Wagner and Liszt, The Anxiety of Influence – Sunday 22 April 2018

Date/Time: Sun 22 Apr 2018 - 14:00 to 16:30

Organiser: The Richard Wagner Society (Victoria)
Contact Name: Trevor Clarke
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Flockart Hall, Methodist Ladies’ College
207 Barkers Road, Kew, VIC, 3101

RSVP Date: Wednesday 18 April 2018


  1. Liebestod. Tristan und Isolde — Richard Wagner (1859)
    tr. Franz Liszt (1868, 1875)
  2. Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’EsteAnnées de Pèlerinage — Franz Liszt (1877)
    “The playful fountains of Villa d’Este”

Who influenced whom and by how much?

Liszt was already a well-known figure in the musical world when he met Wagner, and the question of musical influence inevitably arises, primarily regarding harmony and the use of Leitmotifs.

Wagner developed in huge strides from his early stage works such as Die Feen and Rienzi to the late splendour of Parsifal.  Similarly, Liszt progressed from the bravura of his early showpieces to the mystical asceticism of his final years. 

Upon hearing Liszt’s Orpheus, Wagner found it “incomparable in its beauty and perfection”.

Wagner’s leap from the triadic harmony of the Ring to the chromaticism of Tristan und Isolde is very likely to have been influenced by Liszt’s symphonic tone-poems of his Weimar period.

Their relationship, especially after Wagner became Liszt’s son-in-law by marrying Cosima, went through rocky times, but Liszt continued to champion Wagner’s music through virtuoso transcriptions.  Liszt’s celebrity status and aristocratic connections brought Wagner’s name to a very wide audience.

The 19th century saw the rise of national pride in many European countries, and Liszt gave generously to the cause of Hungarian independence.  Nevertheless, Liszt remained the cosmopolitan he had always been.  Liszt’s music overcomes national borders – German, French, Hungarian and even Italian. On the other hand, Wagner felt that musical style and nationality are intrinsically bound together – a sentiment shared by later composers who were influenced by Wagner, such as Debussy, Bartok and (of interest for Australians) Percy Grainger.

Ammiel Bushakevitz


Ammiel Bushakevitz was born in Jerusalem and raised in South Africa.

He studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Leipzig,

and the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique Paris.

His mentors include Phillip Moll, Boris Berman and Alfred Brendel.

He has a special affinity to the art song and has received mentorship from the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elly Ameling, Thomas Quasthoff, Thomas Hampson, Matthias Goerne, Barbara Bonney and Teresa Berganza.

Ammiel Bushakevitz has released six CDs to critical acclaim.

Ammiel has performed at the festivals of Bayreuth, Salzburg, Lucerne, d’automne à Paris, Pontino di Latina Roma, Jerusalem Schubertiade, Vancouver Chamber Music, Pitic Mexico, and Aix-en-Provence.

Since 2011, Ammiel has given lecture recitals about Wagner’s compositional methods.

He was invited to perform as part of the Bayreuth Festival in 2012, and was first recipient of the Richard-Wagner-Nachwuchs-Preis, awarded on the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner’s birth by the mayor of Leipzig (Richard Wagner’s birthplace).

Ammiel is recipient of the European Union Commission Award, Oppenheimer Trust Award and Prize of the City of Lausanne, Switzerland.  In 2014 he was named Edison Fellow of the British Library, London.

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