Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Devil made me play it! Piano Pieces inspired by Hell

Happy Halloween everybody.

Triumph of Death Pieter Brueghel the Elder, src: wikipedia
Liszt and Paganini's virtuosic talents astounded so many in the late 18th and 19th centuries that they were thought to be in league with the Devil.

Paganini was said to have made a pact with the devil like Faust.

Interesting fact is that Liszt's whose career thrived on the mystery and mysticism of virtuosic demonic piano playing  was a devout Catholic and even took holy orders.

Pianist Greg Anderson sets the scene perfectly "Imagine you're in Hell, and you want out!" Greg Anderson plays Ligeti Etude 13: "The Devil's Staircase"

 The Second Mephisto Waltz by Liszt, features the Devil's unresolved tritone, which represents the Devil in Music. Here it is performed by the virtuoso Leslie Howard (who has amazingly recorded the entire works of Franz Liszt!)

Here is an inspired version of Liszt's transcription of Saint Saen's Danse Macarbre - which translates to "Dance of Death!" performed by the Florence Piano Duet

1 comment:

  1. The Devil may very well 'make us play it.'

    Interestingly, of "The Devil's" variety of names, and relatively few appearances in the Christian Holy Bible, there doesn't appear anything, really, inherently evil about him, at least to a modern observer. Rather, "He," appears a symbol of the human ability to introspect; to unearth unconscious material, process it in consciousness, arrive at conclusions, make decisions, and, perhaps, to create something tangible with it, such as a work of art: Liszt's Mephisto Waltz, if you will. Interestingly, one of his the Devil's names is, "Lucifer," meaning, 'giver of light.' We often use the words, "Bright," and, "Illumined," to mean, "Intelligence." Conversely, we use the phrases, "Dim-witted," and, "10-watt Human Beings," to describe 'stupidity.'

    The Devil's appearance to Eve in the Garden of Eden seems little more than a symbol of a mental force inside of Eve causing her to think for herself, rather than act on instinct and automatic reaction to the environment like any other animal in the kingdom. The same is true of the Devil's appearance to Jesus when Jesus was fasting in the dessert: a symbol of a mental force inside Jesus causing him to introspect on whether, or not he is the "Son of God."

    Ultimately, this human ability to introspect allows us the intelligence to question the very existence of God, so I wonder if that's why the Devil---Introspection---developed such an evil reputation...

    Also, interestingly, this human ability to introspect is estimated at only two, to three thousand years old; a relatively new development in human evolution. Coincidentally, two, to three thousand years ago is when, purportedly, all of history's "Illumined Figures" (Jesus, Confucius, Muhammad, Buddha, etc)---those best able to introspect and elucidate on their introspections---began appearing.

    Interestingly, from "Blues" to "Classical," there is often folklore associating super-human virtuosity with the Devil.

    To arrive at my point, if the unconscious; the right brain; the abstract; is the source; the well spring of human genius, and, if the Devil is a symbol of introspection; our abilities to unearth this unconscious material, process it, and use it to "create," then, YES! "The Devil made me play it!"