Liszt's Dance with the Devil - A film by Ophra Yerushalmi

 

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Liszt's Dance with the Devil focuses on the inner duel between the virtuoso and the composer, the seduction of glamour and the quest for spirituality that took place throughout Franz Liszt's life. The young Liszt who declares: 'Le concert c’est moi!’' and the older Liszt as Abbé in Rome seem worlds apart. A closer reading of Liszt's own words and music point to one consistent thread: for him virtuosity was the expression of man's glory and vitality, and music a sacred art. An investigation of his works will reveal a man searching for his own voice, in awe of those around him (Chopin, Berlioz and Wagner), rewriting his compositions, rewriting those of others as transcriptions; a man loved by many women who chose the beautiful and literary Marie d'Agoult, then the theological Carolyne von Wittgenstein. In fact, a man unlike the Liszt we imagine.

Ophra Yerushalmi, a pianist and filmmaker, has been intrigued by and attracted to Franz Liszt ever since her study with the internationally known Liszt exponent, pianist Claudio Arrau. Liszt's Dance with the Devil is a work-in-progress that comes on the heels of Ms. Yerushalmi's film Chopin's Afterlife, which was selected for distribution by Filmaker's Library and screened on TV.

The film will feature performances and commentary by pianists Oxana Yablonskaya, Muza Rubackyté, Mykola Suk, Balazs Szokolay, Jeffrey Swann, Elmar Gasanov (first prize winner, 2006 Bartok-Liszt, Budapest), Jean Dubé (first prize winner, Utrecht International Liszt Piano Competition, 2006) and Wilhem Latchoumia (Premier Prix d’Orléans, 2006), among others. Also featured are Dr. Maria Eckhardt, curator of the Liszt Memorial Museum in Budapest and conductor Carl St. Clair of Weimar.

Other highlights include a historic performance in Budapest’s Hermina church of Liszt’s first Mass; an interview with Nike Wagner, a descendant of both Liszt and Wagner, currently director of Pèlerinages festival in Weimar; a reading by Robert Pinsky, Poet Laureate of the United States (1997-2000); Pianist Frederic Chiu performing Franz Liszt’s transcription for the piano of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony filmed at Yamaha's YASI Piano Salon; interview with Jacques Drillon, author of Liszt Transcripteur and music critic for Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris.

 

 Copyright (2008) Ophra Yerushalmi