Published on Franz Liszt Group, on June 11, 2021. If you want to know how the Story Behind series started, I give details in “Story Behind” Series #1″.
This post was slightly different from the others. Someone posted this video, called “Rare uncovered audio & footage – Franz Liszt masterclass late 19th century”. It received many comments. Some believed it was true, some not. Of course, this is a fake. I posted a special “story behind” to explain why, based on the group members’ comments. First of all, here is the first video:
Link to the YouTube video if needed: https://youtu.be/DMJwfIxFWhw
Story behind post:
The last video showing the pretended (and fake) recording of Liszt’s masterclass made much noise 🙂 I wanted to propose a special “story behind” for this occasion. I saw some comments that are worth exploring together.
First of all, here is the original video. It is an excerpt of the excellent series of 16 episodes of the biopic “Liszt Ferenc”, a Hungarian TV show of 1982: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0156218/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1. I regret that this series was never subtitled, as it is pretty good and covers a lot in Liszt’s life based on the documentation that was available at the time of the production.
The episode in question is episode 14, and the excerpt in question (which was very badly treated in this fake video) can be found at 6:42.
Then a few questions are of interest:
“When did Liszt die?”
31 July 1886
“When was recorded sound invented?”
First sound captured in Paris by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in the late 1850s, using the same technique as the daguerreotype (see my “story behind” post about the first picture taken of Liszt), nearly two decades before Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone call (1876) or Thomas Edison’s phonograph (1877). Too bad nobody had the idea to go to Liszt and record him play. Of course, the recording techniques, including the piano rolls, appeared only later, way too late for Liszt’s sound to be captured.
“When was ‘moving pictures’ ie filming invented?”
First commercial public screening of the Lumière brothers on 28 December 1895.
“Also you’ll notice that the ‘surface noise’ of the recording has been superimposed over a turn of the century (or even later) recording.”
True. Totally fake 🙂
“Liszt was much heavier than that actor in his old age.”
Not true, they actually took an actor that was “similar” to Liszt. The only part that is incorrect is his height. He was not that tall. As someone said: “That DOES NOT even look like Liszt….for a start…. Liszt was 6 foot tall – that imposter is not 6 foot.” True, but the poor man we see here was not an imposter, he was an actor, and a pretty good one, I think. The idea was not to make him “look like” Liszt but to have someone who could play a credible Liszt character. I think he did a good job, and so did the younger actor who played young Liszt. For those who are curious, the 16 episodes can be found on YouTube: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhfQMVLniY_q_MuUZDmi4muhNXJ_scxxR
“All the photos and paintings of Liszt’s masterclasses show he only use grand piano…. an upright for Liszt? How improper…”
Not true. First of all, there are some paintings and pictures where we can see Liszt sitting at an upright, and then, this series was entirely shot in the real places where Liszt lived and travelled. This is the Hofgärtnerei in Weimar, which can still be visited today (https://www.tripadvisor.com.sg%2FAttraction_Review-g187426-d243448-Reviews-Liszt_Haus-Weimar_Thuringia.html). Both instruments are also still in the room. During his masterclasses, Liszt used both his grand piano (a Bechstein that we can see on the images) and his straight piano for accompaniment (the last upright was an Ibach, delivered in April 1885, still in the room today, and before that it was a Höhle, a local brand). Either him or other pupils used to sit and play from the grand piano for the lesson, and Liszt asked for volunteers to sit at the second piano, or did so himself, to accompany the other one. Now, it is true that most of the lessons were given on the grand piano, not on the straight one. All this is described in details in the writings of the pupils, some of the references were mentioned in earlier posts, for example the post with the picture taken by Held in 1884 where we can see Liszt at his writing desk. This is the same room that we can see in this movie.
“Liszt was a very very old man when the first b&w film was shot. Much older then this film showed.”
Liszt was indeed dead when the first b&w film was shot.
I hope it clarifies things 🙂