In 1841 Franz Liszt played three concerts in Paris, and afterward he wrote, “My…solo recitals…are unrivaled concerts, such as I alone can give in Europe at the present moment… Without vanity or self-deception, I think I may say that an effect so striking, so complete, so irresistible had never before been produced by an instrumentalist in Paris.” Well, if it’s true it ain’t braggin’, and by all accounts it was true.
The poet Heinrich Heine called the effect “Lisztomania.” Others called it “Liszt fever,” “a contagion,” one critic wrote, “that breaks out in every city our artist visits.” Before Liszt, when pianists played solo works, it was always as part of mixed programs, programs that included other music and other musicians. Liszt himself invented the solo piano recital, and in fact he coined the term “recital,” too.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.