Tag Archives: Liszt

Philip Chiu

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 bring pianist Philip Chiu to our stage.  While Chiu has performed in Toronto many times, this will be his Toronto solo recital debut.  The evening will include Ravel – Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose Suite), John Burge – Studies in Poetry No. 4: Loop (2009), Rachmaninoff – Preludes (Five Selections from Op. 23, Op. 32), Schubert/Liszt – Fantasy in C Major, “Der Wanderer”, D. 760, and Liszt – Legends, S.175.

Current residing in Montreal, Chiu was born in Hong Kong and raised in Toronto and London, ON.  In Montreal, he can be found working at McGill University as an accompanist and coach, at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal as an invited professor and accompanist, and at l’Universite de Montreal as an accompanist.

He frequently tours as an accompanist for competitions, and does a lot of chamber music and collaborative playing. In 2015, he was the inaugural recipient of the Prix Goyer (Extreme Emerging Artist Award). The $125,000 prize is one of the largest in the world for a collaborative emerging artist.

This recent Q&A in WholeNote magazine will give you some insight into Chiu


You can find out more about him on his own website www.philipchiu.ca and here him live at our concert on November 28thhttp://music-toronto.com/piano/Chiu.html



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Benjamin Grosvenor 2015

It has been 11 years since Benjamin Grosvenor won the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician Competition. He was 11 years old at the time. Since then he has continued on the path of an extremely successful and talented pianist. Decorated with many awards over the years, Grosvenor maintains a busy performance schedule, traveling all over the world for performances. He recently took part in the Last Night of the Proms, with amazing reviews once again! He has an exclusive recording deal with Decca and has released 3 CDs with them, including Dances, his latest recording released in August 2014.

We had the pleasure of hearing him in February of 2014 for his Toronto debut on our stage. You can check out our blog from back then for a bit of information about him – https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/benjamin-grosvenor/  Or visit his website at http://www.benjamingrosvenor.co.uk/

He returns to our stage in just a few short weeks to perform Mendelssohn, Bach-Busoni, Franck, Ravel and Liszt. Join us on Tuesday October 13, 2015 for our concert with Benjamin Grosvenor and the opening night of our 44th season!


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The Forefathers of Franz Liszt

As we approach Father’s Day, I thought I’d look at the paternal side of the life of some of our composers. Since we just wrapped up a look at Franz Liszt, let’s start with his patriarchal influences.

Franz definitely gets some of his good genes from his father’s side of the family. Liszt great-grandfather, Sebastian, was a farmer and lived until he was almost 90. Quite amazing for the 1700’s!

Franz’s grandfather, Georg, was the overseer for the Esterhazy estates. He also lived until he was almost 90 years of age, outliving Franz’s father, Adam. He played the piano, organ, and violin.

It is interesting to note that the original family name was List. Adam changed the spelling to Liszt, adopting the Hungarian spelling of their name. Once his grandson started to become famous, Georg started using Liszt as well.

Adam was born in 1776, Georg’s second child. Adam eventually worked for Prince Nokolaus II Esterhazy as well. In his teens, Adam played the cello in a summer orchestra directed by Haydn for the House of Eszterhazy. Adam was an amateur pianist as well. He also played the organ, violin, and sang. He knew both Haydn and Beethoven.

When Franz was a young boy, Adam took a one year leave from his position with the Prince in order to accompany Franz on several tours. At the end of the year, unable to secure Franz a place in the Conservatory in Paris, Adam asked for more time away. It was not granted and he decided to resign his position and continue instead to manage his son’s training and career.

Though a bit of a task master, Adam and Franz did have a good relationship. Franz was deeply pained when his father died of typhoid in 1827. Franz was just 15 years old and this would have a great impact on the next several years of his life as he became the sole support for his mother and himself.

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Liszt – 1870s and 80s

The final years of Liszt’s life were spent in much the same way as previous years. He continued to travel from Rome to Weimar and Budapest each year. He gave the occasional concert, mainly for charitable purposes to help raise funds for various causes. He composed, he wrote, and he taught.

Passing on knowledge seems to have been important to Liszt. In addition to writing, he taught extensively throughout his life. What started at a young age to help support himself and his mother became something that lasted his entire life. In the 1870s, there was a push to create a Royal Academy for Music in Budapest. Liszt was elected President in 1875. While there were many attempts to get him to move back to Budapest permanently, he never did. He continued to do things as he wanted to – travelling their once each year. He often declared that his academy students were his private students and therefore they often did not pay fees to the academy. There were attempts to enforce payment but again Liszt continued to do things his way and taught students without taking money. The academy did not really suffer financially as Liszt often gave benefit concerts for them and his students were able to study for very little or no money.

1881 seems to mark the beginning of the end for Liszt. After a fall down some stairs in Weimar, he started to develop a number of different health issues over the next few years. Ultimately he died of pneumonia in 1886. But he did what he love right up until close to the end. In 1886, he went to concerts in Budapest, Paris, and London. He gave a concert in Luxembourg in mid July. And then travelled to the festival in Bayreuth where his already tired and sick body developed the pneumonia that he would not recover from. But he was doing what he loved, surrounded by family and friends. You can’t really wish for more than that.

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Liszt and the 1860s

The 1850s had its troubles for Liszt to be sure. However, for the most part this was a very productive time for him. Composing, writing books, occasionally performing, and teaching were the main focuses of this period for him.

By the early 1860s, sadness had entered Liszt life once again. His son, Daniel, died at the age of twenty and then, in 1862, he lost his daughter, Blandine, at the age of 26. This lead to a period of reflection and solitude for Liszt. In 1857, he had joined the Third Order of St. Francis. In 1863, he retreated to a monastery outside Rome. He stayed there for some time eventually becoming a porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte, and receiving the tonsure.  He did continue to play and compose while in Rome.

Liszt returned to Weimar in 1869 to give a master class. A couple of years later he did the same in Budapest. He continued this pattern for the rest of his life – traveling between Rome, Weimar, and Budapest. It is amazing to think of the amount of time and effort that would have involved in the 1870s with Liszt now in his 60s.

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Liszt in the 1840s and 50s

Before we detoured to look at mothers of composers, we had been taking a look at Liszt. Let’s go back to our Liszt overview!

In the early 1840’s, Liszt became what we would call a superstar today. He toured and gave concerts as the brilliant pianist he was. His popularity grew. He did many concerts for charity and donated to humanitarian causes. After the late 1850’s, his performing fees were given to charities as he had made more than enough money to live on. Quite an amazing thing to do in anyone’s lifetime!

The late 1840’s brought Princess Carolyne into his life. While they wished to marry, she was unable to obtain official permission. She had been previously married and the catholic church would not grant her an annulment. She was, however, a key figure in Liszt life until his death. He retired from the main performance stage, in 1847 and with Carolyne’s urging shifted his focus to composition.

He moved to Weimar, taking up his appointment as Kapellmeister. He would continue here until 1961, teaching pianists, conducting at court concerts, composing, and writing – a rich and amazing time in his life.

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Anna Liszt

Marie Anna Lager was born in 1788 to Mathias and Franziska in Austria. When she was about eight years old, her father and her mother died within about six months of each other. She lived with other family for a time before she worked as a chambermaid in Vienna. She eventually moved to Mattersdorf and here she met Adam Liszt. His father was the overseer of the Esterházy estate.

In 1811, they married and started their life together with a child (Franz) coming in their first year of marriage. While her husband and son toured in the early 1820s and started a career for young Franz, she spent time with her sister. Adam died suddenly in 1827 leaving Anna and Franz on their own. At this point Anna moved to Paris to live with Franz. He gave music lessons to support them. She spent most of the rest of her life in Paris, coming to love the city and learn the language.

When relations between Franz and the Countess d’Agoult became strained and ended, their three children eventually all went to live with Anna in Paris. She helped raise them while Franz toured and sent money to care for them all.

She lived until the age of 78.

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Countess Marie d’Agoult

As we approach Mother’s Day, why not look at a few women behind some of the composers. This week we will continue with our recent Lizst theme and look at Countess Marie d’Agoult.

In 1805, Marie was born into a wealthy family in Germany. At the age of 21 she was married to Charles Louis Constant d’Agoult, Comte d’Agoult and became Comtesse. This was an arranged marriage and produced 2 children.

The 1830’s were an intense time for the Countess. 1833 saw her start a relationship with Liszt. In 1834, her eldest child died. In 1835, she decided to move to Geneva to live with Liszt, their first child was born, and she and the Count were officially divorced.

Marie and Franz never officially married. Together they had three children – Blandine (married to a future French prime minister), Cosima (who would eventually become the wife of Richard Wagner), and Daniel (a talented young pianist who died at the age of 20). In 1844, Franz and Marie parted ways and officially separated. Relations had been strained since 1839 when Franz had returned to touring full time and Marie and the children moved back to Paris. It was here in Paris in 1839 that Marie started her writing career under the pen name of Daniel Stern. She published several works starting in 1841 and continuing until a few years before her death in 1876. Two additional works were published after her death. She seems to have lived a full life and has left us with many insights into the world of her time.

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Liszt in the 1830s

We left Liszt last week in the early 1830’s. In 1832, about 6 months before he turned 21, Liszt attended a concert given by Paganini. At this point Liszt decided to refocus his attention to performing and becoming a virtuoso pianist.

By this time in his life he had spent years performing and learning as a young child, had experienced the heartbreaking loss of his father, had fallen in love but had the relationship crushed by her father, had spent time teaching to support himself and his mother, and had struggling with trying to decide what he really wanted to do with his life to the point of considering leaving music for the church. Quite a bit for the first 20 years of his life.

His passion for music reignited, the 1830’s saw a number of positive changes in his life. He started a relationship with Countess Marie d’Agoult which would last for 10 years and give him three children. He started teaching at the Geneva Conservatory and spent several years in the 1830s living in Switzerland and Italy with the Countess. His circle of friends grew to include Berlioz and Chopin. His composing flourished both by creating his own works and transcribing other works. And he was well on his way to being the virtuoso pianist he wanted to be.

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Franz Liszt – his early years

Franz Liszt was born in 1811 and died a few months before his 75th birthday. This Hungarian born composer and pianist was raised with a musical father and started his piano playing training quite young. At a young age he had already given a few concerts and done some basic composing.

Around the age of 9, Liszt and his father travelled to Vienna in order for Franz to pursue further studies in music. Sponsored by some wealthy benefactors, he took lessons with Carl Czerny and Antonio Salieri. At the age of 12, Liszt’s father took him to Paris to attempt to gain entry into the Paris Conservatory. Unfortunately he was denied entry as a foreigner so private training and public concerts continued until his father’s death in 1927. At this point Liszt and his mother lived together in Paris, where he stopped performing and focused on teaching both piano and composition.

For the end of his teenage years, he kept a busy schedule with teaching. He usually started early in the morning and went until late in the evening, travelling across much of Paris to reach his various pupils. And while his music education had been attended to well, his formal education had not. He spent a lot of time during this period reading and self educating as well. His doubts about pursuing his passion with music ran deep and he questioned his choice of profession for a while. It wasn’t until the early 1830’s that Liszt resumed performing and composing in earnest.

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