Steingraeber Recital. 5.22.13. Adam SherkinPhoto credit: Wayne Ferguson

After a busy season with mainstage shows at the Jane Mallett Theatre and Glenn Gould Studio, I recently had the good fortune to present a recital at the Canadian Music Centre for Udo Steingraeber, the current head of Steingraeber and Sohne piano factory in Bayreuth. Mr. Steingraeber was visiting North America for two weeks to offer lectures and endorsements of his fine, (still!) hand-made instruments from Germany. The Canadian Music Centre welcomed him on the evening of May 22nd to introduce the audience to the new Steingraeber & Söhne Chamber Concert Grand, Model C 2-12 (2nd Generation Franz Liszt) and speak about the Liszt-Wagner connection to both the Steingraeber family and to the city of Bayreuth on what was the date of Wagner’s 200th birthday.

John's poster - Steingraeber Steingraeber - concert  programme

Mr. Steingraeber’s talk and introduction to the recital was wonderfully evocative of late 19th century Bavaria. It glimpsed an upstart piano manufacturer’s relationship with a towering central musical figure of German romanticism. Richard Wagner, (who married Cosima, Franz Liszt’s daughter), often hosted Liszt in Bayreuth and seems to have been gracious enough at Liszt’s efforts in disseminating the German composer’s operas via his pianistic virtuosity. Liszt wrote fifteen piano transcriptions or “paraphrases” on Wagner operas, spanning from 1848 to 1882.  It is the final of these paraphrases, the Solemn March to the Holy Grail from Parsifal (of 1882), that drew my own interest for the Steingraeber recital in Toronto.

It was quickly decided to programme this piece because of the Steingraeber connection to Wagner’s last opera (Parsifal) and the impressive bells which the composer asked the piano factory to construct for him. (Read further, here.) Liszt’s paraphrase not only opens and closes with the four bell notes, (C – G  – A – E), but elaborates on this motif in a kind of interpretive fantasie – rather different than a straightforward transcription.  Other items on this programme included Chopin’s Impromptu, op.36 and some Canadian music for our German guests: Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Star Burning Blue and my own German Promises (chosen for obvious reasons, at least in a programmatic sense!) Despite the virtuoso writing of Canada’s own Mrs. Murphy, the florid, jubilant bounds of Chopin’s inspired F-sharp major impromptu, the charming “Lied ohne worte” by Wagner himself, (written for a young friend in Paris in the 1830’s), it was the bells that captured this audiences’ ears and hearts on May 22nd in Toronto.

Liszt’s Parsifal paraphrase was a new piece for me.  Delighted at the occasion to learn it, I hope that this recent performance will be the first of many. In tracing the Parsifal paraphrase to a complete Dover collection of Wagner transcriptions, I also discovered the somewhat antidotal Ballade from ‘The Flying Dutchman’….a tantalizing pairing?




A.S. June 5th, 2013

Categories: Events


  • Susan Ball says:

    Hi Adam,
    How are you? Remembering your gift of music to Lorna Hughey at Park Manor in Aurora is a gift to me also. What joy you brought to me and others May 11th. Thanks so much. You have a rare talent and move people in a beautiful way. The variety of selections and the way you interpreted them was just perfect. It was no surprise to hear how many hours a day you spend at the piano.
    I want to continue to hear your breathtaking work. I am having a look to see what’s up next for your performing schedule. The entire afternoon is now a treasured memory.

    • adams says:

      Dear Susan,

      Thank-you very much for your kind words and for being in touch. I am delighted to have met you on May 11th and very touched that you enjoyed the performance so much. I look forward to keeping touch.

      The 2013-2014 Concert Season schedule will be released later this month so please do check back and we will keep you posted about performances in the coming year. Until then, very best wishes to you and I look forward to welcoming you next season.


    • Sandeep says:

      Missed the recital but caghut the Liszt thanks to YouTube. Wow! Only she could make a 1000 pound chunk of wood, felt, ivory and steel do that! Go Elizabeth! Wish they would have posted the Chopin and the rest of it

    • adams says:

      Thanks very much for your comments! Here is a link to the entire recital on, (no Chopin, I’m afraid!):

  • Jasmine says:

    Found out in youtube and had to come here to see your future stuff. Anything special in the pipeline we can expect?

  • John says:

    Solemn March to the Holy Grail, from Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ by Franz Liszt; Adam Sherkin, piano. It is so soothing that it gets difficult to explain.Awesome work.

  • Jeremy says:

    I must say Star Burning Blue track is awesome. Been to your show at Jane Mallett Theatre. You rock.

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