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FRANZ LISZT: THE VIRTUOSO YEARS, 1811-1847 [Paperback]

Alan Walker
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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FRANZ LISZT: THE VIRTUOSO YEARS, 1811-1847 + Franz Liszt: The Final Years, 1861 1886 + FRANZ LISZT: THE WEIMAR YEARS 1848-1861
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From Publishers Weekly

This second volume of Walker's monumental, extremely enjoyable study examines the 12 years during which the remarkable piano virtuoso, a Roman Catholic, settled in Weimar, a Protestant city, with the even-more-devout but married Princess Carolyne. During this difficult period Liszt conducted the court orchestra in many world premieres but concentrated mostly on composing the major works on which his fame is based. Walker's range and knowledge are astonishing. Chapters full of details not hitherto published are given over to Liszt as conductor, writer and teacher, his relations with his children, the ducal court and other composers and performers, the house he shared with Carolyne, the links between the marriage of her daughter Marie and her attempts to annul her own marriage so that she could wed Liszt. One of the most interesting sections, "Liebestraum," discusses Liszt's emotional attachment to his piano pupil Agnes Street-Klindworth, a political agent who bore a child by Ferdinand Lassalle, revolutionary and friend of Karl Marx. Walker confirms that, for Liszt, the artist was "a sacred vessel through which the Beautiful passed," and that his chief concern was that artists should be helped, "not for their own sake but for the sake of Art." Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Liszt & his world to life May 10 2002
Format:Paperback
An excellent biography. Alan Walker tells the story of Liszt convincingly and captures the readers imagination. Enormous amounts of research has gone into this book - this is evident - but Walker avoids academic-style writing, and the book should attract a wide audience. However, for anyone interested in the nitty-gritty, there are plenty of footnotes and references. Perhaps the jist of the book is the depth and warmth of Liszt personality. Walker also succeeds in rectifying & correcting some of the myths sorrounding the legendary pianist.
Perhaps the only small minus is that Walker seems to fall in love with his subject. I suppose this is bound to happen. There is no disputing Liszt's impact on piano history, but still see such works as the Transcendental and Pagannini Studies as on slightly outside the core of the piano literature of today, while for example Chopin's Etudes are still right at the center. As a composer, I think Liszt is still more flash than content, although the technical challenges are enormous.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection is here!! June 3 2003
Format:Paperback
I don't need a thousand words to express my admiration for the deepness of this Liszt's biography by Alan Walker. The research evolved unto these should have been formidable. The unique comparison for such a work of 30 years of research is the Work of Liszt itself. We cannot immagine how Alan Walker got all these informations, he seemed to really know what Liszt made all days in his life.
In a word: Incredible !!! Get it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll treasure all 3 volumes July 9 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Volume I of this massive 3-volume biography of the great Liszt is, as the other two volumes, well written, informative, and, well, fun to read. Liszt lead an exciting life, lived in exciting times, and wrote exciting music. Alan Walker is more than up to the job. His writing style moves along like an octave run up the piano. Remember, these books are about his life; if you want in-depth study of the music, you'll have to look elsewhere. (As I'm in the process of doing now.) I'm the proud owner of all three volumes in hardcover and I refer to them constantly. Don't know what else to say other than "enjoy!" And buy as much Liszt music as you can; you won't regret it.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well-balanced view of an extraordinary person Sept. 20 1998
By Suzanna Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I knew nothing of Liszt when this book was recommended to me by a friend who knows I love biographies that mix the world of music and inspiring personalities. They need not be perfect to inspire and this book appears to give a scholarly view of a personality much misrepresented. The quality of Liszt the man is as inspiring as the innovations he brought to performance and art.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a good novel Aug. 27 2000
By Jesper Hansen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Over the years my interest in classical music has grown, and being a pianist myself I have naturally focused mainly on the piano. I discovered that the most influential pianist wasn't Beethoven or Mozart. No, it was the Hungarian Franz Liszt. I became more and more interested in this fascinating man and his music and I was delighted when I found this bio by Alan Walker. I have always read a lot of biographies and in many ways I find them more interesting than "normal" books. I think it's more fascinating to read about someone real instead of someone who is made up in someones mind. The way Alan Walker has made this book is amazing. It is not just the basic facts and stories, no, all the details and little "less significant" episodes are here as well. It is written like a good novel and I found myself unable to put it down before I'd finished a chapter.
Besides the fact that it is very well written some other things have to be said as well. Walker is very careful when talking about the periodes of which we know very little, he always makes it clear whenever a source or something else isn't 100% reliable. Another remarkable thing is the way he describes the people around Liszt, he gives us a detailed background story on all of the artists who has infulenced Liszt or in other ways been important to him. This background detail serves to give us more insight into the world of Liszt. It must have taken Walker ages to gather all the information in this book, but it is certainly all worth it!
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Liszt and want to know more about this unique artist. But beware! This is only the first in a series of three, so it's a 1200 page biography! it's not something you "just sit down and read". I have only read the first volume but I'm dying to get started on the next and then the third. This is without doubt the most complete biography I have ever read. Many thanks to Mr. Walker for his huge efforts in making this book.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb accomplishment - enlightening April 10 2007
By Joe Stephens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a music student in the 70's the subtext when discussing Franz Liszt was that he was a showman who leaned on his empty virtuosity. Chopin, Mendelssohn, and Schumann on the other hand, were the true romantic artists.

It's taken me over 35 years of studying piano and music to get to the point where I would read this wonderful biography of Liszt, and my eyes have been opened even wider about the wonderful artistic character of Liszt and his completely indespensible role in 19th century music.

This book (I have all three) is a wonderful read, at some times it is "laugh out loud" funny, and is filled with musical examples that perfectly illustrate the points that Mr. Walker makes.

If you are a musician interested in the piano, or the Romantic period, you owe it to yourself to let the scales fall from your eyes, and read this enlightening exposition.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On The Road Again..... Dec 20 2000
By Bruce Loveitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
He was thin and had long straight hair. When he sat down at the piano he would oftimes play with such power that he snapped strings and would have to switch to playing on another piano. When he came onstage the women would swoon. Are we talking about a modern rocker, perhaps? Nope. We are talking about the incomparable Franz Liszt. I believe that Alan Walker took somewhere around 20-25 years to write all 3 volumes of Liszt's biography. It was definitely worth it! In this first volume we follow Liszt the traveling virtuoso. The man with the powerful fingers certainly needed stamina to pursue his career back in those days. Imagine traveling thousands of miles over bad roads in all sorts of weather, in a coach! Liszt achieved amazing fame and was well-aware of the position he had attained through his hard work. In the days when musicians were still generally regarded as the servants of the aristocracy Liszt, in one famous incident stopped playing because the Czar of Russia had the effrontery to speak during the concert! Liszt paused and said, "Even music stops when the Czar speaks!" Despite the picture of Liszt that has come down through the ages as some kind of Hungarian Ham that liked to wear medals and who would leave his green gloves behind on the piano so that after a concert the ladies could fight over them, there was a lot more to him than just being a showman. He was a very spiritual man and believed his ability was a gift from God. He worked very hard and in addition to being a virtuoso he was one of great composers, with an amazing output both in terms of quantity and quality. He was a very generous man who would give benefits to raise money for worthy causes such as flood victim relief or to pay for a statue of Beethoven to be commissioned. Liszt had many, many students and he never charged a penny for his lessons. He thought it was his duty to pass on his knowledge to other pianists with talent. A minor flaw of this biography is that Walker tends to be a bit too fawning at times. But the knowledge we gain because of the tremendous amount of research the author has done makes up for this many times. This is a great biography.
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