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Thursday, July 25, 2013

This week, Reflections from the Keyboard pays tribute to Richard Wagner with piano transcriptions of some of Wagner’s work written by Liszt, Busoni, Gould and more. We’ll see if you like your Wagner piano-ised instead of vocalized and orchestrated. 

By 15, Wagner had barely any skill at piano playing and knew nothing of any compositional rule. He enrolled in the University of Leipzig and received some composition lessons, yet left after about six months feeling bored while proclaiming he knew nothing about music. The program begins with an early Wagner work, an original for two hands which dates to about 1831, shortly after these lessons. It’s a polonaise for four hands in D Major. Coming across as a very conventional piece, it gives no indication of the future genius Wagner developed into.

Other transcriptions on the program include one by Liszt of "The Spinning Song" from Wagner’s first truly mature opera, The Flying Dutchman, as well as his "Liebestod," also arranged by Liszt and performed by Vladimir Horowitz. Also featured is an arrangement of the beautiful "Träume," composed by a once well-known Liszt student, August Stradel. Glenn Gould’s own arrangement of the Prelude from Die Meistersinger is featured. And of course, Louis Brassin’s very clever transcription of "Ride of the Valkyries" closes out the episode.

Program details:

Richard Wagner: Polonaise for Four Hands in D Major
— Pier Paolo Vincenzi, piano.

Richard Wagner (Arr. Franz Liszt): "Spinning Song" from The Flying Dutchman
— Louis Kentner, piano.

Richard Wagner (Arr. Glenn Gould): Die Meistersinger Prelude
— Glenn Gould, piano.

Richard Wagner (Arr. August Stradel): "Träume"
— Juan Guillermo Vizcarra

Richard Wagner (Arr. Franz Liszt): "Isolde's Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
— Vladmir Horowitz, piano.

Richard Wagner (Arr. Ferruccio Busoni): "Trauermarsch" from Götterdämmerung
— Cyrprien Katsaris, piano.

Richard Wagner (Arr. Louis Brassin): "The Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walküre
— Chitose Okashiro, piano.

Comments [7]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

The troubles that tear asunder the prospect of REAL "echt" WAGNERIAN PERFORMANCES are primarily based on the total lack of singers with squillo, ping, ringing "juicy', not dry secco , delivery, WAGNERIAN BARKING rather than legato full-throated singing, strained, forced and flat singing, unsupported, undersized and underpowered singing, WITHOUT impressive carrying power and with throaty or nasal ugly voice production. Today's news deals with deficits and declining support for the arts. Tandem to this predicament for the talented is the perception that the current situation will continue for a long time to come. Speaking specifically how this precludes the motivation for young operatic singers who must early on choosing their life's work, many have turned to Broadway or the business world. Nowadays Broadway musicals are out for show-stopping sensationalism with laser distractions, monster sets, acrobatic feats and space age technical projections and featuring dancing over singing. So, for the real thing opera singer, Broadway musicals, outside of Phantom of the Opera and an occasional Les Miserables there is little prospect of a sustainable career . The Wagner oeuvre has suffered the most. Husky physiques, witness the iconic John McCormack, do not offer similar size singing voices in power or stamina. Heroic voices like Melchior, Tamagno, Ruffo and the mature Caruso are nowhere on today's world class stages. Instead we suffer to hear miniscule, non-charismatic, non-distinctively memor able singing voices essaying roles far beyond their underpowered, thin not orotund, singing potentialities. I am a Wagnerian heldentenor, an opera composer [SHAKESPEARE and THE POLITICAL SHAKESPEARE] and director of The Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, where all the Wagner and all the Shakespeare roles are taught as well as vocal technque for singing and declamation. www.WagnerOpera.com

Aug. 26 2013 06:24 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

A segue:

Found via the search for Gould's Die Meistersinger -

Almost 5 straight hours of Glenn Gould playing Beethoven sonatas

Jul. 27 2013 05:21 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

Disappointing. Why the reduced audio quality? 54kbs mono! Before the downgrade to mono the broadcasts were in 128kbs stereo. The "Piano Matters" Dubal show from WWFM is available at 256kbs stereo. The image last week of Marc-André Hamelin showed paired (stereo) microphones for recording. Gould (Glenn) used multiple paired microphones at multiple distances from the piano he played. That was more than 20 years ago. [One of the reasons Gould (Glenn) re recorded the Goldberg Vars was because the 1955 version was mono.]

We humans have two ears. That means that even if the sound source is a point we receive that sound from two ears (stereo), processing all the reflections of the sound off different objects at different timings creating for us a 'real world' experience.

Mono destroys that 'real' impression.


Mono aside this was the usual excellent presentation from Mr. Dubal.

For me the "Ride of the Valkyries" piece displayed a weakness of the piano. There's no direct way to achieve a long sustained note. Trills don't quite achieve the same effect. With this composition the difference is pronounced.

Hey! Maybe stereo would have helped!


Gould (Glenn) with running commentary on Die Meistersinger, sometimes in tongues.


Re: Linda Liberti comment:

I think Liszt transcribed all of Beethoven's symphonies.

A link found via a Google search on "liszt transcriptions of beethoven symphony 9" -

For WQXR possible credit (with hacked reference to 'the Q' in link) -


Jul. 27 2013 02:10 PM
Linda Liberti

Yesterday I was listening to a Wagner transcription (?) of Beethoven's 9th symphony. It was one of the most beautiful pieces of music I'd ever heard.I'd love to have a copy of this piece. Can you tell me how to get it, where to buy it? Keep up the great work!! Thank you.

Linda Liberti

Jul. 26 2013 09:18 AM
Harry Johnson from Sinton, Texas

What an interesting idea to have wagner on the piano. Every minute I spend with David Dubal is the time of learning. His programing is stupendous ! Everything flows in a magical time cycle. Last week he gave us Chopin in the original etude followed by Godowsky in the left hand. It was a revelation. I look forward to an endless journey with this giant of classical music broadcasting. I congratulate those at wqxr who brought him back to us .

Sincerely ,

Harry S. Johnson

Jul. 25 2013 08:09 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

FRANZ LISZT who had been a friend of Wagner for many years and had transcribed many of Wagner's choicest selections maintaining their essence and allowing for virtuoso display with elan, also prepared LOHENGRIN's world premiere when Wagner was for political reasons unable to participate. COSIMA, Liszt's daughter became Wagner's second wife and was intimately involved in all matters that touched on Wagner's aspirations and enterprises. Just as BACH's music is performed by all sorts of instrumental ensembles , even the MOOG, so Wagner's music may be thoroughly enjoyed in piano arrangements, but their original versions with singers are the definitive versions. The incandescent beauty and intoxicating spirituality are so transformational in Wagner's oeuvre that any religious belief may be accommodated and synthesized to replicate the sense of selfless empathy for the welfare of others that the sacrificed UNICO represents to us all. That may explain why so many famous JEWISH singers GEORGE LONDON, RICHARD TAUBER, HERMANN JADLOWKER, MELANIE KURT, FRIEDRICH SCHORR, ALEXANDER KIPNIS, EMANUEL LIST, JONAS KAUFMANN, OTTILIE METZGER, LILLI LEHMANN, HERMANN WEIL, DESZO ERNSTER, HERTA GLAZ, MARGARETE MATZENAUER, SOPHIE BRASLAU, WALTER OLITZKY, GERHARD PECHNER, ESTELLE LIEBLING, MONA PAULEE, GUNTHER TREPTOW, PAULA LENCHNER, ALMA GLUCK, ADOLF ROBINSON, IRENE JESSNER, MAX BLOCH, ERNESTINE SCHUMANN-HEINK, HERMANN SCHRAMM, SIEGFRIED JERUSALEM, PAUL KALISCH, ETC], conductors LEONARD BERNSTEIN, JAMES LEVINE, BRUNO WALTER, ALFRED HERTZ, DANIEL BARENBOIM, GEORG SOLTI, WALTER AND LEOPOLD DAMROSCH, ARTUR RODZINSKY, RICHARD FRANK GOLDMAN AND HIS FATHER THE FOUNDER OF THE GOLDMAN BAND THAT PERFORMED BRASS INSTRUMENT VERSIONS OF THE WAGNER "REP," FRITZ REINER, SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY, FABIEN SEVITSKY, ERICH LEINSDORF, and and Levi refusing to change HERMANN LEVI, the conductor whom Wagner himself appointed to premiere PARSIFAL at Bayreuth, Levi's father being a rabbi, and Levi reportedly denied Wagner's request for him , to turn Christian, still Wagner decided LEVI was the best one to cinduct his work, ETC. and stage directors HERBERT GRAF AND LEOPOLD SACHSE dedicated the fullest portion of their careers to performing Wagner's music dramas.

Jul. 25 2013 07:14 PM
Kenny Roberts from Flint, MI

Come on... look at the program listing... you have MORTON Gould playing the Meistersinger prelude, not Glenn...

Jul. 25 2013 05:12 PM

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