Performance Saturday, April 26, 2014 | 6 PM

collected stories: travel

Zankel Hall
This musical diary is a travelogue of Liszt’s years of pilgrimage, summing up memories and visions inspired by his physical and psychic journey. It’s a work filled with some of the most stunning pieces in the Romantic piano repertoire, including Vallée d'Obermann, the “Dante” Sonata, Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este, and more. A complete performance of Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage is a rare event and demands extreme ranges of virtuosic fireworks and emotional commitment from the pianist. The dynamic Louis Lortie brings “brilliance and authority” (The New York Times) to this spellbinding masterwork.


  • Louis Lortie, Piano


  • LISZT Années de pèlerinage (complete)

  • Encore:
  • LISZT "Isoldes Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately three and one-half hours, including two 20-minute intermissions.


  • Louis Lortie

    French-Canadian pianist Louis Lortie has attracted critical acclaim throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, extending his interpretative voice across a broad range of repertoire rather than choosing to specialize in one particular style. Mr. Lortie has performed complete Beethoven sonata cycles at London's Wigmore Hall, Berlin's Philharmonie, and the Sala Grande del Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan. As both pianist and conductor with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, he has performed all five Beethoven concertos and all of the Mozart concertos. Mr. Lortie has also won widespread acclaim for his interpretation of Ravel and Chopin. He performed the complete piano works of Ravel in London and Montreal for the BBC and CBC, and is renowned all over the world for his performances of the complete Chopin Etudes.

    Mr. Lortie has celebrated the recent bicentenary of Liszt's birth by performing the complete Années de pèlerinage at international music capitals and festivals. His acclaimed recording of the complete Années was released during the bicentenary year and was named by Alex Ross in The New Yorker as one of the 10 best recordings of 2011.

    Frequently working with the world's leading conductors, Mr. Lortie has performed with Riccardo Chailly, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Seiji Ozawa, Charles Dutoit, Kurt Sanderling, Neeme Järvi, Sir Andrew Davis, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Sir Mark Elder, Jaap van Zweden, and Osmo Vänskä. He performs and records with violinist Augustin Dumay and with fellow Canadian piano-duo partner Hélène Mercier.

    Mr. Lortie has made more than 30 recordings for the Chandos label, covering repertoire from Mozart to Lutosławski, including a set of the complete Beethoven sonatas. His 2012 Chopin recording was named one of the best recordings of year by The New York Times, and his recording of Lutosławski's Piano Concerto and Paganini Variations with Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra was Norman Lebrecht's "CD of the Week" when it was released. Mr. Lortie's recently released Liszt at the Opera album has garnered universal high praise.

    In addition to his studies in Montreal with Yvonne Hubert (a pupil of the legendary Alfred Cortot), Mr. Lortie studied in Vienna with Beethoven specialist Dieter Weber and with Schnabel disciple Leon Fleisher. In 1984, he won first prize in the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition and was also a prizewinner at the Leeds Competition. He has lived in Berlin since 1997 and also has homes in Canada and Italy.

    More Info


Liszt's Années de pèlerinage (Troisième année, "Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este")
Louis Lortie, Piano

About collected stories

At the start, I have to say that I am something of a composer groupie. I love writing music and I love the other people who write music, no matter what kind of music they write or when they wrote it. I really believe that I belong to an international community of composers, stretching across all boundaries of time and place, regardless of style or category.

It's not the way we are normally taught to listen. Music and the people who make it can get separated from each other—by time, culture, genre, commerce. It makes it easy for us if all the different kinds of music stay separated. If everything sits neatly in a particular category, it gets much simpler to find the music you already know and to avoid the music you don't. But because I am a composer groupie, I always want to listen to music outside of these categories so I can pay attention to the things that different kinds of music and composers might have in common, and to consider their differences.

collected stories looks at one of music's more universal functions, namely how often music gets called upon to help tell different kinds of stories. What I am particularly interested in is how the act of composing changes depending on what kind of story the composer is trying to tell.

I started thinking about this in the mid-1990s when I was finishing two commissions at the same time. One was a giant grand opera for Santa Fe, an extravaganza with a big cast and chorus and speaking roles and children and ballet dancers. The other was a loud, aggressively static piece for the English post-rock ensemble Icebreaker. As I went back and forth from one composition to the other, I could really feel my approach change. The opera required me to tell a story, to reveal things in such a way that the audience experienced surprise, shock, elation, and sadness. In the opera, everyone experienced those things pretty much at the same time. The static piece was more like an object, an odd thing that changed very slowly. It didn't tell the listeners much about what they should feel or when they should feel it. I began to notice how my job, my skills, my musicality, my aesthetic sense all changed, depending on the needs of the piece in front of me.

collected stories divides the world not by genre or style, but by the various kinds of stories that a piece of music can tell in order to see how the story and the composer work together. The pieces I chose highlight some of the different ways a composer's job changes. But the truth is that everything on this series is music with which I have a long relationship and that I love. All of it. I hope you will too.

—David Lang

Program Notes


David Lang introduces travel

Part of collected stories, curated by David Lang.
David Lang is the holder of the 2013–2014 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.
This performance is part of Non-Subscription Events, and collected stories.

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