Most of you won't know who Franz Liszt was, much less give a s*** that this year is the 200th anniversary of his birth. Still, Bayreuth Town Council cares, and not just because he was a famous composer who revolutionised, amongst many other things, not only piano literature but also how we listen to it in public. That is a post all of its own and one to which I'll get around e'er long. No, Bayreuth and Liszt go back a long way: one of his daughters, Cosima, was married to the town's meal ticket, Richard Wagner and he also died here, just over the road from Wahnfried, Wagner's house, in a little flat which is now a museum.
This year, Bayreuth is putting out the Liszt flags: there are events and recitals at Steingräber & Söhne, Bayreuth's own piano factory and one of very few independent makes left anywhere, lectures in town and - this is my favourite - a bus (number 310, if you're interested), sporting an enormous photograph of the great man with his name and an internet address - www.liszt.bayreuth.com (I think) - where you can find out more about the tributes in his honour. For my part, I find it refreshing that a public body has chosen to spend some of its money in this way, but Germany really does still consider classical music important and not just a refuge of the bourgeoisie, like in France. If anyone ever sees a bus in an English-speaking country plastered with either images of Elgar, Aaron Copland or Percy Grainger instead of adverts for Sex and the City, The X-Factor or Neighbours, then do let me know, but I, for one, will not be holding my breath.