|Fiona Lewis and Roger Daltrey waiting for a train|
Lisztomania was made in 1975 and came to my attention as a young teen still under the thrall of progressive rock (not that I was waiting to be saved by punk). The soundtrack was written by Rick Wakeman and I remember hearing him discussing the film on radio whilst some of the music was played.
I was especially impressed with his take on Liebestraum No. 3 and welcomed the introduction to this classical great… prog wasn’t entirely evil and genuinely helped open our minds to classical and other music outside the charts. The film sounded interesting but it was an 18 and my interest in cape-wearing synth players was on the wane so... I never got to see the film.
36 years on was it worth the wait or did I make the right call first time round?
|Liszt naps with Little Nell (Nell Campbell)|
I was impressed with Women in Love, Mahler and even up to The Rainbow (a favourite DH Lawrence book anyway) but distressed by The Devils and unsettled in unfulfilling ways by Lair of the White Worm and other later works. I probably wasn’t understanding him clearly but the films seemed inconsistent in tone and almost slapdash collections of disparate imagery.
Lisztomania did exist as a term at the time as the virtuoso defined the possibilities of the piano in stunning live performances across the continent.
|Liszt, Wagner and Thor the God of Thunder|
You keep on asking yourself is this necessary? Isn’t there another way?
It definitely means something but it’s hedging its bets. Russell did brash and entertaining and my teenage self would have laughed like mad at this film. I’m glad I watched it but I just had the feeling he could have done it better… and that’s my over-riding reaction to many of Ken Russell’s films after this point.
Lisztomania is now available on DVD and is worth watching as entertainment. It might make more sense though if you know about Liszt, Wagner and the influence of classical music on nationalist thinking in the last century.