Close Encounters with Music Presents Lisztomania! A 200th Anniversary Celebration

Image of Franz Liszt

Close Encounters With Music celebrates the 200th Anniversary of Franz Liszt’s birth with “Lisztomania!” at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Sunday, December 4 at 2 PM. The performance showcases his mesmerizing and brilliant compositional style, as well as works by his friends (Saint Saens) and polar opposites (Mendelssohn).

Fan mania and the cult of celebrity had their roots with Franz Liszt, sex symbol and showman extraordinaire. He was the first to position the piano facing the audience, assuring the full effect of his expressions and flowing curls. Woman swooned, tore his clothing and vied a lock of hair.

Keyboard innovator and a powerful genius whose compositions blazed the way for Impressionism, Romanticism, and atonality, Liszt is regarded as the greatest pianist of all time, mesmerizing audiences at his thousands of concert appearances. Dubbed a “piano god”, he made the instrument sound like an entire orchestra. His playing reached such a frenzy that pianos were destroyed in the process.

An energetic portrait will emerge in this program: Liszt’s pictorial piano solo works, including St. Francis of Assisi Walking on the Waves, La Lugubre Gondol and Les jeux d’eau a la Villa d’Este; Camille Saint-Saëns’ Rondo Capriccioso, (one of the many composers he generously promoted) and Felix Mendelssohn’s C minor Piano Trio #2 (his ideological rival of “abstract music”). Four recently published works for cello and piano, transcribed by Liszt himself, with acclaimed interpreter Jeffrey Swann will be presented. Cincinnati Post proclaimed about Swann : “His Liszt was a triumph of virtuosity.” The concert features Jeffrey Swann, piano; Yehonatan Berick, violin; and Yehuda Hanani, cello.

Jeffrey Swann’s varied repertoire includes more than 60 concertos and solo works ranging from Bach to Boulez. Mr. Swann has performed with the top symphonies in the United States and abroad. He lectures regularly at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany, and at Wagner Societies in the United States and Italy. A native of Northern Arizona, Jeffrey Swann studied at The Juilliard School, where he received his B.M., M.M. and D.M.A. Degrees. Since 2007 Jeffrey Swann has been Artistic Director of the Dino Ciani Festival & Academy in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and is Professor of Piano at New York University.

Violinst Yehonatan Berick is an award winning international soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and pedagogue. He has appeared with pianists James Tocco, Stephen Prutsman, Louis Lortie, and Michael Chertock, and collaborated in chamber music performances with a long list of internationally renowned artists. Prior to his appointment as Professor of Violin at the University of Michigan, Yehonatan Berick was on the faculties of McGill University and the Eastman School of Music.

Cellist Yehuda Hanani is founder and artistic director of Close Encounters With Music

His engaging chamber music with commentary has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant, Mr. Hanani’s studies were with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School and with Pablo Casals. His weekly program on NPR affiliate station WAMC Northeast Radio, “Classical Music According to Yehuda” attracts thousands of fans. He also directs the High Peaks Festival, a teaching and chamber music festival in Hunter, New York.

Tickets, $40 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $30 (Balcony) include an After Glow audience reception on stage. They are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, 413.528.0100. For further information contact or 800-843-0778.


Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Kenji Bunch, John Musto, among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce and William Wolfram; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Toby Appel; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.