Monday, April 22, 2013

Eric Himy's Homage to Liszt

“Art is Heaven on earth, to which one never appeals in vain when faced with the oppressions of this world.” ~ Franz Liszt

I like surprises. Two weeks ago I discovered the Oldenburg House Bed & Breakfast. Located on the outskirts of Carlton it was the birthplace of Jay Cooke State Park. The Oldenburg House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, bordering not only the park but also the Willard Munger State Trail, the National Kayak and Canoe Center and Thompson Reservoir.

In addition to being tangent to a corner of North Country paradise, the Oldenburg House is also host to music and arts events, one of which is taking place May 9 when the world-renowned pianist Eric Himy performs here. Himy, who’s training from his youth is an amazing story in-and-of itself, has been compared to pianists as distinguished as Vladimer Horowitz. The “short list” of nations where he has played to critical acclaim include Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, and Slovenia… and, of course, the United States where he was born to immigrant parents in New York.

I’ll share a little more about Mr. Himy another time, but wanted to make sure you had a chance to put May 9 on your calendar because there are so many things happening in May with the inaugural North X North music and arts experience.

I took lessons in classical piano when I was a boy, falling in love with the staggering beauty of Chopin (whom I am listening to as I write this) and Beethoven and Tschaikovski at that time. Any comparison, however, between Mr. Himy and myself stops there. In additino to having the wonderful privilege of being able to obtain rich musical experiences and training at an early age, Himy followed it through to some great experiences on both coasts and all the way to Juilliard. Among his earliest teachers was a 90-year old Madame Rosa who claimed to be a student of the man who is clearly his hero, Franz Liszt.

This past week I asked Mr. Himy a few questions, one of which was to make a comment on each of several classic masters and what distinguishes them. Here were his replies.

Chopin: His soul, poet of the piano.
Beethoven: His defiance and will, triumph of the human spirit.
Gershwin: Cool independent unique genius, American par excellence.
Ravel: Craftsman, sensational piano writing and colors.
Tschaikovski: All heart and passion.
Rachmaninov: In the lineage of Liszt, pianist composer, thus knows how to write for piano, harmonies that overripe and wrenching.
Liszt: The MASTER pianist…. the ROMANTIC, the DEVIL, the VIRTUSOSO…. has it all.
Mozart: Music to get purged with after, such simplicity, honesty and purity.

In addition to being an amazing pianist he’s also an insightful writer. The liner notes to his Homage To Liszt CD make for an excellent reading experience even if you are not a lover of classical music. The essay begins with a gripping opening.

“To speak of Liszt is to speak of an immense force of nature. His music has been described as powerful, radical, enigmatic and spellbinding. With his music Liszt seems to have captured the very spirit, heart, soul and genuineness of humanity.”

For an even more satisfying experience I encourage you to set aside May 9 for this memorable evening of music. The program will be hosted by Keith Swanson, conductor of the Itasca Symphony Orchestra with cellist Jeffrey Erband opening. Purchase your tickets online at

Photo courtesy Eric Himy 

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