The American Liszt Society Bicentennial Festival

Featuring over 60 Performers & Scholars
February 17-19, 2011
The University of Georgia
Hugh Hodgson School of Music

Listen to a radio interview with 2011 festival director Richard Zimdars


The American Liszt Society anticipates a memorable bicentennial festival. Average high and low temperatures (Fahrenheit) for the festival dates are 57 and 36 degrees. The hospitality, splendid concert halls and Georgia pre-Spring weather promise an inspiring, informative and socially delightful time.

The annual festivals of the American Liszt Society provide an opportunity to learn more about one of the most influential musicians in history. They are open to all: scholars, performers, music teachers, and interested music lovers of all ages. The 2011 festival presents twenty-three sessions. Orchestra, string, wind, and vocal performances, and a master class on Liszt songs by baritone Thomas Hampson are featured as well as the offerings of forty-two pianists and nine lecturers.

Franz Liszt was a composer, pianist, conductor, teacher, mentor to young composers, new music advocate, author, music editor, fundraiser, and organizer of music festivals. His multi-faceted professionalism and work ethic influenced the artistic culture of his time and the future. Late in his life, he complained, “Pianists are like sheep. Whenever one jumps in, all the others jump in after!” Liszt deplored falling into a rut safely in one’s comfort zone.

ALS seeks to honor Liszt’s admirable attitude by offering several “firsts” at its bicentennial festival. On February 18th Thomas Hampson and pianist Craig Rutenberg perform the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner William Bolcom's song cycle Laura Sonnets. Based on five Petrarch sonnets, Bolcom’s cycle, commissioned by ALS for the bicentennial, shares a common source of inspiration with Liszt’s masterful Petrarch Sonnets. ALS hopes this commission provides an enduring contribution to the repertoire and to the memory of Liszt. At a reception for Mr. Bolcom, Mr. Hampson, and Mr. Rutenberg immediately after the premiere, the first sales of the published score of Laura Sonnets will occur.

To see details of several other festival “firsts,” select Competition, Bicentennial CD, and Book Award from the menu above. In addition to twenty-three works of Liszt, several sessions offer music by and lectures about composers whose futures were influenced by study with, help from, or the influence of Liszt: Hector Berlioz, Anton Rubinstein, Edward MacDowell, Sergei Liapunov, Arthur Bird, Heinrich Schmid, Jeno Talacs, Jeanne van Appledorn, and, of course, Richard Wagner.
Please join us for this landmark celebration!

Richard Zimdars, Festival Director
Despy Karlas Professor of Music
Hugh Hodgson School of Music
The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602

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