A Valentine’s Day Concert at The Boston Conservatory
Award-winning Pianist Max Levinson will Perform Three Pieces About the Challenges of Love
Award-winning Pianist and Boston Conservatory Chamber Music Faculty Member Max Levinson will present Forbidden Love: A Valentine’s Day Concert on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 as part of The Boston Conservatory Piano Masters Series. Levinson will perform Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Robert Schumann’s Fantasie in C Major, op. 17 and Franz Liszt’s transcription for the piano of Richard Wagner’s Liebestod. Just ahead of the Valentine’s Day holiday, each of the three pieces Levinson will perform explores a different aspect of obstacles to love.
Born in the Netherlands and raised in Los Angeles, Levinson is known as an intelligent and sensitive artist with a fearless technique. He has performed as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Boston Pops and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, among many others. He has a degree in English literature from Harvard University and was recognized as the top graduate student at New England Conservatory of Music when he completed his studies. He is now a member of both the piano and chamber music faculties at The Boston Conservatory.
The premiere piece in his Valentine’s Day concert is Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, based on William Shakespeare’s well-known tale of the star-crossed lovers. Prokofiev first wrote it as a ballet in 1935 and then reused the music to create an arrangement for the solo piano. “Trying to take on all of the parts that are normally taken on by an orchestra in a ballet in a single instrument—the piano—has not been easy, but it is an exciting challenge,” says Levinson. “As I further explored the themes within Romeo and Juliet, I decided to delve in further with other works focusing on the perils of love-gone-wrong.”
Schumann’s Fantasie in C Major, op. 17, which was published in 1839, is often referred to as one of the composer’s finest musical works for solo piano and is a central work of the early Romantic period. The piece is comprised of three movements, the first of which is entitled “Ruines” and was inspired by Shumann’s distress at being separated from the woman who would later become his wife, following a lengthy legal battle with her father. Within the first movement, Shumann includes a hidden quote of Ludwig van Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved)—a piece he felt symbolized his own situation at the time. The other two movements of Fantasie in C Major were later added in an effort to create a work that would help raise funds to build a monument to Beethoven in his birthplace of Bonn, Germany.
“Liebestod” was originally the title of the final aria from Richard Wagner’s 1859 opera Tristan und Isolde—the story of two unlikely lovers who are kept apart until both ultimately die. The piece explores doomed love as, translated from German, “liebestod” is derived from both the words “love” and “death.” In the opera, Isolde sings the piece over Tristan’s dead body as she envisions him rising once again. Liszt later transcribed the entire aria, which was meant to be performed by an orchestra and with vocals, so that it could be played solely on the piano—the version Levinson will perform.
“I particularly look forward to this concert, as I am always thrilled to play at the school where I teach,” says Levinson, whose honors include the Dublin International Piano Competition, the Avery Fisher Grant and the Andrew Wolf Award. “I think I teach better when I am also a performer. It’s important for me to show my students that I follow through in all the things I teach them.”
Forbidden Love: A Valentine’s Day Concert is at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 in Seully Hall at 8 The Fenway. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for senior citizens, Boston Conservatory Alumni and WGBH members and free for non-Conservatory students; they are available for purchase now through The Boston Conservatory Box Office: (617) 912-9222 and www.bostonconservatory.edu/