Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beethoven Second on Liszt

From American Public Media's this-day-in-classical-music report:  "If you were like Dr. Who with his Tardis, and a piano fan to boot, you might set your time machine for Paris, April 25, 1841. That's when an all-Beethoven concert was given at the Salle Erard to raise funds for the proposed Beethoven monument in Bonn, the late composer's birthplace. Franz Liszt was the soloist in Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, conducted by Hector Berlioz.

"About a month earlier, Liszt had dazzled Paris with the premiere of his new piano fantasia on themes from the popular opera, 'Robert the Devil,' by Giacomo Meyerbeer. So, as Liszt walked on stage -- with the entire orchestra in place, all ready for Beethoven's Concerto -- the audience clamored loudly for a repeat performance. They made such a racket that Berlioz and the orchestra had no choice but to sit idly by until Liszt first encored his Fantasia. In the audience was a 27-year old German named Richard Wagner, reviewing the concert for a Dresden newspaper. Wagner was outraged that the Beethoven was put on hold for Liszt's flashy solo.*

"We're not sure if Wagner attended a concert the following day at the Salle Pleyel, but any modern-day time traveler would probably want to stick around to hear Frederic Chopin give one of his rare Parisian recitals, performing, among other works, his own F-Major Ballade."  *In 1870 Liszt became Wagner's father-in-law."

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