When I was working on my article about early metronome markings and the A Tempo Project, I discovered James Alexander Hamilton, the translator of Carl Czerny’s Opus 500 (Piano Method) in English. I found out he was quite an interesting person and was surprised not to find him in the Grove Music Online. I wrote a small article about my findings on Hamilton and submitted it to the GMO. It got published on June 24, 2021. Here is an excerpt.
This famous photograph is often used to represent Liszt. We can see him sitting at an upright piano. There was a series of pictures taken at the piano. We sometimes see one of these with Liszt’s signature on the score. Liszt was often signing pictures of him to give to his pupils and friends. He signed one of these directly on the score.
Liszt 1846. Some group members asked for details about this picture, that is rarely published. I replied: “I am still away for my European tour but as soon as I come back in September I will write a few “story behind” posts.” Here is the story I posted after my trip regarding this picture.
Yesterday (July 31) was the 135th birthday of Franz Liszt’s death. I wanted to mark the occasion with a new “story behind” post. At the beginning of June, I posted the story of the very first picture taken of Liszt, in 1843. Let me tell you the story of the very last picture taken, on July 19, 1886.
On this little-known photograph of himself, Liszt wrote: “Schlechter Componist” (a bad composer). How ironic! This picture was taken in Freiburg im Breisgau in May 1881. Liszt was on his way back from Hungary (where he just visited his birthplace in Raiding) to Weimar and decided to stop in several cities where his work was performed.
Liszt portrait at the National Library of Paris. Here is the story behind this portrait. This is another picture taken by Louis Held. It was taken in 1883 in his studio, 16 Schillerstraße, in Weimar. I attach to this post another picture that was taken the same day. I already talked a lot about Louis Held, who was one of the most important photographers of the time. He moved in Weimar and opened his studio on April 1st, 1882. We owe him a lot of group pictures with Liszt’s students, his friends, his colleagues…
Liszt – a stunning presence! This photo is part of the series of pictures taken by Louis Held in Weimar in January 1884. A few months later, from May 23 to 28, 1884, Held was the official photographer of the Tonkünstlerversammlung (Music Society Conference) in Weimar. It was the 25th anniversary of the Allgemeine Deutsche Musikverein, and Liszt was the honorary president. Of course, many of his students and friends appear on this picture.
A little known smile. Here is the context in which this series of pictures was taken. Liszt was busy during the last months of his life. He decided to go on a very tiring tour. 1886 started with his students, with whom he was celebrating New Year’s Eve. He is known to have said, when they were all together at midnight: “A bad year! It starts with a Friday and my birthday falls on a Friday too.”
“Brahms’ Variations are better than mine, but mine were written before his”. The picture is part of the same series taken by the Belgian photographer Julien Ganz in Brussels. Another picture from the same series was posted on May 16 on this group. It was taken in May 1882, in the middle of his usual travels from and to the cities of his “vie trifurquée”: Rome, Budapest, and Weimar.
I have been challenged to use the AI algorithm with drawings and paintings only. The difficulty is to find portraits on which Liszt’s face presents enough elements to be detected…