Piano fest under way

Paul Roberts, appearing at the Hebden Bridge Piano Festival this weekend
Paul Roberts, appearing at the Hebden Bridge Piano Festival this weekend

Hebden Bridge Piano Festival which starts today, Friday April 11, includes a fascinating recital by Paul Roberts in which the pianist and writer performs and talks about some of the best-known piano music by Franz Liszt.

Not many of the greatest composers managed to even visit England - let alone Hebden Bridge. However it is understood that Liszt, one of the most astounding and celebrated pianists and composers of the 19th century, stopped off in the town for breakfast (in The White Lion) on December 15 1840 during a British tour.

A companion on his journey between York and Manchester, John Parry, said, “Arrived in Hebden Bridge - beautiful place in summer. Had comfortable breakfast, though countrified - eggs and ham.”

Liszt’s sublime Petrarch Sonnets are among the pieces inspired by his travels in Italy, and they, along with the magnificent Vallée d’Obermann, form the centrepiece of Paul Roberts’ lecture recital, which will demonstrate the close connections between poetry, narrative, and music, between the emotion of the poetry and musical feeling, between the nature of story-telling and the art of the concert pianist.

“I think it is an extraordinary thing that nearly 200 years ago, Liszt was eating his breakfast in the oldest building in Hebden Bridge,” mused Festival Director Dave Nelson, “and now, in the newest public building in the town only a few yards away, we shall be listening to his music performed by one of the most respected pianists in the UK!”

Paul Roberts’ recital is at 4.15pm on Saturday April 12. Also on the bill over the weekend are Charles Owen, Lukasz Filipczak, Noriko Ogawa, John Humphreys and Allan Schiller, Gwilym Simcock and Kathryn Stott, whose concert has already sold out with others expected to follow suit before the start of the festival.

Tickets are available on line, by post and in person at the Town Hall reception desk weekdays between 10am and 4.30pm, right up to and including the Festival weekend.

There is a quick link for on-line booking, a downloadable programme and booking form, and much more information at www.hebdenbridgepianofestival.com