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Liszt's Dance with the Devil, a film by ALS Member Ophra Yerushalmi


Was Franz Liszt Faust? Mephisto? Both?

Liszt's Dance with the Devil, by pianist-turned-filmmaker Ophra Yerushalmi, concentrates on the inner duel between the virtuoso and the composer, the seduction of glamour and the quest for spirituality that took place throughout Liszt's life. Gathering brilliant participants, themselves in search of Liszt, who offer different, even contrary points of view, the director aims to highlight the complexity of Liszt the man and the richness of his music, in fact a composer unlike the Liszt we have been led to imagine.

Among the pianists heard are Oxana Yablonskaya, Frederic Chiu, Mykola Suk, Jean Dubé Muza Rubackyte, Jeffrey Swann, and Wilhem Latchoumia. Other highlights are remarks by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, author Jacques Drillon, and Nike Wagner, a descendent of both Liszt and Wagner.

Selected for the 2011 celebrations and festivals in Paris, Budapest, Utrecht, and Rome, Liszt's Dance with the Devil was also screened in Ottawa (Mayfair Theatre), Baltimore (Cinema Sundays at the Charles), Oakland's Teachers Convention (MTAC), at the opening of Liszt and the Birth of Modern Europe (Columbia University, N.Y.), and the Downtown Festival (Provincetown Playhouse, NYU Steinhardt Institute). The Hungarian Television screened the film this past December.

Here are some reactions from a variety of sources:

"I consider Ophra Yerushalmi's Liszt documentary mandatory viewing for Lisztians everywhere. Ms. Yerushalmi makes outstanding use of musical examples both familiar and unfamiliar, and includes interviews with international experts."
Michael Saffle, Professor, college of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech

"Loved the many wonderful hands at keyboards - all sizes and shapes, genders, colors, all extremely competent, some real virtuosity from people I had not encountered before. And of course Liszt's hands in the fabulous Budapest statue."
Richard Taruskin, Author of the Oxford History of the Western Music

"I find your film remarkable. It is interesting, poetic and really original."
Maria Eckhardt, Liszt Memorial Museum, Budapest

"Beautifully filmed with virtuoso pianists in a way I have rarely seen documentaries capture music on camera."
Gaylen Ross, award-winning filmmaker (Killing Kasztner)

Ophra Yerushalmi is a graduate of the Jerusalem Academy of Music, and later was a scholarship student of Claudio Arrau and composer Stefan Wolpe. She has performed throughout four continents and premiered works of Israeli composers including Paul Ben-Haim, Mordecai Seter, and Joseph Tal. New York audiences have heard her at the 92nd Street "Y," Merkin Hall, The Miller Theatre, Symphony Space, Lincoln Center, and The Music Festival of the Hamptons directed by Lukas Foss, who also participated in her previous film, Chopin's Afterlife.

Liszt's Dance with the Devil was selected for the 2011 celebrations and festivals in Paris, Budapest, Utrecht, and Rome; Columbia University, Ottawa, Baltimore, Oakland, and the Provincetown Playhouse of NYU. The Hungarian Television screened the film - in Hungarian. This past October, the film was shown at the Bologna Festival.

Liszt: A Chorus of Voices, just published by Pendragon Press, includes an essay by Ms. Yerushalmi, "Benediction to Liszt in his Solitude."

Ms. Yerushalmi has received "An Artist-in-Residence" grant for three months in 2013 awarded by the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico, where she plans to develop her new film-project. As pianist/filmmaker her cassita in Taos will include a grand piano.

For more information, please go to Ophra's website

Posted December 22, 2012

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