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Release: Feb. 2, 2001

NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Ksenia Nosikova is pronounced "k’SAY-nee-ah no-see-KOH-vah."

Pianist Ksenia Nosikova will play 'Switzerland' from Liszt's 'Years of Pilgrimage' Feb. 18

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Ksenia Nosikova, a pianist and member of the faculty of the University of Iowa School of Music, will play the music of Franz Liszt on a free recital at 3 p.m. Sunday,
Feb. 18 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Nosikova will play "Premiere annee: Suisse" (First year: Switzerland) from Liszt’s massive compilation of descriptive character pieces for piano, "Annees de Pelerinage" (Years of Pilgrimage).

Liszt was one of the greatest pianists, and most influential musicians, of the 19th century. Displaying both an astonishing technique and an extravagant personality, he created a sensation in his performances. One of the first musical super-stars, he was largely responsible for the ideal of the flamboyant virtuoso. He was also an important and original composer who wrote orchestral tone poems, songs and sacred choral music in addition to his many virtuoso show pieces for piano.

Liszt worked on the "Annees de Pelerinage" almost constantly throughout his life. The first pieces were published as early as 1836, when the composer was 25 years old, and the final book was published in 1883, three years before Liszt’s death. Thus it is the only work that spans his lifetime, from his years of study in Paris, to his years as a traveling virtuoso, and his later years in Weimar and Rome. In its entirety, the "Annees de Pelerinage" is considered a musical self-portrait that covers many aspects of Liszt’s personality.

The cycle consists of three volumes. The first, "Switzerland" -- the program for Nosikova’s recital -- records Liszt’s experiences while traveling in Switzerland. The second, "Italy" records his impressions of travels through Italy with the glamorous Countess Marie d’Agoult, who was the great love and inspiration of Liszt’s life. And the third book is a document of Liszt’s years of religious pilgrimage in Rome, late in his life.

Nosikova played the second volume on a faculty recital she gave Sept. 12, 1999. She is currently working on a CD recording of the entire set.

"Switzerland" consists of nine pieces, each describing a specific place in Switzerland, or a related emotion: "Chapelle de Guillaume Tell" (William Tell’s chapel), "Au lac de Wallenstadt" (At lake Walensee), "Pastorale," "Au bord d'une source" (Beside a spring), "Orage" (Storm), "Vallee d’Obermann" (Obermann’s valley), "Eclogue," "Le mal du pays" (Homesickness) and "Les cloches de Geneve: Nocturne" (The bells of Geneva: Nocturne).

The original edition contained drawings of the scenes portrayed in the music.

 

Several of these pieces are often played apart from the set. The best known is "Vallee d’Obermann," a dramatic piece that was inspired by a very popular Romantic novel. "Orage," a musical portrayal of a mountain storm, full of dramatic effects and excitement, makes a great virtuoso showpiece.

Other pieces from the volume, however, are heard far less often, and it is rare that audiences have the opportunity to hear the entire set played together.

In addition to the complete First Volume, Nosikova will play "Venezia e Napoli" (Venice and Naples), which Liszt composed in 1840 and later used as a foundation for a supplement to the Second Volume. Based on simple melodies by other composers that Liszt has varied with virtuoso elaboration, "Venezia e Napoli" is in three parts: "Gondoliera" (Gondolier’s song), "Canzone" (Songs) and "Tarantella."

Nosikova, who joined the UI faculty in 1998, has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States Europe and South America. She gave her New York debut performance in 1996 in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She has been an invited guest soloist with symphony and wind orchestras in Colorado, Louisiana and Iowa. In addition, she has been invited to perform at international festivals in Munster; France; Rimini, Italy; and Rovin, Yugoslavia; as well as the Aspen and Sarasota Music Festivals in the United States.

A critic in the Boston Globe wrote, "Nosikova again displayed impressive musicianship," and in Alsace, France, a review noted, "her performance is brilliant, full of grace and the most astonishing precision."

Last year, in addition to international appearances in France, Brazil and Argentina, she performed as a guest artist at several American universities, including the universities of Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The 2000-2001 season will feature a return to Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, a solo recital on the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago, and a recital tour of the United Kingdom.

She has been a prize winner in numerous piano competitions, including the Frinna Awerbach International Piano Competition in New York, the Alabama International Piano Competition, and the Ibla International Piano Competition in Italy, to which she has returned as a jury member. She has received two major grants from the Arts and Humanities Initiative and the Central Investment Fund for Research Enhancement at the UI.

Nosikova received a master’s degree with high honors from the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Russia and a doctorate from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has been invited to perform with renowned artists in numerous international master classes.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts.

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>.