Monday, April 25, 2011

The Liszt year -- 2011

Hear, Hear, 2011 is the Liszt Year!
Born in October 1811 -- Franz Liszt Bicentennial is now celebrated the world over.

My film: Liszt's Dance with the Devil had its first screening in New York City, March 24th, at the Hungarian Consulate, followed by an International Conference at Columbia University, entitled Franz Liszt and the Birth of Modern Europe.
"Liszt's Dance with the Devil" will be shown in July as part of: "Liszt's Legacies", in Carlton, Ottawa, "The Paris Chopin Festival", MTAC Conference in Oakland, Ca., and Budapest's Bicentennial celebration,"Liszt and the Arts".

What started as a wish to share my Liszt experience as a performing pianist became a road of discoveries with the wonderful participants who came on board. We all hope this year will be a beginning of different listening to, and a deeper understanding of Franz Liszt.

Here are some tributes:

"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 several international experts".-- Michael Saffle, Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech

"I find your film remarkable. It is interesting, poetic and really original". -- Maria Eckhardt, Curator of the 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)

"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

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why Liszt; what Devil; which Dance.

It has been said about Franz Liszt that his was 'the best life ever lived'.
Endowed with talent energy and charisma -- "a pair of green eyes full of fire" wrote his lover Marie d'Agoult - Liszt became a living legend as a dazzling piano virtuoso. Perhaps a curse in disguise. We know his name but not most of his music.

Much more than a virtuoso, Liszt shot musical fireworks as composer, conductor, teacher, writer of books, essays and thousands of letters. He was also an important champion of new music, most significantly for Berlioz and Wagner..

What was the perception of Liszt in his own time? Here from the pen of friend, poet and critic Henrich Heine after a Liszt concert: "First Satan galloped on a milk-white steed. Death rode slowly behind on the pale horse, Christ appeared in golden armour...and finally the wild, lightning-flashing, volcanic, heaven-storming Liszt...I saw the beasts of the apocalypse".

How is Liszt remembered today beyond the Second Rhapsody of Tom and Jerry's cat and mouse? or Victor Borge's hilarious rendition of two rollicking pianists (of same rhapsody!)? quite recently one could still read the following line in the New Yorker magazine by its chief editor: "Lang Lang....a most gifted pianist prone to red silk tuxedos and Lisztian histrionics at the keyboard..."

The film "Liszt's Dance with the Devil" delves into Liszt's own conflicts with celebrity vs. spirituality, through his compositions: no less than five Mephisto Waltzes, A Faust Symphony, the faustian B minor Sonata, as well as choices made in his personal life.

I myself have been surprised in my search for Liszt and his Devil. Is he Faust or Mephisto? Juxtaposing the different views and interpretations given by dedicated, brilliant Lisztians may prove to be provoking rather than comforting but it will certainly illuminate an exciting, unique and pivotal personality in the anals of music, and one who inadvertantly ushered in modernity.

You are invited to view two clips from "Liszt's Dance with the Devil" on YouTube:
"A Teaser", and "A Day in Paris". Your comments and questions are welcome!


Monday, July 7, 2008

Liszt's Dance

I am happy to announce that a five-minute clip for the film "Liszt's Dance with the Devil" is now on YouTube. I shall welcome your input, remarks or questions.

This is my second film, a continuation of the first entitled "Chopin's Afterlife".

If you are wondering why a concert pianist of three decades has turned into a film-maker, let me begin by saying that in film I found new ways of elaborating on ideas present in my music-making until now; film is ideal for summing-up, for making connections, for finding relationships and revealing something new about a subject dear to our heart.

We are interpreters and interpretation, be it of a genius or a masterpiece is never exhausted.
I just saw the documentary on sculptor Louise Bourgeois in which she says: "I do, I undo, I redo".

Please also see on YouTube a Sicilian artist from my first film speaking in the same spirit in a segment: "Installing Chopin in the 21st century".


Sunday, May 11, 2008


Welcome to Ophra Yerushalmi's blog!

Please visit from time to time and learn about my filmmaking, thoughts and adventures as they come along the way. I hope to share with you work-in-progress on my current film Liszt's Dance with the Devil.

You can also visit my website:

Thanks for visiting. Best wishes to you.