Sunday, October 23, 2011

The prince of passion

This morning on my way to church I tuned into the classical station, and this outrageous piece poured out at me. It was intriguing at first, and I liked it. Then this chorus came in, and it was just too much.

"Oh, no," I said. And I turned the radio off.

Then after a few minutes I turned it back on.

The piece was still iffy but then it seemed I was making out something I knew. It was the old "Crusader's Hymn," this German medieval hymn I know from church.

Anyone who will include the "Crusader's Hymn" in a piece gets my vote!

So I stayed tuned in. I got to church and I had to get out of the car but I waited through the piece's ending, which was outrageous. The whole piece was just, I don't know, overblown? But I liked it too. I was drawn to it.

What was it? I found out. It was "St. Elizabeth" by Franz Liszt.

Liszt!! Of course! Today is his 200th birthday.

There was supposed to be a Google Doodle. Here is a picture I found of it, complete with cool photograph of Liszt.

I guess they got it in Europe and I was kind of excited about seeing it today. But I guess it is not on our continent. That Google Doodle of Franz Liszt, they regulate it like crack cocaine over here. Boo to Google. That is what I wrote on Twitter. Booooo.

They have no problems making Doodles to honor the guy who made up the Muppets and this woman who drew pictures for Disney -- that one was the other day -- but today, Google is Liszt-less.


The "St. Elizabeth" -- or "St. Elisabeth," I guess it would be in German -- I found at least a piano version of it on YouTube. That sweet thrilling old hymn I love starts at 2:10.

I like Franz Liszt. I love how you can see him in photographs. The camera, reaching into the past, showing us what Liszt looked like!

And his music. It sounds as if he had a spirit too big for his body.

You can see why Wagner admired him. Here was a guy whose philosophy, it seems to me, could be summed up as "Why stop here?"

Wandering the 'Net I see that Alex Ross from The New Yorker has written a neat Web log post about Liszt's "Christus" and Wagner's "Parsifal." This is funny, you always think of Liszt as a lot older than Wagner because Wagner married Liszt's daughter, Cosima. But Liszt was born in 1811 and Wagner was born in 1813.

No celebration of the artistry of Franz Liszt is complete without Leonard Pennario.

Franz Liszt's birthday is a wonderful birthday to celebrate.

Doodle or no doodle.

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