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Franz Liszt - Part 2

A Minute with Miles

Yesterday I mentioned that it was Franz Liszt who invented the solo piano recital, and that the frenzied reactions of Liszt’s audiences became known as “Lisztomania,” or “Liszt fever.” But I don’t want you have the impression that Liszt’s recitals were all virtuoso flash and little substance. Liszt had an enormous repertoire—he certainly played his own showpieces, but he also played pieces by all the great composers of the day and by those he called the “classics,” including many works of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.

And by all accounts he played these pieces wonderfully. Felix Mendelssohn, for example, once said, “I have never seen a musician whose feeling for music filled him to the very finger-tips and flowed directly out from them, as it does with Liszt.” And even Johannes Brahms, whose own style of piano playing was apparently the polar opposite of Liszt’s, was once heard to say, “Whoever has not heard Liszt cannot even speak of piano playing.”

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.