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Family Affair: Music of Liszt, von Bülow, two Wagners performed

Jeffrey BrodyBrody

The 2014/2015 PACC Concert Series opens at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, with a dramatic organ concert, “A Family Affair: Music of Liszt, von Bülow, & two Wagners,” where Jeffrey Brody uses his highly expressive keyboard skills to provide a sonic feast.

It includes instrumental music expertly transcribed to take advantage of the varied and rich sound of treasured Skinner organ and the sanctuary's outstanding acoustics at Park Avenue Congregational Church.

Tickets in advance are $15 adults and $10 seniors and students; and at the door $20 and $12. To reserve advance tickets, call 781-643-8680 and leave a message if necessary (tickets will be held at the door). A postconcert artists' reception will be held in the Parish Hall.

Liszt’s illegitimate daughter, Cosima, touched the lives of all the composers included in this concert. As a piano student of Liszt, Hans von Bülow met and married Cosima. Although Cosima eventually left von Bülow to marry Richard Wagner, Siegfried Wagner was the result of a then-scandalous affair she had with Wagner while still married to Hans.

As a staunch supporter of Richard Wagner’s music, Cosima took over the direction of the Bayreuth Festival after Wagner’s death. Von Bülow, once the conductor of many Wagner premieres, turned into an advocate for the works of Johannes Brahms.

The concert includes Liszt’s “Fantasy and Fugue on the Chorale, Ad Nos ad salutarem undam,” one of several works written as concert paraphrases of Le Prophète, Meyerbeer's opera. Much of the program includes Brody’s own transcriptions of orchestral pieces drawn from Richard Wagner's Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger and Ring Cycle as well as music from Hans von Bülow's Carnival of Milan and the American premiere of music from Siegfried Wagner's opera Bruder Lustig.

Brody pointed out that his transcriptions fit into a venerable tradition from long before radio and CDs. Intimate keyboard performances as well as those generated from piano or organ rolls in private homes provided a way for folks to experience and become familiar with great music. Although only the wealthy could afford home organs, municipal organs were the pride of many communities up to and beyond the time of silent movies.

Music director of Longwood Opera, Brody is active as organist, composer, conductor, vocal coach and collaborative pianist. Appointed to the musical staff of Seattle Opera in 1986, he has served as assistant conductor and prompter for that company’s acclaimed production of Wagner’s The Ring of the Niebelung. He has also done musical preparation for the Opera Company of Boston and Boston Lyric Opera.

As music adviser of the Boston Wagner Society, he selects repertoire and artists for their concerts and is a frequent contributor to their quarterly, Wagneriana. He is resident artist and music director and organist of Park Avenue church.

Park Avenue Congregational Church is at 50 Paul Revere Road at Park Avenue and Paul Revere Road, one block from Mass. Avenue, Arlington Heights.

The church is handicapped accessible and on MBTA bus route No. 77.

The PACC concert series was started 24 years ago to benefit PACC’s music program and organ restoration fund.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, call the church Office at 781-643-8680 or visit

This story was published Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014.

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