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Alan Walker


Alan Walker

Alan Walker is Professor Emeritus of Music at McMaster University, Canada. Before settling in North America he was on the staff of the Music Division of the British Broadcasting Corporation in London.

He has broadcast for the BBC, for the CBC, and for CJRT - FM (Toronto), and gives regular public lectures on the music of the Romantic Era, a period in which he specializes. His thirteen published books include A Study in Musical Analysis, An Anatomy of Musical Criticism, and symposia on Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt.

Dr. Walker’s three-volume, prize-winning biography of Franz Liszt, published by Alfred A. Knopf (New York), was a project which took him twenty-five years to complete, and for which the President of Hungary bestowed on him the medal Pro Cultura Hungarica. The biography also received the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize, presented by HRH The Duke of Kent in London.

Time Magazine hailed the biography as "a textured portrait of Liszt and his times without rival". The Wall Street Journal called it "The definitive work to which all subsequent Liszt biographies will aspire." The Washington Post selected it as a Book of the Year.

Two other books on Liszt have meanwhile followed. The first is called "The Death of Franz Liszt" (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY). It describes the last ten days of the composer's life in Bayreuth. Based on eye-witness accounts, and the unpublished diary of a pupil, it tells a harrowing story of the final illness, medical malpractice, family neglect, and a callous disregard of Liszt's final wishes.

Then came "Reflections on Liszt" (Cornell University Press), a sequel to the 3-volume biography, and deals with certain topics in greater depth than the biography itself could accommodate. These include Liszt’s myriad connections with Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann; his work as a teacher and editor of the music of others; and his published writings. The book ends with "An Open Letter to Franz Liszt", which the Times Literary Supplement called "an affectionate and stylized farewell from a biographer to a great subject."

Alan Walker’s latest book is a long-awaited biography of Hans von Bülow, Franz Liszt’s leading pupil and the world’s first virtuoso orchestral conductor. Published by Oxford University Press in December 2009, the book is the first biography of Bülow ever to appear in the English language. The European Piano Teacher's Journal extolled it as 'a magnificent long-overdue biography... and as unputdownable as the latest historical novel by Mary Renault'. The Washington Times praised it as “a superb biography... and a treat to read”.

For more information, see Alan Walker's personal archives with many letters to and from musicians.

In January 2012, the Government of Hungary bestowed on Alan Walker one of its highest honours: the Knight's Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.

No cuts or alterations of any kind should be made to this biography without the consent of Alan Walker.