Portraying his



Keywords: music,liszt franz, morrow craig,congregational church of patchogue, st ann's episcopal church
Description: LEAD: BY all accounts, Franz Liszt was not only the greatest piano virtuoso of his time but also a composer of enormous originality and a principal figure in the Romantic movement, both on and off stage.

BY all accounts, Franz Liszt was not only the greatest piano virtuoso of his time but also a composer of enormous originality and a principal figure in the Romantic movement, both on and off stage.

So it seems fitting that Craig Morrow, pianist and musical director of St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Sayville, would construct a musical monologue entitled ''Franz Liszt: The Passions of a Virtuoso.'' The 80-minute work will have its premiere tonight at 8 at the Congregational Church of Patchogue, where it will be repeated next Sunday.

''Liszt's own music was so autobiographical,'' said Mr. Morrow, a piano teacher writing his Ph.D. dissertation in piano performance at New York University. ''He was a most flamboyant figure. I would have loved to have done Chopin, but he was very shy and rarely played in public. Liszt performed, and he played Chopin, and Beethoven.''

Mr. Morrow has been working on the Liszt monologue for two years, inspired, he said, by watching Pamela Ross perform a one-woman presentation on Clara Schumann, the pianist and wife of Robert Schumann, the composer, on Long Island a few years ago. Mr. Morrow's Liszt interpretation, in which he dons costume and stage accouterments, features Liszt as an old man recalling the most important things in his life, which ended at the age of 74 in 1886.

Among the highlights are a performing career that began at the age of 9 but ended at 36; concertizing in Hungary, France, Germany, England and Italy; mental illness; deep immersion in religious philosophy and practice; a series of adulterous romances with royalty and aristocracy, unheard of at the time; friendships with Berlioz, Paganini and Chopin that influenced his own compositions, and his extension of the harmonic language of his time that led to the atonal music of Schoenberg and his followers.

To prepare for the role, Mr. Morrow has been taking acting lessons with James Xanthos, who is directing the presentation, which until now has been performed only in private homes. ''I'm somewhat of a ham,'' Mr. Morrow said. ''Now I'm working to catch up for lost time. It's a matter of recalling my ability as a kid. But if I get tired, I can sound like I'm reading a phone book. It's much easier to play the piano.''

Mr. Morrow, who was born in Seattle and now makes his home in Bellport, concertized for several years with the Seattle Symphony and the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra. In 1985, he won the Bach Tricentennial Award in the International Recording Competition of the National Guild of Piano Teachers.

In putting together the monologue, Mr. Morrow relied on accounts of Liszt's life and career by Alan Walker (''Franz Liszt, The Virtuoso Years''); Sacheverell Sitwell (''Liszt'') and Harold C. Schonberg (''The Great Pianists''). He also listened to recordings by Vladimir Horowitz, but said he was ''not really happy with the Liszt recordings.''

With two exceptions, Mr. Morrow only has time to play excerpts from Liszt's vast repertory. ''I break a lot of sacred cows,'' Mr. Morrow said. ''Some are vignettes or are chopped up, and some sectors are transposed and improvised.''

At the end of the first act, Mr. Morrow will play, in full, the ''Petrarch'' sonnet, which he called one of Liszt's ''real, poetic, beautiful pieces.'' And at the conclusion, he will perform the ''Hungarian Rhapsody'' - ''a real crowd pleaser.'' This gypsy-inspired work - and Liszt never forgot his Hungarian roots - will be combined with a recounting of the death of Paganini, who was unburied for 30 days, Mr. Morrow said. ''I picked stunningly horrifying music for that story.''

Liszt's life and career, Mr. Morrow said, were endlessly fascinating. ''He gave up playing possibly because he was injured musically,'' Mr. Morrow said. ''He complained about traveling, playing the same pieces over and over again. Audiences always asked him to play 'Chromatic Gallop,' which you rarely hear nowadays, and Liszt got sick of it.''

Liszt had a ''most interesting'' and intense love life, Mr. Morrow went on. He fell in love at 17 with a 16-year-old pupil. Her father sent Liszt away, and the pianist, Mr. Morrow said, went ''bonkers.'' He was in a deep depression for two years. And when his obituary was printed prematurely, he got so depressed that he went to church and lay all day on a slab. He visited the girl years later and bequeathed her a ring with a jewel on it.

''He had a magnetism about him that attracted many women,'' Mr. Morrow said. He fell in love with a countess, Marie d'Agoult, better known by her literary name, Daniel Stern. She left her husband and family to join Liszt in Switzerland, and they had three children. He had affairs with numerous women, including Lola Montez and the original ''Dame aux Camelias.'' And Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein, whom he met in 1847, persuaded him to give up his career as a pianist, and their home became a center for the most modern tendencies in music.

Liszt also had an effect on men when he was on stage, Mr. Morrow said, and he came in contact with almost every important artist of his time. His second daughter, Cosima, left her husband, Hans von Bulow, and married Wagner, which strained relations between the two composers.

''Liszt's music is extraordinarily autobiographical,'' Mr. Morrow said. ''The music and words can thus be molded together in a manner that might not be possible with another composer.''






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