Liszt at 200
Marking the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birth, the Proms celebrates the virtuoso pianist and visionary composer with a mixture of his major and rarely performed works.
Liszt is regarded by many as the greatest pianist who ever lived and his showpiece piano concertos serve as dazzling bookends to the season: Benjamin Grosvenor becomes the youngest soloist to perform at the First Night as he makes his Proms debut with Piano Concerto No. 2 (15 July) and on the Last Night, Lang Lang performs Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Edward Gardner (10 September).
Himself a pioneer of the piano recital, Liszt is also celebrated in two solo recitals with leading virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin at the Royal Albert Hall (24 August) and BBC Radio 3 New Generation artist Khatia Buniatishvili at Cadogan Hall (8 August), and in a Proms first there's a rare chance to hear the brooding La notte, the second of Liszt's orchestral Three Funeral Odes, in a concert that also includes the world premiere of a new piano concerto by acclaimed South African composer Kevin Volans, written in homage to Liszt and performed by Irish virtuoso Barry Douglas, for whom it was composed (22 August).
Liszt's full-scale symphonies can also be heard. The London Philharmonic Orchestra performs A Faust Symphony with two male choirs for the majestic finale (26 July). The following week, the BBC Philharmonic teams up with the women's voices of the CBSO Chorus and soprano Julia Doyle to perform the Dante Symphony (1 August). Liszt's symphonic poem Mazeppa also features in a concert from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Kirill Karabits (10 August).
The Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer bring Liszt's virtuosic Mephisto Waltz No. 1 and Totentanz (Dance Of Death) for piano and orchestra played by Dejan Lazić (2 September).
Further context is offered in Proms Plus with highlights including playwright Mark Ravenhill, author of Faust's Dead, and novelist Ali Smith discussing the legend which inspired Liszt's A Faust Symphony (26 July); pianist Stephen Hough on why Liszt was the most celebrated performer of his day (1 August); and Kevin Volans on how Liszt inspired his new Piano Concerto (22 August).