Scottish pianist Kenneth Hamilton Feb. 26

Performance and related symposium to explore ‘Liszt and His Contemporaries’

Scottish pianist Kenneth Hamilton will present a solo piano recital celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt Feb. 26.

Praised as “a formidable virtuoso” by the Singapore Straits Times and as “one of the finest players of his generation” by Moscow’s Kommersant Daily, Scottish pianist Kenneth Hamilton is renowned for his spectacular performances of Romantic music, particularly the work of Franz Liszt (1811-86).

On Saturday, Feb. 26, Hamilton will mark the 200th anniversary of Liszt’s birth with a solo piano recital titled “Liszt and His Contemporaries: A Pianistic Panorama.”

Sponsored by the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, the program will include works by Liszt as well as by Charles Valentin Alkan (1813-88), a friend of the composer and among the most celebrated pianists of his day; and by Liszt’s longtime rival, the composer and virtuoso Sigismond Thalberg (1812-71).

“Kenneth Hamilton’s recital offers a rare opportunity to hear music composed by three of the most renowned piano virtuosi of the nineteenth century,” says Dolores Pesce, professor and chair of music, who has written extensively on Liszt’s life and music.

“Liszt and Thalberg had a particularly charged relationship fueled by newspapers and patrons in the 1830s,” Pesce says. “The two in fact ‘dueled’ at a charity fundraiser organized by Princess Cristina Belgiojoso-Trivulzio in 1837. They were declared ‘co-winners’ by all in attendance; the Princess uttered an especially diplomatic and memorable phrase: ‘Thalbert is the first pianist in the world – Liszt is unique.’ ”

Earlier in the day, both Hamilton and Pesce will take part in a symposium, “Perspectives on Liszt, the Man and Musician.”
 Joining them will by Hugh Macdonald, the Avis H. Blewett Professor of Music, and Ward Stare, resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Pesce notes that scholars have been slow to examine Liszt’s compositional legacy, at least in part because of their emphasis on his performing career.

“Liszt composed music for piano, orchestra, voice and chamber ensembles throughout his 75 years – over 400 original compositions, plus 175 transcriptions of other composers’ works,” Pesce points out. “Scholars are now focusing on his compositional output — his ‘voice’ — in relationship to the artistic movements of his time. The symposium will highlight Liszt’s music, as well as his multi-faceted artistic persona.”

The symposium — a Saint Louis Symphony Community Partnership Event — is free and open to the public and begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Goldberg Formal Lounge of the Danforth University Center.

The performance takes place that evening, at 7 p.m., in Holmes Lounge, Ridgley Hall. Tickets are $25, or $20 for seniors or Washington University faculty and staff and $15 for students.

The Danforth University Center is located at 6475 Forsyth Blvd. Ridgley Hall is located on the west side of Brookings Quadrangle, near the intersection of Brookings and Hoyt drives. For more information, call (314) 935-5566 or e-mail

Kenneth Hamilton

Hamilton has performed worldwide as a recitalist and concerto soloist on both modern and historical instruments, most recently as soloist in a performance of Chopin’s first piano concerto with the Istanbul Chamber Orchestra on Turkish Television, and as pianist and presenter for “Mendelssohn in Scotland,” broadcast in Europe and the United States by Deutsche Welle Channel.

Hamilton’s festival engagements include a recreation of Liszt’s 1847 concerts in Constantinople for the Istanbul International Festival, and performances of works by Liszt and Chopin on historical pianos at the Cité de la Musique, Paris.

A contributing editor of The Cambridge Companion to Liszt, Hamilton has published extensively on Romantic music and piano performance. His latest book, After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (2008) was named a Book of the Year by the Daily Telegraph and an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine.

Schedule of Events
Feb. 26, 2011

10:30 am to 12:30 pm
“Perspectives on Liszt, the Man and Musician”

A symposium 
on the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth
Hugh Macdonald, Washington University
“The French Connection”
Kenneth Hamilton, Birmingham University
“From Pianist to Composer”
Dolores Pesce, Washington University
“The Decorated Cleric”
Ward Stare, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
“Liszt’s Orchestral Music”

7:00 pm
“Liszt and His Contemporaries: A Pianistic Panorama”

Featuring pianist Kenneth Hamilton
Charles Valentin Alkan
Aesop’s Feast (variations on an original theme), op.39 no.12
Sigismond Thalberg
Prayer from Rossini’s “Moses”
Franz Liszt
The Fountains of the Villa d’Este
Transcendental Studies: 1. Preludio 2. Molto vivace 3. Paysage
(Landscape) 4. Mazeppa

Calendar Summary

WHO: Pianist Kenneth Hamilton

WHAT: Solo piano recital, “Liszt and His Contemporaries: A Pianistic Panorama”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26

WHERE: Holmes Lounge, Ridgley Hall

COST: $25, or $20 for seniors and Washington University faculty and staff; $15 for students.

SPONSOR: Department of Music in Arts & Sciences

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5566 or