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All the Necessary Attributes

Stephen Walsh: Franz Liszt, Celebrity

21 September 2016
Franz LisztMusician, Celebrity, Superstar 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 353 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 300 18293 4
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... 19th-century composer? Naturally, it depends on what’s meant by important: Beethoven overshadows them all, but Wagner generated more discussion, and more distaste. Few people would nominate FranzLiszt, because it’s usual to confuse importance with quality. Liszt was probably not the greatest composer of his time, yet his presence was everywhere in musical life from the moment that he arrived in ...
18 May 2000
Franz Liszt. Vol. III: The Final Years, 1861-86 
by Alan Walker.
Faber, 594 pp., £45, February 1998, 0 571 19034 0
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The Romantic Generation 
by Charles Rosen.
HarperCollins, 720 pp., £14.99, March 1999, 0 00 255712 6
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Franz LisztSelected Letters 
edited by Adrian Williams.
Oxford, 1063 pp., £70, January 1999, 0 19 816688 5
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... To be fair to Alan Walker, I should confess that I’m an amateur pianist who loves playing – or trying to play – some of the virtuoso music Liszt both composed and, of course, performed: relatively easy pieces like Waldesrauschen and Un Sospiro, which are concert études, and also the three ‘Petrarch’ Sonnets. More difficult ones – like ...
7 December 1989
Franz Liszt. Vol. II: The Weimar Years 1848-1861 
by Alan Walker.
Faber, 626 pp., £35, August 1989, 0 571 15322 4
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Franz LisztA Chronicle of his Life in Pictures and Documents 
by Ernst Burger, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Princeton, 358 pp., £45, October 1989, 0 691 09133 1
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... The second part of Alan Walker’s projected three-volume life of Liszt opens with events any biographer would relish. At the height of an immensely successful, indeed unprecedented career as an international virtuoso of the piano, Liszt, aged 35 and (as he felt) nel ...

Princes, Counts and Racists

David Blackbourn: Weimar

18 May 2016
Weimar: From Enlightenment to the Present 
by Michael Kater.
Yale, 463 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 0 300 17056 6
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... minor figures declined to come. Some came but soon left, like Hans Christian Andersen and Hoffmann von Fallersleben, author of ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, über Alles’. The exception was FranzLiszt, who spent thirty years in Weimar in all. He first appeared in 1841 and was soon offered the post of extraordinary Kapellmeister. He took up the offer in 1848, arriving with his new lover, Princess ...

Like a Carp on a Lawn

Graham Robb: Marie D’Agoult

7 June 2001
The Life of Marie d'Agoult, Alias Daniel Stern 
by Phyllis Stock-Morton.
Johns Hopkins, 291 pp., £33, July 2000, 0 8018 6313 9
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Marie d’Agoult: The Rebel Countess 
by Richard Bolster.
Yale, 288 pp., £16.95, September 2000, 0 300 08246 0
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... Marie Catherine Sophie de Flavigny, Comtesse d’Agoult (born Frankfurt, 1805; died Paris, 1876) is famous for two contrasting reasons. In 1835, she left her husband for FranzLiszt. The affair lasted about ten years and produced three children, the second of whom, Cosima, succeeded ‘where her mother had failed’, says Phyllis Stock-Morton, by ‘becoming the permanent muse ...
14 November 1996
Lola Montez: A Life 
by Bruce Seymour.
Yale, 468 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 300 06347 4
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... tangible benefits out of every disaster, usually in the form of letters of introduction furnished in order to be rid of her. Having fled St Petersburg because of some unpleasantness and latched onto FranzLiszt, she was expelled from Dresden after a nasty slapping incident. Liszt penned a hasty recommendation and she took off with it for Paris, where it seems that her wit and beauty worked wonders ...

But what did they say?

Stephen Walsh: Music in 1853

25 October 2012
Music in 1853: The Biography of a Year 
by Hugh Macdonald.
Boydell, 208 pp., £25, June 2012, 978 1 84383 718 3
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... one might expect the answer, it was a year of extraordinary masterpieces or decisive changes in the language of music. One might think of 1859 (Tristan und Isolde, Brahms’s First Piano Concerto, Franz Brendel’s invention of the New German School, not to mention On the Origin of Species), or 1912-13 (Pierrot lunaire, The Rite of Spring, Jeux, the riotous Vienna premiere of Webern’s Op. 6 ...

All about Me

Kevin Kopelson: Don Bachardy

8 April 2015
by Don Bachardy.
Glitterati, 368 pp., £45, October 2014, 978 0 9913419 2 4
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... break-up). I was writing a book – never to be published – on Proust, or rather on the act of writing such a book. I was reading – and then reviewing for this very publication – a biography of FranzLiszt by Alan Walker.* I was also reading – for amusement – the biography of Lytton Strachey by Michael Holroyd and one of Dorothy Parker by Marion Meade. In Holroyd’s book, I was most struck ...

Boudoir Politics

Bee Wilson: Lola Montez

7 June 2007
Lola Montez: Her Life and Conquests 
by James Morton.
Portrait, 390 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 7499 5115 3
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... she wanted to be – not so much a femme mystérieuse as a mystifying blank. It is impossible to see what it was that drove so many prominent men to acts of such lustful folly. Her conquests included FranzLiszt, Robert Peel (son of the prime minister), the French newspaper editor Alexandre Dujarier, Marius Petipa (the creator of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker), the Earl of Malmesbury, the Count of ...
4 July 1996
Djuna Barnes 
by Philip Herring.
Viking, 416 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 670 84969 3
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... her second daughter-in-law (the ‘other woman’). When visited, her face, it was said, would rubberise itself into the shape of the spirit, who was, at various times, Lord Kitchener, Jack London or FranzLiszt (he came to tell the children to practise their instruments more frequently). But the barmy, scrambled upbringing wasn’t always innocent or even well-intentioned. Although Barnes later said ...
18 November 1993
Benjamin Constant: A Biography 
by Dennis Wood.
Routledge, 321 pp., £40, June 1993, 0 415 01937 0
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Isabelle de Charrière (Belle de Zuylen): A Biography 
by C.P Courtney.
Voltaire Foundation, 810 pp., £49, August 1993, 0 7294 0439 0
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... wrote his aunt), though no doubt they were also in some way necessary to his agitated soul. Years later Balzac would produce a telling portrait of the self-torturing romantic loves of George Sand, FranzLiszt and Marie d’Agoult in the (relatively little-read) novel, Béatrix. It’s hard to know who could have done justice to the upper-class intellectual-bohemian melodrama played out in and around ...


Ian Penman

1 July 2015
Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... finger’s brush of his microphone stand.As Clarke points out, none of this was entirely new: there had been previous scenes of clammy hysteria triggered by male musicians and screen stars, from FranzLiszt to Rudy Vallée. But these hormonal crazes tended to fizzle out, often ignominiously, even if (like Sinatra) you had a resourceful press agent hyping the script. This was a watershed moment ...

In Hiding

Nicholas Spice

30 December 1982
Richard Strauss: A Chronicle of the Early Years 1864-1898 
by Willi Schuh, translated by Mary Whitall.
Cambridge, 555 pp., £35, July 1982, 0 521 24104 9
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... development of Strauss’s artistic allegiances: his growth away from his father’s staunch and intelligent classicism, out from under Bülow’s ample wing, towards the radical cause of Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner. The theme is developed through the history of relationships rather than through musical analysis: the course of Strauss’s affections for his father, Bülow, Cosima Wagner, Alexander ...

Hi, Louise!

Stephanie Burt: Frank O’Hara

20 July 2000
In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art 
by Russell Ferguson.
California, 160 pp., £24.50, October 1999, 0 520 22243 1
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The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets 
by David Lehman.
Anchor, 448 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 0 385 49533 1
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Frank O’Hara: Poet among Painters 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 266 pp., £13.50, March 1998, 0 226 66059 1
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... at the Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Russell Ferguson. O’Hara collaborated with the Action Painters and the proto-Pop artists Joe Brainard, Norman Bluhm, Mike Goldberg, Franz Kline, Al Leslie and Larry Rivers, on paintings, prints, collages, ‘artists’ books’ and short films: these comprise the core of the exhibition. There are also portraits and other works linked ...

Keller’s Causes

Robin Holloway

3 August 1995
Essays on Music 
by Hans Keller, edited by Christopher Wintle, Bayan Northcott and Irene Samuel.
Cambridge, 269 pp., £30, October 1994, 0 521 46216 9
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... emphasised some older names which, still peripheral at that time to English taste, were, equally with the moderns, commanding subjects for major campaigning – Bruckner and Mahler above all, with Franz Schmidt and Hans Pfitzner as second strings. He was also involved with the post-Schoenbergian arm of the avant garde, crusading for worthy figures like Skalkottas the Greek, Dallapiccola the Italian ...

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