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FRANZ LISZT: THE WEIMAR YEARS 1848-1861 [Paperback]

Walker A
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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FRANZ LISZT: THE WEIMAR YEARS 1848-1861 + Franz Liszt: The Final Years, 1861 1886 + FRANZ LISZT: THE VIRTUOSO YEARS, 1811-1847
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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The reader who has followed the story of Liszt's life this far will recall that the narrative of Volume One was broken off at the point where he had achieved his greatest celebrity as a pianist. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Attention all Lisztians Nov. 26 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you are a Lisztomaniac, this is for you. It is a book that is very difficult to put down. Liszt's life reads better than a novel, and Walker's narrative flows superbly. He has investigated every biographical avenue and brings the Weimar of the 1800's to life.
On the negative side: There are copious footnotes, which often stray off the subject, whilst others belong to the main text from which they divert. As the book is meant to be a work of scholarship, the amount of opinion and speculation which peppers the book is also rather annoying. One has to be very cautious in separating Walker's own views from the first-class academic research that he has done.
Nonetheless as this book covers the most prolific period of the composer's life, you can do no better than read Walker's account to dicover just who Liszt was, his importance to musical history and the enigma of the man himself.
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Attention all Lisztians Nov. 26 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you are a Lisztomaniac, this is for you. It is a book that is very difficult to put down. Liszt's life reads better than a novel, and Walker's narrative flows superbly. He has investigated every biographical avenue and brings the Weimar of the 1800's to life.
On the negative side: There are copious footnotes, which often stray off the subject, whilst others belong to the main text from which they divert. As the book is meant to be a work of scholarship, the amount of opinion and speculation which peppers the book is also rather annoying. One has to be very cautious in separating Walker's own views from the first-class academic research that he has done.
Nonetheless as this book covers the most prolific period of the composer's life, you can do no better than read Walker's account to dicover just who Liszt was, his importance to musical history and the enigma of the man himself.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Source about a Fantastic Man. Jan. 4 2000
Format:Paperback
I have been a great fan of Franz Liszt for quite some time, and Alan Walker brought the composer to life in his trilogy of books about the famed musician.
This volume goes into great detail about Liszt's life after he decided to end his life as a virtuoso, and become a composer. His love for Princess Carolyne became apparent in his music, and in his interactions with others.
While it is not as descriptive as I would have liked regarding Liszt's symphonic poems, my favorites among his many works, i still felt that this volume is well worth every penny I spent on it. Definitely a worthy buy for anyone interested in music and what makes up a composer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Source about a Fantastic Man. Jan. 4 2000
By "rarl-korh" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have been a great fan of Franz Liszt for quite some time, and Alan Walker brought the composer to life in his trilogy of books about the famed musician.
This volume goes into great detail about Liszt's life after he decided to end his life as a virtuoso, and become a composer. His love for Princess Carolyne became apparent in his music, and in his interactions with others.
While it is not as descriptive as I would have liked regarding Liszt's symphonic poems, my favorites among his many works, i still felt that this volume is well worth every penny I spent on it. Definitely a worthy buy for anyone interested in music and what makes up a composer.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Attention all Lisztians Nov. 26 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are a Lisztomaniac, this is for you. It is a book that is very difficult to put down. Liszt's life reads better than a novel, and Walker's narrative flows superbly. He has investigated every biographical avenue and brings the Weimar of the 1800's to life.
On the negative side: There are copious footnotes, which often stray off the subject, whilst others belong to the main text from which they divert. As the book is meant to be a work of scholarship, the amount of opinion and speculation which peppers the book is also rather annoying. One has to be very cautious in separating Walker's own views from the first-class academic research that he has done.
Nonetheless as this book covers the most prolific period of the composer's life, you can do no better than read Walker's account to dicover just who Liszt was, his importance to musical history and the enigma of the man himself.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Attention all Lisztians Nov. 26 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are a Lisztomaniac, this is for you. It is a book that is very difficult to put down. Liszt's life reads better than a novel, and Walker's narrative flows superbly. He has investigated every biographical avenue and brings the Weimar of the 1800's to life.
On the negative side: There are copious footnotes, which often stray off the subject, whilst others belong to the main text from which they divert. As the book is meant to be a work of scholarship, the amount of opinion and speculation which peppers the book is also rather annoying. One has to be very cautious in separating Walker's own views from the first-class academic research that he has done.
Nonetheless as this book covers the most prolific period of the composer's life, you can do no better than read Walker's account to dicover just who Liszt was, his importance to musical history and the enigma of the man himself.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fan-tastic! and fantastic! April 16 2012
By Dr R. J. Lofaro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My views of Liszt were based on a 60+ year old book, Hungarian Rhapsody and the movie, over 50 years old now, Song Without End. The movie was a bravura performance by Dirk Bogarde who even spent months learning the arm/hand movements to make it almost seem as if he played the music...which was also fantastic as were the concert halls and palaces used as sets.
Liszt comes off in the book and the movie as talented but somewhat shallow...Personally, I was very much taken with his music. But, recently, I read an article that indicated he was being re-evaluated, shall we say...as was his music and all for the better. So, I bought this volume and found out I knew nothing...correction, very little about Franz Liszt and what I "knew" was essentially wrong. My appreciation grows for him...his pioneering musical works...his personal life...his saving Wagner from musical and personal oblivion...his efforts in conducting...the triple organ...let me stop here. I am ordering the other 2 volumes posthaste ..and my,as someone with a PhD, admiration and respect for Mr. Walker for his prodigious research and clarity of writing...Bravo, bravissimo!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bearer of the Beautiful... Feb. 26 2012
By Prufrock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"It is a peculiarity of Liszt's music that it faithfully and fatally mirrors the character of its interpreter. When his works give the impression of being hollow, superficial and pretentious, the fault usually lies with performer, occasionally with the (prejudiced) listener, and only rarely with Liszt himself."

- Alfred Brendel. Liszt Misunderstood (1961)

Reading the second volume of Alan Walker's biography of Liszt, 'Franz Liszt: The Weimar Years, 1848-1861', it is clear that the struggles he undertook willingly during his life persist to this day.

Liszt is a fascinating character and extraordinary central figure in the development of classical music. It is not only that much of his music remains underrated, but also his influence and encouragement to composers across the long span of his life is easily overlooked. On a simple level Liszt's ability to see the genius in Berlioz and Wagner, to champion their music when not many others were is to his credit. But looking a little deeper, as Walker's exceptionally detailed account of the Weimar period permits, one must admit that Liszt's radical (at the time) understanding of the art of the conductor, together with his unwavering certainty that music had to develop in new directions, mark him out as something more than many of his contemporaries.

Liszt was also, in the field of music, an exceptionally generous personality. Having spent a few hundred pages cataloging how the critic Eduard Hanslick savaged Liszt's endevours both as a composer and a conductor, Walker describes how the two met at a dinner party and sat down to play some four-handed Schubert. Certainly Hanslick deserves some credit too for having the grace to lay down the cudgel for one evening, but then again he was slinging the arrows. Liszt's generosity also extended to bailing out Wagner on more than one occasion. Given the content of Wagner's letters and his extraordinary ego it is surprising Liszt only showed his anger when Wagner had the temerity to ask for a pension.

'The Bearer of the Beautiful' is the phrase Liszt used to describe the role of the Artist. As Walker describes on more than one occasion, Liszt had a profound belief that music was 'the voice of God' and that the true artist had a sacred duty towards music. I doubt such a philosophy was more accepted then than it would be today. It is not so much the clear link Liszt draws to religion but the concept of the musician as a willing servant to music. And yet, when we reflect upon the musicians that most affect us while we listen to them, is it not their 'authenticity' that we find most persuasive?

At its best Walker's biography of Liszt is a wonderful advocate for the forgotten Liszt. The dissection of Liszt development as a composer of orchestral music sets about placing the Symphonic Poems and the Faust and Dante Symphonies in their proper place in the development of Romantic music. Walker enthusiasm is such that one is inevitably pushed to listen to these works again. Walker also does manful service in showing how Liszt worked exceptionally to reshape the role of the conductor; without much of his work in Weimar and in the teachings he passed on to his pupils it is impossible to see how concert performance would have developed to today's norms.

Walker is of course a genuine (and absolute) advocate for Liszt. On cannot help feeling that on occasion he sidesteps some of Liszt's more questionable behaviour, or at the very least mounts a genteel defense. Liszt's family life was both complicated and painful, but leaving his children so long in the care of others is remarkably heartless, given his deep affection and generosity towards his friends and admirers.

Things get even more tricky when dealing with Liszt's support for Wagner, particularly his silence over Wagner's anti-Semite pronouncements. Walker makes the case that Liszt was marked 'guilty by association', which he feels is unfair given the composer's numerous Jewish pupils and supporters. Perhaps Liszt, as in many other cases, felt that his actions would speak louder than any words he might publish, but he showed incredibly poor judgement in allowing Princess Carolyne to spread racist nonsense in a book that bore his name. But as been proven so often over the last two hundred years, saying and dong nothing in the face of brutality and intolerance invites it to continue and flourish.

It is no surprise that Liszt should flawed judgement at times in his life. Walker's front foot defense is in part a response to the legacy of Liszt's previous biographers, who either had a personal axe to grind or started from the position of questioning Liszt's place in the pantheon. Walker's incredible energy and dedication to rooting out the truth of his subject is both miraculous and marvelous, probably leaving little room for improvement in the future. In the case of all such works of research and biographical analysis surely the final measure is if they illuminate our understanding of the subject themselves. By this measure certainly Liszt has a worthy champion.
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