2013 Keynote Speakers

Franz Liszt as the Cultural Ambassador of the 19th Century

Franz Liszt spanned the Romantic era. As a child he met Beethoven; as an elderly man he was introduced to Debussy. Between times, this protean personality was intimately acquainted with many of the leading artistic figures of the age. His circle was not confined simply to musicians like Wagner, Chopin, Berlioz and Schumann, although he knew them well. Among his friends and colleagues were painters, poets, writers and sculptors, such as Delacroix, Heine, Lamartine, George Sand and Bartolini. He mixed just as easily with politicians and could count several of the crowned heads of Europe among his friends.


Liszt's multi-faceted career unfolded in at least six different directions simultaneously. He was the world's leading pianist who created the model for today’s solo recital; he was a composer who introduced new forms into music, such as the symphonic poem and the single-movement 'cyclical' sonata; he was an orchestral conductor who developed a new repertory of body-signals at the podium, which still leave a visible mark on conductors today; he was an inspiring teacher and the creator of the 'masterclass', from whose ranks more than 400 pupils emerged – many of them eminent; he was a writer of books and articles, mostly written in the service of his fellow musicians; finally, and not least, he was an organizer and director of ambitious international music festivals which promoted especially the works of his contemporaries Berlioz, Wagner, and Schumann. Such boundless activity invested Liszt with immense authority –an authority which extended well beyond the world of music.

And behind it all was his watchword: 'Génie oblige!' - 'Genius carries obligations!' In brief, one must give something back for what Providence has given you.

This is the central idea that Alan Walker will develop in his talk “Franz Liszt: the Cultural Ambassador of the 19th Century”.

Alan Walker is Professor Emeritus of Music at McMaster University, Canada. Before settling in North America he was on the staff of the Music Division of the British Broadcasting Corporation in London. He has broadcast for the BBC, for the CBC, and for CJRT - FM (Toronto), and gives regular public lectures on the music of the Romantic Era, a period in which he specializes. His thirteen published books include A Study in Musical Analysis, An Anatomy of Musical Criticism, and symposia on Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt.

Time Magazine hailed Dr. Walker's three-volume, prize-winning biography of Franz Liszt, published by Alfred A. Knopf (New York), as "a textured portrait of Liszt and his times without rival.” The Wall Street Journal called it "The definitive work to which all subsequent Liszt biographies will aspire." The Washington Post selected it as a Book of the Year.

In January 2012, the Government of Hungary bestowed on Alan Walker one of its highest honours: the Knight's Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.

Alan Walker's personal archives, containing many letters to and from musicians, may be consulted at the following website:

The Road Ahead: Piano study for the next generation

Is piano study declining or thriving? We see a world populated with accomplished pianists who can perform astonishing feats and difficult repertoire with ease. At the same time we note declining concert attendance, slumping record and piano sales, and an increasing need to justify and defend the arts.

While we wrestle with these issues we find a new generation of students entering our studios—a generation that has already witnessed unprecedented technological, cultural,  and social change. The primary agents of this change (think smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) did not exist ten years ago, yet they have radically altered the way students learn, gather information, and interact with the world.

Will piano teaching and piano study remain an important part of this future world, or are we headed for obsolescence? Is our traditional model of instruction still relevant and useful to today’s students? Do we need to reexamine our core goals and beliefs? There are many potential paths for our profession. Which one will we choose, and where might it lead?

Pete Jutras, Ph.D, NCTM, is an Associate Professor of Piano and the Piano Pedagogy Specialist at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Clavier Companion magazine and served in the same role for Keyboard Companion.

Dr. Jutras’s lectures and workshops are in high demand. Recent engagements have included presentations for the Eastman School of Music, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Oklahoma University, and George Mason University, in addition to conferences and research meetings in Asia, Europe, and throughout North America.

Dr. Jutras has published articles and research in The Journal of Research in Music Education, The Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Scientia Paedagogica Experimentalis, American Music Teacher, Clavier Companion, Keyboard Companion, and Georgia Music News. He has conducted extensive research on adult music study, specifically on the benefits of adult piano study and the benefits of participation in New Horizons Bands.