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Release: Aug. 27, 1999

Pianist Ksenia Nosikova will perform music of Franz Liszt on UI faculty recital Sept. 12

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Pianist Ksenia Nosikova will perform a vast and varied collection of pieces by legendary piano virtuoso Franz Liszt on a University of Iowa faculty recital at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Nosikova, who teaches piano at the UI School of Music, will play "The Second Year: Italy" from Liszt's "Annees de Pelerinage" (Years of Pilgrimage). Her recital will be free and open to the public.

Franz Liszt was one of the greatest pianists, and most influential musicians, of the 19th century. Displaying both an astonishing technique and an extravagant personality, he created a sensation in his performances. One of the first musical super-stars, he was largely responsible for the ideal of the flamboyant virtuoso. He was also an important and original composer who wrote orchestral tone poems, songs and sacred choral music in addition to his many difficult virtuoso show pieces for piano.

Liszt worked on the "Annees de Pelerinage" almost constantly throughout his life. The first pieces were published as early as 1836, when the composer was 25 years old, and the final book was published in 1883, three years before Liszt's death. Thus it is the only work that spans his lifetime, from his years of study in Paris, to his years as a traveling virtuoso, and his later years in Weimar and Rome. In its entirety, the "Annees de Pelerinage" is considered a musical self-portrait that covers many aspects of Liszt's personality.

The cycle consists of three volumes. The first, "Switzerland," records Liszt's experiences while traveling in Switzerland in 1835-37. The second, "Italy" -- the program for Nosikova's recital
-- records his impressions of travels through Italy with the glamorous Countess Marie d'Agoult, who was the great love and inspiration of Liszt's life. And the third book is a document of Liszt's years of religious pilgrimage in Rome, late in his life.

The second book, "Italy," consists of seven pieces and an added appendix. The cycle reaches its climax in the final work, "Apres une lecture du Dante, Fantasia quasi Sonata" (After reading Dante, a fantasy, almost a sonata). All the pieces in the Italian collection had their point of departure in other works of art -- paintings, sculpture, poetry, and other music.

The opening piece of the collection, "Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa" (Little song by Salvator Rosa), is a simple harmonization of a march tune by Rosa, a 17th-century painter, poet and musician. "Il Pensieroso" (The Thinker), is a funeral march that was inspired by two works of Michelangelo, a

sculpture and a sonnet that opens "I am thankful to sleep, and more thankful to be made of stone." "Sposalizio" (Wedding) is a musical response to Raphael's painting "The Betrothal of the Virgin Mary."

After these three pieces, Nosikova will play the "Tarantella," actually written by Liszt as an appendix to the Italian collection. Based on Neapolitan songs by other composers, the "Tarantella" is a fast-paced virtuoso romp.

Three other pieces from the original series are piano settings of songs Liszt wrote to sonnets by Petrarch.

The climactic work, the "Dante" Sonata, is a major composition that is often played apart from the series. It was inspired both by Liszt's real experiences during his Italian travels and by Victor Hugo's poem "D'Apres une Lecture du Dante." Liszt and Countess d'Agoult often read Dante together while they were traveling. In the sonata, Liszt expressed his reaction to Dante's "Divine Comedy," and particularly the description of the doomed souls in "The Inferno."

The Sonata makes extensive use of Liszt's technique of thematic transformation, in which basic themes or motives are transformed for programmatic or descriptive purposes. The "Dante" Sonata is based on three principal themes: a descending fanfare that represents the descent into hell; a gloomy, descending chromatic scale; and a contrasting chorale-like theme that appears in the final, "Paradiso" section of the Sonata. All three themes are transformed and intermingled in the Sonata's coda.

Nosikova, who joined the UI faculty in 1998, has performed extensively as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. She gave her New York debut performance in 1996 in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She has performed concertos with the Louisiana Symphony, the University of Colorado Symphony and the Jefferson Symphony. She has toured the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Italy with a piano trio from the Moscow Conservatory. She has also performed extensively as vocal accompanist, appearing at international competitions in 'sHertogenbosch, the Netherlands, and Stuttgart, Germany.

Nosikova has been a prize winner in numerous piano competitions, including the Frinna Awerbach International Piano Competition in New York, the Alabama International Piano Competition, and the Ibla International Piano Competition in Italy, to which she returned in 1999 as a jury member.

Nosikova received a master’s degree with high honors from the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Russia, and a doctorate from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has been invited to perform with renowned artists in numerous international master classes. She has received fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival and the Sarasota Music Festival.

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