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Classic Voice

A Dante that calls for top hats and cloaks
Andrea Estero interviews the Franz Liszt Piano Duo

It all begins in Naples at the school of Vincenzo Vitale. Vittorio Bresciani and Francesco Nicolosi were pupils of the great Neapolitan pianist. “He taught us devotion to the art of Liszt and Sigismund Thalberg,” Nicolosi, the pianist from Catania, told us, “the Thalberg who settled in Naples as pianist and composer and contributed to the creation of a glorious school of music.” Miraculously, in the shadow of Vesuvius, two stage-struck rivals of the Parisian concert hall were brought together. Liszt and Thalberg even went so far as to engage in a contest at the salon of the Princess Belgioioso in 1837; here, in a memorable duel of pianists, they performed glittering variations on themes from operas.

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A tribute to Liszt’s invention of the public recital
Article by Francesco Saponaro on the Franz Liszt Piano Duo

They appear on the stage in tails, top hats, cloaks and white gloves, as it was fashionable for concert pianists to do in Liszt’s era, to emphasize the fact that Liszt invented the public recital, a truly theatrical occasion for virtuosos. Vittorio Bresciani and Francesco Nicolosi claimed to have given the first Italian performance of the Dante-Symphonie • in Liszt’s own arrangement of the work for two pianos and female chorus, during the season of the Istituzione Universitaria dei Concerti, at the University of Rome.

A successful experiment, in any case, because it shows us how well Liszt handled such unusual symphonic conceptions at the piano. Thanks to the utterly convincing fusion of two pianists, who play with one heart and soul, we are offered a synthesis of great artistic impact and eloquence.

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Piano Time

Goethe as seen by Liszt
Article by Sara Patera on the Franz Liszt Piano Duo

For the 250th anniversary of Goethe’s birth, the Sicilian society, Amici della Musica (Friends of Music), did not forget to pay homage to the great German poet in Palermo; the celebration included a prominently advertised concert. Apart from a lecture on Faust, the programme for the season’s evening performances offered Liszt’s powerful Faust-Symphonie, in the composer’s own version for two pianos, played by Vittorio Bresciani and Francesco Nicolosi. For the two pianists the task was new but not unexpected; their relationship to the eccentric but elusive Hungarian composer goes back far, to the days of their studies with Vincenzo Vitale.

read the article in its complete Italian version
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