so virtuosic that the composer himself had to give up playing it  before finishing. (You can hear Kapustin’s Prelude No. 23, which Taylor will play, in the YouTube video at the bottom and can follow the intimidating-looking score to it.)

In 2020, Christopher Taylor will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary with performances of the Franz Liszt transcriptions of Beethoven’s symphonies, in Madison and elsewhere.

In Boston, Taylor will perform the entire set of nine in five concerts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Tickets for Taylor’s Feb. 9 concert at the UW are $17 for adults, and $7 for children and students. They can be purchased online or in person.

Purchasing options are here: https://www.music.wisc.edu/about-us/tickets/

Or, purchase online directly at this link.


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3 Comments »

  1. A nice post with lots of information.

    Wasn’t Liszt also Chopin’s father in law?

    Prof. Taylor’s program looks fascinating: I do not know anything about Kapustin but like the fact that he did musical “crossover” before that term was even invented. Prof. Taylor is very popular (deservedly) so it is best to get tickets well in advance.

    Comment by fflambeau — February 5, 2019 @ 9:13 pm

    • Liszt was not Chopin’s father-in-law, since Chopin never married although for the last decade of his life he had a liaison with the novelist George Sand. Liszt was however Wagner’s father-in-law, as Wagner (eventually) married Liszt’s daughter Cosima, who had been married to conductor and pianist Hans von Bülow. Cosima and Wagner had an affair and a child together before she left von Bülow, who had been conducting and promoting Wagner’s music during this same period.
      Obviously, it was complicated.

      Comment by Bill Lutes — February 5, 2019 @ 9:34 pm

      • Thanks for that information. Informative.

        Comment by fflambeau — February 6, 2019 @ 8:22 pm


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