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Liszt and the Keyboard – An Illustrated Lecture

Whatever else the world may debate about Franz Liszt’s life and work, one thing is generally conceded: he was the first modern pianist. Entitled ”Liszt and the Keyboard”, master musicologist Dr. Alan Walker gives us an exciting 47 minute journey describing Liszt being the root of modern piano playing.

Liszt’s influence was not that of imitation but of rational solving technical problems. Liszt became a standard of definition with a playing out of biceps, forearms and fingers. Walker says; ”All subsequent schools were branches of his (Liszt’s) tree. Anton Rubinstein, Busoni, Godowsky, and Rachmaninov – all those pianists who formed what historians latter dubbed “the golden age of piano playing” – would be unthinkable without Liszt.”

Alan Walker’s Illustrated Lecture

Walker’s lecture shows how Liszt’s reforms at the keyboard might be best understood by returning them to the biographical context from which they first emerged. Liszt’s period 1838-1847 is referred to as ”Years of Transcendental Execution” and music examples with a lineup of pianists such as Gekic, Bolet, Laplante, Watts, Suk, Solomon, Rosen, Tyron, Lortie and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter with pianist Lambert Orkis provide audible and enjoyable references to Walker, the storyteller.

Piano Street has previously covered the release of English-Canadian Alan Walker’s three volume biography on Franz Liszt that took him 25 years to comlpete, and it’s hard to find equal substantial, penetrating and thrilling storytelling within this field of study. Walker’s mastery and publications also cover Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin, as well as pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow. During the pandemic, Walker has published two lectures on Chopin in addition to this lecture on Franz Liszt.


Argerich Performs Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 Live

This Thursday evening the world was fortunate to be able to enjoy Martha Argerich solo – something which is utterly sensational as the legend these days exclusively appear in concerts with orchestras and in chamber music collaborations.

Symphoniker Hamburg is running a now ongoing Internet festival at Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, created and designed as musical collages themed around Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Ensembles, chamber music and solo performances are presented in a fine multimedial blend.
On the festival’s first day we could hear Martha Argerich and Nicholas Angelich play Maurice Ravel’s La Valse (31,22).

In the evening of the second day, a streamed live concert with classical music eminence took to the stage, Martha Argerich joining violinist Renaud Capuçon for a recital which evidently also included a big and unexpected surprise: Argerich performing Chopin’s 3rd Sonata in B minor, a work she didn’t perform in public for decades.

Digital piano score:

Piano sheet music to download and print

After weeks of streaming audience free performances you are getting used to empty halls and the noise free environment. Probably, in one way appreciated by the musicians too. The recording situation comes to ones mind amplified by Argerich’s sporadic smiles and half glances out into the empty auditorium. After the glorious performance one could trace Argerich’s slight but evident uncertainty regarding who to thank for the missing applaudes. The world surely wants more solo Martha Argerich!

Festival calendar

About the festival (eng)


Sleigh Ride – A Holiday Greeting on 440 Keys

Enjoy The Five Brown’s new rendition of Leroy Anderson’s joyful season’s celebration wondrously arranged for five pianos!

This eternal holiday favorite was composed during a severe heat wave in the summer of 1950 and has been a fixture with holiday concerts for more than half a century. It’s said that the main melody of “Sleigh Ride” was used as the main theme of Victor Young’s score for the 1949 western Streets of Laredo, with no credits to Anderson. The original orchestral version included humorous sound applications such as horse clip-clopping, and a whip used to get the horse moving. A percussionist provides these sounds on temple blocks and a slapstick. Toward the ending of the piece, a trumpet imitates the sound of a whinnying horse.

Leroy Anderson was an American composer of short, light concert music, of which many were introduced by the Boston Pops Orchestra and conductor Arthur Fiedler. Composer John Williams described him as “one of the great American masters of light orchestral music.” Anderson was born to first-generation Swedish parents in Cambridge, Massachusetts and played trombone in the Harvard University Band in the late 1920s. In graduate school he studied composition, organ and double bass as well as Scandinavian languages, which he used during Second Word War as head of the Scandinavian desk in U.S. military intelligence. His composition teachers at Harvard University included Walter Piston and George Enescu.


Through Nupen’s Eyes: Young Legends Play Mozart

On 11 March 1966, two great young pianists appeared together in public for the first time: Daniel Barenboim and Vladimir Ashkenazy played Mozart’s Concerto for two pianos at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon. Looking in the back mirror we realize the unique importance of this performance hi-lighting the two young pianists in the middle of building world famous careers.

Enjoying the sound of their different personalities, it is easy to get captured by their cultivation, spontaneity and mastery of dialogue. By covering rehearsal and private situations, film maker Christopher Nupen manages to communicate a deeper understanding for the artists’ personalities when giving their voices in Mozart’s wonderful double concerto in E-flat major, a work originally written for Wolfgang himself and his sister Maria Anna.

Barenboim, Ashkenazy: Double Concerto

Documentary of 1966

0:31 Workshop
5:06 About Daniel Barenboim
8:20 About Vladimir Ashkenazy
10:20 First rehearsal
16:55 First rehearsal with the Orchestra
29:45 Barenboim conducts Mozart – Symphony No. 29
32:58 Double Concerto, First movement
43:14 Double Concerto, Second movement
51:16 Double Concerto, Third movement

Film Maker Christopher Nupen

Renowned music film maker Christopher Nupen began his broadcasting career in the Features Department of BBC Radio when he made HIGH FESTIVAL IN SIENA in 1962 for the BBC Third Programme at the invitation of Laurence Gilliam, a radio documentary of a new kind about the extraordinary summer music school of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, where Nupen studied with Andrés Segovia and Alirio Diaz.

As a result of his radio programmes, he was invited by Huw Wheldon to move to television where he became the originator of a new kind of intimate classical music film – made possible for the first time by the invention of the first silent 16mm film cameras in the 1960s. His first film (DOUBLE CONCERTO) made in 1966, at the invitation of Huw Wheldon and David Attenborough with Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniel Barenboim won two international prizes (Prague and Monte Carlo) and became a seminal work.


Digital Piano? Oh No – 100% Analogue!

What happens when innovative acoustical ideas come across a vintage broken piano? Well, Ukrainian musicians transformed it into a unique and completely analog hybrid of 20 different instruments that are each connected and controlled by the piano keys.

The musicians in the band Brunettes Shoot Blondes came up with an idea of making a true analog construction which could play different instruments nested inside the rim just by playing. When pressing a key, the piano hammers beat a marimba, tambourine, cymbals or even castanets. There are also special mechanical devices which allow playing of cello, violins and organ.

Read more at designboom.com

Details about the construction: www.thomann.de/blog/en/bsb-houston/


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