The Media Lab's Michael Hawley will be the featured soloist at this year's Tech Night at Pops on Saturday, June 7 at 8 p.m. in Symphony Hall.
Hawley (Ph.D. 1993), who won the Van Cliburn Foundation's International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, will perform Franz Liszt's Second Concerto with the Pops. "It's a terrific piece--lush, romantic, thrilling, intellectual yet athletic, with great tunes, a gazillion notes and a rip-roaring finale," said Hawley.
Hawley notes that although Liszt usually played his own concerti, as did most composers, he never performed this one.
"Before Bernstein or the Beatles or Alice Cooper or Billy Joel or Elton John or Springsteen, there was Franz Liszt," said Hawley. "He was the most famous and charismatic star in the 19th century ... he pioneered the master class, gave the first benefit concerts, invented the piano recital and the orchestral tone poem, wrote the book on modern piano virtuosity and was a stunningly multifaceted personality."
So why didn't Liszt perform his Second Concerto?
Hawley learned that when Liszt finally completed the piece in 1857, nearly 30 years after he'd begun composing it, he chose to conduct the premiere. The pianist was 27-year-old Hans Bronsart, one of Liszt's favorite students, to whom the piece was dedicated. "Most concerti are dedicated to the rich person who paid for it or to important friends. As far as I am aware, the piece was only ever played by Liszt's students while he was alive," Hawley said.
"To me, the relationships that blossom around dedication to learning are the greatest treasures that a university shares with the world," he continued. "So Liszt's dedication--of this piece in particular, and more broadly, his dedication to music, his dedication to learning and his fantastic generosity to the students he loved so dearly--has a wonderful specialness and joy for all of us who devote our lives to learning at places like MIT."
Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart will conduct the program for the 106th annual Tech Night at Pops, which also features works by DvorÃ¡k, Bach, Stravinsky, Berlioz, and music from the films "Silverado," "Cinema Paradiso," "The Witches of Eastwick" and "42nd Street."
Following tradition, the concert will include a sing-along version of MIT's alma mater, "In Praise of MIT."
Any tickets still available for Tech Night at the Pops will be offrerd for purchase on Friday, June 6 at the Tech Reunions registration area in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the Stratton Student Center from 3 to 9 p.m. Floor seats ($60 each) are available for purchase by check or cash only.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 4, 2003.