Stephen Hough – in defense of Liszt?

Despite bad weather and flight delays and cancellations across Australia’s eastern states this morning Stephen Hough arrived safely in Canberra this morning, ready for his concert at Llewellyn Hall tonight.

Stephen clearly thinks deeply about the music he performs. On this tour he has programmed an interesting mix of more and less familiar works, and yet works that somehow relate structurally. He has acknowledged Liszt’s anniversary year, but he has clearly also spent time considering the music of Liszt. Stephen has written a series of blog posts about Liszt’s life, music and reputation this year, as well as several articles.

“But if Liszt as pianist, teacher and conductor exists now only as memory, anecdote and influence, Liszt as a composer is with us as never before. The view of his music as superficial was abandoned as the 20th century progressed. Wagner learned more from Liszt’s early experimentation with chromatic harmony than he liked to admit, and the Hungarian laid out the vocabulary of stark rhythmic primitivism that Bartók, his compatriot, would build on so fruitfully: some of Liszt’s final piano works, such as the Csárdás Macabre, create textures and colours that Bartók used unaltered. Their percussive atonality opened a door for a whole century of piano music.”

Stephen Hough
guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 December 2010

If Liszt is still in need of an advocate, it seems he has a good in one Stephen Hough.

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Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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