Maestro – some Views of Liszt

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The Tzigane

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22 October 2011

Liszt is another gallery and chapter to only touch on here.   His later and lesser known music pierced me to the quick.   He rode all over Europe like an angel, introducing music to itself.   He transcribed volumes of Beethoven, Bach, Schubert and Italian opera to the piano.  They would not otherwise have reached European audiences, and might not even be known today.  So profound was his self-communion through the Magyar dallok, that his transcriptions also, are works of deep integrity, with nothing standing in the way of the composer.

In his youth, Franz Liszt was the first “rock star” – and a human recording-engineer!

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The young Liszt on tour, to support Nelida and his children

Liszt believed no one wanted to hear his later music;  it was written for an audience a century or two ahead of his time.  Nuages Gris, Unstern, Bagatelle without Tonality and the Gondolas are unadorned cosmic statements, questions of the universe and of God, left open.

Only a fraction of his output is played in concert halls today;  yet thanks to the passion of dedicated archivist Leslie Howard and others, Liszt’s real music – the hidden part of the iceberg – is available in abundance on CD:  from sketches on restaurant serviettes, to choral works, psalms, threnodies and the meditations of his old age – it is all recorded;  it is all being heard.   The genius of our times is its ability to catalogue.

Liszt was the first living “recording instrument”, as he travelled tirelessly – a diplomatic prince among the countries, a flamboyant gypsy whose cembalum thrills slowed down and transformed, as he aged, into single phrases; mandala beyond the time.   The bar-lines drop away.  The pulse stands still, like Dante’s white rose.

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In blue for his birthday, 2003

Liszt’s progressive pulse and dissonance is NOW.  It is a concentric wave.   More than a century later, it stands, it lives and finds receptive ears;  he was a prophet. The portrait of him in blue, is because I dreamed I painted him like this, and saw it hanging in a room, in a gold frame.   He is a Master.  When he was embodied, he suffered much misunderstanding, particularly between his religious and mystic natures – they were poles apart, drawing together.    His generosity was beloved, but also mocked, for its largesse spread beyond conventional capacity and embarrassed the narrow minded.   People were puzzled by his worldliness.  His influence on Wagner’s melodic material was self-effacing;  the Tristan phrase with its inward key-changes, was received and written first by Liszt in The Bells of Strasbourg Cathedral.

My meditation with Franz Liszt is beauty and a deep transmutation of grief:  the De Profondis and his psalm of Jerusalem.  He came to me first when I was pregnant:  his oratorio Christus cradled me.   At difficult times in life, his music spoke solace, and for months on end it would fill my soul with his understanding: the Cypresses and Sunt Lacrimae rerum.  I love his humanity and mistakes.   I love the daemon whose great wings he spread, and his stubborn benevolence and peccadilloes.

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Liszt:  Etude 2000

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What does he teach me?  Be true to the generous spirit, even when it breaks the casket

In the 1960s, on the Inner Plane, Liszt led a group of other composers – including Berlioz, Chopin, Beethoven and Brahms – and a few scientists, to demonstrate to our materialistic mindset, that there IS more to things than meets the eye, and to set us a-wondering.  They also  – with vision of the internet to come – had a quantity of new music to download.  It was an experiment, and it made a relatively brief commotion in the BBC at that time.   They worked with a housewife, Rosemary Brown, who had a hard time with her health, and making ends meet;  but Liszt had befriended her since she was a small child.  She was a gifted and honest medium.   Though she had only had a few very basic piano lessons, Liszt taught her to play his music.  (See link, attached below.)

Rosemary wrote a book Unfinished Symphonies, in which she records her conversations and encounters with Liszt, Chopin and others.   With her, he discussed spiritual matters, and said:

“There is a sort of soul-sensing, when one soul close to another recognises it by sensing its presence, and can identify the individual’s atmosphere.  This comes after a very long time.  It can take many years.  So there is no question of suddenly being flung from one state of consciousness to another so totally foreign that the soul would feel ill at ease and out of its element.  You arrive at this advanced state of consciousness when you really wish to, and are then in a state of bliss.  This intangible state is perhaps hard to understand completely, but might compare with Nirvana or Samadhi.  This last stage is a celestial consciousness where the soul is not interested in appearance, but in being.

“Souls there have lost all insistence on personal embodiment.  They feel that an outer form is no longer necessary.  We only require our outer selves on the less subtle and less fine levels of consciousness where definite, visible form is essential.”

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Liszt, 2011

Rosemary thought about this for a long time, and then on another occasion when he came, during an interval between working on music, she asked him how this fitted in with some peoples’ theories of reincarnation.

“Reincarnation as usually understood does not really happen,” he said. “The truth is subtly different from the teachings of a reincarnationist on earth.   What happens is rather like the putting out of a fresh shoot on a tree or a plant.  On earth, you think of yourselves as complete beings.  But actually only part of you has manifested through the physical body and brain.  The rest is still in spirit but is linked and one with you.

“The human being can be compared with an iceberg.  Very often there is only a fraction of the true soul which manages to show through and express itself.  This is one of the things that we who have gone before want to help you to develop and understand, so that people while they live on earth can manifest more fully and express themselves to greater degree.”

He then explained how the same person never returns to this earth twice, and went into enormous detail to explain why it couldn’t be.  For example, if it were she, Rosemary Brown, who was supposed to be reborn, she would have different parents, different ancestry, different brain, body – everything would be different.  But part of her could be ‘inserted’ – perhaps ‘infused’ is a better word – into a new being.  When the physical body ceases to function at what we call death, that essential quality that was infused goes back to the original whole.  So there is reincarnation, but it is not a repetition of the same person.

Perhaps we oversimplify the idea of reincarnation.  There is no common rule.  We do not according to Liszt keep shuffling backwards and forwards between two worlds endlessly as some oriental teachers claim.  We may only come a few times.  Perhaps only once.  There is, Liszt says, an enormous amount of variation and no fixed principle at all.

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Maestro in slippers 2002

“All incarnations are absolutely voluntary.  Nobody is thrust into the world against his will.  No one has to go there.  And this makes for justice.  We come back to earth of our own free will;  perhaps to learn some new lesson.  But once we are here, we have forgotten the reason for our coming.  And only a part has come through – the soul part that has volunteered to come.

“For example if on earth a man had actively disliked women, or suffered from some form of racial prejudice, part of his soul’s reappearance in the world on another occasion could be in the form of whatever or whoever it was he had felt prejudice against, whilst on this earth.  Therefore the racist might return as a coloured person, the misogynist as a woman, the religious bigot as a member of a religious community he had opposed.  And in this way the lesson that all men are equal in the sight of God would be learnt.

“We are not really a unit at all.  Each person is soul with many aspects;  think of an atom.  It is made of protons and neutrons which all go to make up the nucleus surrounded by electrons.  That is what a soul is like.  These separate parts are held together in the nucleus, but the parts can be isolated.  And it is the isolated parts of the nucleus of the soul so to speak, which can manifest as various personalities in your world.

“These are what the reincarnationist calls different incarnations – but they all belong to one soul which can choose which particular part of the soul it wishes to manifest.

“Let me try to put it very simply for you.  Supposing we have a soul that has had a link with Egypt, and then put out another branch as it were to perhaps Greece.  That soul could then appear as an Egyptian or a Greek.  It is like having a wardrobe of clothes and deciding which ones to wear;  or like an actor who plays different parts.  The actor remains the same.  It is only the playing of the role on stage which makes him seem different.  His own private life goes on.”

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In the door, 2012

Peter Dorling asked Rosemary if she thought she could draw Liszt.  She hadn’t drawn for years, but she said she’d try.  They found her a paper and pencil and asked her to see what she could do.  “It will probably be frightful,” she said.  “And it won’t look like him at all.”

Liszt was most amused by all this.  He arranged himself in an armchair – he does appear to sit on our chairs! – draped his arms over the arms of the chair, looked towards the light, turned his head so that she would catch his profile.  He is proud of his beautiful profile, though not in the way he may have been when here.  He says that beauty is something that is given by God and we should be grateful for it, not big-headed.

He proved to be a very good sitter.  He sat there quite still, while Rosemary got to work.  There was a cushion that came almost to the top of the back of the chair, and she noted where his head was in relation to the chair, and that it came above the top of the chair while his chin was nearly on a level with the top of the cushion.  Spirits, she said, are not solid in the way that we are, though on some occasions they are so clear that she could almost mistake them for people here – but this is rather rare.  It may be something to do with concentration of vision, but while she drew Liszt in that chair, he successfully blotted out all that was behind him.   The sketch wasn’t very good, but it was recognisable.  By some fluke, Rosemary had caught his expression.  He was looking rather pleased and happy with a far-away look in his eyes. 

Afterwards, Peter Dorling sat in the same chair, and it occurred to Rosemary that he must be taller than Liszt, because his head was higher above the back of the chair.  She asked him to stand up, and Liszt knowing perfectly well what was in her mind, came and stood beside him.  Then she saw that Peter Dorling was definitely taller than Liszt.

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Abbe Liszt 2002

“Sometimes Liszt will begin to tell me a comic story, egged on by his contemporary Berlioz, until they are both laughing so much that I never do hear the end of the story.  There was one about Berlioz and a pair of riding boots getting mislaid when he was staying at Liszt’s Paris apartment, a disappearance which appeared to be tied up with a lady named Camille.  The joke in the end was too good to share, and I never did solve the mystery of the boots or discover the connection with Camille.  They drew me a mind picture of her, and she was a slightly plump languorous looking lady with heavy eyelids and a great deal of thick, fair hair, which she wore swept back over her right ear.  She had a full mouth and a rather high pitched voice and giggle.  Liszt said she had a very sweet nature.

“If peoples’ ideas are rather fixed, Liszt says they stay in the state they were on earth for a while, and it takes some adjustment and thinking, before they can revert to their younger, healthier selves.

 

Deathbed 2012

“We do talk quite a lot about modern life.  Liszt has a very keen interest in everything that is going on in the world today, and he has often said he wishes the facilities we have now had existed in his time.  TV, radio, tape recorders, stereo radiograms and things like that, would have been a boon to him and other composers, and he is fascinated by the way these inventions have revolutionised communications.  I think this is one reason why he has let himself become so involved in the various TV programmes and radio broadcasts I have been asked to do, since the composers’ music has become known.

 

Liszt in the train, with Princess Carolyne’s books

“Unfortunately Liszt and the others cannot always watch our TV, as it requires an attunement with our dimensions.  In the same way that my density of vision of them varies, so apparently does their vision of us.  They can’t always see material things, though they are aware of them.  Sense them, is perhaps a better way of describing it.  They need a special kind of tuning to move about in our world and see it, just as we need a special kind of attunement to get through to them.

“All their powers seem to vary at different times.  For example there are times when Liszt is dictating to me and I’ll be uncertain what he means, and ask him:  ‘Have I written that correctly?’ He might then say:  ‘Well, what exactly have you written?’  and I realise he can’t see the paper or the notes I’ve put down on it.  Yet on other occasions he’ll suddenly say:  ‘Stop.  You’ve put a sharp there, and it should be a flat.’

From Unfinished Symphonies by Rosemary Brown 1971 

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Here is an audio-link: a conversation of Master and student:  in the left and right hand, two different time-signatures, simultaneously.  Academic tattle on music penmanship, or the “whether” of esoteric mediums, seems rather irrelevant when you hear this:

Rosemary Brown: Grubelei, transmitted by Franz Liszt, 1969

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sLqPFw1rU4&feature=share

Insight is a kind of sound.   The “hit or miss” of mediating a transmission, through Rosemary’s pages, rings true.

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Cornwall 2011

Last week I got on a train to visit a friend who also loves Liszt.

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I thought my collection of the Maestro’s lesser known music was pretty substantial, but his is by now three times as large, and growing!   Adam played to me Liszt’s Three Odes (Hyperion), two of them to the deaths of his children, and profoundly soul searching.   I never knew, either, that Liszt composed a Third Piano Concerto?  I came home with a spare copy.  This morning I heard it, and am overwhelmed by its beauty, and its quotation from “Pensees de Mortes”, and the inward tzigane key changes major-minor, as many as leaves on a tree or birds in the wind.   Academy Sound and Vision recording (1991) with Steven Mayer and with Tamas Vasari conducting.   Includes also the Dies Irae and the Totentanz.  See if you can download it.

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.

10 thoughts on “Maestro – some Views of Liszt

  1. Pingback: Liszt catalogue | Transportservi

  2. Fascinating, Jane. Your portraits of Liszt are extraordinary. I’m afraid I don’t resonate with most of his music the way you do, though I do love “Grubelei” and recorded it myself in 2011 for his bicentennial (I think it’s my best piano recording). I have the greatest respect for Liszt in his present form, though, and was ecstatic when I had the privilege to meet him a couple of times. Perhaps it will happen again someday.

    • Thank you Elene. I think I heard your recording of Grubelei on your website, it is beautiful. I wonder if you know any of Liszt’s late piano music or choral works such as Via Crucis, St Christopher, De Profondis, St Elisabeth, … (oh my God, he was prolific!) It is very different from his more showy earlier works. The gypsy slowed right down. The piano music is startling, avant garde and contemplative – the Gondolas, Nuage Gris, Bagatelle sans tonality, Annees de Pelerinage part 3, the Hungarian portraits, etc – an extraordinary wealth. He urged his students not to perform it, he feared it would spoil their careers!

  3. Pingback: Human Landscape – in Capricorn | janeadamsart

  4. Hi Jane!
    JUst discovered your wonderful website while looking for photographs of Liszt to use on the educational DVD I am putting together -I am a pianist and it will be a multi-media textbook about the great man focusing on his masterwork, the Sonata in B minor and concluding with a performance of the work. Would love to correspond with you privately to tell you more about it – it would be wonderful to have your permission to use some of your art- you truly have captured his spirit- love the Marie d’Agoult drawing with Liszt and the children. Excited to share with you that Michael York is the voice of Liszt and other “celebrities” as his contemporaries, all speaking their own words over still photos of this extraordinary man. Hope that you can get back to me and I will fill you in on all the particulars. I have been living with this man for a very long time and keep discovering more about him! All the best to you and wishing you continued joy in your work! Barbara Nissman (www.barbaranissman.com)

  5. Hi Jane – I wanted to tell you how truly fantastic your renderings of Liszt are, they’re so lifelike, and I love the beautiful colors you used. You have such a talent! I’m so intrigued also by your meditations with him. It was like he was speaking to you. I would love to be able to connect with you and if you don’t mind, discuss that a bit. I know you already wrote about it but you know, I’m discovering Liszt myself personally and I’d love for that. 🙂

    • I’ll be in touch soon, I have your email. Lovely to hear from you. The meditations in italics with Liszt are actually those of Rosemary Brown, and you can find more about her on the youtube link …

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