Campus News

UGA to host North America’s largest Franz Liszt bicentennial celebration

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson School of Music will host the American Liszt Society Bicentennial Festival Feb. 17-19. The festival, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hungarian composer, pianist and teacher Franz Liszt, features more than 60 performers and lecturers.

Registration for the festival is $140 for the general public and includes admission to all 23 events. A registration form and schedule details are available at

The headline event of the festival is the world premiere of a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom performed by internationally-acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson on Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. in the Hodgson Concert Hall of the UGA Performing Arts Center.

To honor the bicentennial of the birth of Franz Liszt, the society commissioned a new work. The result,Bolcom’s Laura Sonnetsfor baritone and piano, shares a common source of inspiration with Liszt’s masterful Petrarch Sonnets.

“The American Liszt Society hopes this commission provides an enduring contribution to the repertoire and to the memory of Liszt,” said Richard L. Zimdars, Despy Karlas Professor of Piano in the Hodgson School of Music, who selected the subject matter, composer and recitalist for the special commission. The published score of Laura Sonnets will go on sale at a reception in the Georgia Museum of Art immediately following the concert.

The annual festivals of the ALS provide an opportunity to learn more about one of the most influential musicians in history. The 2011 festival sessions include orchestra, string, wind and vocal performances, and a master class on Liszt songs by baritone Thomas Hampson, as well as the offerings of 42 pianists and nine lecturers.

Other festival concerts of note include the UGA Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. in Hodgson Concert Hall featuring Liszt’s Prometheus, a tone poem for orchestra, and Mahler’s glorious Symphony No. 1, the “Titan.” Conductor Mark Cedel and the UGA Symphony Orchestra have made the Mahler symphonies a specialty in recent years. The festival also will feature the performances of two new works for solo piano chosen as co-first-place winners of the ALS Bicentennial Composition Competition. Prizes of $2000, provided by Steinway & Sons, will be presented to each composer.

“The Society does a great job of bringing Liszt’s ideals and philosophy into a contemporary setting,” Zimdars said. “Having America’s leading baritone sing a world premiere by America’s leading vocal composer is an event of international significance, and a splendid way to honor the memory of a progressive composer like Liszt.”

For more information, see tickets to individual events, call the Performing Arts Center Box Office at 706/542-4400 or 888/289-8497 (toll free) or see