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Book of Liszts: Variations on the Theme of Franz Liszt

by John Spurling Seagull Books
Pub Date:
Hbk 229 pages
AU$43.99 NZ$46.08
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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The extraordinary career of Franz Liszt (1811–86) as a composer, conductor, and virtuoso pianist - whose incomparable skill and personal charisma dazzled audiences all over Europe, from London and Paris to Berlin, Moscow, and even Constantinople - made him the nineteenth-century equivalent of a modern international pop star. In the spirit of Liszt’s own innovative compositions and sparkling piano transcriptions of other composers’ work, John Spurling here takes up the ambitious task of writing a fictionalised biography of Liszt’s life.

Liszt himself once said, “My biography is more to be invented than written after the fact,” and Spurling’s fifteen self-contained chapters - themselves virtuoso performances in a variety of styles from a variety of viewpoints - capture precisely this notion of innovation and creativity. Spurling tells of Liszt’s mesmeric effect on audiences, his notorious love affairs with remarkable women, and his fraught friendship with Richard Wagner, who deeply offended Liszt by seducing and eventually marrying his daughter Cosima.

Inspired by Spurling’s own fascination with Liszt’s music, A Book of Liszts is a highly original, imaginative, and multifaceted portrait of a humorous, romantic, and passionate genius whose work and life is still not as well known as it deserves to be.
''What is the novelist's dearest dream?...Is it perhaps to be endowed with that magic talent that can weave so potent a spell that the reader is unable to stop turning the pages, such is the desire to know what happens next? John Spurling has that talent.'' -Spectator ''It is not uncommon that successful playwrights...should turn to the novel...but few can have done so as brilliantly and satisfactorily as John Spurling.''-Scotsman''
John Spurling, born in Kenya to English parents, is a playwright, novelist, and critic. In addition to numerous plays, he is also the author of the novels The Ragged End and After Zenda.