Friday, April 1, 2011

A young man of morbid sensibilities…

Franz Liszt was always curious, even as a child he was aware that life was short and wasting time was a sin. He lost his father at the age of fifteen and was cognizant of death even while he enjoyed rude health for most of his life. As a young man Liszt wore a ring with a skull on it as a momento mori, a reminder that life is short and death is all around us. When cholera struck Paris, Liszt was there, visiting hospitals and playing music to match the mood of the city. While at Victor Hugo's house he played a funeral march of Beethoven to accompany the log-jam of hearses in the street. At home Liszt improvised on the chant of the dead the Dies Irae all night long in his rooms as wagons of the perished rattled down the streets.

It was this recognition of the dark side of life that acted as a balance to Liszt's rock-like belief in God. This morbidity comes out in many of the composer's compositions like the Funerailles, Penseé des morts, Totentanz and others. Hear the Gothic side of Liszt this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

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