Franz Liszt

We went to a piano recital last night in Budapest.

Gabor Farkas played a number of compositions by Chopin and Liszt.

I was particularly taken with the Liszt compositions. The one called “Les Jeux d’eaux de la Villa d’Este” was particularly lovely.

I shared another pianist’s rendition of it with some friends on Twitter this morning.

After the recital, we went to dinner and we spent much of dinner talking about Liszt and reading about his life and work. It’s nice when a phone connected to the Internet can be a catalyst for a conversation at dinner instead of a hindrance.

As many of you likely know, Liszt was a “rock star” in the world of classical music in the mid 19th Century.

He fell in and out of love with Countesses and Princesses and held court in some of the most important cities of the era, including Vienna and Weimar.

But possibly most interesting was the level of hysteria that he generated in his fans with his piano playing, a phenomena known as Lisztomania.

The kind of hysteria that the Beatles and other rock bands produced in their fan bases was not a new thing.

It had gone on a century before in the concert halls of Europe at the height of the Classical Music era.

Which leads me to speculate that Lisztomania itself was not a new phenomena and that great performers at the height of their powers have had the capacity to cause people to lose their composure for as long as humans have had the power to perform.

In any case, Franz Liszt is an interesting case in the study of celebrity. And his music is also wonderful. He has found two new fans, a century and a half after his departure from Planet Earth.

Which is the amazing thing about arts and culture. It survives and can be appreciated by generations to come leading us to become fanatical about someone who has not been alive for a very long time.

And yes, if you were wondering, I have Ken Russell’s Lisztomania downloaded into my Google Pixel Slate to watch on our flight back to the US later this week.