Liszt on the piano

In its span of seven octaves [the piano] embraces the range of an orchestra; the ten fingers of a single man suffice to render the harmonies produced by the combined forces of more than 100 concerted instruments. We make arpeggios like the harp, prolonged notes like wind instruments, staccatos, and a thousand other effects which once seemed the special prerogative of such and such an instrument.

— Franz Liszt

P. Kildea, Chopin’s Piano, London, Allen Lane, 2018, p.22.





Featured Content

Horowitz’s stringent requirements
When Vladimir Horowitz performed in Japan: …. a kitchen had to be built in his suite because he insists that all his meals – fish or chicken only – be taken there. The electrical wiring ran afoul of Tokyo fire laws, requiring new wallpaper and a special floor. Several critics suggested in a music journal […]
A man’s money
“Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything is always a portrait of himself and the more he tries to conceal himself the more clearly will his character appear in spite of him.” Samuel Butler, The Way of the Flesh  (1903). Forgotten books, p. 60. Cited at Google […]
A simple request
Humorists Ilf and Petrov described a concert by Rachmaninoff In New York (November 1935): The night we went to hear him he appeared tall, bent, and thin, with a long sad face, his hair closely clipped; he sat down at the piano, separated the folds of his old-fashioned back swallowtail, adjusted one of his cuffs […]
Paper and matches for maintenance
When Spanish cellist Pablo Casals was in his seventies, he retired from the concert stage and lived in Prades, Southern France. Casals began each day by playing from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier on the piano (1), then heading out for a walk with his German shepherd, cocking an ear for birdsong and saluting the snow-capped peak […]
A practice regime
After a year’s sabbatical in 1953, the pianist Horowitz found a routine and rebuilt his technique: I realized I had to work out new daily schedules for myself – so much time for study, for rest, for reflection, for exercise … Soon my days had a new rhythm, a new serenity.  Every day I start […]
Be With Me, Lord, When I Am In Trouble (Setting II) – Psalm 90 (91)
Title: Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble (setting ii) Text: Psalm 90 (91): 1-2, 10-15. R. v.15 Composer: Greg Smith Instrumentation: SATB and piano Product medium: SATB score and partSAMPLE:
Music and time
“There is also in this [nineteenth-century romantic] music an extraordinary sense of control over the passage of time; a moment will be held still as if suspended, and then released with a rush. Einstein has told us that time is relative, flexible and elastic; I have noticed these qualities whenever I have tried to play […]
Don’t wish me luck
“From here on out, I declare that no one ever wish me again to ‘break a leg’”. Joyce DiDonato, American mezzo soprano, shortly after having broken a leg on stage in a production of The Barber of Serville at the Royal Opera House. DiDonato insisted on continuing the performance in a wheel chair. Source: Kirkup, […]
The length of a rehearsal
Rachmaninoff completed his Third Piano Concerto at his summer estate at Ivanovka in September-October 1909.  He then toured America, learning the piano part on a dumb piano aboard the ship.  The work was first performed in New York under Walter Damrosch in November 1909.  In January 1910, Gustav Mahler conducted the third New York performance. […]
Franz Schubert: Six Moments Musicaux (Musical Moments), op.94
(i) Moderato (C major) (ii) Andantino (A-flat major) (iii) Allegro moderato (f minor) (iv) Moderato (c-sharp minor)/ (v) Allegro vivace (f minor) (vi) Allegretto (A-flat major) In 1929, Oscar Bie reflected on Schubert: That face! . . . It is the face of a teacher, but not of a strict one. The hair curls about […]