NEIU to Celebrate Bicentennial Birthday Of Composer And Pianist Franz Liszt

Miranda Scott, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of NEIU

Renowned musicologist Alan Walker, Ph.D., will be presenting a lecture as part of Northeastern Illinois University’s (NEIU) Presidential Lecture Series on Thursday, Feb. 23. The lecture is titled “Franz Liszt: The Cultural Ambassador of the 19th Century.” Walker’s presentation is a part of NEIU’s Year of Liszt celebration in observance of the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt’s birth.
Edgebrook, Ill., resident and NEIU music professor Elyse Mach, Ph.D., said, “Dr. Alan Walker is the definitive authority on Franz Liszt, who was probably the greatest pianist that ever lived.”
Walker and Mach have both been awarded the American Liszt Society Medal for their scholarship and advocacy of the music and ideals of composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt. Like Walker, Mach is a distinguished Liszt scholar, author and guest lecturer. In addition to her faculty position at Northeastern, she has performed all over Europe and the United States, and has even been invited to guest teach at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, Northwestern University, Yale University; and the Juilliard School.
Her textbook “Contemporary Class Piano,” which was written especially for NEIU students, is in its seventh edition and is the most widely used class piano text in the country. Mach uses her own style of teaching and focuses on diversity of style and repertoire, as well as creativity through various methods of improvisation.
Mach also shares a strong connection with as part of a legacy of students and teachers descended from Liszt. She was taught by Louis Crowder, who was taught by Eugen D’Albert, who was taught by Franz Liszt. This line of Liszt students has continued at NEIU and strengthened an ever-growing legacy.
Franz Liszt was born Oct. 22, 1811, in Raiding, Hungary. He began composing at age eight and completed around 1,400 works by his death on July 31, 1886. In addition to being a successful composer and teacher, Liszt was well-known for his dazzling skills as a pianist. The theatrics of modern piano recitals, as seen by musicians like Elton John, were first displayed by Liszt in the mid-19th century. Mach added, “He was the first ‘superstar’ performer.”
According to Mach, Liszt was the first to give complete solo concerts, perform music from memory and coin the term “recital.” The most popular of Liszt’s works include La Campanella, Liebestraume No. 3, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and Un Sosprio. Liszt also invented the symphonic poem, an orchestral composition based on literature or folk tales, and thematic transformation.
Best known as a biographer and Liszt scholar, Alan Walker completed a three-volume biography on Liszt over the course of 25 years. The English-Canadian musicologist has been awarded several honors, including Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; the Pro Cultura Hungaria Medal, presented to him by the President of Hungary; the Hungarian Liszt Society Medal; and the American Liszt Society Medal. He was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Book Award in 1998 for his three-volume biography on Liszt.
Walker’s most recent honor was presented to him on Jan. 17, 2012. At the Hungarian Embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, Walker received the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. Hungarian ambassador László Pordány presented Walker with the medal. The Knight’s Cross is usually reserved for military decoration; however, Walker’s research on Liszt and dedication to the topic led to his nomination in the civil division.
The Washington Post selected the biography as a Book of the Year and said it is “unquestionably a landmark” and “meticulously detailed, passionately argued, and sometimes wrenchingly moving.” TIME Magazine said Walker discusses Liszt’s works with “greater understanding and clarity than any previous biographer.” Walker has also published works on Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin, and presents lectures on these composers around Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Walker is a professor emeritus of music at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Walker’s lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in the NEIU Fine Arts Center Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.


Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 01:02