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Tilly Fleischmann: Tradition and craft in piano-playing


Tilly Fleischmann née Swertz (1882-1967) was born in Cork to German parents. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Munich from 1901 to 1905 with two renowned pianists, Bernhard Stavenhagen and Berthold Kellermann, both pupils and close associates of Franz Liszt, who was not only one of the greatest virtuosi of his age, but perhaps the most influential teacher of his time.

Her book, written in the mid-20th century, is now published in full for the first time. It draws on her long experience as performer, broadcaster and pedagogue; it records what she learnt from her teachers about Liszt’s interpretation of the piano music of his contemporaries, in particular of his friend Chopin, how he wanted his own piano works performed, and what special techniques facilitated the interpretations he favoured. This is presented in discussions of many well-known works of the classical piano repertoire, and richly illustrated with extracts from the compositions in question. These musical examples have been played and video-recorded.

This is a document of considerable historical importance, offering an authoritative account of Liszt’s teaching methods as imparted by two of his former students to whom he was particularly close. It contains much valuable information of a kind that is unavailable elsewhere: none of the reminiscences of Liszt published by his students discuss technical or interpretative issues in comparable detail. It records a direct and authentic oral tradition of continental European pianism going back to the nineteenth century.


Published in May 2014 by Carysfort Press, Dublin.