From Liszt To Victor Borge: A Legacy Of Unique Piano Performances

DESCRIPTION
This interactive lecture-recital examines an element of surprise in Franz Liszt’s Monologues Pianistiques and Victor Borge’s Comedy in Music to explore unconventional recital programming and rediscover a sense of wonder in our own performances.

PRESENTATION PROPOSAL
When Franz Liszt (1811-1886) premiered his Monologues Pianistiques in Rome, he finished every concert with an element of surprise. The pianist would ask the audience to write down the names of popular arias and drop them into a silver urn. By the end of the recital, he read the selections out loud while conversing joyfully with the crowd. Once settled on a particular theme, he included the familiar melody in his closing improvisation.

Following into Liszt’s footsteps, Victor Borge (1909-2000) redefined an element of surprise for Broadway with his record-breaking 849 shows of Comedy in Music in New York City. Borge encouraged musical requests, conversed with the public, and delighted his spectators with a unique touch of music and humor, turning a familiar tune of “Happy Birthday” into a set of piano variations and playing Rossini’s William Tell with the sheet-music upside down.

Liszt and Borge lived in different times and played for different audience yet they both recognized the power and the value of surprise. They believed that surprising the audience is often as important to a successful performance as technical mastery of the instrument. This presentation features a lively recreation of Liszt’s and Borge’s performance styles at the piano and explains a creative process behind programming such an interactive concert experience for today’s audience. By revisiting the legacy of these two engaging artists, we learn to think outside of the box, and bring a sense of wonder to our own performances while attracting new audience to classical music.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER
Igor Lipinski, is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Oklahoma, a frequent orchestra and recital soloist, and a graduate of Northwestern University and the Eastman School of Music.