A Family Affair: Music of Liszt, von Bülow, & Two Wagners

A Family Affair: Music of Liszt, von Bülow, & Two Wagners

Kathleen Fink

The 2014/2015 PACC Concert Series opens on October 5 at 3 PM, with a dramatic Organ Concert, “A Family Affair: Music of Liszt, von Bülow, & two Wagners” where Jeffrey Brody uses his highly expressive keyboard skills to provide a sonic feast. The second half includes familiar instrumental music expertly transcribed to take advantage of the varied and rich sound of PACC’s treasured Skinner organ and the Sanctuary’s outstanding acoustics.

Tickets in advance are $15 adults and $10 seniors and students; and at the door $20 and $12. To reserve advance tickets, call 781-643-8680 and leave a message if necessary (tickets will be held at the door). A post-concert Artists’ reception will be held in the Parish Hall.

Liszt’s illegitimate daughter, Cosima, touched the lives of all the composers included in this concert. As a piano student of Liszt, Hans von Bülow met and married Cosima. Although Cosima eventually left von Bülow to marry Richard Wagner, Siegfried Wagner was the result of a then-scandalous affair she had with Wagner while still married to Hans. As a staunch supporter of Richard Wagner’s music, Cosima took over the direction of the Bayreuth Festival after Wagner’s death. Hans von Bülow, once the conductor of many Wagner premieres, turned into an advocate for the works of Johannes Brahms.

The concert includes Liszt’s “Fantasy and Fugue on the Chorale, Ad Nos ad salutarem undam”, one of several works written as concert paraphrases of Meyerbeer’s opera, Le Prophète.  Much of of the program includes Brody’s own transcriptions of orchestral pieces drawn from Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger and Ring Cycle as well as music from Hans von Bülow’s Carnival of Milan and the American premiere of music from Siegfried Wagner’s opera, Bruder Lustig.

Brody pointed out that his transcriptions fit into a venerable tradition from long before radio and CDs. Intimate keyboard performances as well as those generated from piano or organ rolls in private homes provided a way for folks to experience and become familiar with great music. Although only the wealthy could afford home organs, municipal organs were the pride of many communities up to and beyond the time of silent movies.

Currently Music Director of Longwood Opera, Jeffrey Brody is active as organist, composer, conductor, vocal coach, and collaborative pianist. Appointed to the musical staff of Seattle Opera in 1986, he has served as Assistant Conductor and Prompter for that company’s acclaimed production of Wagner’s “Ring”. He has also done musical preparation for the Opera Company of Boston and Boston Lyric Opera. As Music Advisor of the Boston Wagner Society, he selects repertoire and artists for their concerts and is a frequent contributor to their quarterly, Wagneriana. He is Resident Artist and Music Director and Organist of Park Avenue Congregational Church.