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PIANO LISZT– A century of movies with Franz Liszt. Documentary (2011-2012)
by Francesco Leprino and Luigi Verdi.
A project by Luigi Verdi
Produced by Al Gran Sole – Conservatorio “G.Verdi”, Milan

Presentation: Milano, Conservatorio di musica "G.Verdi"  (25 November 2011); Milano, Centro San Fedele (30 November 2011; Lucca, Auditorium Fondazione Banca del Monte (16 May 2012); Reggio Calabria, Conservatorio di Musica "F. Cilea" (16 Juny 2012); Pavia, Istituto Musicale Vittadini (7 December 2012); Bologna, Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica (8 December 2012); Roma, Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia (22 May 2013); Albano, Festival Liszt, Palazzo Savelli (9 November 2014); Mantova, Eterotopie Piano Festival, Cinema del Carbone (20 June 2016).
Review:
Cineforum, n. 514, 2012 (Ermanno Comuzio)
Left, 29, 21 luglio 2012 (Morando Morandini)


Piano Liszt - Un secolo di cinema con Franz Liszt

There are about 300 films where Franz Liszt’s music appeared in the soundtrack from the dawning of cinema to 2011. All these documents give us a complete outline of the impact of Liszt’s works and personality, having Liszt been one of the most “robbed” classical composers on the big screen. In the most different contexts and with the most varied functions expressed, Liszt’s success has given rise to a considerable lot of film situations ranging from paradoxical to sentimental, comic, functional,  unexpected.
First of all it is important to point out as the common elements and the same connections inside the same composition can have varied outcomes, when considering their associations to images, in different films. In these terms, a close comparison emphasizes how the “soundtrack” -  especially a “musical” icon -  may influence or attract the meaning of a sequence  so as to transform it.The Lisztian themes which most frequently appear as leitmotifs featuring different characters and situations are a very interesting observation corpus, such as the Hungarian Rapsody n.
2”, definitely the most frequently used especially in cartoon music, where the finale is particularly associated to joyful or even comic and grotesque situations. The Dream of love n. 3 theme  appears in about 70 films; it is almost always played by an actor – pianist and connected to romantic situations or to love longing and is very frequently used at the beginning of the talking pictures.Fragments of Les Préludes appear in about 30 films: the warlike attitude of the Finale is used as leitmotiv in science fiction series or in order to highlight heroic or war scenes. Besides, the Concerto n. 1, Consolation n. 3, Un sospiro, Fantasia upon popular Hungarian themes, Mefisto Walzer n. 1, La Campanella are frequently used among the others. Moreover, there are at least ten films about Liszt’s life, which give evidence of his popularity among the great public. Another 30 films can be added to these one, where Liszt appears as a secondary character in stories about other composers’ lives such as for example Wagner or Chopin. Of course there is an added value which may come from a documentary film out of such combinations, with sudden no-break changes from one sequence to the next one, which also creates a supplementary hypertext with different musical interpretations and situations compared with similes, contrasts, juxtaposition. As if in a sort of time-space compression, the montage tends to express a one-century’s  attitude towards this great composer in the movies – and after all, Liszt’s own rhapsodic spirit.

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