2018 December 4 Comets Vampires Chopsticks & Liszt


Comets, Vampires, Chopsticks and Liszt

Liszt Derek Watson jpeg TN

 Franz Liszt 1811 -1886

Franz Liszt is a musical legend. Today he stands in history as a Pianistic giant. As a boy of 11 he met, played, and was kissed by Beethoven, and was a student of Carl Czerny.


Gypsy Tales of Comets:

A great comet burned bright in the sky just prior to Liszt’s birth. Legend has it that gypsies who had camped nearby read this as a sign that a great one had been born. Great one indeed! Perhaps the Great Comet sprinkled some cosmic particles over young Anna Liszt, for whatever happened that night, surly a Genius was born.

medium 1811Comet TN

Liszt was born October 22, 1811. The Comet of 1811 is known by Astronomers as Comet C/1811 and they have calculated the period of Comet C/1811 FI, also known as the “G Comet of 1811 or sometimes “Napoleon’s Comet” in honor of his military conquests, to have a period of 3,065 years. So this far fetched Gypsy tale about a comet appearing at Liszt's birth is indeed true. This comet is not expected to return until the year 4,876 AD and so too is the rarity of the genius of Franz Liszt.

A fresh look at Chopsticks: So, did Liszt play Chopsticks?

The piece is really called “The Chop Waltz” aka “The Celebrated Chop Waltz” and was composed in England in 1877 by Euphemia Allen. She composed this piece at the age of 16 under a pseudonym Arthur de Lulli (her only published work) it was given the unique title as there is a note from the Allen/Lulli on how the hands are to be used to play the piece, that of holding the index fingers like two chopsticks.

Chop Waltz TN

The Great Russians Aka The Saint Petersburg Five

According to Liszt author Derek Watson

Liszt was… a musical bridge between Russia and France. His long-standing interest in new Russian music was revitalized in the 1860s and early 1870s through figures like the St Petersburg ‘Five’ Balakirev, Cui, Borodin, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. More and more he looked to Russia in the firm belief that she was yet to unfold unparalleled musical treasures.

Liszt never met Mussorgsky or Rimsky-Korsakov but expressed great admiration for the use of folk material in their scores…Liszt astonished Mussorgsky by his understanding of the song cycle The Nursery, which he planned to transcribe.

A childlike and ingenious volume of pieces (THAT) particularly delighted Liszt by Borodin and Glazunov who visited Weimar in 1884 is called Paraphrases 1879 a collaborative venture between Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Cui and Liadov, consisting of a series of piano duets (variations, dances, marches, character pieces, a fugue, even a Requiem!) through which runs a continuous Ostinato melody, a version of Chopsticks’.

Paraphrases RLS TN

Somehow I must believe that Liszt would have at the very least sight-read the piece "Paraphrases" and in so doing would have encountered Chopsticks. What fun there would have been that day when composers Glazunov and Borodin came to visit Liszt. Just imagine what the great Liszt would have done with the tune Chopsticks, ‘oh to have been a fly on the studio wall that day’.

This school year (2018-2019) my piano students are all learning to play songs by Rote at their lessons. (that is by ear, via direct instruction without the written music notation, truly a form of musical and pianistic ear-training) Please don’t be surprised if one day soon you hear us spending valuable time working out the details with themes and variations on the piece Chopsticks.



There is a connection between Liszt and Dracula, but not so much with Grandpa, read on.

In 1886 at the age of 74 Liszt traveled to England.

liszt at piano 2

He was described as a stoutish old man, with heavy bushy eyebrows, he still retained the keen, alert look of former years…his grey mane had grown; it had become thicker and longer. He’s become a little hard of hearing and his eyes are weaker. Liszt spent two weeks in England at this time which exceeded the hopes of all with their success. London was gripped with “Liszt-fever” even the Queen-Empress (Victoria) who received him at Windsor, as George IV had done sixty-two years previously. Victoria noted that Liszt ‘having been a very wild, phantastic looking man, was now a quiet benevolent-looking old priest, with long white hair and scarcely any teeth.’ Not only did Liszt play to the Queen but he delighted the students of the Royal Academy of Music by playing for them after the inauguration of a Liszt scholarship. Among the notables who met Liszt were the Prince and Princess of Wales, Robert Browning, Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, and Bram Stoker (author of Dracula) so Liszt really did meet a Vampire. “How cool is that?”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Derek Watson’s “LISZT” a fine read, with many historic and important musical discoveries along the way. (Schirmer Books 1989)
Mr. Seifert's Student Scholars at The Fall Piano Recital November 18, 2018



2018 Nov 18 Fall Recital TN

A big congratulations to each of my students who performed at our in-house Fall Recital, a fine achievement for all, and for some a FIRST public performance.

We will play our holiday pieces at our next event December 30th.


I am accepting new students during the 2018-2019 school year. When a new student signs up as a result of your referral two free lessons are awarded. Thanks for helping the studio to grow.