New Album on the Wirth Institute Label 2018:
Liszt portrait by Franz Krüger courtesy of the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre in Budapest
LISZTOMANIA is the title and theme of a piano recital at the University of Alberta, under the auspices of The Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies in collaboration with Mazurka Music and Art. The Concert is a Wirth Institute initiative in support of mental health awareness on campus. The concert took place prior to Blue Monday (the third Monday in January) which is an important date for Mental Health awareness, reported to be the most depressing day of the year. On the program are an assortment of some of the best-loved piano works of the legendary pianist and composer Franz Liszt. The Recital was recorded live and released as a CD on the Wirth Institute Label.
FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886)
In many ways, Liszt epitomizes the ideals of the Renaissance artist, in the tradition of Leonardo da Vinci; he is “a universal artist, cosmopolitan in nature.” A virtuoso pianist and a prolific composer, Liszt was the radical precursor of modernity with his Zukunstmuzik (music of the future), anticipating impressionism and even an ascetic form of expressionism – “was he not one of those who started the battle against tonality?” .
Liszt also embraced his Hungarian heritage and turned to folklore and exoticism in his adaptations of the gypsy-inspired Hungarian Rhapsodies. A traveling virtuoso, crisscrossing thousands of kilometres around Europe – from Lisbon to Moscow to Constantinople – Liszt caused a sensation with his performance-persona, attaining the status of a pop icon, prompting his contemporaries to coin the term “Lisztomania.” Always a great Samaritan, he believed in Franciscan faith and charity, his vanity counter-balanced by his humility. At its most inspired, Liszt’s Mephistophelean tone is infused with a visionary mysticism.
The Lisztomania album was performed as a Live Recital in support of Mental Health Initiatives on the University of Alberta Campus in 2017. Donations from the concert and proceeds from subsequent sale of the album continue to benefit Mental Health on Campus.
Sincere gratitude to the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre in Budapest for access to their archives and artwork in the liner notes.
About the pianist:
Mikolaj Warszynski (D.Mus), a Canadian concert pianist of Polish origin, enjoys a versatile career as a pianist, lecturer and pedagogue. Warszynski performs extensively as a solo and chamber musician, giving recitals in North America, Europe and Asia. His debut album for Anima Records, Mikolaj Warszynski Piano Solo, with works by Haydn, Szymanowski, Liszt and Chopin, has received glowing reviews in Fanfare Magazine (New York), and in the Wholenote (Toronto).
The oil painting below by Schams and Lafitte, entitled Liszt at the piano depicts a charity concert for Keizer Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria-Hungary and the Royal Court at the Redoutesaal, Budapest in 1872, where Liszt performed a recital of works by Beethoven and Chopin. The reproduction in the CD booklet (right) features a sketch by János Jankó, courtesy of the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre in Budapest.
Caricature of Liszt with his 'Hungarian Sabre' courtesy of the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre in Budapest