The Naked Liszt Premieres March 11th

Late in 2010, we finished the scripts for our documentary film, Liszt In The World. We were astounded by the wealth of materials we had gathered over the dozen years of research and travels in search of the interior life and music of Franz Liszt. While continuing to develop the script, fund raising, grant writing, […]

Late in 2010, we finished the scripts for our documentary film, Liszt In The World. We were astounded by the wealth of materials we had gathered over the dozen years of research and travels in search of the interior life and music of Franz Liszt. While continuing to develop the script, fund raising, grant writing, and the shooting schedule, Betty came up with the brilliant idea to combine musical initiatives.

Rather quickly during the month of December, we reviewed our materials to develop a stage adaptation of the three-hour documentary film. That stage performance evolved along the lines of a musical program I have presented on-and-off for the past twenty years. The Naked Gershwin is a concert performance where I am joined by two musicians (a drummer and bassist) to form a jazz trio. We perform with a narrator who reads a script based on letters to, from, or about the fabulous Gershwins.

Staring at the script for Liszt In The World, it dawned on Betty that we could present a similar stage performance of the film as a teaser for the longer more extensive film project. Hence, The Naked Liszt was born! This stage adaptation of the film was first presented in the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall in La Jolla, California on Sunday, January 30, 2011 (click here to download the event program). It’s airing in March on UCSD-TV and UCTV and audiences around the world can view The Naked Liszt by clicking here.

But don’t confuse the genre. The Naked Liszt is only but a small sampler of the rich music, interviews, and narrative to be presented in the documentary film, Liszt In The World. We expect to premiere the film in late 2011. Keep checking this site for the latest information and progress reports.

Ready, Set, Rome!

As the New Year approached, Betty and I made our much-delayed trip to Italy to scout sites for the final episode of the film. Having read the many biographies and accounts of Liszt’s final years, his activities in and around Rome were a blur of motion. He lived in many different residences; his activities often […]

As the New Year approached, Betty and I made our much-delayed trip to Italy to scout sites for the final episode of the film. Having read the many biographies and accounts of Liszt’s final years, his activities in and around Rome were a blur of motion. He lived in many different residences; his activities often overlapped and come down to us today as a confusion of associations, disjointed locations, sudden shifts, and seemingly long periods of inactivity. We chased after Liszt in Rome traipsing through narrow alleys, broad boulevards, and mountaintops that he frequented beginning in 1861. But it was one afternoon standing atop the Spanish Steps in the heart of Rome, that it suddenly became clear to us how Liszt intuitively framed his existence in Rome.

His appointment in Weimar had ended disastrously in 1859 with the failure of the court orchestra, the death of two of his children, severe public criticism of his compositions, and the death of his chief benefactor in Weimar, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. Rome was to be a new beginning for Liszt.

Still a man without a country, Franz Liszt built his world around the Spanish Steps. Just to the east a few blocks along Via Felice (renamed Via Sistina), he took his first Roman residence in an hostel for traveling priests; at the bottom of the steps (plazza di Spagna) he regularly met with his Italian colleague and student Giovanni Sgambati; his mistress and muse, Carolyn von Sayn-Wittgenstein, took an apartment a few blocks north on Via del Baubino; Caffe Greco was the meeting place for Liszt and his students to enjoy cigars and brandy; he frequently performed and taught at the Academy de Santa Cecilia within earshot of Carolyne’s windows; and, Santa Francesca Romana was an elegant apartment on the grounds of one of Rome’s most famous chapels and just a short walk from the Spanish Steps. These locations functioned as his secular abodes for music-making, hosting guests, and teaching.

Liszt simultaneously maintained several more remote and secluded dwellings to feed his spiritual life. The Dominican monastery atop Monte Mario in Rome, Madonna del Rosario, was his home for five years (1863-68). In it he maintained a small cell a few feet square with little more than a table, chair, a wooden bed, and a piano (with a missing “D”). Overlapping all of these dates, Liszt maintained an apartment more distant from the center of Rome in Tivoli. Via d’Este was then and is today a sprawling villa built along the contours of a cascade of waters. The fountains and cypresses of Villa d’Este became the subject of his most impressive piano compositions late in life.

Shooting Interviews

For over four years, we have planned to spend a number of days shooting “talking head” interviews with the leading Liszt scholars in Europe. Thanks to the annual meeting of the American Liszt Society (ALS), many of these scholars were clustered in Athens, Georgia a few weeks ago for the annual ALS meeting, February 16-20, […]

For over four years, we have planned to spend a number of days shooting “talking head” interviews with the leading Liszt scholars in Europe. Thanks to the annual meeting of the American Liszt Society (ALS), many of these scholars were clustered in Athens, Georgia a few weeks ago for the annual ALS meeting, February 16-20, 2011. The interviews will be incorporated into the documentary to enliven and heighten topics being presented.

Most often, I interviewed our guests. However, Betty interviewed the most interesting person attending the ALS conference. Dr. Gabriella Wolz is a Hungarian research biologist who plans her vacations around the annual meetings of the American Liszt Society and has been a regular attendee for over ten years. Though not a performer or scholar, she had both personal and musical insights about why people in general–and Hungarians, in particular–are rabid about the music and life of Franz Liszt. Her interview emphasizes the effect Liszt has on the devotion of his present-day countrymen and women.

Not seen in the photo is the cameraman and film’s director, Ken Kebow. In the spring of 2011, we are planning a trip with Ken to the east coast to interview scholars in New York City and at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Shooting interviews is grueling but imaginative work. You spend an hour or more talking with someone who is very excited about their research on Liszt to eventually wind up with 20 to 30 seconds of “useable” material.

Monthly Highlights: March 2011

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Featured This Month
Program Highlights
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FEATURED THIS MONTH

Mexico Moving Forward

The Center for U.S. Mexican Studies at UC San Diego was abuzz last month when it hosted  “Mexico Moving Forward,” a rare and open dialogue on the excellence of Mexico and its future. UCSD-TV was there to capture the event and, beginning March 21, will present a four-part series focusing on Arts and Culture, Museums and Culinary Arts, Science and the Environment, and Philanthropy and the Corporate Community.

March 21 Arts and Culture
Novelists Cristina Rivera Garza and Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, and sculptor Sebastián

March 28 Museums and Culinary Arts
Diana Magaloni, director of Mexico’s Museum of Anthropology; Chef and restaurant owner Mónica Patiño; and Roxana Velásquez Martínez del Campo, executive director of the San Diego Museum of Art

April 4 Science and the Environment
World-renown Stanford University botanist Rodolfo Dirzo, Eduardo Santana, co-founder of the Inter-municipal Environmental Agency for Integrated Management of the Ayuquila River Watershed, and Exequiel Ezcurra, plant biologist and director of UC’s Institute for Mexico and the United States

April 11 Philanthropy and the Corporate Community
Business executives Manuel Arango, Herminio Blanco and Roberto Servitje Sendra

“Citizens United” and the Supreme Court

As University of Chicago Law School Professor Geoffrey Stone sees it, the Supreme Court issued its most aggressively activist decision in decades with the Citizens United case, which held unconstitutional the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

What does this tell us about the judicial philosophy of the current conservative majority on the Court and the future of American democracy? Find out in this 2011 DeWitt Higgs Memorial Lecture presented by Earl Warren College, the UCSD’s Law and Society Program, and the California Western School of Law.

“Citizens United” and the Role of the Supreme Court in a Self-Governing Society


PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

All programs repeat throughout the month. Visit the Program Schedule on our web site for additional air dates and times.

Health & Medicine

LeNoir – NMA Pediatric Lecture: Rare Diseases

Research on Aging: A Personal Journey Through Mental Illness

More >>

Science

Let’s Talk Trash: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

More >>


Public Affairs

Achieving Justice for Victims of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity with Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp

Osher UCSD: Richard Atkinson

More >>

Humanities

UCSD By Design: Vassal & Clément

More >>

Arts & Music Arts & Music

Lytle Memorial Concert: The Naked Liszt

San Diego Opera Stars in the Salon: Der Rosenkavalier

More >>


Check out the latest additions to our online video archive.

UCSD By Design: Robert Storr

CARTA: A New Cradle for Mankind; The Earliest Hominids of Ethiopia

Einstein, The Moon, and the Long-Lost Soviet Reflector

More videos and podcasts>>

UCSD-TV Opera & SummerFest Programs Nab Telly Awards

We’re proud to announce that two UCSD-TV produced arts programs with longtime community partners have been awarded Bronze Telly Awards!

San Diego Opera Spotlight: Romeo and Juliet: A behind-the-scenes look at San Diego Opera’s 2010 production of Gounod’s Shakespeare-inspired masterpiece.

This is the fifth award for the Opera Spotlight series, which UCSD-TV and San Diego Opera have co-produced since 1995 — including this year with San Diego Opera’s 2011 season.

La Jolla Music Society: SummerFest 2009: Stewart Copeland, Composer: Four original compositions by percussionist Stewart Copeland, best known as drummer for superstar rock band The Police.
This is the first award for the SummerFest series and, after twelve years of partnering with La Jolla Music Society, we are confident it won’t be the last.

UCSD-TV is no stranger to the Telly Awards, having picked up fifteen of them since 2004. The Telly Awards honor the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the Web. Since 1978, their mission has been to strengthen the visual arts community by inspiring, promoting, and supporting creativity. The 31st Annual Telly Awards received over 13,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents.

Congratulations to our talented arts producer John Menier and, of course, to our valued community partners, San Diego Opera and La Jolla Music Society.