Jonathan Young calls Franz Liszt “the first rock star of the piano.”
Liszt, a 19th-century Hungarian pianist, was both a performer and a composer, and he even has a society named after him which is dedicated to performing and researching his works.
The American Liszt Society has been in existence since the 1960s, but a northern Indiana chapter was created just this spring after being in the works since 2019.
Young, a member of the piano faculty at Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Hamilton Tescarollo, who has been director of piano studies at PFW since 2007, are two of the founding members of the new chapter.
Young was introduced to the Liszt Society as a college undergraduate. Many of his professors and mentors at Wheaton College were part of the group. As he moved into his doctoral studies at the University of Kansas, Young increasingly grew to value the work of the society, and eventually asked if there might be interest in opening a chapter in northern Indiana. There was.
“I've heard about the society for years,” Tescarollo says. “I know people that are part of it, so I'm very much interested in opportunities to connect with colleagues.”
The chapter's official status was recognized in January. Now, the team hopes to help more people become interested in the works of Liszt.
In addition to performing, Liszt also conducted orchestras and created reductions of orchestral scores so that one pianist could play entire symphonies. While a pianist cannot, of course, play all the notes an orchestra would, Lizst arranged the music so that main themes and tunes found within larger works could be reiterated by one or two people sitting at the piano.
Some of that reduction music will be featured at a concert Tescarollo and Young are giving at PFW at 5 p.m. Saturday. They will be playing the first movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, arranged for four hands by Franz Liszt. As Tescarollo noted, this is the only symphony that Liszt arranged for two pianists and four hands to play – all the others are just for one pianist, two hands.
“(The Liszt Society) is a forum for scholarly works,” Young said. But it is also a society for anyone who is interested in the piano and piano performance. “Anything revolving around Liszt and his (ideas),” Young says.
There are now three chapters of the American Liszt Society in Indiana. Young said that there is a tremendous amount of interest in the piano in northern Indiana, as well as in southern Michigan and western Ohio.
“One of my principle goals is to promote more scholarly performances and presentations in (this) area,” Young says.
Membership in the society is primarily aimed at college students and scholars; however, professionals from different fields also have become members.
“(Our goal is) to promote piano playing in general,” Tescarollo says.
If You Go
What: Recital by Jonathan Young and Hamilton Tescarollo of the American Liszt Society, Northern Indiana Chapter
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rhinehart Recital Hall, Purdue Fort Wayne, 2101 E. Coliseum Blvd.