Published on Franz Liszt Group, on October 13, 2021. If you want to know how the Story Behind series started, I give details in “Story Behind” Series #1″.
“F. Liszt à Gabriel Fauré, haute estime et affectueux dévouement.”
“F. Liszt to Gabriel Fauré, high esteem and affectionate devotion.”
I didn’t write a new “story behind” since quite a long time so I looked at my collection of pictures to decide on one that has not been posted yet. A few weeks ago, someone posted a 1881 picture on which Liszt had written “Schlechter Componist” (bad composer), taken by Heinrich von Langsdorff in May 1881 in Freiburg im Breisgau. I was ready to post another picture of the same series but the “story behind” has already been told, so I propose this other one from the same month and year but a different photographer.
As you can see, this picture was signed by Franz Liszt for Gabriel Fauré, who he had met through his teacher Camille Saint-Saëns in 1877 when the two French composers visited Liszt in Weimar. Liszt and Fauré stayed in touch and met again when Fauré was attending Wagner’s operas in Bayreuth. The picture was taken in 1881 but signed in July 1882, when Fauré visited Liszt in Zurich. A famous episode about this reunion: when Liszt asked Fauré to show him something he composed, he handed him the score of his Ballade in F♯ major. Liszt sat at the piano and started to play, but stopped after a few bars, telling his young colleague that he had “run out of fingers” and that he should sit and continue to play it, which Fauré did. We will never know if it was a stratagem to hear Fauré play, or if he found the piece too complex.
Now, about the photographer. I already talked about him in previous posts (in May and June) about pictures taken in 1881 and 1882, but I don’t remember telling more about Ganz himself, so here we go. Julien Ganz was a Swiss photographer, son of Johannes Ganz who was also a photographer, who had a studio Bahnhofstrasse 40, Zurich, where Julien was probably taught the basis of his future job. He studied chemistry at the Polytechnic of Zurich and pursued his studies in the University of Jena. He was also a musician, he played the cello. In 1873 he moved to Brussels and purchased a photographic studio 38 Rue de l’Ecuyer, which is the studio in which Liszt was photographed. He worked in Brussels until the end of his life, in 1892. He was exhibited all around the world he won several prices.
Interestingly, Julien Ganz, who was a fan of Liszt, kept a record of the concerts he attended in Antwerp and Brussels, given in the honor of Liszt from May 23 to 31, 1881. This above picture was taken during this period, when Liszt was in Brussels. Ganz notes that the concerts held in his honor in Antwerp included: the Graner Mass, the Piano concerto in E flat major, Totentanz, Les Preludes and the Lieder Mignon, Es muss ein Wunderbares sein, and Wieder möcht’ ich Dir begegnen. The ones in Brussels included: Tasso, Concerto pathétique for two pianos, the Faust-Symphony and the Loreley song.